Yamhill County History
|Yamhill was the second of the four original districts created by the Provisional Legislature in 1843. Its boundaries were drawn to include all the area from the Willamette River west to the Pacific Ocean and from the Yamhill River south to the California border. The district consisted of 12,000 square miles; however, twelve counties were eventually created from Yamhill County leaving 709 square miles within its present borders. The county shares borders with Washington County to the north, Tillamook County to the west, Polk County to the south, and Marion and Clackamas Counties to the east. |
The county was named for the original inhabitants of the area, the Yamhill Indians, a tribe of the Kalapooian family, who lived around the Yamhill River. The tribe was moved to the Grand Ronde Reservation in 1855. The earliest non-native settlers entered the area in 1814; most were employees of the various fur companies operating in Oregon. Many of the American immigrants who came over the Oregon Trail during 1843-1844 settled in the Yamhill region, which became the agricultural center of the Willamette Valley.
LaFayette, at one time the principal trading center of the western Willamette Valley, became the county seat in 1847. The first courthouse, purchased in 1850, was originally a county store in LaFayette. The building was destroyed by fire in January 1857, and all records except probate and land records were destroyed. The next courthouse was built in 1858 and remained in use until the county seat moved in 1889 to McMinnville where a new courthouse was built. The fourth and present courthouse was built in 1964.
Yamhill County government originally consisted of three commissioners, district attorney, assessor, clerk, sheriff, surveyor, and treasurer. In 1964 the probate function was transferred from the jurisdiction of the county court to the district court. The county court was abolished in 1968 and the board of commissioners was established in 1969.
The population of Yamhill County in 2000 was 84,992 representing a 29.66% increase over 1990.
Yamhill County ranks seventh out of Oregon's thirty-six counties in annual market value of its agricultural production. Today, the county's primary industry is agriculture, specifically wheat, barley, horticulture, and dairy farming. Yamhill County is also the center of Oregon's wine industry. One-third of the county is covered with commercial timber, and the economic mainstay of the western part of the county is logging and timber products. Non-seasonal light industries have also located in Yamhill County. Nearly one-fifth of the county's workforce commutes to the Portland metropolitan area.
Courtesy of the Oregon State Archives
Oregon Judicial History
|A Benchmark For Oregon Justice|
|If perchance legal matters demand your presence in Oregon state courtrooms or judges' chambers on Monday, you might find birthday cake on the docket along with writs. There is reason for celebration. The first Monday of December marks 145 years since the first session of Oregon's Supreme Court. The Oregon Judicial Conference at its October meeting adopted a resolution establishing the day as the official anniversary of the state's judicial system. It's perhaps as close as the modem judges could come to identifying a suitable date to recognize the first spin of Oregon's wheels of justice. |
There were, of course, judges and judging under both the Provisional and Territorial governments before Oregon was granted statehood in 1859. But courts during the state's gestation were transitory, often in disarray, and at least two judges so dishonest that today's found it judicious to fast-forward past all their pre-state predecessors. The need for legal apparatus arose with the death of Ewing Young in 1841.
Young was relatively young, 31, apparently single, with no known relatives. But by virtue of having led an enterprising group to California and returning with 600 head of cattle to shatter a Hudson's Bay Company monopoly on cows, he died very well off- rich, even, by pioneer standards. His peers met to discuss what to do about his estate. Probate was clearly in order, which meant electing a judge. Ira L. Blalock got the job and distinction as the first member of the Oregon judiciary. But it would take 14 years for an heir, a long-lost son, to be found and Young's estate settled.
Various others of familiar historic names — among them James W. Nesmith, Peter Burnett, J. Quinn Thornton, Portland founder Asa Lovejoy — served as "supreme judge" under the Provisional Government, but none for long or notable courtroom achievement. With Territorial status came political/judicial appointments out of Washington, D.C., courtesy of Democratic President James Buchanan.
The first on the scene was Chief Justice William P. Bryant. He was appointed in April 1848 and spent only six months here before heading home to Indiana. Bryant's designated associates were James Tumey of Illinois and Burnett. Tumey decided against an Oregon judgeship. Burnett was off digging gold in California and also declined. Justice Orville C. Pratt also was appointed in 1848 in place of Tumey. Chief Justice Thomas Nelson of New York and Justice William Strong of Ohio joined Pratt in 1850. Historian Dorothy O. Johansen describes Nelson "as a preeminent exemplar of judicial dignity and independence," and says Strong "enjoyed an unblemished reputation." On the other hand: Bryant, says Johansen, "was euphemistically described as 'in reduced circumstances' when he arrived in Oregon in 1849. When he left the following November he was well off financially... He continued to hold the office and draw a salary for a year and half after he had left...." Pratt, says Malcolm dark Jr. in "Eden Seekers," was "suave, sleek, swollen with self-esteem, incurably covetous... slippery as a greased eel. Comers of his career are shadowed by little mysteries intended to conceal indecorous truths." Adds Johansen, Pratt "added nothing to the dignity of the bench, and, like Bryant, missed no opportunity to improve his own fortune. ... He was a center of controversy and political machination. He quarreled with (his associates).. . and brought so much confusion into the judicial processes that the courts suffered in prestige." Pratt sided with Democratic warlord Ashael Bush in battling the Whigs to move the state capital from Oregon City to Salem.
When in 1852 the Democrats prevailed, overcoming, among other things, an opposing judicial opinion by Nelson and Strong, Bush's newspaper, the Statesman, was able to cackle editorially: "The 'Supreme Court' is 'done for,' laid out, kilt; or as our classical 'brother Dryer' (Thomas Dryer, Whig editor of The Oregonian) would say in the 'jargon of the country,' kockshut, memloosed, halo! It was a feeble, rickety concern to begin with, and the rough usage it received from the legislative assembly and the people nearly knocked the breath of life from it, and finally congress gave it the finishing kick, and it was no more forever."
With statehood came more rational thinking and personnel. After considerable debate, the Oregon Constitution adopted in 1857 and approved by Congress in 1859 specified "Four Justices to be chosen in districts by the electors thereof to function both as the Supreme Court in Salem and circuit judges in their home districts. It also provided the number of justices "shall not exceed five until the white population of the State shall amount to One Hundred Thousand, and shall never exceed seven. ..." In 1878 the Legislature shrank the Supreme Court to three justices but freed it from Circuit Court duties. The Supreme Court was increased to five justices in 1909 and to seven in 1913. As the number of Circuit Courts grew (there are now 163 circuit judges), so did appeals. The Oregon Court of Appeals was created with five members in 1969, expanded to six members in 1973 and to 10 in 1977.
The Supreme Court now reviews only cases already ruled on by the Court of Appeals. The four justices who on that first December Monday in 1859 made up the entire Oregon judicial system were Reuben P. Boise, Aaron E. Waite, Riley E. Stratton and Paine Page Prim. All, historians agree, were good men and true, well-versed in law, honest, forthright and morally sound - a solid foundation on which to build a judiciary. It was obviously not them the constitutional framers had in mind in providing judges could be canned for "incompetence, malfeasance, or delinquency in office, or other sufficient causes. ..."
December 05, 2004
by John Terry
Oregon Territory Supreme Judges Under The Provisional Government
|Dr. Ira L. Babcock
||Feb. 18, 1841-May 1, 1843
||Supreme judge with probate powers elected at meeting of inhabitants of the Willamette Valley|
|W. E. Wilson
||No record of service
||Supreme judge with probate powers; elected at meeting of inhabitants of the Willamette Settlements, May 2, 1843|
||Oct. 2, 1843-May 14, 1844
||Supreme judge and probate judge; appointed by the Executive Committee|
|Dr. Ira L. Babcock
||June 27, 1844-Nov. 11, 1844
||Presiding judge, Circuit Court; elected at first general election May 1844; resigned|
|James Willis Nesmith
||Dec. 25, 1844-Aug. 9, 1845
||Presiding judge, Circuit Court; appointed by Executive Committee; elected by people 1845|
||Supreme judge; elected by Legislature Aug. 9, 1845; declined to serve|
|Peter Hardeman Burnett
||Sept. 6, 1845-Dec. 29, 1846
||Supreme judge; elected by Legislature; declined appointment to Supreme Court 1848|
|Jesse Quinn Thornton
||Feb. 20, 1847-Nov. 9, 1847
||Supreme judge; appointed by Governor Abernethy; resigned|
||Nov. 30, 1847-Apr. 9, 1849
||Supreme judge; appointed by Governor Abernethy|
|Asa Lawrence Lovejoy
||No record of service
||Supreme judge; elected by Legislature Feb. 16, 1849|
Supreme Judges Under Territorial and State Government
|William P. Bryant
||Appointed 1848; resigned 1850; chief justice 1848-1850|
|Orville C. Pratt
||Appointed 1848; term ended 1852|
||Appointed 1850 to succeed Bryant; term ended 1853; chief justice 1850-1853|
||Appointed 1850 to succeed Burnett; term ended 1853|
|George Henry Williams
||Appointed 1853, 1857; resigned 1858; chief justice 1853-1858|
||Appointed 1853, 1857; resigned 1858|
|Matthew P. Deady
||Appointed 1853, 1857; elected 1858; resigned 1859|
|Obadiah B. McFadden
||Appointed 1853; term ended 1854|
|Reuben Patrick Boise
||Appointed 1858 to succeed Olney; elected 1859;1876-1880; reelected 1864; term ended 1870; elected 1876; term ended 1878; appointed 1878; term ended 1880; chief justice 1862-1864, 1867-1870|
Known Judicial Districts Which Included Yamhill County
||On August 14, 1848 President Polk signed the Organic Act creating the Oregon Territory, an area encompassing present-day Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and Western Montana. "The territorial government for Oregon was divided into three judicial districts, the 2nd Judicial District consisted of Marion, Linn, Lane, Benton, Polk and Yamhill counties." |
Political History of Oregon From 1853 to 1865
Oregon Historical Quarterly
Volume 2, No. 1, Page 5 March 1901
by Judge George H. Williams
Orville C. Pratt, Presiding Judge
||On the 2nd of December, 1850, the second session of the territorial Legislative Assembly convened at Oregon City. On December 7, 1850 "a public meeting was called, in the hall of Representatives in Oregon City, consisting of legislators, public officials and citizens... The county of Pacific (north of the Columbia river) and Lane and Umpqua counties in the southern part of the territory, were organized at this session. The judicial districts were remodeled as follows: First District, Clackamas, Marion, Linn and Lane; Second District, Washington, Yamhill, Benton, Polk and Umpqua; Third District, Clatsop, Lewis (including Pacific) and Clark. |
History of Pacific Northwest - Oregon and Washington
||In 1853 Judge Pratt was nominated to the Senate as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which assigned him as presiding Judge of the court of the second judicial district as then constituted. The nomination, however, having been withdrawn before action by the Senate, George H. Williams of Iowa was appointed successor to Chief Justice Nelson. Matthew P. Deady and Cyrus Olney were appointed Associate Justices. Mr. Justice Deady was assigned to the first district, or southern Oregon counties, and Judge Olney to the northern counties, or third judicial district, which had been materially abridged in extent by the counties north of the Columbia river having been detached by operation of the Washington Territory Organic Act. As a consequence of this diminution of the jurisdiction of the third judicial district, and to more approximately equalize judicial labor, the legislature, at its next session, redistricted the territory, placing Marion, Linn, Lane, Polk and Benton counties in the first district, to which Chief Justice Williams was assigned. Clatsop, Washington, Yamhill and Clackamas counties were constituted the second district, with Judge Olney presiding judge. The third district included the counties of southern Oregon, the district courts of which were held by Judge Deady. |
History of the Pacific Northwest
Oregon and Washington 1889
Volume I, Pages 350 - 367
||On September 16, 1857 the Oregon Territory is divided into four judicial districts. Linn, Marion, Polk, Yamhill and Washington counties constitute the 3rd District. |
Oregon Historical Quarterly
Volume 11, Number 1, Page 110
Supreme Court of Oregon, On Power of Legislature to Increase Number of Justices Constituting
||That there shall be and is hereby created a judicial district of the State of Oregon composed of the counties of Polk, Yamhill, and Tillamook, which counties are hereby detached from the Third Judicial District of the State of Oregon, of which they were heretofore a part, and shall hereafter constitute the Twelfth Judicial District of this state. |
1913 General Laws of Oregon
Chapter 231, Section 231, Section 6
||Yamhill County separated from the 12th Judicial District on January 15, 1998. Polk County remained the 12th Judicial District, while Yamhill became the new 25th Judicial District. Effective January 15, 1998 district court jurisdiction, authority, powers, functions, and duties were transferred to circuit court. |
ORS Chapter 658, OR Laws 1995
Yamhill County District Court History
|The District Court of the State of Oregon for Yamhill County was created July 1, 1953 by Chapter 563 of the laws of 1953. The law provided that the Justice of the Peace in the county seat, if a lawyer, would be the Judge of the new District Court. As a result Mr. Rollin B. Wood became the first Judge of the District Court and served a six-year term. He was reelected in 1958 for a second term. County Clerk, Mr. Jack Beeler, was also the first District Court Clerk. |
In 1955 the Justice of the Peace Precinct in Newberg was abolished by the County Court and in 1957 similar action abolished the Willamina Justice Court, resulting in no Justice Courts in Yamhill County.
The jurisdiction of the new District Court was limited to civil matters involving $1,000 or less and only misdemeanors in criminal matters. Felony matters were processed in District Court only as a committing magistrate.
District Court began in the 1888 courthouse, which was located in the Wright Building at 410 Third Street in McMinnville. Space considerations forced District Court to move to the second floor of the current courthouse located at 535 N.E. 5th Street in McMinnville.
The following historic courthouse images are courtesy of the Yamhill Historical Society
Circuit and District Court Judges Who Have Served or are Serving Yamhill County
W. E. Wilson
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|If you would like to share an image or information about Osborn Russell please contact the Yamhill Web Design Team. |
According to one source Osborn Russell died August 28, 1892, in Placerville, California.
Nathaniel Ford and wife Lucinda
|Nathaniel Ford died at Dixie, (now Dallas, Polk, Oregon) on January 9, 1870, at the age of 75 years. |
Dallas Times, Jan. 15, 1870
His wife Lucinda Ford died January 4, 1874 at the age of 74 years.
Salem Statesman, Jan. 16, 1874.
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Image Courtesy of Salem Public Library
Peter Hardeman Burnett
Peter Hardeman Burnett was born on November 15, 1807 in Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee. He was the son of George Burnett and Dorothy (Hardeman) Burnett.
He married Harriet Rogers about 1828. He was a banker; an Oregon territorial supreme court judge between 1848-49; elected governor of California in 1849 and served until 1851.
He was a judge of the California state supreme court between 1857-58.
Peter Burnett died on May 17, 1895 in San Francisco, San Francisco, California and was buried at the Santa Clara Mission Cemetery, Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California.
Peter Burnett wrote an autobiography which is published.
Jesse Quinn Thornton
Jesse Quinn Thornton was born in 1818 in Mount Pleasant, Virginia in 1818, now Jefferson County in West Virginia. He was admitted to the Virginia bar then removed to Missouri. There he married Nancy M. Logue. |
In 1846 Jesse and Nancy crossed the plains to Oregon with the company of other notable early pioneers like Jesse Applegate. Jesse Thornton served as a judge of the Provisional supreme court until Governor George Abernathy asked him to go to the nation's capital to watch over the interests of Oregon during the efforts to create the Oregon Territory. When he returned to Oregon he practiced law in various cities in the northern Willamette Valley.
The Oregon State Motto is said to have been created by Judge Jesse Quinn Thornton. In Latin the motto is: Alis Volat Propiis. The english translation is "she flies with her own wings."
Jesse Quinn Thornton is said to have written the first constitution of Oregon.
Jesse Quinn Thornton died in 1898 and is buried in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery located in Salem, Marion, Oregon.
Image Courtesy of Salem Public Library
This image was created in 1848
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| If you would like to share an image or information about Columbia Lancaster please contact the Yamhill Web Design Team.|
Asa Lawrence Lovejoy
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Asa Lawrence Lovejoy was born in Groton, Mass., March 14, 1808 At an early age his parents removed to Townson, in the same state, where he remained until he was some 16 years of age. About this time he went to Boston, entering a mercantile house.
After following such pursuit for a short time he entered Cambridge college, and then Amherst, where he completed his education. He then studied law, and upon his admission to the bar removed to Sparta, Mo., where he began the practice of his profession.
He became imbued with the idea that there were better opportunities for a young man in the far West, and in the spring of 1842 joined Dr. Elijah White and party, and started for Oregon.
He and L. W. Hastings thought it would be the proper thing to carve their names on Independence rock, when that point in the journey was reached, and while carrying out the idea were captured by the Sioux Indians. After a brief captivity they were ransomed for a few trinkets and some tobacco.
On arriving at Waiilatpu, he was induced by Dr. Whitman to accompany him back East, but before the trip was ended he was compelled to stop at Brent's fort on account of his inability to secure a fresh horse, the one he had having given out. He remained there until the spring of 1843, when he undertook to carry dispatches to Father De Smet, who was in the Yellowstone country.
When returning he was intercepted by some Snake and Blackfoot Indians, who held him prisoner for nine days, when he succeeded in making his escape and way to Fort Boise, where he joined an emigrant train bound for Oregon, and arrived at Oregon City in November, 1843.
Here he opened a law office, and from the first had a lucrative practice. He was twice a candidate for the office of provisional governor, but through combinations was defeated both times. From the time of his arrival until 1860 he held many important offices, discharging the duties of each with ability, honesty and to the satisfaction of all. His name and acts are indelibly stamped upon the history of Oregon, and none among the pioneers is more entitled to praise than he for faithful and efficient services rendered in molding the policy and progressive acts which built up the state.
He died in Portland, leaving a widow, two sons and two daughters. His wife was Miss Elizabeth McGary, a young lady of many personal attractions, refined manners and accomplishments, who in declining years is looked upon as one of the Oregon mothers whom all should bow to with the greatest respect and reverence. During Mr. Lovejoy's life and since his death the Lovejoy home has been one where the latchstring ever hung on the outside.
Oregon Native Son
May 1899, Page 48
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Dr. Ira L. Babcock
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James Willis Nesmith
|Justice of Oregon territorial supreme court, 1848-50; chief justice of Oregon territorial supreme court, 1848-50. |
Read the historical sketches about James Willis Nesmith
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William P. Bryant
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|Justice of the Oregon territorial supreme court, 1848-50; chief justice of Oregon territorial supreme court, 1848-50. |
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| If you would like to share an image or information about Thomas Nelson please contact the Yamhill Web Design Team.|
Obadiah B. McFadden
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Orville C. Pratt
|Orville C. Pratt was the first judge to preside in an official capacity in Polk county. While others did act prior to Oregon becoming a territory in performing the judicial duties, Pratt was the first to represent the authority of the United States, and more particularly the federal government since his court was a U. S. District Court as were all territorial courts. |
Congress had in August of 1848, passed the Territorial Act making Oregon a territory. President Polk then appointed various officials, Joseph Lane as governor, etc. James Turney of: Illinois was appointed associate justice of the supreme court but he declined and Orville Pratt was appointed in his stead. He arrived in Oregon in January 1849 from California and in March that of year Joseph Lane arrived and issued the official proclamation extending the laws of the United States over the Oregon territory. He served the territory as judge for the next two years until March 1853.
Pratt was born in Rushville, Ontario County, New York, on April 24, 1819. In 1837 he was appointed to West Point by President Van Buren but resigned after two years. He then "read" law in the office of a Samuel Stevens and was admitted to the bar in New York in 1840. He formed a partnership and soon married but his wife lived only a short time. He then left New York and in 1843 went to Galena, Illinois, where he practiced law and married a second time.
He became interested in politics and was a delegate to the Illinois Constitutional Convention which revised that document. He performed several missions for the Secretary of War which took him to California in 1848.
The salary of justice paid only $2,000 a year but he did as was common in those days, and invested it in trading goods which he brought to the growing Oregon country. He purchased some $7,000 worth of goods in San Francisco and sold these for over $40,000 in Oregon. An example was cooking stoves purchased for $10 and sold in Portland for $150.
Pratt was assigned to the second judicial district, consisting of Benton, Polk, Yamhill and Twality or Washington County. Historians have not determined the exact date the first court session was held, but it was held in the courthouse in Cynthiann, (present location of Lee's Mobil Station in North Dallas) probably in the fall of 1849. That winter he held the first court of admiralty in the Pacific northwest.
The major event of Pratt's tenure on the Polk County bench was probably the Hooker-Everman murder trial in 1852. This was the first trial for murder in Polk County. The sentencing of Everman also resulted in the first legal hanging in the county. The really unique event of this trial was the sentencing of Everman's brother Hiram, an accessory to the murder, to be sold to the highest bidder. This was done because there were no prison facilities in the territory.
Pratt practiced law after his term on the bench until he left Oregon in June 1856, for San Francisco. He lived there the rest of his life, dying there in October of 1891.
Dallas, Polk, Oregon
In 1853 Judge Pratt was nominated to the Senate as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which assigned him as presiding Judge of the court of the second judicial district as then constituted.
History of the Pacific Northwest
Oregon and Washington 1889
Volume I, Pages 350 - 367
Pratt, Orville C., Judge... died in 1891 ... age 72 ...1891D-5622
San Francisco Call Newspaper Vital Records for 1869-1899
Judge William Strong became judge after Orville Pratt left office.
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Cyrus Olney was born October 11, 1815 in Geneva, Ontario, New York to parents William Olney and Charlotte Tanner. He died in December 1870 at the middle age of 55 and is buried in the Hillside Pioneer Cemetery in Astoria, Clatsop, Oregon.
In 1853, Cyrus Olney was appointed to the Supreme Court of the Oregon Territory by President Pierce. Justice Olney served in the Third District, comprised of Clatsop, Clackamas, Washington and Yamhill Counties, until 1858.
Cyrus Olney married first wife Mary Tillotson. She and two children were buried in the State of Iowa in 1848.
Cyrus married a second wife but this wife and of their all of their children died before Cyrus died.
Cyrus married third wife Sarah E. Nealy in 1849, in Des Moine County, Iowa. Sarah died in 1864 in Astoria, Clatsop, Oregon.
OLNEY, Cyrus [Judge] (b.1815; s/o William and Charlotte [TANNER] OLNEY; lawyer, judge in IA; brother of Nathan OLNEY, a pioneer of 1843; obtained admission to the bar in OR on Dec 5, 1851; a trustee of Willamette University in 1853; April 8, 1853 appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Oregon Territory and presided over Clatsop, Clackamas, Columbia, Washington and Yamhill Counties)
Oregon Historical Quarterly
Volume 64, 1963, p. 312 - ; (Arr’d 8 Aug 1851)
Vaughn, Thomas, Editor Oregon Historical Quarterly: Volume LXIV, Number 4
Oregon Historical Society, Portland, OR, 1963 . Trade paper. (Quality Soft-Bound).December, 1962. Smith, "Cyrus Olney, Associate Justice of Oregon Territory Supreme Court";
Yamhill and Clackamas counties were constituted the second district, with Judge Olney presiding judge. The third district included the counties of southern Oregon, the district courts of which were held by Judge Deady.
History of the Pacific Northwest
Oregon and Washington 1889
Page 350 - 367
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Matthew P. Deady
Matthew Deady was born May 12, 1824 in the State of Maryland. His parents were of Irish descent. He was a student in the public schools of West Virginia then apprenticed as a blacksmith. In addition he studied courses in Barnesville Academy in Ohio then passed the Ohio bar in 1847.
Matthew Deady crossed the plains to Oregon in 1849 where he taught and practiced law at Lafayette, Yamhill, Oregon, thereafter elected to the Oregon legislature in 1851.
Deady was appointed as associate judge of the Oregon Territorial Supreme Court then served from 1853 to 1859. Judge Deady presided over the Oregon State Constitutional Convention in 1857. He recommended for provisions in law to set six year terms for judges, four year terms for state officers, and biennial sessions for the legislature and was successful.
In 1859 moved to Portland to become the United States District Judge for Oregon. While in Portland he founded the Multnomah County Library. Deady also served as president of the Board of Regents of the State University of Oregon (University of Oregon in Eugene) from 1873 to 1893.
A popular public speaker and a prolific writer on the law and other subjects, Matthew Deady is given credit for being the author of the General Laws of Oregon, which he compiled and annotated in 1866.
Deady Hall on the University of Oregon campus was built in 1876 and named in his honor.
Portland, the Rose City : Pictorial and Biographical
Published in Chicago by S. J. Clarke Pub. Co. in 1911
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Alonzo A. Skinner
Oregon's first real judge was a bald-headed, inarticulate homesteader from Ohio who didn't like to practice law. Today, hardly anyone remembers Alonzo A. Skinner. But his determination to bring justice to the Oregon frontier helped form Oregon's judicial system. It wasn't an easy job. Alonzo Skinner was the only trial judge in what today is Oregon and Washington. Other than his salary, he had virtually no budget. He traveled his circuit foot, horseback, flatboat and canoe. There wasn't a public building in the territory. He held court in saloons, church meeting houses, log cabins, schools and perhaps even once outdoors under a tree. Most challenging, he was sworn to enforce a code of laws that had no legal foundation, in a rough-and-tumble frontier society that accepted a de facto government because it had no other choice.
Alonzo Skinner was born in 1814 in Ravenna, Ohio. He read law there, was admitted to practice in Ohio in 1840, served briefly as the part-time county prosecutor and ran for judge and lost. Skinner decided to seek his fortune in Oregon. He joined the Great Migration of 1845. He spent seven months and seven days on the long overland journey to the Oregon country.
When he got to Oregon Skinner became a farmer, as were almost all adult males. He settled first in Washington County and practiced law on the side. The Oregon country Alonzo Skinner first saw in 1845 was, indeed, an Eden. But it was a bitterly poor one, and one that offered little more to its inhabitants than the New World afforded the Pilgrims. There was no mail service.
There literally was no money. For several years the settlers paid their taxes and their debts with wheat, other crops and bills of exchange drawn on the Hudson's Bay Company and the operators of the mill at Willamette Falls. The jurisdictional dispute between the United States and Great Britain brought the 18-gun armed sloop HMS Modeste to show the flag. The Modeste moored at Fort Vancouver during 1845-46. The crown shipped in a barrel of silver dollars to help pay the crew. This was a godsend to the Oregon pioneers. It provided an infusion of cash.
Things improved in Oregon. Gold was discovered in California in 1848. Oregon pioneers were closer to the gold fields than the folks back East. They got there first. Many made their stake and brought gold dust back to Oregon. Others who stayed in Oregon made good money shipping lumber by sailing vessel to fill the desperate needs of California builders.
But a challenge not easily solved was that of government. Britain claimed all the land south to the Mexican border what now is the Oregon-California line. The United States said it owned all of the Oregon country as far north as Russian-owned Alaska. While the diplomats argued over who controlled the Oregon country, there was no government. Nor were there courts.
This didn't cause much of a problem until Ewing Young died in February 1841. Young, who lived near Newberg, arguably was the richest man in Oregon. He had land. He had cattle, a rare and valuable commodity at the time. He was a trader. He was the closest thing to a bank that the Oregon country had. He had loaned a lot of money to people. He also had no known heirs.
Rather than see the estate plundered by strangers, most of the white settlers in Oregon met at Champoeg in February 1841 and decided to organize a government. Ira L. Babcock, who was not a lawyer but a physician, was elected supreme judge with probate powers. He was told to use the laws of New York as his guideline. It's not certain anyone in Oregon had a copy of the New York probate laws. There may have been a copy either in Babcock's personal library or the library of the Methodist Mission, which had its headquarters in New York.
From that start the Oregon provisional government expanded. By 1846, it had a governor, George Abernethy, who also operated a store at Oregon City, and a single-house Legislature, which called itself the House of Representatives, consisting of 16 members. There was a code of laws. Some were home-grown and designed for Oregon. For anything not covered locally, the Legislature adopted both the common law and the Iowa code of 1838-39. There was one copy of the Iowa laws in Oregon. James O'Neill, a member of the Legislature, sold it to the provisional government for $10.50 along with a manual for judges and a copy of Jefferson' s Manual of Parliamentary Procedure.
A hodge-podge court system had evolved. Each county had justices of the peace. The three-member governing body of the eight counties then existing was called the County Court, and it too possessed limited judicial authority including probate powers.
In 1846, the Legislature consolidated most trial functions in the Circuit Court. It had one judge. Oregon also had a solitary supreme judge, who heard appeals from decisions of the circuit judge.
The circuit judge was appointed by the Legislature. In December 1846, the Legislature appointed Alonzo Skinner as Oregon's first circuit judge. It set his salary at $500 a year. Skinner said he wouldn't work that cheap. He wanted $800 a year. The Legislature agreed and raised the pay. Skinner turned over his pending cases to another lawyer and started work.
Peter L. Burnett, a bright former Missouri district attorney, was the supreme judge. Before the reorganization he also acted as the trial judge. Burnett said he wasn't going to be the supreme judge if he got paid less than the circuit judge. So he resigned, went south to the gold fields and later was elected governor of California.
Court met twice a year in each county. Court dates were set by statute and were staggered. Court records of that period are scant. In some counties they are non-existent. The job should have kept Skinner away from his farm the better part of six months each year.
For the first time, Oregon had a functioning, consistent court system. Judge Skinner rode, paddled and walked his circuit, holding court when needed and where needed. Courtrooms did not exist. In 1847 and 1848 he held three sessions of court in Polk County. One was in the cabin of C. D. Embree. The other two were in the fancy-named Jefferson Institute, a one-room private school located about three miles west of what later would become Dallas.
There was not much crime. Much of what did make it to the circuit court was liquor-related. Under a strong Methodist influence, the Legislature in 1844 outlawed the sale of liquor, to both Indians and whites. Prohibition worked no better then than it did in the 1920s.
Life on the road was primitive for judge and lawyers alike. There were no hotels or boarding houses outside of Oregon City. The bench and bar alike bunked where they could, usually with an Oregon pioneer family.
George H. Williams, appointed to the Territorial Supreme Court in 1853, told the annual gathering of the Oregon Pioneer Association in 1909: “I always found in traveling around the country a warm welcome in the homes of the settlers. Their houses were frail shelters, consisting generally of one room, which was kitchen, dining room and bedroom, with an upper room to which the young people ascended by a ladder. When I have stopped at the homes after riding all day on horseback through the rain and mud, I have been met with a generous hospitality, and after eating a hearty supper of hot bread and bacon, have retired....There were generally two beds in the family room, one in each corner. One of them, was usually assigned to me, and with my experience among the pioneers of Iowa and Oregon, I acquired a dexterity in undressing and dressing in the presence of the family that would fill a circus rider with envy. It was easy going to bed because the family sat with their faces turned away, but to get up in the morning while the women were around getting breakfast... (and here he lapsed into Latin).
The territory had one judge. It also had one prosecutor, who got paid $125 a year and didn't always show up for court. In Polk County Sept. 6,1847, pro tem clerk J. E. Lyie, who also was the county clerk and the master of the schoolroom in which court was held, noted: "There being no prosecuting attorney present and the members of the bar present refusing to act pro tem the court proceeded to the business of the docket." Three criminal defendants, all charged with liquor violations, appeared and so did their lawyer. The indictments were quashed.
Moreover, Skinner had no real means of effectively enforcing his rulings. There was no jail. The provisional government finally finished probating Ewing Young's estate, but could find no heirs. It decided to escheat the estate to the provisional government, expand the scope of government, build a jail and elect a marshal to enforce the law. Joe Meek was the marshal. A two-story log jail was built at Oregon City. Someone burned it down in 1846, and it was up to individual counties to provide for - or turn loose - those sentenced to confinement. Clackamas County had a windowless iron box, 10 feet square, which it used for several years as a jail. It worked, but really wasn't suitable for long-term confinement.
Great Britain gave up its claim to the Oregon country in 1846. But Oregon still was not to become a part of the United States. Congress debated whether Oregon should be slave territory or free. The Legislature in 1844 decided that there wasn't anything to argue about if there were no Negroes in Oregon. So it forbade any persons of color within Oregon, and decreed that if a Negro showed up, he was to be expelled. This law was not enforced and there were slave-holding families in Oregon until 1852.
Oregon became a territory by Act of Congress Aug. 14,1848. Congress finally quit arguing and passed the Oregon Territory Act as a result of the Whitman massacre. Joe Meek was sent overland in the dead of winter by the Legislature to beg the aid of President Polk. Meek was a distant cousin of the president and of Polk’s private secretary, Knox Walker. Governor Abernethy sent J. Quinn Thornton of Polk County, a lawyer and former supreme judge, by ship via Panama also to lobby the cause.
It took seven months after the act passed for Orville C. Pratt, the first of the presidential judicial appointees to Oregon's new Territorial Supreme Court, to arrive and open court. At that date, Alonzo Skinner turned over the files and went back to farming.
That was not the last of Alonzo A. Skinner in Oregon's affairs.
In the autumn of 1849, Indians in the Puget Sound country began to war with the white settlers. The whites fled to the Hudson Bay Company's Fort Nisqually. One, Leander Wallace, an American, didn't make it and was killed.
Fort Nisqually was in one of the two Oregon counties that made up what now is Washington and Idaho.
Judge William P. Bryant, the only judge then in the territory, went to Steilacoom to conduct the trial. Skinner was appointed prosecuting attorney.
There was a shortage of male U. S. citizens in Lewis County, Oregon so Bryant and Skinner took with them defense counsel and a jury panel drawn from Willamette Valley settlers.
The expedition went by boat to Cowlitz Landing, then overland to Steilacoom.
Six Indians were promptly indicted and then tried. The court ran out of jurors before the trial jury was filled so some of the grand jurors did double duty as trial jurors.
The two ringleaders were convicted and hanged. The other four - Indian slaves who had no real part in the murder - were freed. Bryant later wrote Gov. Joe Lane that there was a shortage of accommodations in Lewis County and that he, the attorneys and the jurors had to camp out in the woods.
In 1852 Skinner, Gov. John C. Games and Beverly S. Alien spent five weeks as U.S. commissioners settling land claims with the few remnants of the Indian tribes of the Willamette Valley. Later that year he was appointed Indian agent in Southern Oregon. In that job he made a valiant but unsuccessful effort to head off the Rogue River war between white gold miners and the Indians whose reserve contained deposits of gold. In 1853 Skinner made a run for federal office. A member of the rapidly collapsing Whig party, he ran for territorial delegate to Congress against the popular ex-governor, Joseph Lane. Skinner, who had staked the first homestead claim in Southern Oregon, called for a transcontinental railroad, reforms to the Homestead Act and other federal legislation that was probably 80 years ahead of its time. He also suggested that Southern Oregon ought be a separate territory.
Skinner lost. Contributing to his defeat was a series of vicious editorial attacks from Asahel Bush's Oregon Statesman. Bush, a leader of the Democratic "Salem Clique," criticized Skinner's lack of speech making talent and poked fun at his bald head, commenting that "an empty barn needs no thatch."
By 1856, Skinner had moved to Pacific City, near what now is Ilwaco, Wash. There he married Elizabeth Lincoln, one of the teachers brought from Maine in 1850 to start the Clackamas County Female Seminary at Oregon City. That year he and his new bride taught the public school at Astoria.
By 1858, the Skinners had moved back to Willamina, where Skinner had established a land claim in 1850. Skinner was elected Yamhill County school superintendent. By 1862 the Skinners had moved to Eugene and Skinner reopened his law practice.
Skinner served as a civilian assistant provost marshal for the Army during a part of the Civil War. He also was elected city recorder of Eugene and Lane County clerk.
Skinner served one more time as a judge. In 1866, Riley Stratton, a judge of the Oregon Supreme Court, died. Skinner was appointed to serve until Stratton’s successor was elected in September 1868. Skinner had trial court duties in Southern Oregon, and wrote four supreme court opinions while on the court.
His contemporary, Matthew P. Deady, then the U. S. District judge in Portland, wrote a periodic commentary on Oregon affairs for a San Francisco newspaper. At the time of Skinner's appointment, Deady wrote: “In early life Skinner was a well-read lawyer, yet he never succeeded at the bar in this country, nor does he seem to have made much effort to. He is very retiring and modest, and I think dislikes the indiscriminate controversy incident to a successful practice of the profession. A good lawyer is not always a good judge, and vice versa. The very qualities that made Skinner shrink from attempting to reach the front rank at the bar and eventually to abandon it, will tend to make him a good judge, rather than otherwise... He is a man of irreproachable morals, fine feelings and unquestioned integrity..."
In 1870, Skinner was appointed U.S. collector of customs at Empire City, now a part of Coos Bay. He grew ill, moved to Santa Barbara, Calif, in an attempt to regain his health and died there in April 1877.
Scott McArthur is a Monmouth lawyer and past member of the OSB Board of Governors. A history buff, he is a frequent contributor to the Bulletin and this column.
Oregon State Bar Bulletin
Oregon Legal Heritage: JUDGING ALONZO - Remembering Oregon's first judge
By Scott McArthur
Page(s): 37 to 42
Supreme Court Service:
Skinner, Alonzo A. 1866-1867
Appointed 1866 to succeed Stratton; term ended 1867
Notes: No "In Memoriam" in the Oregon Reports Volumes
Alonzo Skinner married: Elizabeth Hopkins Lincoln
Elizabeth born: June 24, 1811, Portland, Cumberland, Maine and died: September 21, 1894, Eugene, Lane, Oregon.
Benjamin Franklin Harding
|Among the prominent men who constituted the “Salem Clique” in the territorial days, and who was one of the first trustees of the Willamette University, was Benjamin F. Harding. As I hark back now to the time when I had not yet reached my teens, I recall how the conversation around my father's fireside, when we lived in Silverton, so often included references to “Ben” Harding. My father and all his people were Douglas Democrats, and my first recollection of political affairs was when, in 1858, being then seven years old, people who came to our house would discuss the effects of the Lincoln-Douglas debate. The usual decision was that the “Little Giant” had utterly vanquished the “Illinois Rail-splitter.” Asahel Bush, then editor of the Salem Statesman, Ben Harding and James W. Nesmith were the leaders of the anti-slavery, or Douglas, wing of the Oregon Democracy, while Joseph Lane, Delazon Smith and George K. Shiel were the foremost men in the Breckinridge forces, the pronounced champions of the extension of slavery into any or all the Territories. |
In those days, Ben Harding was in his prime, as well as in his element, politically. He was a genial man, a good organizer and counselor and universally popular. Born in Pennsylvania in 1823, he came to Oregon and at once settled in Marion County. He was a lawyer, but never seriously followed his profession after arriving here. He was a born politician and made little claim to any other business for many years, though he owned a good farm on French Prairie, near Salem. He was appointed United States District Attorney in 1853, and was territorial secretary from 1855 to 1859. In 1862 the State Legislature elected him to fill the unexpired term of Colonel Edward D. Baker – who had been killed at the battle of Ball's Bluff on October 21, 1861 – in the United States Senate. He was at one time county clerk for Marion County, and while holding that position built the house in which Judge William Waldo now lives.
He could secure any office he wanted by merely indicating his preference, during the territorial days, and for some time after the State government was inaugurated, or until the Democratic party lost control of its affairs, and for ten years or more he was one of the most prominent and influential men in Oregon Territory. He died at his home in Lane County in 1899, aged seventy-six years.
Fifty Years in Oregon - Experiences, Observations, and Commentaries Upon Men, Measures, and Customs in Pioneer Days and Later Times By T. T. Geer, Formerly Governor of Oregon, and One of Her Native Sons
"Senator Harding was appointed circuit judge for the third judicial district by Governor Thayer in 1878, and served as such until July, 1880, since which time and until his death, June 16, 1899 he has lived in retirement in Lane County on his large farm, devoting himself to agriculture and stock raising. He was a profound student of men, a keen intuition, careful in promise, strict in performance, and exact in plan. He is regarded as one of the big four that had a controlling influence in the politics of Oregon at the organization of state government."
Political History of Oregon From 1865-1876
Oregon Historical Quarterly, Dec. 1901
Volume 2, Number 4, Pages 339-340
Fenton, W. D.
Born near Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania on January 4, 1823 Benjamin Franklin Harding was a member of Oregon territorial legislature in 1852; a secretary of the Oregon Territory from 1855-59; Governor of Oregon Territory in 1856; a member of the Oregon State House of Representatives from 1858-62; and a U.S. Senator from Oregon between 1862-65. Benjamin Harding died in Cottage Grove, Lane, Oregon on June 16, 1899. He was buried in the Cottage Grove Cemetery, Lane, Oregon.
Reuben Patrick Boise
IN MEMORIAM, HON. REUBEN P. BOISE
On the convening of the court on August 6, 1907, Mr. J. C. Moreland, clerk, addressed the court as follows:
May it Please the Court!
Full of years and crowned with honor, Hon. Reuben P. Boise has passed the veil which divides the seen from the unseen.
The death of such a man is deserving of more than a passing notice. For 57 years he has been one of the prominent figures of this country. His life work is written in large letters in the history of this state. For two-thirds of his life in Oregon he occupied a position on the bench.
He was one of the first code commissioners which formulated the laws of the common-wealth.
As one of the justices of this court when the laws were in their making, he did much to
make the interpretation of those laws such as has reflected credit upon his sound judgment and great learning. His opinions were clear, forcible and sound, and his many opinions scattered through the Oregon Reports from the first to the last bear witness to his zeal and ability.
For many years he has been the dean of the Oregon Bar, by reason of his age, long service on the bench, great ability and an integrity which was always absolutely spotless. His first opinions are recorded in 1 Oregon, and in 47 Oregon, the last report, this court has testified to his ability by affirming some of his decisions rendered on the circuit bench. His life was spent in the service of the state, and his fellow-citizens appreciated his work and duly honored him.
Though so far advanced in years, his step was erect, his mental activities bright to the last. He grew old gracefully. He was always and to the end genial, kindly and helpful to others. To one who had so lived, death had no terrors for him. Calmly, peacefully and without regret, he approached his grave, "Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, And lies down to pleasant dreams."
The Marion County Bar, in the county where nearly all of his life in Oregon had been spent, have met and adopted a memoir and resolutions expressive of their estimate of the man, the lawyer and the judge. These have been forwarded to me with a request that they be presented to this court, spread upon its journal and published in the forthcoming volume of Oregon Reports, all which I now ask.
The memoir and resolutions were ordered spread upon the journal of the court and published in the forthcoming volume of Oregon Reports.
MEMOIR AND RESOLUTIONS ON THE DEATH OF HON. B. P. BOISE
At his residence, 960 Broadway, in this city, on Wednesday, April 10, 1907, at 2 o'clock P. M., Judge R. P. Boise passed to his final rest. He had been ill only a short time, and he retained his consciousness and his mental vigor up to within a few hours before the end came. The final dissolution was due to a complication of ailments.
Hon. Reuben P. Boise was one of Oregon's most honored pioneers. He came to Oregon in 1850, and was a prominent factor in shaping the destiny of the state.
Judge Boise was born in Blandford, Hampden County, Massachusetts, on June 9, 1818, and would have reached his eighty ninth year on June 9, 1907. His father, Reuben Boise, was also a native of Massachusetts. The Boise family emigrated from France to Scotland, and later to the north of Ireland, and Judge Boise's paternal great-great grandfather emigrated to Massachusetts, locating on a farm, which is still retained in the family, and where Judge Boise's father was raised and lived all his life. Judge Boise's father was a farmer and a man of prominence, having held several offices in his state, among which were county commissioner and county clerk; he also represented his district in the state senate of Massachusetts.
Judge Boise's father was married to Miss Sallie Putnam, a relative of General Putnam, of Revolutionary fame; her father, Jacob Putnam, having served as a colonel during the whole of that struggle.
There were eight children born of this union-four sons and four daughters and Miss Rebecca D. Boise, of Blandford, Massachusetts, is now the only surviving member.
Judge Boise was raised on his father's farm; was sent to the public schools, and took a classical course in Williams College, from which he graduated with honor in 1843. He came West to the State of Missouri, where he was engaged in teaching school two years, and returned to his native state and read law with his uncle, Patrick Boise, who was a distinguished lawyer of Westfield, Massachusetts. After three years' study of the law, he was admitted to the bar in 1848, and began the practice of his profession at Chicopee Falls, where he remained two years, emigrating in the fall of 1850, via the Isthmus, to Oregon. He settled first in Portland, where he began the practice of the law in December, 1850, Portland then being a small place, with few inhabitants, but with plenty of shipping business.
His practice proved successful, and in the fall of 1852 he took up a section of land in Polk County, built a house, improved the property and resided on it for four years, and still owned it at his death.
In 1853 the territorial legislature elected him prosecuting attorney of the first and second districts. This comprised nearly all of the Willamette Valley south of Clackamas and Multnomah counties. He served in this capacity for about four years. In 1853 Judge Boise, Hon. James K. Kelly and Hon. D. Bigelow were elected code commissioners for Oregon, and he thus became one of the compilers of the first code of laws in book form in the Territory of Oregon, and, in fact, the founder of the present system of legal practice. In 1854 he was re-elected prosecuting attorney, and at the same election was elected to represent Polk County in the territorial legislature. Two years afterwards he was re-elected, and during both terms took an active part in its deliberations.
In 1857 he was representative for Polk County to the constitutional convention, where he was chairman of the committee on legislation, and prepared that portion of the constitution relating to the legislative department, and otherwise materially assisted in furnishing Oregon with her fundamental laws. In the same year he was appointed by President Buchanan one of the supreme judges of the territory. The next year, after the admission of the state into the Union, he was elected to that office, and from 1862 to 1864, inclusive, was chief justice. Upon the expiration of his term he was again elected for six years.
In 1870 he was again chosen by the people to fill that position, but Hon. B. F. Bonham, his competitor, having commenced an action to contest his seat on the bench, Judge Boise, not desiring to engage in long and expensive litigation, resigned and returned to the practice of his profession.
For several years Judge Boise was connected with the Ellendale Woolen Mill, which was located two miles west of Dallas and on the site that had formerly been occupied by the Nesmith Grist Mill. The Judge was president of the company that operated the factory. In 1870 the mill was destroyed by fire.
In 1874 the Judge was elected by the legislature as one of the capitol building commissioners, which office he held until 1876, when he was again elected to his old position on the supreme bench. Two years later, the legislature having divided the supreme and circuit judges into distinct classes, he received the appointment as one of the judges of the supreme court.
In 1880 he was elected judge of the third judicial district, which office he held continuously until July, 1892. After retiring from the circuit bench in 1892, he was appointed by the commissioner of Indian affairs, together with Hon. W. H. Odell and Major Harding, of Carthage, Missouri, to negotiate with the Siletz Indians for such of their lands as were in excess of what had been allotted to them in severalty. After an inspection of the lands, a successful treaty was made with the Indians that resulted in many thousands of acres being restored to the public domain.
From 1892 to 1898 Judge Boise practiced law. In this latter year he was again elected circuit judge, entering upon the duties of his office this last time at the age of 80 years and serving until July of 1904.
In 1851 Judge Boise was happily married to Miss Ellen F. Lyon, a native of Boston, and daughter of Mr. Lemuel Lyon, a Boston merchant. They had three sons, all born in Oregon— Reuben P., Whitney L. and Fisher A. - who all survive him. After 14 years of happy married life the devoted wife and mother died.
In 1867 he was married to Miss Emily A. Pratt, a native of Webster, Massachusetts, being a daughter of Mr. Ephriam Pratt, a manufacturer of that state. They had two daughters, Ellen S. and Mae E., the former of whom was drowned while bathing in the surf at Long Beach in the summer of 1891, and Mae E. resides at the family home with her mother.
Judge Boise came to Salem and has resided here continuously since 1857. He first purchased a block of lots in the city where the Academy of the Sacred Heart now stands, and lived there until 1865. In 1870 he purchased a farm in North Salem, where he resided up to the time of his death. It is the property on which the first house in Salem was built. This farm however, has been platted into town lots, and what was then a farm is now a densely populated district of Salem. The Judge has added, from time to time, to the acreage of his donation land claim in Polk County, until there is now in one body 2,500 acres. Having been raised on a farm, he has taken an interest in agricultural affairs, and has been champion of legislation in Oregon in behalf of the farming interests; was five times elected master of the State Grange, and has attended a number of meetings of the National Grange held in different states.
He has also zealously aided the cause of learning, realizing by experience the benefit of a superior education. He was twice a member of the board of trustees of the Pacific University at Forest Grove; of the La Creole Academy at Dallas; and of the Willamette University at Salem, and took great personal interest and was active in promoting their prosperity. Pacific University conferred on the Judge the honorable degree of Doctor of Laws.
Few, indeed, are the men who have led so useful and honorable a life, and seldom has it been the lot of man to serve his country for over fifty years continuously without a single tarnish on his record and evincing so high an order of legal ability and conscientious regard for his duty. This, combined with an excellent judgment and an indomitable independence of character, have made him the eminently successful jurist he has been.
He has exhibited the same independence of character and adherence to his sense of duty in politics. He began his political career as a democrat, with which party he affiliated until the time of the great civil war, when his loyalty to the government placed him on the side of the Union and in the ranks of the republican party. He held patriotic meetings all over Oregon, at which he delivered telling speeches and did much toward guiding public opinion against secession and toward saving the state to the Union. For this every right-minded citizen felt grateful toward him, but he experienced his greatest satisfaction for having done that which he considered his duty.
Viewed as a neighbor and friend, Judge Boise was kindly, generous and genuine; as a citizen he was modest, unassuming and easy of approach; as an officer he was conscientious and fearless.
He was a model Oregonian, and was regarded as such by his fellow-citizens. In the course of the long career of Judge Boise not the slightest doubt of his integrity ever arose. As an honest, incorruptible judge, his life is one that should challenge the admiration and emulation of every lawyer and good citizen. Judge Boise was one of the few men of whom it can be truthfully said, "he was incapable of doing a wrong act intentionally."
Resolved, that these memoirs be duly entered in the records of the court, and that a copy be furnished to the bereaved family of our deceased brother, and also that copies be furnished to the newspapers for publication.
Done at Salem. Oregon, this 2d day of July, 1907. Tilmon Ford, R. S. Bean, ,Wm. P. Lord. Jno. B. Waldo, George H. Burnett, Committee.
Thereupon, it is ordered by the court that said resolutions be spread upon the record of this court, that a copy thereof be forwarded to the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon, to the family of Hon. R. P. Boise, deceased, and to the newspapers for publication. Wm. Galloway, Geo. H. Burnett, Judges.
Oregon Reports #49
Published by Geo. A. Bateson & Co., Inc.
Reuben P. Boise was a newspaperman at the Salem Oregon Statesman and at the Tacoma, Washington, Daily News, as well as a Salem realtor and financier. Reuben P. Boise, was an 1850 Oregon pioneer, circuit judge, and Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.
Reuben P. Boise married Ellen Lyon. Their sons were Whitney and Reuben Breyman Boise.
George Henry Williams
HON. GEORGE H. WILLIAMS. - Judge Williams alone among the citizens of our state, and of the Pacific coast, has had the distinction of occupying a place in the highest councils of the nation, - in the cabinet of a President. He was also regarded by President Grant as the man most fit and able to hold the position of chief justice of the United States.
The bitter struggle following his nomination to this supreme position is well remembered for the sectional feeling displayed and the dissent of certain members of the senate which led the Judge to withdraw his name. Our state was therefore denied the honor designed by our most popular President. It is not, however, to recall the personal bias or envies of the past, - they have been long forgotten and forgiven, - but to remind ourselves that it was upon an arena no less great than that of the nation that Judge Williams has passed the most intense years of his life, and that it is as one of a group of men the first among Americans - a company composing our "Great Round Table" in the most eventful years of our history - that he has been accustomed to move.
In his long shadow that stretches from our state to the national Capitol, we not only thing ourselves a little greater, but feel more strongly the ties that unite us to the national life.
A statesman is not worth much except as a patriot, and in nothing is there more assurance of the permanence of our central government than in the pride and honor which the states feel in a field of action commensurate with the abilities of their chosen and loved men, where they may project their masterful endeavors. While we could make no exception of any of our senators or representatives that have been at Washington, remembering the fiery Baker and the noble and jovial Nesmith, it is only justice to allow the national dimensions of Judge Williams. He was a positive additive power in the senate during his term; compacting dispersed and wavering feeling, and giving form to uncertain tendencies; and was, moreover, able to defend his policy before great audiences in all parts of the union.
He was born in New Lebanon, Columbia county, New York, March 26, 1823, and removed at an early day to Onondaga county, receiving his education at the Pompey Academy. He studied law with Honorable Daniel Scott; and at the age of twenty-one was admitted to practice in New York. In the same year, 1844, he removed to Iowa Territory, practicing law; and in 1847 was elected judge of the first judicial district of that state at the first election after the formation of the state government, serving five years. In 1852 he was one of the Presidential electors at large, and canvassed the state for Franklin Pierce. In 1853 he was appointed chief justice of Oregon Territory; and was reappointed by Buchanan in 1857. He terminated his services in this position by his own resignation, and resumed the practice of law. He became a member, however, of the constitutional convention to form the constitution for Oregon, and was chairman of the judiciary committee. While in this responsible position he was active in opposing the introduction of slavery into Oregon; and, as a constitutional convention required the popular vote upon that question, was active in presenting the question before the people; and in 1860 in the formation of a Union party; and was subsequently very earnest in supporting Lincoln's administration and in suppressing the Rebellion. In 1864 he was elected senator in Congress; and was a member of the committee on finance and public lands, and also of the reconstruction committee.
Among the measures which he introduced into the senate and which became laws, are the following: An act creating a new land district in Oregon, with a land office at La Grande; an amendment to the act granting lands to the State of Oregon to engage in the construction of a military road from Eugene City to the eastern boundary of the state, granting odd sections to supply any deficiency in the original grant; various acts establishing post roads; a general law to secure the election of United States senators; the "Tenure-of-office act," which kept Republicans all over the United States from being turned out of office by Andrew Johnson, - vetoed by the President and passed over the veto; a resolution against the importation of coolies; an act to provide a more efficient government of the insurrectionary states, called the "Reconstruction act," under which all the Southern states were reconstructed, - vetoed and passed over the veto of President Johnson; numerous appropriations for Oregon; an amendment to the act of 1861 relative to property lost in suppressing Indian hostilities in Oregon; an amendment to the Judiciary act of 1789; an amendment to the act granting lands to ad in the construction of a railroad from the Central Pacific in California to Portland in Oregon; an act fixing elections in Idaho and Washington Territories on the same day as the election in Oregon; an act to pay two companies of Oregon volunteers commanded by Captains Walker and Olney; an act to strengthen the public credit; an amendment to the act granting lands to aid in the construction of a railroad from the Central Pacific to Portland, by which the grant was prevented from reverting to the government; an act granting lands to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from Portland to Astoria and McMinnville; a resolution to facilitate the building of a lighthouse at Yaquina Bay, and other lighthouses on the coast of Oregon; an act granting certain lands to Blessington Rutledge, a citizen of Lane county; a resolution to increase the pay of assistant marshals in taking the census of 1870; an act extending the benefits of the Donation law of 1850 to certain persons; an act creating a new land district in Washington Territory, with a land office at Walla Walla.
Senator Williams entered the senate at the most exciting and important period in the history of the government. A great war had just closed. One-third of the states of the Union were disorganized. To restore them was a great work, no less difficult than had been the suppression of the rebellion. From the first Judge Williams took a prominent part in the debates of the senate and wielded a power second to none in that body, and far greater than any new member. He soon became a recognized leader among the first men of the nation, many of whom possessed great talent, unbounded ambition, long experience in the senate, world-wide fame, with prestige of old populous and powerful states to sustain them in their efforts to lead and control their associates and to shape legislation.
He originated the most important measures of a political and national character which passed Congress during his term of service, - the Reconstruction law, and the Tenure-of-office act. While ten states were in a condition of anarchy, and our wisest and most experienced statesmen were quarreling among themselves and waging a fierce contest with President Johnson as to how these should be restored to their proper places in the Union, Senator Williams brought forward his military Reconstruction bill; and after long and earnest debate it passed both houses and became a law notwithstanding the opposition of the President and of the Democratic party. Under this law and its amendments, chaos was converted into order, peace was established, and the Union was permanently restored on a free and prosperous basis.
When the President was dispossessing of office the loyal men who had elected him, and filling their places with those unfriendly to the reconstruction measures, Senator Williams prepared a bill to regulate the tenure of office. This was passed over the President's veto and saved the Republican party. The Senator did much also during those days to give Oregon a reputation abroad and to build up the state at home. His bills for the welfare of our state were carefully nurtured, well adapted to the conditions then existing, and in their working have been the means of developing our domestic and interstate commerce and opening for us the markets of the world.
In 1871 he was appointed one of the joint high commissioners to frame a treaty for the settlement of the Alabama claims and the Northwestern boundary, and other questions in dispute with Great Britain. In that capacity he bore himself with his usual dignity; and his counsels proved of material value. Indeed, his part in predetermining the decision of the Northwestern boundary in favor of the United States is something that has never been generally known; and his sagacity and foresight probably gave us the territory in dispute. Being appointed on the commission as a citizen of the Pacific coast, he was expected to keep special watch of the disposition of the Northwest boundary. The dispute is familiar, and is presented elsewhere in this work. Great Britain was fully determined, and by diplomatic correspondence was committed, to maintain that the boundary ran through the Rosario strait; while the United States contended that the center of the Canal de Haro was the true line. It was a point of especial difficulty both from the inflexible position of each nation, and from the obscurity of the words of the treaty by reason of their reference to the "channel" which was imperfectly known at the time they were written.
As the only probable solution of the vexed question, it was proposed in the commission to refer the whole matter to the decision of the Emperor of Germany. Seeing at once that this was a loose and dangerous expedient, without some determining canon to serve as a guide, and that in the interest of harmony the Emperor might easily yield to a disposition of the question upon other than its legal merits, Judge Williams refused to agree to the Emperor's arbitration except with the proviso that his decision should be strictly an interpretation of the treaty of 1846; that he should not decide de novo, but simply explicate the meaning or intention of the agreement already made. So cogently did he present these views that the commission finally acceded, being compelled to recognize that in no other form could it be worthily submitted. This virtually decided the question in our favor; for the Emperor could allow that the treaty intended nothing else but the main of most-used channel, which proved to be the Canal de Haro. By this, the United States secured the San Juan and other islands.
In December, 1871, he was appointed attorney-general of the United States by President Grant, and for three years fully sustained the rights and dignity of the government. Here again it is not generally known to how large an extent the force and pith of the President's policy with reference to the Southern states was in the hands of Judge Williams. To govern these states was the difficult point in the whole question of administration. It was during the time of the Ku Klux outrages; and the laws defied by the clans must be maintained by the attorney-general. President Grant devolved upon him the entire charge of the disturbances and political affairs of the Southern states, so far as concerned the government; and the Secretary of War was direct to wait upon his instructions as to the movement of troops into the disquieted regions. At the time of rival governments form a number of the Southern states, each seeking the recognition of the President, Attorney-General William's advice was closely followed, in accordance with which the Democratic government of Arkansas and the Republican government of Louisiana was recognized. The contending parties in Alabama agreed to submit their claims to him; and his plan of settlement was accepted, restoring peace to a distracted people.
In 1872 he made a tour of the South, delivering addresses in Richmond, Savannah, Charleston and other Southern cities, declaring the purpose of the President to maintain fair elections, and that every voter should be allowed to cast his ballot according to his preferences. The full vote in the election following, and the return of Republicans from Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas and some other Southern states, proved the impression made by his words. Since that time, with the change of administrative policy, the Republican party has made but little showing in those states.
In 1874 his name was presented to the senate for the place of chief justice left vacant by the death of the illustrious Chase. It was hard for the old East to admit that the West was entitled to such an honor as would be bestowed by the elevation of the Oregon statesman; and after a contention which promised to be a great controversy, and which well-nigh threatened the disruption of the Republican party, the Judge withdrew his name, much to the regret of President Grant, who was willing to stake upon his confirmation the success of the administration.
Since his return to unofficial life the Judge has made his home at Portland in our state, practicing law and giving essential aid to all of our great public causes. he has been constantly sought for heavy political campaign work, and to grace the festivals of our metropolis with his felicitous addresses. Much interest has centered in his recent utterances respecting historical christianity; and a lecture prepared and delivered by him upon the divinity of Christ is regarded as an invaluable contribution to this discussion.
History of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon and Washington, 1889
In that year he was a presidential elector from Iowa, and received, in 1853, from President Pierce, the appointment of Chief Justice of the then Territory of Oregon, to which he was again reappointed in 1857, by President Buchanan, but resigned. He was elected a member of the State Constitutional Convention of Oregon in 1858; and in 1865 took his seat in the United States Senate, as a Union Republican, from that State (succeeding B. F. Harding, Union Republican), his term expiring March 4th, 1871.
George H. Williams, Attorney-general of the United States
The present Attorney-General of the United States, GEORGE H. WILLIAMS, was born in Columbia county, New York, on the 23rd day of March, 1823; received an academia education at an academy in Onondaga county; studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1844. He immediately sought a field for the exercise of his talents in the "Great West," and located in the young and growing State of Iowa. Here he displayed energy, probity, and versatile talents which attracted attention, and resulted, not only in a flattering professional business, but in the honor of being elected, in 1847, Judge of the First Judicial District of that State, a position which he occupied, with credit to himself and to the general satisfaction of the public, until 1852.
His course on the bench and as Senator was characterized by sound judgment, fine legal abilities, and unquestioned honesty of principle and purpose. In Congress he served on many important committees, such as the Standing Committee on Claims, Private Land Claims, Finance, and the Special Committees on the Rebellious States and Reconstruction, Expenses of Senate, and the National Committee to accompany the remains of the martyred Lincoln from Washington to his home in Illinois.
His remarkable legal attainments, and especially his profound knowledge of constitutional and international law made his name prominent for the position of Attorney-General when Judge Hoar resigned, but the President for some cause selected Judge Akerman of Georgia, who in turn resigned in January, 1872, when Judge Williams was tendered the office and accepted it. The Attorney-General's office can boast of many eminent names, men like Reverdy Johnson, Judge Black, William M. Evarts, and others, who brought to it the lustre of great reputations, but it has been filled by no jurist of higher ability or more spotless reputation than the present incumbent.
Men of Our Day; or Biographical Sketches of Patriots, Orators, Statesmen, Generals, Reformers, Financiers and Merchants, Now on the state of Action: Including Those Who in Military, Political, Business and Social Life, are the Prominent Leaders of the Time in This Country L. P. Brockett, M. D.
Published by Ziegler and McCurdy, Philadelphia Penna; Springfield, Mass; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Mo., 1872
George Henry Williams served as mayor of Portland, Multnomah, Oregon from 1902 to 1905. He died on April 4, 1910 and is buried in River View Cemetery.
Another historical sketch of George Henry Williams can be found in the Oregon Native Son, Vol. 1, May 1899, page 49-51.
Benjamin Franklin Bonham
Judge Benjamin F. Bonham Died at His Home in This City This Morning at 3:30--Judge Bonham was born October 8, 1828, near Knoxville, Tenn., but spent his boyhood in Indiana, to which state his parents moved when he was but 12 years of age. Of the seven children in the family, Judge Bonham was one of the two survivors, and the only one to come to the Pacific coast. He received his education in the public schools and in the Delaware County Seminary, at Muncie, Ind. In 1853 he came across the plains, arriving in Oregon in September, and for the first two years was engaged in teaching school on French Prairie and in Salem. In the meantime he had been studying law diligently, with a view to entering the legal profession; and in 1856 he was admitted to the bar. The unsettled condition of the country at that time had need of just such latent resources as were embodied in the promising young attorney, who at once stepped into positions requiring tact and ability. In the early '50s he held various territorial offices--auditor, librarian and superintendent of schools, in Marion county, and while thus diversely engaged served as a member of the last territorial and the first state legislature.
Upon retiring from public office he began to devote his entire attention to the practice of law. In 1870, he was elected a member of the supreme court, at the same time serving as exofficio judge of the circuit court for six years. From 1874 to 1876 he was chief justice of the Oregon supreme court. At the close of his term he formed a law partnership with Judge W. M. Ramsey, which continued until 1885. In 1885 his services for the Democratic party were rewarded by Grover Cleveland with an appointment to the consul-generalship to British India. For four years he represented the United States at Calcutta, with credit to himself and to the entire satisfaction of both governments. His experience in the foreign services, at one of his most important posts, enabled him to gain a complete knowledge of internal law of a much more practical nature than could have been gained in any of the technical institutions of learning. He returned home in August, 1890, resumed the practice of law, and formed a partner-ship with W. H. Holmes.
In 1894 he was appointed postmaster of Salem, and held the office for four years. He again resumed the practice of his profession, and in 1899 entered into a partnership with Carey F. Martin, a graduate of the University of Oregon.
In 1858, at Salem, Judge Bonham was united in marriage with Mildred A. Baker. Of the seven children born to Mr. and Mrs. Bonham, only two are now living, Ralph P., a young attorney at law, and Mrs. Winona M. Larkins.
Judge Bonham was also held in high esteem by the legal fraternity of this city, and for a period of eight years he was president of the Marion County Bar Association.
Arrangements have been made for the funeral to be held at 3 o'clock tomorrow (Sunday) and Rev. Barr G. Lee will officiate. The interment will be in Lee Mission cemetery. Daily Capitol Journal for Jun 2, 1906
3rd Judicial District Judge in 1872
Harry H. Belt
|Judge Harry H. Belt, circuit judge of the twelfth judicial district, comprising Yamhill and Polk counties, has the distinction of being the youngest judge elected to the circuit court bench in the state. He is one of Oregon's native sons, for his birth occurred at Salem, November 24, 1883, his parents being John D. and Nellie (Hackleman) Belt, the former born in Missouri and the latter in Oregon. In 1853 the father accompanied his parent son their journey across the plains with ox teams. |
The family located at Salem, where the grandfather took up land and cleared and developed it, placing many improvements on his property. He was also a physician and in addition to cultivating his farm practiced his profession at Salem, continuing active along those lines during the balance of his life.
His son, John D. Belt, on starting out in the business world engaged in the drug business, becoming proprietor of a store at Salem and later conducting an establishment of that character in Dallas. In the management of his business interests he won a substantial measure of success and is now living retired at Forest Grove, Oregon. The mother also survives and they are highly esteemed residents of their community.
He is a democrat in his political views and strictly adheres to the principles of that party, steadfastly supporting its measures and candidates.
Harry H. Belt attended the public schools of Dallas and later became a student at the State Norman school at Monmouth, Oregon, from which he was graduated with the class of 1903.
Subsequently he taught school for three years in Yamhill county, and so excellent was his record as an educator that he was called to the office of superintendent of schools of Yamhill county, which office he capably filled for three years, when he resigned in order to devote his entire attention to the study of law. While teaching he had devoted his leisure hours to mastering the principles of jurisprudence, his uncle, Judge George H. Burnett, now serving as judge to the supreme court of Oregon, being his instructor.
In 1906 he was admitted to the bar and then entered the office of Oscar Hayter, a prominent attorney of Dallas. While well grounded in the principles of common law when admitted to the bar, he has continued through the whole of his professional life a diligent student of those elementary principles which constitute the basis of all legal science and this knowledge has served him well in many a legal battle before the court. Judge Belt's ability as a lawyer soon won recognition and he was called to the office of circuit judge of the twelfth judicial district, being at the time of his election the youngest chosen to that office in the state, the territory over which he originally had jurisdiction comprising Yamhill, Polk and Tillamook counties. The last named county, however, is not now included within the boundaries of the twelfth judicial circuit, which comprises Polk and Yamhill counties. At the close of his six years' term Judge Belt was reelected without opposition and is now the incumbent in the office. He has made a record over which there falls no shadow of wrong nor suspicion of evil and his native sense of justice as well as his knowledge of the law have made him an able presiding officer over the tribunal of which he has charge. His decisions indicate strong mentality and careful analysis, his ability being based upon a finely balanced mind and splendid intellectual attainments.
On the 3d of July, 1907, Judge Belt was united in marriage to Miss Martha Paldanius and they have become the parents of two children, George L. and Myra, who are attending school.
Mrs. Belt is a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist. In his political views the Judge is a republican and a stalwart supporter of party principles. Fraternally he is identified with the Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, exemplifying in his life the beneficent spirit underlying these orders.
He possesses a high sense of duty and honor and never swerves from the course which his conscience dictates as right. He has a wide acquaintance in this section of the state and the sterling traits of his character have established him high in public regard.
History of Oregon
Author: Charles Henry Carey
Publisher: Pioneer Historical Pub. Co.
Chicago-Portland; 1922; Vol. 2 Page 150
Circuit Court Judge between 1914-1924
He served as an Oregon State Supreme Court Justice between 1925-1950 - elected 1924; reelected 1930, 1936, 1942, 1948; and served as Chief Justice 1945-1947.
William Marion Ramsey
|David and Susan Ramsey were among the first members of the Quaker faith to settle in the Newberg area. They arrived in the Fall of 1847, after six months, on the Oregon Trail. Of their 5 children, the oldest child was Amelia Ann, age 7 and the youngest, William Marion Ramsey, age 1. (He was to became a prominent member of the Oregon Bar and Yamhill County Judge). Accompanying the Ramseys were Susan's parents, Jacob and Susannah Shuck. Jacob was the patriarch of the family which included Son-in-laws David Ramsey and Andrew Hagey. |
The Ramseys, Shucks and Hageys settled on adjoining claims in the area West and Southwest of Newberg and were the "anchor" for that end of Yamhill County. However, we find little information about a school or church until Jesse and Mary Edwards arrived in 1880.
They picked this area because they knew it was a "Quaker Settlement." The Edwards were the founders of Newberg. David's claim included the old sawmill site on Chehalem Creek that had been developed by Ewing Young. David and J. B. Rogers, his immediate neighbor to the East, had this mill up and running by 1850. David and Susan were both born in Harrison County, Indiana where their parents had always been good friends. In 1835, when they decided to
move their respective families to Iowa. David and Susan were married. They settled into farming and over the next 12 years, had 5 children. Hit with "Oregon Fever" about this time, they joined the 1847 emigration West.
After arriving in Yamhill County the Ramseys had 9 more children.
In addition to the sawmill, David built a gristmill which was probably the first flour mill in that area. Between sawing, milling, and farming David and his family lived on this same Donation Land Claim for 44 years. David died in 1891 and Susan, fondly known as "Susanna," in 1898, both at age 76. In her later years. Susanna was having severe dental problems. Someone advised her that smoking a pipe would help. She complained that it did nothing for her teeth - just left her with a bad habit.
Before the days of steam powered boats, transportation was a problem. The only way to reach the lower Willamette markets was by raft and small boat. There was a wagon road over the rough Tualatin Plains to the West hills of Portland. The land journey usually took two days each way if the wagons didn't get mired down in the mud.
In 1850, an enterprising young man, James Miller, started a water transportation service on the upper Willamette and Yamhill Rivers. He had a sixty-five foot flatboat capable of carrying 350 bushel of wheat. The boat was manned by four Indian oarsmen who received $16.00 per trip which took one day to go down river and two days back. Charging 50 cents a bushel to carry wheat down river and $35.00 a ton for other goods upriver, was a lucrative business for Miller. However, in May of 1851, the Hoosier, a crude steamboat, appeared on the upper rivers.
This put Miller out of business. Then, in June of that same year, the Multnomah, a side-wheeler, took over most of the trade. Followed by the Canemah, these well equipped steam-powered boats were plying their trade on the river, providing a taste of civilization.
A boat ride was a great adventure for the early Pioneers. Good food and lodging was enjoyed on an easy trip to Oregon City and Portland. While water transportation was good, David Ramsey didn't see much improvement in roads in his life time. However he may have taken a train ride in his last days. Indians worried these early settlers and caused some freighting, sad times. For instance, as the children walked to school they often encountered Indians changing fishing spots. They were usually friendly but if they saw something they liked they took it from the children. The saddest loss to the Ramsey children was when the Indians took their dog "Popcorn." - never to see him again. Another scary thing in the area was wild pigs- an unknown in Oregon today.
All of this went with the "territory." Some of us think Recreational Vehicles (RVs) are unique to our times, but David and Susan had one! They loved the beach and tried to go there every year. David kept his "Prairie Schooner" and oxen. It was fitted with a stove, beds, tents, and all the necessities for camping. The beach trip took them up the Chehalem Valley, west between Yamhill and Carlton and, after paying a toll, over the Coast Range to Tillamook, on what was loosely called a "road". Usually, it took 3 or 4 days, with overnight camps along the way. Arriving on the beach the tents were set up, the stove set out, a latrine dug, beds made and, presto - a "self contained RV." Imagine this scene - camping with 9 children! We also suspect that this outing included the Hageys, the Shucks and maybe their friends, the Rogers. They fished, smoked fish, dug clams, enjoyed the sand, and ate lots of food.
As mentioned before, David and Susan's son, William Ramsey, was one year old when he came out on the Oregon Trail. He lived to be over 90 years 'and was an influential leader around the State. His parents had little education but saw to it that he was well schooled. After 12 years in the public schools, he attended and graduated from McMinnville College (now Linfield). At age 21, he was accepted to the bar and two years later elected Judge in Yamhill County. The young William Marian Ramsey practiced law for 10 years in Lafayette, the "Athens of the West." From there he went to Salem where he was once Mayor and Dean of the Law School. Then on to Pendleton, McMinnville, La Grande and back to McMinnville where he was Mayor for 2 terms.
In 1870, he married Miss Mahala Harris of Lafayette, Oregon. Their four children were: Nellie, a Supervisor at the State Asylum in Salem; Frederick, a Captain in the Navy, serving on the Battleship Oregon; Rev. Horace M., Vicar of St. Stephen's in Portland; and Mary, who married S. D. Crowe of La Grande. William lost Mahala after 22 years. He spent the next 41 years with his second wife, Julia L. Snyder before he died in 1937. They had one child, Margaret. She was a long time resident of McMinnville, having recently died at Rose Villa Retirement Home in Milwaukee, Oregon.
Hines in his book "History of Oregon" describes William: "Of quiet, unassuming habits, and a thoughtful turn of mind, combined with strict attention to business and conscientious care of his clients' interests, he has built up a good practice, and acquired the good-will of hosts of friends."
Yamhill County Historical Society Newsletter
October 2003, Page 3
Article titled “David Ramsey”, written by Jim and Reita Lockett then submitted to the YCHS
William M. Ramsey was the first dean of Willamette University College of Law, from 1884-88. Ramsey's distinguished and unselfish public service had also earned him the title of the "Dean of the Northwest Bar." His 60-year stellar career included service as a county judge, circuit judge, Oregon Supreme Court justice and mayor of Salem and McMinnville, Ore. A lecture at Willamette University is named after Mr. Ramsey.
William Marion Ramsey died September 15, 1937.
Four Supreme Court Justices at Rites
Jurists Pay Tribute at Funeral of William M. Ramsey
Four justices of Oregon's supreme court attended the funeral of Judge William M. Ramsey here Saturday afternoon. Chief Justice Henry J. Bean, Justice P. R. Kelly and Justice J. O. Bailey were honorary pall bearers and Justice John I. Rand was one of the active pall bearers.
Assisting the Rev. Bernard Ceiser at the services, held at St. Barnabas Episcopal church, were the Rev. George F. Swift, vicar of St. Paul Episcopal church, Salem, and the Rev. E. H. Clark, diocesan registra, Portland, and on-time vicar of St. Barnabas. Also present were the Rev. R. F. Ayers, vicar of St. Michael's and All Angels, Portland, and the Rev. Ralph Wisecarver, McMinnville.
Thursday September 23, 1937
George H. Burnett
|George H. Burnett was born in Yamhill county, Oregon, May 9, 1853, the son of George William Burnett and Sydney Ann Younger. |
He was educated at McMinnville college until 1871 when he entered Christian college at Monmouth, and graduated in the classical course, with degree of A. B., in June, 1873, after which he studied law with Mallory & Shaw, in Salem, being admitted to the Oregon bar in December, 1875, and subsequently to the United States circuit and district courts.
In June, 1876, he was elected district attorney of the third judicial district and served for two years. In 1890 he was elected grand master of Odd Fellows, and in 1891 grand representative to the sovereign grand lodge, at which time he secured the session of that body for Portland in 1892, during which year he was elected circuit judge of the third judicial district and was re-elected in 1898.
Judge Burnett is a typical representative of that noble species of manhood known as the self- made man. Throughout his entire life his success and popularity have been, due to an indomitable will, and a broad mind filled with knowledge by unremitting toil, together with a heart full of kind impulses, and good will to all mankind.
In youth and early manhood physical necessities united with thirst of knowledge, taxing his strength and time to acquire both, until he considered himself a common laborer by occupation, but a lawyer by profession. Industry and constant application, however, have earned their own reward, until he is recognized as one of the ablest representatives of his profession in the state.
Oregon Native Son
Volume 1, page 117
Read the Oregon Supreme Court Journal In Memoriam for George H. Burnett.
If you would like to share an image or information about George H. Burnett please contact the Yamhill Web Design Team.
||“Galloway, on the contrary, will probably live to be a hundred years of age - holding lucrative positions all the time. He owns a fine farm in Yamhill County, but has lived in some public building most of the time since he became of age, some forty years ago. He was the Democratic candidate for Governor in 1894 against William P. Lord, but was defeated. |
He was for a long time Judge of Yamhill County and served in the Government Land Office at Oregon City until he decided he would rather discharge the duties of judge for the Third District, comprising the counties of Marion, Linn, Yamhill, Tillamook and Polk. Having come to this conclusion he announced his candidacy and, though a Democrat, defeated a good Republican in a district that is Republican by at least two thousand majority. At the end of six years, feeling that he would enjoy another term, he so informed the electorate - and it came to pass.”
Fifty Years in Oregon
Experiences, Observations, and Commentaries upon Men, Measures, and Customs in Pioneer Days and Later Times
By T. T. Geer
Read the historical sketches for William Galloway.
Henry H. Hewitt
|"The Good Life" |
Henry Hewitt, a rugged Oregon pioneer, was born in Pennsylvania, Nov. 19, 1822, where he received his early schooling. When he was 16, his family moved to Missouri and settled next to the Daniel Mathenys (Ma-the'-ny). They all were looking forward to the "good life" promised by the Louisiana Purchase. Eventually, Henry became acquainted with Matheny's daughter, Elizabeth, and they were married in 1841.
Henry and Elizabeth were an enthusiastic couple. Listening to stories of adventure and wonders of the West from an old mountaineer they had met - set their imaginations on fire. At a large public meeting. Henry convinced thirty-six men to make the journey. They formed the "Oregon Company" with all participants signing a contract. They were to leave in the Spring of 1842 (a year before the Great Emigration).
But, in spite of Henry and Elizabeth's enthusiasm, thirty of the signers reneged on the contract. At best, the trip would be a hazardous one: no wagon train had yet crossed the plains to Oregon. So the Hewitts were uneasy about taking that long trip with such a small group. They decided to wait.
Hewitts join first great emigration
It was spring and there they were about to become part of that First Great Emigration of 1843! The small company, including Elizabeth's parents. Captain Daniel and Mary (Cooper) Matheny, arrived at the rendezvous in early May.
There they joined Applegate, Burnett, Martin and about 1000 other souls heading for the "Promised Land!"
Hewitt suggested that the company move along in four columns-side by side-across the and. He felt sure this would provide the best protection from Indian attacks and create less dust. However, making four different roads was hard on
animals and drivers and, since the Indian attacks did not materialize, they resolved into a single line.
Accounts of the emigration differ. We know it was not just one long line of 100 covered wagons. The train was broken into two or three smaller companies with each having different experiences. Crossing rivers was accomplished in several ways: some chained the wagons together, some attached canoes to the side of their wagons and some, like the Hewitts, made the wagon into a boat by covering the bottom with buffalo robes. All these methods were probably tried at each river crossing.
Rules governing emigrant behavior also must have varied from column to column. Some complained of constant bickering and fighting while Hewitt didn't mention his captain so we're not sure which group he was with. However, he did mention Gant, the famous "Mountain Man" hired to guide the train, and Marcus Whitman who joined them along the Platte River and was a great help to the emigrants. The Henry Hewitt family spawned hardworking contributors to the valley society and the state in general. It is exciting and a privilege to lean about these strong families who were tempered by the trail and developed a strong social structure. It's no wonder Oregon is noted for her national leadership and dogged individualism. He also mentions Sticcus, the Indian guide who was held in high regard for getting them through the Blue Mountains.
In any case, try to visualize 100 wagons, 5000 head of stock and 1000 emigrants crossing 2000 miles of road-less wilderness! Every type of behavior "in the book" was played out over that six months period; 1000 stories each unique and heroic.
"Let us be first"
An interesting trait held by Henry Hewitt was his desire to always be first. By pushing his team to the limit, he was the first wagon to cross the Blue Mountains. (At least first with family and supplies in one piece). His plan to arrive first at The Dalles was foiled by David Lenox. Henry was second!
Apparently, the Hewitts did not raft down the river with the other emigrants. Henry's father-in-law. Captain Daniel Matheny, didn't trust the frail rafts that the emigrants were building so he chose to follow an old Indian trail over the mountains. Some references have the Hewitts going down the river but Charlotte Matheny Kirkwood, in her book, "Into the Eye of the Setting Sun," specifically mentions Elizabeth on the Lolo Trail (Indian for "carry trail") and, of course. Henry would have been with her. Descendants of the families feel sure that the Hewitts were with the Mathenys over the tortuous land route from The Dalles to Oregon City. They left their wagons in The Dalles and packed their supplies by animals.
Dry place hard to find
Arriving at Oregon City they found every nook and cranny filled to overflowing with families who had successfully made the trip downriver. Since it was raining constantly they pitched their tent in the mud. It was several days before they found a dry room. Later, they moved and settled in the Washington county area.
They ate boiled wheat most every meal, and cursed the rain through April of that next year. It was a dismal time for Henry and Elizabeth with their little two-year-old Ann Eliza. Spirits were vastly improved with the arrival of a beautiful spring and their first son, Daniel.
They decided to move up the Willamette River to be closer to their family. Daniel Matheny, Henry's father-in-law, settled where Wheatland now stands and started the first ferry across the Willamette River. (It was on December 11, 1993 that the Matheny and Hewitt descendants placed a plaque at this site to honor the 150th anniversary of the Ferry and the 200th birthday of Daniel Matheny.)
Henry and Elizabeth raised their family at Unionvale, Oregon; just a short ride north of the Mathenys. Of their ten children, nine boys were born after they arrived in Oregon. Ann Eliza, the oldest child (and only girl), was a baby on the Oregon Trail. She became Mrs. John I. Thornton of Yamhill County. The boys became farmers, jewelers, builders, doctors and judges.
Noted sons and daughters
Judge H. H. Hewitt, probably the most noted of the children, served the state and valley for many years. Being a bright child who received intermittent schooling early in life, he was able to attend and graduate from Willamette University in 1870 with a A. B. Degree. He was a teacher at McMinnville College, and Principal in Lafayette, Amity, and Scio. For two years, he was a professor of Greek, Latin and Mathematics in the Albany Collegiate Institute. He married Maggie J. Rowland in 1872; the same year he was appointed Superintendent of Schools for Yamhill County.
Later, in 1877, he was admitted to the bar and practiced with both H. Bryant and 0. H. Irvine. In 1888, he was elected attorney of the Third Judicial District of the State of Oregon and in 1894 elected Judge of the same district.
Taken from a Yamhill County Historical Society Newsletter
Written by Jim and Reta Lockett
Arlie G. Walker
|Arlie Walker was born on August 4, 1895 in Woodburn, Oregon and died May 7, 1966 in Yamhill County, Oregon. He was the son of William G. Walker and Elizabeth (Forbis) Walker. His father William G. Walker crossed the plains to Oregon in 1852. |
Judge Walker was educated in the public schools of Woodburn and graduated from Willamette University with A. B. and L. L. B. degrees, later taking post-graduate work at the Law School of Harvard University. During his school years he rendered military service for his country in World War I. Following his military service he taught school for three years. Arlie Walker was admitted to the Oregon State Bar on September 26, 1922 and began practicing law at Sheridan, Oregon where he was first associated with the firm of Simms and Walker, then later practiced under his own name. He was elected Circuit Court Judge of the Twelfth Judicial District for the State of Oregon in 1926 and assumed his duties on the bench on January 1, 1927. At the time of this death on May 7, 1966 he was in his fortieth year of continuous service.
Judge Walker married Lena M. Wible and has one son, Jack G. Walker, of McMinnville, Oregon, both of whom survived him.
Judge Walker was active in Kiwanis International, served as President of his club, and was a Past District Governor belonging to the McMinnville club. He was also affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce of McMinnville, was a Past Commander of the American Legion, a member and Past Exalted Ruler and Past District Deputy of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, a member of the Knight so Pythias, and a Methodist. He belonged to many professional societies and was a Past President of the Oregon Circuit Judge’s Association.
During his long tenure as Circuit Judge he was twice offered appointment to the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon by Oregon Governors, but both times declined the offered appointment for the reason that his heart was in the work of a trial judge.
Judge Walker’s competence in his profession was universally recognized. His scholarship in the discipline of his profession was profound. He respected his office and enhanced its dignity, yet was a distinctly human man with intense personal loyalty to his friends, and they are many. His relationship with the lawyers practicing in his Court was analogous to that of father and son. This was particularly evident with the young and inexperienced lawyer, to who he gave kindness and understanding.
Judge Walker has added to human happiness and justice and liberty among men are a little bit more secure because he lived. We remember him when he moved among us in the glow of health. He now remains with us in the communion of the spirit. In the words of Tennyson, “Gods finger touch’d him, and he slept.”
Presented To The Circuit Court of the State of Oregon for the County of Yamhill
By a committee of the Twelfth Judicial District Bar Association, comprising Polk and Yamhill Counties
In Memoriam: A Report To The Court, and Resolution
August 5, 1966
Percy R. Kelly
||Supreme Court Service 1930-1949. Appointed Sept. 24, 1930 to succeed McBride; elected 1930; re-elected 1936, 1942, 1948; chief justice 1941-1943. |
Percy Kelly married Margaret A. Gillett on March 29, 1910 in Multnomah County, Oregon and died June 14, 1949 in Marion County, Oregon.
Information about judicial service to Yamhill County by Percy R. Kelly is in progress.
If you would like to share an image or information about Percy R. Kelly please contact the Yamhill Web Design Team.
||Webster Holmes, well known local attorney died suddenly at his offices here last Saturday morning. Cause of death was given as heart failure. The deceased was born at Eola, Polk county Dec 7, 1867 the son of David Jackson Holmes and Mary Ellen Lewis. On September 13, 1891, Webster Holmes married Emma Williams, who with one child, Mrs. Clent King survived him. |
In 1893, Mr. Holmes was admitted to the Oregon Bar and practiced law in Salem until 1907, when he came to Tillamook. He was appointed to fill the position of circuit judge by Governor West for the counties of Tillamook, Yamhill and Polk. Webster Holmes died April 14, 1923, the funeral was held Monday at the Christian Church under the auspices of the local Elks Lodge and burial was at Salem, Marion, Oregon.
Most of the text above can be found in the Tillamook Headlight Newspaper
April 20, 1924
Read an historical sketch of Webster Holmes.
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Kurt C. Rossman
Hon. Kurt C. Rossman
Atiyeh appointed him to the Oregon Court of Appeals in March 1982 and he was elected to the position the same year and re-elected in 1988. He retired in 1995 and continued to work for the Appellate Court as a senior judge through his early retirement years.
December 27, 1931 - April 7, 2005
A celebration of the life of retired Oregon Court of Appeals Judge Kurt C. Rossman will be held Thursday, April21,2005, beginning at 1:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of McMinnville, 390 E. 2nd Street, McMinnville, Oregon.
Judge Rossman passed away peacefully on April 7, 2005, surrounded by his loving family. He was 72. He was born in Portland, December 27,1932, son of Gene and Jane Rossman. He was a graduate of Grant High School and did baccalaureate studies at Portland State University and University of Oregon. Rossman earned his juris doctorate degree from Northwestern College of Law in Portland.
Rossman enjoyed a life of public service, which included a distinguished judicial career that spanned over 30 years. He began his legal career in 1964 when he was elected District Court judge for Yamhill County at the age of 31. Governor Mark Hatfield later appointed him to the Circuit Court bench for Yamhill County in 1966 where he served until 1982. Governor Vic
Rossman's outgoing personality and charisma is why many colleagues and associates called him "The People's Judge". During his judicial career he served as chair of the Judicial Conference's Probate Judges section, presiding judge of the Twelfth Judicial District and was appointed by Governor Atiyeh to serve on the State Community Corrections Advisory Board.
Kurt's community involvement reflected his compassion for people as he served as chairman of the District Boy Scouts, Law Explorer Scouts and Citizens for Better Schools. He was president of the McMinnville Rotary Club and was named McMinnville Junior First Citizen.
He was a crusading collector of nearly all kinds of nostalgic early Americana, including art, comics, movie memorabilia, books, stamps, coins and any other artifacts that piqued his interest. He loved the Oregon coast and relished competitive games and sports of all kinds.
Kurt's greatest accomplishment in life was reached this year on March 26th as he celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife Virginia. Survivors include his wife Virginia of Keizer, five children: Steve, a CPA and wife Audrey live in Lake Oswego; Mark, a medical sales representative and wife Patti live in Eugene; Matthew, a lawyer and wife Paula live in Lake Oswego; Kerry, a paralegal and husband Bob Tompulis live in Wilsonville; and Danny, a sole-proprietor and wife Dori live in Keizer; sister Nanette Kelly of Gresham; Kurt was also blessed with 10 grandchildren.
The family asks in lieu of flowers; donations be made to the Macular Degeneration Research department at OHSU, 3375 S. W Terwilliger Blvd., Portland, OR 97238.
Harry Wilson Devlin
|Former Circuit Judge Devlin dies at 85 |
Former Yamhill County Circuit Judge Henry Wilson “Harry” Devlin of Beaverton died Nov. 13, 2002, in St. Vincent Hospital, Portland. He was 85. Private family services will be held, with private interment in St. James Catholic Cemetery, McMinnville.
Mr. Devlin was appointed Yamhill County Circuit judge in 1977 by then Gov. Bob Straub and served in that position for almost 13 years.
He was born March 3, 1917, in Trenton, N. J., the son of Henry and Elsie Bennett Devlin. He was raised and educated in Trenton. He went to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1938 and was trained to read Japanese code transmitted on short-wave radio. While working with the FBI’s Portland office, family members said, he was assigned to a secret mission in Amity, where he met his future wife. He joined the Army Air Forces in 1942. Trained as a pilot, he served in the European theater and attained the rank of second lieutenant.
He and Patricia Ann Donnely were married Sept. 3, 1944, in Ft. Myers, Fla.
After the war, he returned to Portland and worked for the FBI. He also attended Northwestern College of Law, graduating in 1950 with a doctorate of jurisprudence. He was admitted to the bar in 1950 and began practicing law in McMinnville the same year.
He served as a Yamhill County deputy district attorney for five years and later practiced in the law firm of Knott, Cummins & Devlin. He was Yamhill County Circuit judge, 12th Judicial District from Jan. 5, 1977 to Dec. 31, 1989, then retired. He lived in McMinnville until 1997, when he moved to Beaverton because of the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Devlin served on the McMinnville Airport Commission and on the board of McMinnville Hospital. He was past exalted ruler of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks 1283, McMinnville. He was a founding member of the Bayou Country Club, McMinnville, where he enjoyed playing golf weekly.
Survivors include three sons, Patrick Devlin of Canby, Dan Devlin of Tacoma, Wash., and Michael Devlin of Issaquah, Wash.; three daughters, Maureen Kopet of Denver, Peggy Borgen of Kirkland, Wash., and Molly Devlin of Mercer Island, Wash.; and 13 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife in 2000; a son Kelly, in 1969 and a sister. Arrangements are under the direction of Macy & Son Funeral Directors, McMinnville.
Saturday November 16, 2002
Darrell J. Williams
|Judge Darrell Williams received his law degree from Northwestern College of Law, Portland, Oregon, in 1951 and was admitted to the Oregon State Bar the same year. In 1953 Judge Williams and his wife Florence and their 3 children moved to Dallas, Oregon. After a brief employment with a title insurance company, he began a private law practice in 1955 and continued in that practice until 1959. However, in 1956 Judge Williams ran for public office for the first time. He was elected at age 35 to a part time position as Justice of the Peace for Polk County District No. 3 on a non-partisan ballot against two other candidates. |
In 1959, the Oregon Legislature established a District Court for Polk County, and Williams automatically stepped into the new court when the Justice of the Peace Court was declared closed and he was appointed to the new position by the Governor.
Prior to 1965, Polk and Yamhill Counties were both served by one Circuit Judge, Judge Arlie G. Walker. He was the dean of Oregon Circuit Judges, gaining not only the respect and admiration of his constituents but also the lawyers who tried cases before him. Because of the excessive work load and the deteriorating health of Judge Walker, in 1965 the legislature created a second circuit court judge position in the 12th Judicial District. Judge Williams received
appointment from the Governor to that position in August, 1965. The 1965 legislature did not split the then 12th Judicial District consisting of Polk and Yamhill counties, but rather added an additional judge.
Judge Darrell Williams ran unopposed in all of his four elections to the Circuit Court of the Twelfth Judicial District. He was also elected and served as the President of the Oregon Juvenile Court Judge's Association and the Oregon Circuit Court Judge's Association. He retired from office in 1986, and presently resides in Southern California.
Rollin Burnett Wood
|Rolllin Burnett Wood grew up in Yamhill County and attended Carlton High School. After his graduation there he attended the University of Oregon earning a bachelor degree. Soon thereafter he began graduate studies at the University of Oregon Law School, receiving his Jurisprudence Doctorate degree. |
Rollin Wood opened his law practice in McMinnville in January 1948 at the age of 23. By the age of 28 he was appointed the first district court judge for Yamhill County when district court was created by Chapter 563 of the laws of 1953. The law provided that lawyers acting as justice of the peace for the counties were by default the new district court judges in each county. Judge Wood served as district court judge from 1953 to 1959, when he was reelected to a second six year term.
At the end of his second term Judge Wood retired from the bench and began a second private practice in McMinnville. At one time Judge Wood practiced in a partnership with Mark Bierly.
Judge Wood practiced in law in Yamhill County for at total of fifty-one years, before retiring in 1999. In 2005 Judge Wood and his wife live on the same property they purchased sixty-seven years ago, located a few miles northwest of Carlton, Yamhill, Oregon.
Donald R. Blensly
|Donald R. Blensly |
Memorial services for Judge Donald R. “Don” Blensly of McMinnville were held Tuesday in the First Presbyterian Church of McMinnville. The Rev. Randy Steele officiated.
Private family interment was to be in Evergreen Memorial Park, McMinnville.
Judge Blensly died Aug. 27, 1993 in Newberg’s Chehalem Care Center. He was 58.
He was born Aug. 2, 1935 in Bismark, N. D., the son of Leif and Clara Draille Blensly. He moved to McMinnville in 1946 with his parents, graduated from McMinnville High School and attended Linfield College for two years before transferring to Willamette University in Salem. He received his law degree there in 1959.
Judge Blensly worked as an estate and gift examiner in San Francisco and Seattle for the
Internal Revenue Service for five years before becoming deputy district attorney for Yamhill County, during which time he maintained a private practice in Dayton.
He was appointed district attorney in 1966 and served until 1972 when he was elected District Court judge, a position he held for 10 years. He was Circuit Court judge from 1982 until he retired in June of 1992.
He married Dona Greiner Beck on Nov. 22, 1972, in McMinnville.
Judge Blensly was a past recipient of the Junior Citizen of the Year Award. He served on the board of directors of Mid-Valley Workshop and Gallery Players of Oregon. He also was involved with Little League and Explorer Scouts.
He also was very active in several law committees, including a stint as president of the District Judges Association and leader of the Judicial Fitness Committee. He was a frequent lecturer.
Survivors include his wife; his mother, Clara Helgerson of McMinnville; two sons, John of Princeton, Idaho, and Tom of Sacramento, Calif.; two stepsons, Doug Beck of McMinnville and Mike Beck of Seattle, Wash.; a stepdaughter, Barbara Beck McGinnis of Seattle; two brothers, Bob of Salem and Doug of San Gabriel, Calif.; a sister, Jeanne Young of Portland; and 12 grandchildren.
Memorial contributions may be made to Mid-Valley Workshop or Kids on the Block in care of Macy & Son Funeral Directors, 135 N. Evans St., McMinnville, Ore. 97128-4682.
Carl Hillmer Francis
Former county, state official Francis dies
Retired Yamhill County District Court Judge Carl H. Francis died Monday in Dayton. He was 80. No services are scheduled.
Francis had lived in Dayton since 1937. In 1940 at the age of 25 he was elected mayor of Dayton, the youngest mayor in Oregon at that time, and reportedly the second youngest in the United States.
He met his wife, Viola, in Dayton, where she was a social worker.
He was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives in 1943, serving for 12 years. He then served in the Oregon Senate for eight years. He served as chairman of the judiciary committees in both the House and Senate.
Francis later became Yamhill County District Attorney and went on to serve for more than six years as a judge in Yamhill County District Court. He retired in 1985.
After retiring, Francis served as an unofficial greeter at the Dayton Block House, where he often spoke with visitors and shared with them the history of the town. He served as “a walking, talking chamber of commerce”, a city official said.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Dayton Fire Department or the Dayton High School Library. Arrangements are under the direction of Attrell’s Newberg Funeral Chapel.
Tuesday April 18, 1995
Image courtesy of photographer Tom Ballard
Walter Winfield Foster
The following are biographical notes Judge Foster submitted, which appear to be from a reelection campaign:
Born: December 21, 1920 in Portland, Oregon. Married. He and wife, Marian have three children who attend Walker Junior High School, McNary Senior High School and the University of Oregon. Resident of Polk County for 24 years. Member of Presbyterian Church, A.F. & A.M., Elks and American Legion.
Education: Clackamas and Milwaukie, Oregon, Public Schools Graduate, Oregon State University-, 1948, B.S. Business Major Graduate, Willamette University College of Law, 1951, LLB (JD) Graduate, National College of State Trial Judges, 1970.
Occupational Background: Farmer, Truck Driver, Longshoreman, U. S. Army Infantry World War II, Assistant Attorney General, State Department of Veterans' Affairs, 1951-1953. District Attorney for Polk County, 1953-1962. Private Practice of Law 1953-1965. District Judge for Polk County 1965 to present. Appointed District Judge in 1965 and elected first term in 1966.
Served on assignment by Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court in the District Court of nine other counties and as Circuit Judge in eight counties of the state.
In District Court handle all traffic cases originating from State Police and Sheriff's office; all misdemeanors; game and boating violations; preliminary examinations (hearings) on felony cases; issues search warrants on proper showing of need.
Community and Professional Service: Former Chairman, State Advisory Committee on Juvenile Institutions Oregon State Bar Association Committees on Judicial Administration and Criminal Law.
Salem Area Transportation Study, Committee
Past Judge Advocate of Veterans of Foreign Wars
Salem City Planning Commission, 1956-1959
Note: Judge Foster served as district attorney in Polk County then was elected district judge in 1965. Judge Foster served in that capacity until he retired in 1985.
John Walsh Hitchcock
|Judge John Hitchcock, on the bench in 1996, served 13 years as Yamhill County Circuit Court judge before kidney cancer forced him to resign June 30. |
John Hitchcock, known for his legal knowledge, judicial decisiveness, passion for the outdoors and devotion to his family, died Thursday in his sleep.
Hitchcock, 56, served 13 years on the Yamhill County Circuit Court bench before a recurrence of kidney cancer forced him to hang up his robe June 30.
Named by then-Gov. Neil Goldschmidt in 1990, he took a hard-line approach to sex offenders and domestic abusers. That made him revered by some and feared by others.
A memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, in McMinnville's Grand Ballroom. The family has asked that donations in his memory be directed to Juliette's House, an assessment center for abused children, or McMinnville's Legacy VNA Hospice.
An avid mountain climber, scuba diver and pursuer of outdoor adventure, Hitchcock moved to Yamhill County in the 1970s, after earning his law degree from San Francisco's Hastings College of the Law, associated with the University of California.
He went into private practice with John Pinkstaff, now practicing in Portland, in 1978. From their three-year association, Pinkstaff remembers Hitchcock best for his upbeat attitude on treks into the woods - even a snowy camping trip that left them and their dogs shivering from cold and hunger.
As a defense attorney in the 1980s, Hitchcock sat on the other end of the table from Brad Berry, then a deputy district attorney. Berry, who now heads the district attorney's office, remembers him as an ethical lawyer and fair but decisive judge. He said he appreciated the no-nonsense manner and willingness to take lawyers to task when it was called for. Out of the courtroom, Berry lived his scuba diving dreams vicariously through Hitchcock, who had traveled the seas to dive in exotic locations.
Judge Ronald Stone first met Hitchcock 25 years ago when he applied for a job with Legal Aid, then headed by Hitchcock. "He didn't hire me, but it was the beginning of our 25-year friendship," Stone said. "As a judge, his best attributes were his decisiveness, his command of the courtroom and his intense commitment that justice should always prevail."
Hitchcock presided over the 1998 murder trial of Lee Knoch, charged with the kidnapping, torture and murder of Robert Holliday, eliminating the chief witness against him in an earlier case. A jury sentenced Knoch to life in prison. The following year, he presided over the murder trial of Jeffery Dana Sparks, a recently released sex offender who raped and strangled 12-year-old Lacy Renee Robancho in her hometown of Lafayette. Sparks was sent to death row.
But work did not define Hitchcock, Stone said. Above all else, he lived for his children, his wife and his faith. "As he got sicker, and death was imminent, he was not bitter or frightened," Stone said. "His faith gave him great peace and hope - the strength to live each day he had left with love and courage. His greatest regret was leaving his family, which he loved more than life."
Wendy, his wife of 32 years, can attest to that. She said he had the ability to trade his robe for a pair of overalls when he got home and put aside all thoughts of legal issues. "As soon as the overalls went on, all thoughts of courtroom work seemed to vanish," she said. "His boundless energy created beautiful gardens, elaborate treehouses and most of the frames for my artwork." While he kept his personal and professional lives separate, he displayed some of the same traits in each.
Son Nathaniel said, "He had little tolerance for whining or complaining. He was loving but not overly protective. He wouldn't call you back from a cliffside, because he understood the magnificence of the view." Colleagues and family members remembered him for his love of the outdoors. "He taught himself to live in the wild and loved to be in nature," Nathaniel said. "He had to get into it - get dirty and sweaty and bloody. He was voracious."
Daughter Hope said that passion didn't dissipate with his physical health. "His hunger for life was such that he fought cancer with the same striving determination he had applied to climbing mountains," she said. "Even in his last month, he wrote detailed lists of things to do and spoke of adventures yet to come."
He went into private practice with John Pinkstaff, now practicing in Portland, in 1978. From their three-year association, Pinkstaff remembers Hitchcock best for his upbeat attitude on treks into the woods - even a snowy camping trip that left them and their dogs shivering from cold and hunger.
By Katie Willson
Published: August 31, 2004
(A News-Register file-photo accompanied the article)
Charles E. Luukinen
Wayne R. Harris
John L. Collins
|Presiding Judge John L. Collins was first appointed circuit judge in September 1992, elected to the position in November 1992 and re-elected in May, 1998. In 2000 he was elected president of the Oregon Circuit Judges Association. Currently Judge Collins is chairman of the State Judicial Education Committee and is a member of the Chief Justice’s Budget Reduction Advisory Committee. He has served as a pro tem Judge on the Court of Appeals, for several other counties and for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. |
Before election to his judicial position Judge Collins was elected district attorney of Yamhill County from January 1976 until September 1992, a total of five terms in office. He was president of the Oregon District Attorney's Association in 1983.
He served on the Board of Directors for the National District Attorney's Association from 1985 to 1992. Judge Collins was an instructor for the National Center for the Prosecution of Child Abuse, the National College of District Attorneys and the Oregon Department of Justice Institute.
In the 1980s he was chairman of the local Henderson House Board of Directors which provides shelter and counseling for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, and in 1981 the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce presented him with the Presidents Award.
In August 2005 Chief Supreme Court Judge Wallace P. Carson, Jr. presented the Chief Justice's Juvenile Court Champion Award to Judge Collins, in recognition and appreciation for leadership in raising the profile and priority of child abuse and neglect cases in Oregon, and for his participation in the Juvenile Court Improvement Project.
Judge Collins served as director of community corrections for Polk, Yamhill and Marion counties when those organizations were a mid-Willamette Valley consortium.
Before assuming his elected public responsibilities Judge Collins was a defense lawyer in private practice.
John L. Collins holds a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University, a law degree from Willamette University and a Masters of Laws degree from New York University.
Ronald W. Stone
|Before serving his community in a legal capacity Judge Stone served in the United States Navy between 1965 and 1969. Upon completion of his military duties he began his higher education. |
Judge Stone enrolled at the University of Akron where he received a B. A. in Education in 1971. Immediately after graduation he taught history and civics in the Cuyahoga Falls School District, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio between 1972 and 1974.
Upon completion of his teaching assignment Judge Stone pursued legal studies receiving his Juris Doctor in 1977 from the University of Akron School of Law.
Judge Stone began his legal career in a local private practice and served as Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge Pro Tempore from 1996 to 2000. In 2000 he ran for Yamhill Circuit Court Judge, was elected to position 2 on November 7th, began his current position on January 1, 2001, and has served in that capacity since.
Judge Stone presently serves on the Yamhill County Family Law Advisory Committee, a position he began in 1999. He serves the Yamhill County Corrections Advisory Committee, serving as chairman between 1987 - 1990. Judge Stone also serves the following organizations: Judge of the Yamhill County Peer Court (1994 to present; Board Director of the Oregon Legal Services (1984 to 1986); Attorney, Board Director and Chairperson of the Family Crisis Shelter and Services (Henderson House) from 1982 to present; Attorney, and Past Board Director of the Rainbow Family Services (1982 to present).
Carroll J. Tichenor
|Cal Tichenor was born on October 11, 1939, at North Bend, Oregon. He received his commission through the ROTC Program at the University of Oregon where he graduated with a BS in Accounting in 1961. He then graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law with a JD in 1964. |
Colonel (Ret.) Tichenor is a graduate of the Army War College, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, The Judge Advocate General's Corps Basic and Advance Courses, and the Armor Officer Basic Course. He is also airborne qualified.
Colonel (Ret.) Tichenor's previous military assignments include being the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Jackson, S. C., and U.S. Army Japan; Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, 1t Cavalry Division in Vietnam; Trial Counsel for the My Lai trials at Fort Mead. Maryland; Deputy Staff Judge Advocate at XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N. C., Staff Judge Advocate, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, TX; Chief of the Labor and Civilian Personnel Law Office, OTJAG, DA, Washington, D.C.; Staff Judge Advocate. VII Corps, Germany; Chief of the Administrative Law Division, OTJAG, DA, Washington, D.C.; Judge Advocate, United Nations Command, U.S. Forces Korea, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea; Staff Judge Advocate, Forces Command, Fort McPherson, GA, and Chief Judge, Fourth Judicial Circuit, Fort Lewis, WA.
Colonel (Ret.) Tichenor retired from active duty after 30 years service on November 30, 1994.
He started new duties as Deputy District Attorney for Yamhill County Oregon on December 1, 1994. He served eight years as a deputy district attorney prosecuting predominately felony person crimes, to include child sex abuse and capitol murder.
On January 1, 2003, Cal Tichenor assumed his current position as Judge of the Circuit Court, Twenty-Fifth District. Position Four.
Colonel (Ret.) Tichenor's military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with 3 OCL, Bronze Star Medal with 1 OCL, Meritorious Service Medal with 2 OCL, Air Medal, and Army Commendation Medal with 1 OCL.
Cal Tichenor and his wife have three married daughters and fifteen grandchildren.
Carol E. Jones
Judge Carol Jones was appointed August 20, 2004 by Governor Kulongoski to fill the unexpired position of retired Judge John Hitchcock. Judge Jones was then elected to the same office on November 2, 2004. She served as the primary juvenile and family law judge for Yamhill County.
Judge Jones served the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council; was a member of the Board of Directors of Henderson House between 1999 and 2004; and was chairman of the Board from 2001 - 2004. She was President of the Yamhill County Bar Association from 2001 - 2003, and volunteered for with Camp Fire Boys & Girls for 8 years. Judge Jones also served on the Executive Committee of the Oregon State Bar Dispute Resolution Section..
Born and raised in the Willamette Valley she received a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Oregon University in 1977, and her J. D. degree from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in 1985. In her final year in law school she clerked for the Bonneville Power Administration.
Judge Jones has served the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council since 1999, was a
member of the Board of Directors of Henderson House between 1999 and 2004 and was chairman of the Board from 2001 - 2004. She was President of the Yamhill County Bar Association from 2001 - 2003, and has volunteered for with Camp Fire Boys & Girls for 8 years. Judge Jones currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Oregon State Bar Dispute Resolution Section.
Judge Carol Elizabeth Jones 1955 - 2008
Memorial Services for Judge Carol Jones will be held on Tuesday, January 6, 2009 at 2:00 PM at the Grand Ballroom; 325 NE 3rd St., McMinnville, OR 97128.
Carol Jones died from breast cancer in McMinnville on December 26. She was born January 18, 1955 to Thomas A and Elizabeth A Blue Jones. She was raised in Cedar Mill, west of Portland and attended Sunset High School and graduated in 1973. She earned a Bachelor’s degree from Southern Oregon university in 1977 and then attended Lewis and Clark’s Northwestern School of law, earning a Juris Doctor in 1985. She practiced law in Hillsboro until moving to Yamhill County in 1993 where she practiced law in McMinnville. Carol was Executive Director of Yamhill County Defenders from 1999 to 2004, when, in August of that year she was appointed as Circuit Court Judge. Carol was elected to a full term in November 2004. She also served on the Henderson House board. Carol married David Johns in August 1992 in Eagle Cap Wilderness in northeast Oregon. Together they enjoyed hiking in the back country and white water rafting. Carol loved gardening, playing the piano and danced with the Royal Scottish Dance Society. Carol was passionately devoted to justice as an attorney and judge and volunteered to ensure that those without a voice were heard, including wild animals and wild places. She was a member of the Oregon Natural Desert Association, Oregon Wild, and the Wildlands Network and supported Homeward Bound Pets.
Carol is survived by her husband, of McMinnville, her father Thomas A Jones and stepmother Sue Yunker-Jones of Auburn WA, her daughter Farah Marshall of Redondo Beach CA, brothers David Jones, Dan Jones and Brian Jones, all of the Portland area, sister Victoria Jones and sister-in-law Leslie Harnish of Gig Harbor, WA; nieces Rebecca Jones and Rachel Lambert, and nephews Jesse Jones, Ian Shimabukuro and Ryan Shimabukuro. Memorial contributions may be made to Homeward Bound Pets or Oregon National Desert.
Cynthia L. Easterday
Cynthia Easterday was born in 1961 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and was raised in Portland, Oregon. She studied fine arts at the University of London and graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 1983 with a BA in Politics and Government. She graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law with a JD in 1989. While in law school she interned for the Public Defender Services of Lane County.
Judge Easterday began her legal career as a judicial law clerk for Judge Stephen Herrell in Multnomah County Circuit Court. Between 1990 and 2006 she served in the Yamhill County District Attorney’s Office and in 1994 was promoted to Chief Deputy District Attorney. In 1996 she was appointed by Governor Kitzhaber to serve as interim District Attorney for two months. As a prosecutor she received the Arson Prosecutor of the Year Award from the Oregon Council Against Arson in 1996, the Attorney General’s Child Abuse Prosecutor of the Year Award in 2000, and the Early Childhood Award for Outstanding Advocacy in Child Abuse Prosecution in 2003.
In 2006 Judge Easterday worked as Assistant General Counsel with the Oregon State Bar in the Client Assistance Office. She investigated and analyzed ethical complaints against lawyers and provided ethical advice to attorneys. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Easterday was in private practice with the law firm of Haugeberg, Rueter, Gowell, Fredricks, Higgins and McKeegan, P.C. and handled probate, business, domestic relations and criminal defense matters.
Judge Easterday was appointed June 3, 2009 by Governor Kulongoski to fill the unexpired term of Judge Carol E. Jones. She is the primary juvenile and family law judge for Yamhill County Circuit Court.
Judge Easterday serves on the Yamhill County Commission for Children and Families, Oregon Community Foundation North Willamette Valley Leadership Council, Local Public Safety and Coordinating Council and Family Law Advisory Council. She previously served on the Board of Juliette’s House Child Abuse Assessment Center, the Lutheran Community Services Advisory Council, and as a member of the Lion’s Club and Soroptimist Club.
Judge Easterday is married and has a daughter, a son and two stepsons.
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