The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 6

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The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 6 – Mat Taylor

In the 1870’s, Mat Taylor worked as a blacksmith in Pendleton, Oregon. He also taught dance classes. It’s said multiple times that he never started a fight, but he finished them. A frequent weekend past time for town locals would be to get drunks of all types mad by telling them that Mat Taylor challenged them. The drunk would get mad, then challenge Mat to a fight. He would put down his hammer, or pause his dancing class and then go bare handedly whip them.

Simply because he taught Dance Classes in the 1870’s Wild West, this would be enough to put Mat on this list. The fact that he also took on all challengers…

Click here to read about Lige Coalman – who lived on top of Mt. Hood

The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 3

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The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 3 – Joseph Meek

With little doubt the single most important person in Oregon History is mountain man Joseph Meek. Ironic that he was barely ever mentioned in any of my grade school or high school history classes, nor in the college level Oregon History class I took at one point. The introduction paragraph of his Wikipedia article misses the full measure of the man.

Quoted from Wikipedia “Joseph Lafayette “Joe” Meek (1810–1875) was a trapper, law enforcement official, and politician in the Oregon Country and later Oregon Territory of the United States. A pioneer involved in the fur trade before settling in the Tualatin Valley, Meek would play a prominent role at the Champoeg Meetings of 1843 where he was elected as a sheriff. Later he served in the Provisional Legislature of Oregon before being selected as the United States Marshal for the Oregon Territory.”

By the time Meek came to Oregon, he had already been a fur trapper for over ten years. He joined in on the political fray and was instrumental in the narrow vote to organize the Oregon Territory as a United States possession, instead of a British one. He organized and financed the first cattle drive to Oregon, from California. After the Whitman Massacre where his own daughter was killed, instead of try to take revenge, he took the news to Washington D.C. in the middle of winter. After meeting the President of the United States and urging Oregon be officially recognized as a State, he was then made the Oregon Territory Federal Marshal. A position which he held for five years.

After that he organized a volunteer militia company to fight in the Yakima Indian Wars, then did it again a few years later during the Rouge Indian Wars. Through all this, Meek seemed to be constantly opening up new areas of Oregon, scouting out and building roads, and generally helping out wherever he could. He died at 65 years of age on the farm he settled on in the Tualatin Valley, and is buried at the church that he raised funds for and helped build.

Onto Part 4 – Nimrod O’Kelly

The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 2

The Seven Toughest Men in Oregon History – Part 2

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Lewis and Clark Expedition

In 1803 Thomas Jefferson assigned his personal Secretary, Meriwether Lewis to put together a group of soldiers to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. 38 Soldiers, and later three civilians one of them a woman and her fifty-five day old child, set out for arguably the most important journey in United States history. Incredibly only one member of the party died, and that was from appendicitis, an incurable disease at that time.

Right off the bat the party was in trouble, as Spanish interests may have been slightly manipulated into putting together forces large enough to ambush and destroy the Lewis and Clark expedition. Luckily the Expedition was traveling much further north then reported so the Spanish were never able to catch up with them, or the history of the United States would be much different. It’s doubtful that Lewis even knew they were being pursued until after the expeditions return.

The trip itself was no party. Men had to push their keel boat and canoes upriver, frequently wading through rough rivers, mud, and sand to do so, or to free the boats from underwater obstacles. They had some translation trouble with the Blackfeet Indians that resulted in two of the Indians dead. By the time they reached the Rocky Mountains the party had resorted to eating dogs that they had traded for and some of their own horses. Through massive amounts of diplomacy, trinkets and trade goods, demonstrations with Lewis’ Air Gun, Goodwill generated by having Sacajawea and her son, Jean Baptiste along, the exoticness of Lewis’ slave York, and fiddling by two of the party members, the expedition was able to bluff it’s way through most potential troubles. Lewis himself was once chased by a bear, as were two of his party members. Every member of the party also dealt with various intestinal issues as their diets dramatically changed within a few days and would consist of only one item for days at a time.

Once over the Rockies they then canoe down the uncharted Columbia River and spend the winter on the Oregon Coast. During this time they constantly fend off thieving Indians from the Clatsop tribe (literally, the Indians would walk into the fort and simply take whatever they wanted,) they subsisted mostly on Elk meat and some fish, they built a fort in the middle of the wilderness and got ready to come back through all the same dangers they faced the first time.

The party maintained fairly good military discipline only having one issue at the start of the trip. After the trip most members of the expedition either became fur trappers, or stayed in the army. Many who did fought in the War of 1812.

Only one expedition member is ever known to come back to Oregon though. Jean Baptiste Charbonneau at the age of 55 most likely contracted pneumonia after falling in the Owyhee River in winter. He is buried near the ghost town of Inskip Station in Mahleur County, Oregon.

Next, #2 – Joseph Meek

Oregon Historical Photo Archive List

Oregon Historical Photo Archive List

The following is a listing of all the online photo archives that contain historical Oregon items that I know of. Please feel free to email me any corrections, additions, or dead links.

Alameda Old House History Blog – Focuses on the history of old houses in the Alameda District of Portland, Oregon

Baker County Library – Ghost Towns, Gold Mining, Baker County Scenery, People.

Beaverton – Historical Photo Gallery – Maintained by the City of Beaverton, Oregon

Beaverton Historical Society Flickr Stream – maintained by the Beaverton Historical Society

Center for Columbia River History – Centers around the Columbia River Basin

Family Old Photos – most genealogy and people related photos, but still has nice collection. Scrapes from

Historic Photo Archive – Commercial Site, but has an extensive collection of photos.

Klamath County Museums – Concentrates on Klamath County and surroundings

Library of Congress – Very unique content not found anywhere else.

Lost Oregon Blog – An Oregon blog with present day and historical photos

Northwest Digital Archives – Can’t browse, must search. Results not limited to Oregon

Offbeat Oregon History – Oregon historian who combs the newspaper archives. Has lots of good pictures from the newspapers.

Old Oregon Photos – Commercial Site, but has some unique photos.

Oregon Genealogy – Geared more towards genealogy, but lots of great photos.

Oregon Historic Photograph Collection – Maintained by the Salem Public Library, and concentrates on Salem and the Willamette Valley

Oregon State Library – All over Oregon

Oregon State University Digital Library – some overlap with the OSU Special Collections & Archives Flickr stream

OSU Archives Flickr – maintained by Oregon State University.

OSU Special Collections & Archives Flickr – maintained by Oregon State University. – Mostly transportation related

Portland City Auditor’s Office – Hard to search, but lots of unique Portland related items Photo Website, contains many collections of Oregon Photos

Postcard Photos of Coos County (1909-1914) – Limited to Coos County Oregon. All media is postcards instead of photos

Shorpy Historical Photo Archive Not limited to Oregon, but has a very large collection

Southern Oregon Historical Society – Maintained by Southern Oregon University. Concentrates on Southern Oregon.

Talent Historical Society – Focuses on the area around Talent, Oregon

University of Oregon – Many separate collection

Vintage Portland – Historic Photos of Portland Oregon, with background on each photo

Woodburn Oregon, City of – Limited to Woodburn Oregon

Difference in Size

Difference in Size

Here’s an interesting contrast. On the right the WWII Era Victory ship SS John. W. Brown. On the left, a modern naval transport. The John Brown could easily fit inside the other ship several times over.