First Canyon City White Child
Mrs. Edith Clifford

The following article was clipped from an old newspaper dated March 15th, 1954.

Mrs. Edith Clifford of Portland, the first white child born in Canyon City and a sister to Irving B. Hazetine, Canyon City resident, observed her 90th birthday March 19. She celebrated her birthday in the Portland home of her niece, Mrs. Irving Rand, with her living sister, Mrs. Linden McCullough of Portland, her granddaughter, Mrs. Catherine English, and a score of close friends.

Her one living child, Erma, wife of Federal Judge Claude McColloch, missed her mother's party this year. Mrs. McColloch is in Phoenix, Ariz., where Judge McColloch is holding court.

Mrs. Cliford, whose husband Judge Morton D. Clifford, died in 1941, entertained her guests with a few hair-raising stories of life as it was lived in the cattle and horse country of eastern Oregon after miners had settled down as ranchers.

Recalls Mother's Words

She remembers her mother once telling Fred Lockley, Oregon Journal representative: "We've always been civilized out here east of the mountains. People are generous and the latchstring is always out. Of course, one man was shot because he wanted to pay a bill in greenbacks instead of gold. But, he wasn't lynched - he was killed with a gun. And, we gave the man that shot him a trial before we hanged him."

Father Panned Gold

Mrs. Clifford "blew up" a little when asked by a Portland newspaper reporter about Joaquin Miller, "poet of the Sierras", a former county judge in Canyon City. She said "At one time we lived across the street from Miller - he was known by his right name, Cincinnatus Miller, then", Mrs. Clifford recalled. She said "Neither mother or I liked him. His wife, Minnie Myrtle, a Coos county girl, was a fine person and wrote better poetry than Cincinnatus did".

When she was a little girl wading in Canyon Creek while her father, George Hazeltine panned out tiny gold nuggets for her, she conceived the idea of writing a book about experiences of her mother, who had crossed the plains from New York to Shasta, Calif. in 1853.

She said "Mother was 10 and I envied her experiences, skirmishes with the Indians, who ran off their stock, and being on the road for six months. She told me how a Mormon women in Salt Lake City admired a shawl grandmother had when they camped beside an irrigation ditch in the Mormon city. None of the Mormons seemed to have any money, so grandmother traded the shawl for 12 large found cheeses. When stacked the cheeses were as tall as grandmother".

Life Was Colorful

As Edith Clifford saw life in Canyon City, it was much more colorful than her mother's life crossing the plains. When Edith's mother reached the little mining town in 1862, Canyon City was a tent town with a few log houses.

Mrs. Clifford remembers when it was still a tent city and she saw her father and her husband help to "bring the law" to the inland town. She attended St. Helens hall in Portland while her sweetheart, Morton Clifford, was being educated in the public schools of Canyon City.

"Morton later studied law in the offices of Hill and Mays at The Dalles and was admitted to the bar in 1882", Mrs. Clifford recalled. She said "He came home to practice, and in 1884 was appointed district attorney for Grant county. In 1890, he was appointed by Governor Pennoyer to the Grant county district bench and then he was elected to two terms". The late Judge Clifford served as district bench judge at Canyon City 16 years.

Law Cases Termed "Who Dunits"

Some of her husband's law cases have turned out to be "who dunits" and very thrilling ones, Mrs. Clifford admitted.

One chapter of her book would have told of the time Indians raided Canyon City and how her mother grabbed her children and fled to her father's mine tunnel.

Mrs. Clifford and her husband left Canyon City about 49 years ago and moved to Baker. They maintained their home in Baker until his death in 1941, at which time Mrs. Clifford moved to Portland.

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

..... Return to Grant County, Oregon Home Page
..... Return to "A Place Called Oregon"