Vol. 1 May, 1899 No. 1
Biographical * John Whiteaker

The first governor of Oregon after it became a state is the subject of this sketch. Governor Whiteaker was born in Dearborn county, Indiana, May 4, 1820. He subsequently lived in Illinois and Missouri. In the latter state he married Miss N.J. Hargrave, a native of Illinois. They were married on August 22, 1847. In 1849 he caught the California gold fever, and, leaving his family for the time, went to the mines of that state, remaining there until 1851, when he returned home. In 1852 he came, with his family, across the plains to Oregon. Politically the governor has always been a democrat, and as the standard-bearer of that party has represented Lane county in the legislature, as governor of the state, as congressman and in government position. In all of his official life embraced in these various trusts he was true to his convictions of right, was faithful and honest. As a private citizen he was exemplary in his conduct and a credit to the community and state.

In 1853 he took up a donation claim in Lane county, and upon this he lived the greater portion of the time since. In 1856 he was elected probate judge of Lane county, and the following year represented that county in the territorial legislature. In 1858 he was elected governor of the state. He was inaugurated on July 8, and participated in the confusion arising from the inaction of congress on the enabling act, which led to the misunderstanding, in consequence of which both the territorial and state governments were maintained until 1859, when Oregon was duly admitted as a state. He was a member of the legislature in 1865, when called in special session by Governor Gibbs to accept the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, and voted against the same. He also represented Lane county in the legislature as a representative, in 1866-68 and 1870, and as a senator in 1876. In 1878 he was elected a member of congress, and was appointed collector of internal revenue for the district of Oregon by President Cleveland during his first term of office; this position the governor held for four years, at the expiration of which he settled in Eugene, where he has since resided. In December, 1877, he was stricken with paralysis, which affected him both physically and mentally. Though improving, it is doubtful whether he will ever fully recover from the stroke. Mrs. Whiteaker is still alive, and it is unnecessary to say that she is one of the well-known women of the state, a lady of refinement and culture; one who by her actions has brought her the esteem of all who have ever met her. Their home has been a model one, one where sunshine, kindness and welcome abounds. Six children have been born to them, two of which are deceased, Francis dying on the plains, and Dr. J.C. in 1886. Miss Annie lives at home. Estelle is the wife of Professor D.W. Jarvis, principal of the Atkinson public school, Portland, and Ben and James H. look after the farm.


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"A Place Called Oregon"
R. GESS SMITH