The settlers at the little river cities got comfortably started sooner than the farmers in the interior, for there was a sawmill at Oregon City, another at Milwaukie, and still another at Vancouver before the country people could get any building materials, except what they hewed and sawed out by hand labor. The following description of the home of Joseph Gervais which was near where the town of Gervais is located, gives a good idea of the shifts and contrivances of the early settlers.
Gervais had substantial buildings, and LaBonte's description of his house and barn is very interesting. The house was about 18 by 24, on the ground, and was constructed of square hewed logs, of rather large size. There were two floors, one below, and one above, both of which were laid with long planks or puncheons of white fir, and probably adzed off to a proper level. The roof was made of poles as rafters, and the shingling was of carefully laid strips or sheets of ash bark, imbricated. Upon these were cross planks to hold them in place. There were three windows on the lower floor of about 30 by 36 inches in dimension, and for lights were covered with fine thinly dressed deer skins. There was also a large fireplace, built of sticks tied together with buckskin thongs, and covered with a stiff plaster made of clay and grass. The barn was of good size, being 40 by 50 feet on the ground, and was of the peculiar construction of a number of buildings on early French Prairie. There were posts set up at the corners and at the requisite intervals between in which tenon grooves had been run by use of an augur and chisel, and into these were let white fir split planks about three inches thick to compose the walls. The roof was shingled in the same manner as the house, with pieces of ash bark. There was a young orchard upon the place of small apple trees obtained from Fort Vancouver.
The orchard mentioned here was the first in Oregon; but the trees were seedlings, and from seedlings at Vancouver where trees had been grown from apple seed brought out by Hudson's Bay Company clerks from London. The Gervais farm was the first in the Willamette valley proper. Prior to the Gervais location, Ettienne Lucier had cultivated a tract of land where East Portland is built; and prior to that, Nathan Winship of Boston had attempted a location at Oak Point on the south side of the Columbia river about forty miles above Astoria in 1810, and had cleared and spaded up a tract of land for a garden and planted the seeds; and this was the very first attempt to cultivate the soil for any purpose in all the territory of Old Oregon. The next year, 1811, Gabrielle Franchere in the month of May planted twelve shriveled up potatoes that had come out to Oregon from New York in a ship around Cape Horn, and from which he raised 119 good potatoes, and from this start fifty bushels of potatoes were produced in 1813, thus giving Old Astoria the honor of starting the potato business in Oregon. In the year 1826, John McLoughlin planted at Vancouver a bushel of spring wheat, a bushel of oats, a bushel of barley, a bushel of corn and a quart of timothy seed, all of which had been packed on ponies from York Factory on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. From this start in grain there was enough wheat to supply the H.B. Co. and succeeding settlers with flour after the year 1828. Flax was cultivated first in Oregon in Yamhill county in 1845, in Clatsop county in 1847, and in the vicinity of Salem, about the year 1866, for the purpose of producing paint oil from the seed; and a linseed oil mill and presses were erected not far from the Southern Pacific station at Salem in 1866.
The importation of live stock was commenced by the Hudson's Bay Co., in 1830, so that they had cattle, sheep and hogs for their own use, and was using rape for feed as early as 1832. The first large importation of cattle for general supply and sale was made by the Willamette Cattle Company organized by Jason Lee and others in 1836. Of this company Lee was financial agent, P.L. Edwards, treasurer, and Ewing Young [who had been denounced when he came to the country as a horse-thief] was made superintendent and sent to California to buy the cattle. Dr. McLoughlin took one-half the stock in the Company, Jason Lee and the settlers raised $1600, U.S. Naval Agent Slacum put in $500, and McLoughlin the balance of about $900. With that sum, after deducting expenses of getting and driving the cattle from the Sacramento valley to Oregon, Young purchased about seven hundred head of long horn Spanish cattle at three dollars a head, and forty horses at twelve dollars a head. The drivers got free transportation to Monterey on the government ship, and had to drive cattle and fight Indians through Northern California and Southern Oregon and take their pay in cattle at actual cost.
The importation of sheep for the production of wool commenced in 1842, when Joseph Gale of Oregon and his associates bought up 1250 head of cattle and 600 head of horses and drove them to Oregon for sale. That cattle drive broke up the cattle monopoly in Oregon; and strange as it may seem there was a monopoly in Oregon in those Arcadian days. And along with and in the wake of Gale droves of cattle and horses came the first sheep for sale to Oregon settlers. On account of the wolves and other predacious animals, this first large flock of sheep was a great venture by a very venturesome man. Jacob P. Leese got his start in Belmont Co., Ohio, a few years before the writer of this book got through the log school-house college in the same county. Leese conceived the idea while yet ayoung man, that if he could get a small ship by hook or crook, he could enlist a company of congenial spirits, and sailing from New Orleans around the south end of South America they could land on the coast of California, capture the Mexican government, and set up an independent republic after the manner of Sam Houston in Texas. He was successful in recruiting his company, but he was unable to raise the money to buy a ship, and finally gave up the idea of conquest and fame as an empire builder. But he was so infatuated with the accounts he had read of the California Eden that he came out to that Mexican province in 1840 in a trading vessel and went into sheep industry among the Mexicans. This first flock of sheep - 900 head - was brought to Oregon by this man Leese, and was, according to John Minto - a good judge - of very poor quality, being thin and light of bone and body, coarse wool of all graduations of color from white to black. One of the drivers of that flock told Mr. Minto, that although there were only seven guns in the party they had to fight Indians every day until they crossed Rogue River; they lost twenty sheep crossing Klamath river, but that loss was made up by lamb increase on the way, requiring from four to eight pack horses to carry lambs along in panniers.
The first sheep brought across the plains to Oregon were driven over by Joshua Shaw and son in 1844. They were put into the cattle train to be used as mutton along the way, and those not so used reached Oregon in good shape, and proved a source of profit. The next flock from Missouri was driven over by Hugh Fields in 1847; and were a fine lot of all purpose sheep, and was sold out to various parties in Marion, Benton and Yamhill counties. And as an interesting part of this history, it is to be recorded here, that St. Michael Fackler, the first Episcopalian minister to Oregon, drove this Fields' flock of sheep all the way across the plains to distant Oregon, and literally complied with the Scriptural command, "to feed my sheep." Mr. Fackler has been commended by all histories of Oregon in the highest terms as a noble good man. The next sheep coming across the plains to Oregon was a flock of 330 head of fine wool sheep, brought across by Joseph Watt in 1848, some of them of Saxon, and others of Spanish Merino blood. Subsequent to the above importations of sheep, and for the purpose of improving these original flocks, the principal importers have been John Minto and Ralph C. Geer, of Marion county, John Cogswell of Lane, Martin Jesse of Yamhill, and Jones & Rockwell, who imported from Vermont, American Merinos.
The first machinery for working wool was a carding mill brought to Oregon across the plains by Joseph Watt along with his sheep in 1848. And that was even a greater curiosity to the settlers than the sheep. It carded the wool ready for the farmers' wives to spin into yarn for stockings, and the domestic loom which could produce good flannel and the "Kentucky Jeans" ready for comfortable clothing. And with this limited machinery the people got along until the first woolen mill was erected at Salem in 1857. The Woolen Mill Company was organized in 1856 by George H. Williams, Alfred Stanton, Joseph Watt, W.H. Rector, Joseph Holman, E.M. Barnum and L.F. Grover - Williams, president, J.G. Wilson, secretary, and John D. Boon, treasurer. They managed to scrape up $2,500 in cash and then sent Rector to the East to purchase the looms and other machinery, that would cost $12,000. And when Rector told the machinery men he had only $2,500, they were somewhat paralyzed, and wanted to know how he expected them to send their goods away out to Oregon 20,000 miles around Cape Horn without security for their money. It is said "Uncle Billy" Rector replied to that stunner by saying: "Look into my face, gentlemen. If you cannot trust me when I say you shall have your pay, my trip is a failure." "Uncle Billy" got the machinery and the manufacturer got his money; showing that the trust in mankind was much greater fifty-five years ago than it is in 1912.
Although the goat and mohair interest in live stock did not take root in Oregon in the same era with horses, cattle and sheep, yet it is so intimately connected with these interests that it may as well be noticed in this connection. The goat took an early start along with man and sheep in the tedious uplift from barbarism to civilization. From its more timid and gentle nature it is probable that sheep was domesticated by man before the goat. But as man increased in knowledge and wickedness it was concluded by the learned barbarian of ancient times, that it was necessary to unload his sins upon some dumb animal in order to get a clean bill of moral health and take a fresh start in the world. And looking around among the beasts that had been tamed "Billy Goat" was selected as the "Scape Goat." That was probably the first honor the unfortunate wild goat was elected to by the Levites 2,500 years ago. And considering the humility and utility of the poor goat, and the meanness and worthlessness of the sinners, whose sins, crimes and shortcomings the goat was compelled to bear away into the wilderness, the verdict of history must be in favor of the goat.
The Angora breed of goats, now bred in Oregon originated in the vilayet of Angora, in Asia Minor, but it is not known when that was. Some have ventured to say that it was 2,400 years ago. There is evidence that goes to show that they were a distinctive breed when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Goat's hair was spun by the Israelites for curtains and other purposes for use in the temple.
The city Angora, the capital city of the vilayet Angora is the ancient Ancyra, and is located about 220 miles southeast of Constantinople. Angora was the seat of one of the earliest Christian churches, which was probably established by the Apostle Paul. The province is mountainous, furrowed by deep valleys, and about 2,900 feet above the level of the sea.
It was here that this famous goat reached its perfection. That the altitude, the soil, or the climate, or all of them together, had much influence in producing this fleece-bearing goat, is supported by strong evidence. Dr. John Cachman and the Encyclopedia Britannica both state that the fineness of the hair of the Angora goat may perhaps be ascribed to some peculiarity in the atmosphere "for it is remarkable that the cats, dogs and sheep and other animals of the country are to a certain extent affected in the same way as the goats."
For much of the history of the Angora goat in the United States which dates from 1849, this work is indebted to the Oregon Goat Breeders' Association. Dr. James B. Davis of Columbia, South Carolina, was presented with nine choice animals by the Sultan of Turkey. The Sultan had requested President Polk to send a man to Turkey who understood the culture of cotton. Dr. Davis was appointed, and upon his return to America, as a courtesy, the Sultan presented him with the goats.
Col. Richard Peters, of Atlanta, Georgia, in 1854, secured most of these goats and in 1885 made an exhibit of their progeny at the New Orleans World's Fair. These were followed by the Chanery importation in 1861, the Brown & Diehl in 1861, and it was from some of these that the flock of C.P. Bailey & Sons was started.
Then followed the Eutichides importations of 1873, the Hall & Harris of 1878, the Jenks in 1880, and the Bailey importation of 1893. In 1901 W.C. Bailey imported two bucks and two does from Asia Minor direct, and in 1901 Wm. Landrum imported two bucks from South Africa, and Hoerle in 1904 imported 130 head from South Africa.
At the present time it is improbable that any more importations can be made, as a royal decree prohibits exports from Asia Minor, and a prohibitive duty in South Africa of $486.00 per head has destroyed any hope of a successful importation from that country.
However, as it is now generally conceded our flocks are of as high quality as any in the world, we have nothing much to lose by these restrictions.
The Angora goats of Oregon are of a good type, the foundation stock being the high grade Angoras introduced fifty years ago.
In 1872 or '73 Mr. Landrum exhibited a small flock of Angoras at the Oregon State Fair at Salem, and the following year brought an additional ten animals for exhibition. His first flock pastured in a brush enclosure near Salem, having created a great interest in Angoras throughout that section, a large sale flock was brought into the Willamette Valley by him in 1874 or '75.
According to Mr. George Houck, writing in the Oregon Agriculturist and Rural Northwest [November 1, 1897], the first Angora goats brought to Oregon came from California about 1867. The band, consisting of one hundred and fifty-two animals, was from the flock of Thomas Butterfield, a former associate of William M. Landrum, the pioneer breeder, who first introduced Angora goats in California.
These were brought here by Mr. A. Cantral, and he was one of the first, if not the first, to introduce them into the Willamette Valley. They were fifteen-sixteenths and thirty-one thirty-seconds Angoras. There were 150 ewes, which cost Mr. Cantral $12.50 each, and a pure-blooded buck and one pure-blooded ewe. For these two he paid Mr. Butterfield $1,500, this being the highest price for two Angoras by an Oregon breeder at that time of which there is any record.
Mr. Cantral located near Corvallis. Some of the older Angora breeders still remember when he made an exhibit at the Oregon State Fair.
Most of the goats of the state of Oregon are descendants from this Landrum stock, their record of breeding being traceable through the Peters flock to the animals of the original Davis importation from Turkey. Many other flocks have since been brought into the state, notably that of John S. Harris, a late importer of Angoras from Turkey, until today, as the outcome of forty years experience with this class of stock, the Oregon breeders have developed a very fine type of Angora goats - rugged, robust animals, of large size and densely covered with mohair of good quality.
With such stock for foundation, our present breeders have from year to year by intelligent breeding and patient care, combined with a knowledge of climate and local conditions, developed a quality that is the envy of the world and a source of pride to the state.
We have today men who have achieved a national reputation through their interest and development of the Angora and mohair industry. Men like Wm. Riddell & Sons, of Monmouth, Oregon; U.S. Grant, of Dallas, Oregon; J.B. Stump, of Monmouth, Oregon, and E.L. Naylor, of Forest Grove, Oregon, are known from coast to coast and are entitled to the gratitude of the public for the incalculable good done by the exploitation of an industry that has added millions to the wealth of the state.
From the initial importation fifty years ago the industry has flourished and broadened out until there is scarcely a county in the state in Oregon where they may not be found; and the State of Washington is taking thousands there to put to work on her waste lands. Polk county, Oregon, has been and is still the "Blue Ribbon" county for Angoras. There will be found the famous flocks of Grant, Farley, Guthrie Bros., Riddell & Sons, Stump, McBee, and others, and for years the sale of bucks has been a source of profit to the owners, aside from the annual sale of the mohair, which averages about 150,000 pounds for Polk county.
Angora husbandry in Oregon now ranks well in importance with the livestock pursuits of the State. Oregon is second, if not first in number of Angora goats and production of mohair in the United States, the annual clip from its flocks of Angoras running in value well toward $50,000, while the value of their yearly increase approximates $400,000. More than half a million dollars of new wealth is added annually to the yield of Oregon farms from Angora goats. Oregon mohair ranks with the best in the eastern markets and commands the highest market prices.
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