News of the Week, August 28 – September 3

The September 3, 1846 issue of the Oregon Spectator is filled with information on the ongoing negotiations with Great Britain over the joint occupancy of the Oregon Territory. This “latest” news from the states arrived in August when Lieutenant Woodworth of the U. S. Navy arrived after traveling overland to the west coast. He delivered newspapers printed through the end of April 1846, providing the Spectator with the most up-to-date information available in the territory. The readers of the day would remain unaware that the Oregon Treaty had been ratified by the U. S. Senate by a vote of 41-14 on June 18, 1846. The news that the United States now extended to the 49th parallel would have to wait until more recent papers and dispatches arrived in the west.

The local news in the September 3rd issue was more current than the national and international news and provides a glimpse of the growth of the American presence…


Some fifteen or sixteen emigrants have arrived, having performed the last part of their journey with pack-horses. They state that between 300 and 400 wagons must be near the Dalles at this time, and nothing extraordinary preventing, they will probably arrive at Oregon City about the 25th instant. Mr. Barlow has gone to meet them in order to conduct them safely over his road. They state that between 500 and 600 wagons that were bound to Oregon and California, were counted after leaving the states. They think that between 50 and 100 wagons followed Mr. Hastings to California. Gov. Boggs, (formerly governor of Missouri) and family, are in the company coming to Oregon. It is reported that one family in the company is bringing a hive and swarm of bees to Oregon.

The emigrants state that between 500 and 600 wagons accompanied with Mormons crossed the river at St. Joseph bound for Oregon. But it is presumed they will not arrive here this season.

TAXES – We understand that there are some of the settlers in Oregon who have refused to pay their taxes; and we learn that some of these persons are men of standing and influence in our community. To say the least, this is unkind, unmanly and unwise in any individual who wishes the welfare and prosperity of this colony. Such conduct, in the infantile state of our government, is as illiberal and injudicious in its tendency, as ti would be for a person to cripple and maim an infant in its first endeavors to walk. We can hardly believe that any well meaning citizen will, on mature reflection, oppose the fulfillment of these laws, which have been enacted for the benefit and welfare of all; and especially, when these same individuals may, ere long, need the protection of those very laws which they now encourage to have violated. They will find that taking the law into their own hands will proved to be a poor mode of seeking redress among a law-abiding people – for such we may call the majority of citizens of Oregon. We can safely say, that no territory ever settled by the United States, ever presented as peaceable a community, as the settlements in the Willamette valley, from their commencement up to the present day. Opposition to the laws, when it comes from men of influence, is highly injurious in all countries. It gives a pretext and a plea to the unprincipled, which leads to anarchy, riots, prison burning, &c.

And on the topic of prison burning:

JAIL BURNED – Some person unknown, on the night of the 18th ult., set fire the jail in Oregon City, and it was burned to the ground. The Governor has offered $100 reward for any information given which shall result in the conviction of the person or persons concerned in setting fire to the jail.

The jail, which was built with funds from the Ewing Young estate, not tax dollars, was a two-story log structure on the bank of the Willamette River. The first prisoner placed in the structure managed to escape. A story from another early citizen points the blame for the fire on the potential second prisoner, who was free on his bond pending a trial. After the fire the alleged arsonist left the territory on a ship bound for San Francisco and was overheard admitting to the arson after making certain he was safely in territorial waters.

Oregon City Enterprise, September 1, 1876

SEMINARY – Owing to the seats not arriving on time, the public school was not opened last Monday, as we announced some time ago. The seats have arrived, however, and seven or eight carpenters are busily engaged in putting them in place and every thing will be ready on time. The school will open next Monday morning without fail with the following person as teachers in the various departments: Prof. W. L. Worthington, principal; Prof. J. Rock, academic; Miss Mary DeVore, intermediate; and Miss Jennie LaForest, primary.

INSANE – The once brilliant and successful attorney, Mr. S. Huelat, was examined before the County Court, on the 9th of last month, and was adjudged insane and ordered to be committed to the insane asylum. By request of his friends he was placed under medical treatment in this city, but nothing could be done for the poor man, and last Tuesday he was turned over to Sheriff Apperson, who escorted him to east Portland. Thus has the demon of intemperance consigned to an insane asylum, one who might have been at the head of the legal fraternity in this State.

Septimus Huelat had served as the third elected sheriff of Clackamas County and was active in the early politics of Oregon. He apparently recovered from his “illness” as he was living quietly and still practicing law when he died in Oregon City on October 2, 1894.

1896 – Death, near-death and a new house… Oregon City Enterprise, August 28, 1896


YOUNG – On Thursday August 10, Mrs. Mary E., wife of W. H. Young, aged 28 years, 10 months and 35 days.

A short time ago while nursing her sister, Miss Bertha Mosher, who was very ill and afterward died with typhoid fever, Mrs. Young contracted the disease and grew steadily worse until the end. A few days before her death she was removed from her home back of the Portland house near Fifth and Main streets to the Oregon City hospital where it was thought her condition might be bettered by skillful nursing, but her condition being fragile and the fever had already such a headway that assistance was of no avail. She leaves a sorrowing husband and three little children, beside many friends bot h in the city and at Silverton, Or., where her parents and family reside. The interment was made in the Oregon City cemetery.

Looking up 7th Street 1890s

Looking up Seventh Street from John Adams, 1890s

A Serious Runaway.
While returning from the funeral of Mrs. W. H. Young on Saturday last, the team belonging to J. F. Montgomery ran away with his hack in which there were besides himself, Mrs. R. G. Pierce, Mrs. Bruner, and Mrs Goodfellow. The horses stared to run on Seventh street near Van Buren and soon getting beyond the control of Montgomery he jumped out, so it is said, and let the team go tearing down Seventh street with the ladies in it to take their chances of getting killed in the smashup that was sure to follow. Mrs. Goodfellow was sitting on the same seat with Montgomery and soon after he had jumped out it tipped up and threw her on the wheel, where her clothing was almost completely torn off, and she finally landed on the ground. She was bruised seriously in a dozen different places but had no bones broken. The other women clung to their seat until they were thrown out by the upsetting of the vehicle at J. Q. Adams street. Mrs. Pierce had some of her ribs broken and was very badly hurt while Mrs. Bruner had her face badly cut near the eye and was otherwise severely injured.

That the women escaped with their lives without more serious injuries than they sustained was a marvel to those who witnessed the accident. Montgomery escaped without a scratch. He is a large, strong man, and that he should abandon the occupants of his wagon and the team to their fate, is looked upon as a piece of cowardice by those present at the time. Montgomery drives this team to an express wagon and it has been running away from one to three times each week for some time past and has become such a danger and nuisance that he should be forbidden to use the horses on the streets of Oregon City.


The Babcock House, 1214 Washington Street, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The foundation of C. C. Babcock’s new house on Thirteenth and Washington streets was completed Wednesday and White Bros. will immediately begin the carpenter work. The house will be a two-story frame with nine rooms and all the conveniences of city homes nowadays. This is one of the prettiest locations in Oregon City and with the completion of the new house Mr. Babcock may well be proud of his home.

There are more bridges in Oregon City than we realize… Oregon City Enterprise, August 31, 1906

Structure Near Barclay School Drops into Canyon – Four Workmen Have Narrow Escape

By the sudden and unexpected collapsing of the high bridge across the canyon in the vicinity of the Barclay school Saturday afternoon, four workmen narrowly escaped serious injuries. The men were employed by Contractor Harry Jones, who had contracted with the city to place in good repair the bridge which was found to be unsafe for travel. It was while the workmen were in the performance of this contract that the bridge collapsed.

Three of the four men were at work in the bottom of the canyon beneath the bridge, making excavation for the concrete foundation for the bridge piers, when, without a moment’s warning, one of the main sections of the bridge gave way and fell into the canyon below. But for the structural work beneath the bridge the three men must have been badly injured. As it was, one of them escaped perhaps fatal injuries from the fact that he was at work in the excavation which protected him from the falling debris.

It is considered remarkable that some pedestrian was not caught on the bridge at the time of the accident. Hundreds of persons daily cross the structure which connects Kansas City and contiguous sections with the city proper. Because of its importance, the bridge will be placed in repair at once by the the city authorities.

The 1900 Sanborn map shows a planked bridge running through the middle of Madison Street between 14th and 15th Streets, over the creek far below.

Oregon City Enterprise, September 1, 1916

Southern Pacific Warns Public of Strike And Prepares for Big Tieup

The Southern Pacific is preparing for a possible strike, which would tie up traffic throughout the nation. Wednesday H. D. Olsen, local agent, received the following instructions from officials of the road which shows the seriousness of the situation:

“Notify passengers that, unless they can reach their destinations by Sunday night, September 3, 1916, they may be subject to delays.”

Although few railroad men live in Oregon City, a prolonged railroad strike could seriously effect the town. Officials of the Hawley Pulp & Paper company said that they would have to shut down their plant if the strike lasts several weeks, as they are dependent upon railroads to send their product to their customers. The Crown Willamette mills, however, are affected differently. They ship most of their paper by water.

Both of the companies must receive many supplies from the east and a strike would add to the expense of operating their mills.

As far as foodstuffs are concerned, Oregon City need not fear a famine. The Willamette and Columbia afford easy and quick transportation.

The September 8th Enterprise gives the welcome news that the strike was averted by the passage in Washington D. C. of the Adamson eight-hour-day bill.

Construction news, 1916…


Liberty Theater, 1953

W. A. Long, proprietor of the Star theatre, will build a modern theatre with a seating capacity of 1,000 persons next summer on his lot on Main street just north of the county building.

Mr. Long bought the property from T. L. Charman last spring and now has plans for the building which will be one of the most modern buildings in the state outside of Portland. The building will be two stories high and room will be provided for five offices and one small store room. An ornate canopy will extend over the sidewalk in front of the lobby of the theatre. The stage of the theatre will be large enough to accommodate road shows. White Brothers, of this city, designed the building, which will cost in the neighborhood of $30,000.

The Liberty Theater was not completed until 1921, at a final cost of $60,000. In 1960 the theater closed and the lower floor was converted to an 88¢ store by filling in the sloped theater floor. The Liberty building, which had been purchased in the 1990s by Clackamas County, was allowed to deteriorate to a point where it it became dangerous. With no one coming forward with the funding to try to preserve the building, it was demolished in 2004. Photos of the demolition show that the projection room and upper balcony still remained unchanged from the early days of the theater, although heavily damaged by leaks in the roof.


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