DAVID LINNDavid Linn, carpenter and cabinetmaker, was born October 28, 1826 near Cambridge, Guernsey County, Ohio, and there received a common school education.
At the age of fourteen years he started to earn his own living by learning and following the carpenter's and cabinetmaker's trade. He was thus employed until 1851, when he crossed the plains to Oregon, arriving in Portland in September.
Mr. Linn made his way up the Willamette River to Oregon City and was there employed at his trade for a short while. Next he went to Jacksonville, in the Rogue River Valley, and later to Yreka, California, where he engaged in mining for a time. In making this trip he packed his provisions on a horse and walked across the Siskiyou. In 1852 he returned to Jacksonville and for a short time engaged in the hay business.
He was in the Big Bar encounter on the Rogue River, the first fight of any consequence with the Indians in the Rogue River Valley. Thus Mr. Linn was closely associated with the early military history of the state which had to do with the subjugation of the red race.
After his venture in hay at Jacksonville he turned again to carpentering. He also built fanning mills for cleaning grain and rockers for the use of the miners. He likewise turned his attention to furniture manufacturing and included general contracting and building in his activities. At first Mr. Linn did all the work of his furniture factory by hand, but later operated machines by the use of horse power.
In 1858 he returned to [his] Ohio home and purchased a saw mill, which he brought back to Jacksonville in 1860 by shipping it first to New York, thence around the Horn to San Francisco, by which point it was transferred to Scottsburg near the mouth of the Rogue River and on to Jacksonville by team. This was one of the first steam saw mills brought to Oregon, and it was an important feature in the development of the community, which drew its patronage from a wide territory. In addition to doing contracting and building throughout the valley Mr. Linn operated the saw mill and also manufactured furniture for a long period of time.
He built all of the mills of this part of the state in his day. In later years he had a fruit drier and evaporator for handling fruits. He was also owner of a large barn, one of the diverse elements of his many-sided business affairs.
In 1863 he obtained the subcontract for building Fort Klamath and took a saw mill to that district in order to get out the lumber. In 1869 in company with a party of others from Jacksonville and Fort Klamath he built a boat in sections which was to go on the shore of the lake. On this boat the party, undoubtedly the first white men to explore that lake, visited the island in Crater Lake.
Mr. Linn continued in the manufacture of lumber products until his plant was destroyed by fire in 1888. He afterward conducted a furniture business and cultivated his farm until about 1888, when he retired.
No name is more closely connected with every movement in the industrial development of Southern Oregon than that of David Linn, who was the pioneer of many enterprises that were of essential value in the growth and upbuilding of the state. In 1854 he was appointed county treasurer of Jacksonville and was elected every term thereafter until 1862. He served in the council for a long period and was for many years president of that body. During that time he had to carry the funds of the Territory and the state, following the admission of Oregon to the Union, to Salem on horseback. He also took an active part in the work of the Masonic fraternity and was one of the organizers of both the lodge and Royal Arch chapters of Masons at Jacksonville.
Mr. Linn was married to Miss Ann Sophie Hoffman, a native of Indiana, on August 31, 1860. His wife died August 1907. His death occurred on May 16, 1912, when he was eighty-six years old.
Beulah Hurst and Beatrice H. Carstairs, "Early Oregon Cabinet Makers and Furniture Manufacturers 1836-1897," unpublished 1936 typescript bound in FERA Oregon History Manuscript Project, Oregon Historical Society, pages 13-14
INTERVIEW GRANTED BY FLETCHER LINN,David Linn, honored pioneer, was one of the first furniture manufacturers in Oregon. He was born in Guernsey County (near Cambridge), Ohio, October 28th, 1826. At the age of fourteen he began work as a carpenter and cabinetmaker, and before he had reached the age of twenty-five was actively engaged in the contracting and building business in Ohio.
Jacksonville Oregon, 1856 to 1868.
He crossed the plains to the Dalles, Oregon, when he was a young man of twenty-six. He remained at the Dalles only a short time, then came to Oregon City, and, it is recorded, walked the entire distance, carrying his trunk on his back.
Before settling in Oregon he made a trip into California, and for a short time operated a mining claim at Yreka. After a brief period of mining there, Mr. Linn returned to Oregon and settled permanently at Jacksonville, where he is buried.
During his first years at Jacksonville David Linn resumed his former business of contracting and building, then added to his activities a saw and planing mill, and, later, a small furniture factory. He returned to Ohio to purchase the saw mill which was, Mr. Fletcher stated, one of the first, if not the first, [steam] saw mill in the state. This mill was a steam mill. It was brought to Oregon in 1858. Mr. Linn was instrumental, later, in building other new mills in Southern Oregon and was of material assistance in the industrial development of the state. David Linn defied hostile Indians by taking a saw mill from Jacksonville across the mountains to old Fort Klamath, and so built the fort for the government. In the old days the gayest social life in the Northwest was at Fort Klamath. The homes where the wives and young brides of the officers were brought were all constructed by Mr. Linn. David Linn married Ann Sophia Hoffman, daughter of William Hoffman, on August 31st, 1860. The Hoffman family came, originally, from Maryland, but migrated to Oregon from Indiana.
Mr. Fletcher Linn, one of their seven children, followed the footsteps of his father in the furniture manufacturing business in Oregon. Mr. Fletcher Linn stated that the little furniture factory operated by his father, David Linn, of Jacksonville, Oregon, was never a large business, and never employed more than one or two workmen, while the planing and saw mill employed twenty-five or thirty men.
All of the lumber that was used in the manufacture of furniture was cut and dried at the mill of David Linn. The cowhides used in making the chairs were processed in a large vat which stood on the grounds. Mr. Fletcher Linn mentioned the potash solution his father used. In the early days of the factory all of the work was done by hand, but later machines operated by horse power were used. The planing mill was destroyed by fire in the early '80s, but David Linn continued to manufacture furniture for some time afterwards. Mr. Fletcher Linn stated that his father retired from business about the time the railroads came.
The furniture made at the factory of David Linn for the most part was crude and very durable. It consisted of rawhide chairs, spool and turn post beds, and box mattresses. The cabinetmakers were fine craftsmen, but they only executed pieces of fine furniture for special orders.
Mr. Fletcher Linn retains at his home, 1850 S.E. Laurel St., Portland, two fine pieces of furniture made at his father's factory--a highboy and secretary. The work was done by a Mr. Lawrence, English cabinetmaker. Miss Gaston, daughter of Joseph Gaston, Oregon historian, has duplicates of this furniture.
David Linn was closely associated with the early military life of the state, having been a soldier in the Indian wars. He was one of the first white men to explore Crater Lake and the surrounding country, and for many years held important offices in Josephine [sic] County.
Joseph Gaston, Oregon's historian, refers to him as "pioneer, manufacturer, importer and operator of the first saw mill in the state, and widely known as the founder of mechanized industry in Oregon." His death occurred at Jacksonville, Oregon, May 16, 1912.
Beulah Hurst and Beatrice H. Carstairs, "Early Oregon Cabinet Makers and Furniture Manufacturers 1836-1897," unpublished 1936 typescript bound in FERA Oregon History Manuscript Project, Oregon Historical Society, pages 38-39
DAVID LINN. Esteemed and respected as a pioneer of Jacksonville, David Linn is honorably entitled to representation in this biographical work. For more than thirty years he was a prominent merchant and manufacturer, running a planing mill and carpenter's shop, and dealing in furniture. He is a fine example of the self-made men of our state, honest, upright and straightforward in all of his transactions, and enjoys to the full the confidence of all who know him, be it in an industrial, business, social or fraternal way. A son of William Linn, he was born October 28, 1826, in Guernsey County, Ohio, of old Virginian stock.
A native of Virginia, William Linn removed with his parents to Guernsey County, Ohio. When a young man he was appointed gate keeper on the Ohio National Road, and served in that position fourteen consecutive years. Accumulating some money, he purchased land, and was engaged in agricultural pursuits for a number of years. Subsequently removing to Tuscarawas County, Ohio, he lived there retired until his death, at the age of three score and ten years. He was active in politics, and was one of the leading Andrew Jackson Democrats of his day. He married Margaret Gray, who was born about 1800, and spent her fifty-five years of earthly life in Ohio. Of their family of eight children, five sons and three daughters, David, the subject of this sketch, was the oldest son, and the third child in order of birth.
Educated in the common schools of Ohio, David Linn began to learn the carpenter's trade when eighteen years old, and served an apprenticeship with an uncle, remaining at home during the entire time. He was ingenious, and possessed considerable mechanical ability. Leaving home in 1849, he located near Elizabethtown, Ind., where he was an employee in a fanning mill manufactory for a few months. Going to Muscatine, Iowa, in the spring of 1850, he followed the same business for six months, and then went to Albany, Ill., where he found employment in putting up fanning mills and machinery. In the spring of 1851 Mr. Linn and one of his shopmates came across the plains to Oregon, bringing with them three yoke of oxen, and one cow. After a journey of six months Mr. Linn arrived in Oregon City, where he remained but two months. Going to California, he stopped for a time in Yreka, and then proceeded to the Humbug Creek, where he was engaged in mining for a few months, when he went to Yreka flats, remaining here until June, 1852.
Returning then to Oregon, Mr. Linn became one of the original settlers of Jacksonville, and for a time carried on a remunerative business as a carpenter, erecting many of the earlier buildings in this vicinity. Embarking in business as a furniture manufacturer and dealer, in 1854, he also opened a carpenter's shop and a planing mill, and carried on a large and flourishing business until burned out, in September, 1888. Not caring then to rebuild his plant, he subsequently confined his attention to his furniture business alone, until selling that out, in August, 1903. Mr. Linn in the meantime had other interests of value that consumed a part of his time, and to which he is now specially devoted. He has a ranch of one hundred and sixty acres, twenty acres of which are already devoted to the culture of fruit, principally apples, and another orchard is in process of development. He is also a stockholder in the Jacksonville Milling and Mining Company, of which he is president and business manager. This company, which was incorporated with a paid-up capital of $10,000. is developing a large quartz mine about two miles west of Jacksonville.
Mr. Linn married Annie Sophia Hoffman, a native of Covington, Ind., who came to Oregon with her father, William Hoffman, in 1853. Mr. Hoffman was born in Baltimore, Md., and in his early life spent a number of years in Indiana. Coming from there to Oregon with his family, he located four miles southeast of Jacksonville, where he followed farming for two years. Removing to Jacksonville in 1855, he became prominently identified with public affairs, and for about twenty-five successive years was county recorder and clerk. He died in this city in 1885, at the venerable age of four score and four years. He was active in politics, at first being a Douglas Democrat, and later becoming a staunch adherent of the Republican Party. Of the union of Mr. and Mrs. Linn seven children have been born, namely: Corinne, living at home; Margaret, of Portland; William, deceased; Fletcher, president and manager of the Oregon Furniture Manufacturing Company, of Portland; George, a druggist of Eugene, Ore.; Mary, wife of Lewis J. Gay; and James, deceased. Politically Mr. Linn is a tried and true Democrat, and has filled many public offices of importance and responsibility. In 1854 he was appointed county treasurer of Jackson County, and served fourteen consecutive years, eight years of the time making his trips to Salem overland, on horseback, carrying from $12,000 to $14,000 in his saddlebags. He has served as councilman a number of terms, many times being president of the council, and nearly all of his active life he has been school director. Fraternally Mr. Linn belongs to Warren Lodge, No. 10, A.F.&A.M.; and to Oregon Chapter, No. 4, R.A.M.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904, pages 903-904
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RETURNED.--M. R. Fletcher, Jas. Herd and a number of citizens, who have been employed on the government works at Ft. Klamath, have returned this week, having completed the work.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 24, 1864, page 2
David Linn also is running on his Democracy; well, it is a few shades better than that of some black Republicans we could name. Dave was before a Republican convention only once that we know of; he came very new getting the nomination for Treasurer in 1862, and as the office was his second nature--he had had it so long--he jumped on the other side of the fence in time to get it from the Democrats in 1864. Dave must have the office by all means--it was made on purpose for him, and the Democrats think no German understands figures well enough to fill it. Dave voted for the Republican candidate for State Treasurer in 1862. Tolerable good Democrat, but he keeps his Democracy locked up in the Treasury safe.
"Representatives of Democracy," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 8, 1869, page 2
BREAKWATER.--Mr. David Linn and Squire Hoffman are building a breakwater on the other side of Jackson Creek, for the protection of their respective premises.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 23, 1867, page 3
The partnership heretofore existing between the subscribers under the name of Linn and Hall, is this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts due said firm are to be paid to David Linn, who will pay all liabilities against said firm.
D. LINN,Jacksonville, Oregon, May 12, 1871.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 10, 1871, page 2
Buy a Singer. David Linn is agent.
"Random Jottings," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 14, 1877, page 3
Sebastian Schumpf is now employed at the cabinet shop of David Linn.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 15, 1879, page 3
Mr. David Linn has commenced the work of covering G. W. Holt's new hotel. The contract will be completed in about two weeks.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 3, 1879, page 3
The contract for building the new town hall and calaboose was let on Monday last to David Linn at $1,995. The contract calls for [a] one story brick building, 23 by 36, with calaboose and truck house in rear, and includes paint and finish, the contractor to furnish everything, except the brick, which are on the ground.
"The New 'Boom'," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 25, 1880, page 3
The walls of the new city hall are beginning to loom up. Geo. W. Holt is doing the brick work and David Linn superintends the balance.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 27, 1880, page 3
We are yet on California Street and walk east a few blocks, when we come to the nice new church edifice being built by the Presbyterians of Jacksonville for them to worship in; it is quite a model of architectural beauty, and for finish we think has no superior in the state. It is of two stories in height with a beautiful belfry. The bell, we learn, costing in San Francisco $500, is of fine manufacture with a splendid tone; on a clear morning we think the ringing of the bell can be heard six or seven miles. David Linn, the builder, has done a remarkably good job in the erection of the church, and we must say it is a credit to our town to have such an edifice. We learn when finished the church will cost in the neighborhood of $5,000. . . .
. . . we return along Oregon Street until we come to our new town hall, now in course of erection; when completed it will make a neat and very creditable appearance. It is of brick, one story in height, having a frontage of 25 feet on Main Street and running back on Oregon Street 75 feet, with an "L" in the rear, the building nearly covering the plot of ground owned by the town, and is divided as follows: Truck room in the rear; adjoining is the calaboose of two cells, solidly constructed. We would rather not be confined therein--that is for any length of time. The front portion will be used by the Trustees for their meetings, the Recorder also having his office there. When finished, not including the lot, [it] will cost $2,500, builder David Linn.
"Jacksonville Improvements for One Year," Oregon Sentinel, November 24, 1880, page 1
Christmas eve was the scene of a very pleasant social party at the residence of Mr. David Linn, which lasted till nearly midnight. More social parties and fewer public dances would be a desirable and agreeable departure.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 29, 1880, page 3
David Linn has just finished adding an upper story to his residence. The improvement sets off the structure handsomely.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 14, 1881, page 3
Geo. H. Young is doing the mason work on the foundation of John Orth's new building. The structure will soon assume proportions under the superintendence of David Linn, contractor.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 18, 1881, page 3
The balcony of the U.S. Hotel, fronting California Street, has just been furnished with a beautiful set of banisters, turned out in David Linn's establishment.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 2, 1881, page 3
David Linn says that the next man that calls on him for his fishing pole might as well leave his measure for a coffin. He keeps both articles on hand, and Dave says he is over average on making coffins.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 17, 1881, page 3
ACCIDENT.--While at work in David Linn's carpenter shop last week Chris Ulrich had two of his fingers badly cut by a circular saw at which he was employed. Chris is doing well, however, under the care of Dr. Kahler, and it is hoped that he will save all of his digits.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 3, 1881, page 3
David Linn has secured the contract for building a new two-story house for the Sisters of this place, their present quarters being too small. The building is to be finished this season.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 18, 1882, page 3
David Linn, born in Guernsey County, Ohio, Oct. 28, 1826, and emigrated from Ills. and arrived in Ogn. in Sept. 1851. Cabinet maker.
"Southern Oregon Pioneers," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 8, 1882, page 3
The Sisters' new building has been finished and can surely be called an ornament to the town. David Linn done the carpenter work, Carter Bros. the painting and Wm. Huggins the plastering. The latter is an artist in his line, and the plastering in this building will compare favorably with any to be found in the state.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 16, 1882, page 3
David Linn started for Eugene City last Saturday to visit his brother-in-law--Judge Fitch--who is still quite sick.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 23, 1882, page 3
David Linn and his daughter, Miss Maggie, are expected back from Eugene City in a few days. Mr. Fitch's condition has improved since last week, and his chances of recovery are favorable.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 30, 1882, page 3
David Linn will take a trip to San Francisco soon on a business visit, and while there he will also make arrangements for securing an engine for our fire department, the Board of Trustees having given him authority in the matter at their last meeting.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 5, 1883, page 3
David Linn, accompanied by his daughter Cora, left for San Francisco on Thursday's stage. Mr. Linn will purchase a fire engine while he is below.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 12, 1883, page 3
David Linn has nearly recovered from the injuries received in getting thrown from the stage while on his way to San Francisco.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 9, 1883, page 3
While below recently David Linn purchased a large stock of all kinds of furniture, burial caskets, etc., and the freight is arriving daily.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 16, 1883, page 3
FIRE.--The roof of David Linn's cabinet shop caught fire this week but was discovered and extinguished before any serious damage was done. It was a very narrow escape, however, as a strong wind was blowing at the time, and once under headway it would have kept our new fire company busy in putting it out.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 16, 1883, page 3
The real estate office of A. L. Johnson is being neatly fitted up. A new secretary, the work of James Lawrence at David Linn's furniture establishment, was added this week.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 14, 1883, page 3
PROGRESSING.--The wooden pipe for carrying water to the fire cisterns has nearly all been completed by David Linn, and the work of laying it will soon begin. The Board of Trustees met last evening for the purpose of making arrangements for the digging of cisterns, and it will not be long before our fire department is complete. No date has yet been set for the transfer of the engine to the fire company.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 20, 1883, page 3
A young man whose name we failed to learn was found lying in the road north of town last Sunday suffering with bleeding at the lungs and apparently in a very critical condition. David Linn secured contributions for paying his stage fare to Yreka, where he said he had relatives living.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 22, 1883, page 3
A new hearse has been ordered for David Linn's undertaking establishment.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 5, 1884, page 3
On Wednesday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. another alarm was sounded when the roof of the engine house connected with David Linn's furniture establishment was found to be on fire. The prompt arrival of assistance held the fire in check until the fire boys got water on the building, and the damage amounts to very little. It was a very narrow escape, however, and had the fire had five minutes more start it would have made it interesting for the boys while trying to put it out.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 9, 1884, page 3
The O. & C. Stage Co. recently settled with David Linn for injuries received some time since by the upsetting of one of their stages. The amount received was $600.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 17, 1885, page 3
DULL TIMES.--We never knew that it was so dull in Jacksonville till David Linn told us the other day that he has averaged selling seven coffins during the month of February for a number of years past, and in that month this year he only sold two--and one of them was for a non-resident. He says if this is not an indication of hard times he is no judge.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 21, 1885, page 3
Mrs. N. J. Fitch of Eugene City is here on a visit to her brother, David Linn.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 9, 1885, page 3
David Linn keeps his stock up in the furniture line, and there is no place in the county where a better assortment can be had.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 8, 1885, page 3
Many handsome pieces of marble work have lately been put up in the Jacksonville cemetery. The lots of Mr. Beekman, and Mr. Linn, have been enclosed with substantial stone coping ornamented with marble urns and vases, much improving the appearance of that part of the cemetery. In the town cemetery a very elegant monument has been erected over the grave of Rowland Hall. The material is Rutland marble, and the style is massive and beautiful. The Bybee lot has also been enclosed with a stone coping and a magnificent family monument placed in position. The material is Rutland marble of a light shade; upon a double sandstone base is a massive pillar of the marble surmounted by a tapering column, upon which is an urn of oriental design, half draped. The marble is susceptible of a very high polish, and the finish is fern fronds and ivy, wrought in tracery. The six grave markers are of the dark marble upon a base of pure white marble. The most exquisite little piece of marble work marks the grave of Mr. Whipp's little daughter; it is a tiny cabinet with marble coping. The front is a scroll with rustic lettering; across the stone is a wreath of ivy and immortelles and above it is a dove in flight. The design is a rare combination of art and genius that cannot be excelled on this coast. The work has all been executed at the marble works of J. C. Whipp in Jacksonville.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, December 4, 1886, page 3
Last revised October 24, 2018