MARRIED.--On Fancy Creek, by Rev. L. S. House, on the 14th inst. Mr. ISAAC CONSTANT, to Miss LUCINDA MERRIMAN, daughter of Mr. Reuben Merriman.
Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Illinois, February 23, 1833, page 3
TWO ESTRAY STEERS.TAKEN up by Isaac Constant living on Fancy Creek, two estray steers, one a white with no ears, three years old last spring, the other a red and white pied, two years old last spring, each marked with two underbits in the right ear, and appraised to $10 each by Lyman Merriman and Reuben Merriman, before me this 5th day of December. Wm. F. Elkin, j.p.
A true copy.
Attest, C. R. MATHENY.
Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Illinois, December 14, 1833, page 3
A SCHOOL TEACHER WANTEDIMMEDIATELY.--One who is qualified to teach, will find a pleasant situation and good wages by applying to Reuben Merriman or Isaac Constant, on Fancy Creek, Sangamon County.
Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Illinois, December 3, 1836, page 2
DIED:--On Wolf Creek, on the 27th ult., JOSEPHINE FRANCES, aged about 1 year, youngest daughter of Mr. Isaac Constant.
Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Illinois, September 4, 1845, page 2
We have seen a letter from A. R. Elder and Sanford Watson, dated at St. Joseph, 7th May, stating that their company had been very successful thus far, and were in good health. Bush, Logan, Isaac Constant, Z. Elkin and James Constant were well. The company was on the eve of starting for the plains.
We are pained to state that Mr. William Leggott, late of this city, belonging to Mr. Cook's company, died near St. Joseph, of cholera.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, May 28, 1849, page 2
I saw young Pierson the other day; he went through by Oregon, and left George Goudy at Oregon City, working at his trade for $2,000 a year, Vanmeter keeping school, and Isaac Constant making shingles.
Letter of Cook Matheny, San Jose, California, dated December 18, 1849, in "Struck a Lead!" Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Illinois, February 21, 1850, page 2
FROM OREGON.--The following is an extract of a letter from Mr. Isaac Constant, of Wolf Creek, in this county, who left this place last spring for Oregon, as well for his health as "to see what he could see"--dated
Oregon City, Oregon Ter., Oct. 1, 1849.We arrived in the valley of Willamette on the 10th of September, all well and in fine spirits. I am in better health than I have been for the four last years. The boys who came with me have gone to the gold mines. I shall stay here this winter, and shall go home in the spring if I can get company, and if not I shall wait till next winter and go round by water.
We have had a pleasant trip of the kind. We made the trip in four months. We left Watson on the west side of the Black Hills. His company thought we traveled too fast for them. They will get in about twenty days after us.
I have been at Hussey's, Burden's, Burd's and Yodom's. They are all well and doing well. I have not seen much of the country yet, but I am pleased with what I have seen. It is a healthy country. The people look fresh and healthy. A man can make a living here with half the labor he can in the States.
Provisions in the city and through the country are high. Bacon is 25 cents a lb., beef from 8 to 12 per lb., butter and cheese 50 cents per lb., potatoes $2 per bushel, onions $4 per bushel, wheat $2 per bushel, flour from 6 to 8 cents per lb. Wages are almost in proportion. Common laborers are getting from $4 to $6 a day, carpenters from $8 to $12, clerks from 1 to 2,000 dollars a year and board.
The people of Oregon have nearly all been to the mines. They have made from one to ten thousand dollars each. A man can make from 16 to $50 a day in the mines, but it is very sickly. I thought if I wanted to labor, I could do well enough here. I can get $16 a thousand for shingles, and can make from 10 to 1200 a day.
Tell G.M. that I have seen that big timber. I have seen trees 300 feet high. I have seen one acre of timber that I believe would fence 200 acres of land.
Wheat, oats, potatoes, onions and turnips are fine. They sow wheat from September to June, and harvest from July to October. This is not a corn country--the nights are too cold. But there is no necessity for corn here. The range is good the year round.
I have sold the wagon for one hundred dollars. The oxen I have not sold yet. I can get one hundred dollars a yoke. I have been offered $150 dollars for my pony. . . .
ISAAC CONSTANT.Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, February 26, 1850, page 2
FURTHER FROM OREGON.--We have received a letter from Isaac Constant, dated Milwaukie, Oregon, March 10. He had recovered his health, was pleased with the country, and wished that his family were with him. He had done well by his personal labor, clearing 13 dollars every working day. He speaks of the climate, and of the rains of winter, as others have done. He was contemplating a trip to Rogue River with a company, where gold had been found, in which case he should not return until fall, and then come home by the Isthmus. .We judge from Mr. Constant's letter that he would be glad where he settled in Oregon, with his family and friends about him. He says it is a good country for industrious men to live in.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, July 18, 1850, page 2
Mr. Isaac Constant reached his home in this county, on Wolf Creek, yesterday, from Oregon. He came by the overland route--packing one horse and riding another. We have not seen him.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, August 29, 1850, page 3
OREGON CITY, Aug. 29, 1850.DEAR FATHER:
I know a little description of this country would prove interesting to you, and I will give it as well as I can.
Our climate is much warmer in the winter, and colder in the summer, than that of Springfield. The wind blows from the south in the winter and from the north in summer. Some winters are so mild that things grow all the season, while others are much colder. There are two months in the year in which we have no rain. These are August and September. The rainy reason commences about the first of October, and sometimes as late as November, and continues until April. It rains, on an average, about one half this time.
The country is very pretty, and much more so than Illinois. Wheat and all kinds of small grain are raised in great abundance. Vegetables do well. Corn is not cultivated profitably. Farming is very profitable here if rightly followed. The health is much better than in Illinois. Serious cases of fever are very rare. I was sick about four weeks last spring; but it was through my own carelessness. I exposed myself too much in the rain; but since then I never felt better in my life.
Prices are very high--a common laborer can make from three to five dollars per day; and mechanics from five to fifteen dollars per day. Cows are worth from $50 to $150; oxen per yoke, $100 to $200. American mares $150 to $300.
People have got tired of going to the gold mines. They have found out that it is not so profitable as at first supposed. I have no idea of going. I can make more money here, and have my health and live like a white man. Business is not so good here as it was last winter; but the country is going ahead rapidly. I am at work at my trade for five dollars per day. I think of starting a shop of my own as soon as I can get stock from California. I should like very much to come back and see you; but I think I can do much better here than there.
If you have any idea of coming out, let me know, and I will take a claim, as I have sold the one I took last season. There are now many chances to embark in business. It you should wish to come, just go to Mr. Isaac Constant, who can tell you more than I can. He will tell you how to fit out. If you should come, bring two or three mares with foal; the best you can get; and also three or four good cows and heifers. They will be very valuable here, and will prove a very good speculation. You should also bring one or two men along to help drive your cattle. Be sure not to load your wagons too heavy--1500 lbs. in each is enough for four yoke of cattle. If you think of coming, write the very next day after you receive this. I have tried to give you something of an idea of the country, and you can decide for yourself.
Your affectionate son,P.S.--If you do come, bring nothing but boots and shoes, and fine clothing, if you want any. I got me a cloth coat last winter; it cost $50; although the cloth is almost as cheap here as in Springfield; but the tailor’s charge too much for making. I should like to have another rifle like the one I brought before. I traded it off for a horse, for which I can get $100.
Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Illinois, November 15, 1850, page 2
In the fall of 1850, Isaac Constant, a near neighbor, whose farm joined ours, returned from Oregon. He had crossed the plains with ox teams in 1848 and returned with saddle and pack horses. It is needless to say that Mr. Constant was the center of interest for the neighborhood. The glowing accounts he gave of the beauty of the country, of the mildness of the climate, the fertility of the soil, and the fact that a man and wife were entitled to a half section of land to be selected by themselves in a new country where the hand of the white man had not yet made his mark. Mr. Constant also brought some gold dust, which I remember was shown in a glass dish, which excited and fired the imagination. Mr. Constant was a man that commanded the confidence of his neighbors. He was a well-to-do farmer, was the owners of one of the finest farms in the best part of Illinois. His trip to Oregon was to spy out the land. But unlike the Israelites that were sent by Moses to spy out their promised land and brought back a conflicting account of the country, one bunch of grapes, some pomegranates and a few dried figs, Mr. Constant brought gold dust and a truthful account of the fertile valleys, clear-running streams, the wonderful forests and mountains of Oregon.
It is needless to say that in our neighborhood there was great planning to come to Oregon. Farms were offered for sale, but there were few buyers. My father alone succeeded in selling his farm, and no doubt at a great sacrifice. As I remember, my father received about $3000 for 160 acres of finest farming land and 40 acres of timber land in the Sangamon River bottom.
Mr. Constant failed to sell his farm, remained another year, and finally selling out, crossed the plains in 1852 and settled in Jackson County, the town of Central Point being a part of his donation claim.
George W. Riddle, "History of Early Days in Oregon," Riddle Enterprise, 1920, page 4
Having understood that Mr. Isaac Constant had returned from Oregon, we visited him at his residence, on Wolf Creek, in this county, on Saturday last. We found him in good health, where he arrived on Thursday night, having left Oregon City on the 5th of June.
Mr. Constant left this county a year ago last March for Oregon, mainly in the pursuit of health, but with a determination to see as much of the country as his circumstances when there would permit. His company consisted of two young men besides himself, and he had one wagon and a team made up of two yoke of steers and two yoke of heifers. He states that the worst part of the way he passed over was between this point and St. Joseph--that he met with no serious difficulties beyond, and no difficulties at all which were not surmounted. Most of the road was fine--as broadly marked in many places as our own streets. There were occasionally beyond the mountains patches of light sand or ashes, in which the cattle would sink some inches, and which would cause very great dust, but they did not often occur, and scarcely ever extended over from five to seven miles. He had never occasion to stop at any place without water but once, and that was beyond the pass between the Big Sandy and Green rivers. Between these rivers there is a stretch of near forty miles without water. In the center of the distance, however, there is tolerable grass. Over this portion of the route, they commenced their journey in the afternoon, fed when they arrived at the grass, and the next day about ten o'clock reached Green River. In that elevated country, the nights being cool, the cattle did not suffer for water. In fact, when they arrived at the Green River and drove the cattle into it, they seemed not greedy to drink. This obstacle was easily surmounted. Mr. Constant lost one of his cattle on the Platte by drinking saleratus water, the watchman having fallen asleep.
Mr. Constant was but three days and a half in going through the Cascade Mountains. Some persons who wait until late and mope along are six or eight days in going through. The road is cut through the timber, is somewhat rough, but can be passed over in safety by patience and labor. One hill has a high grade, and, descending west, it is more than a mile to the foot of it. Some lowered their wagons by means of long ropes. His cattle, however, took his down, somewhat in a hurry, to be sure, but safely. He arrived at Oregon City on the 10th of September, and soon sold out his wagon, team, provisions left &c., for more than the whole cost of the outfit.
Mr. Constant, having recovered his health, found business at Milwaukie, and worked there several months. He found time to make an excursion into Yamhill country to see his old county neighbors, who had emigrated there, make a claim, and also to go up the Upper Willamette to the forks, we suppose a distance of about a hundred miles. He found the country as usually represented--small rivers emptying into the Willamette on each side--hills between the rivers, covered with short oaks, having the appearance of oak openings--high bottoms and sides of hills suitable for cultivation. Many of the bottom prairies were to appearance as rich as lands in Illinois. The hilly land did not have that appearance, but produced fine wheat--as beautiful as he had ever seen. All small grains appeared to flourish, as well as vegetables. The potatoes were fine. Of cultivated fruit, there was but little. In the French Prairie, there was a species of small apple--called the French apple--that produced wonderfully. Peaches succeeded well, though the variety was small. A gentleman from Iowa had carried through successfully grafts of several varieties of apples, and was then selling small trees for one dollar each. All kinds of produce were high--for instance, oats $3 a bushel, and sheaf oats $2.50 per dozen bundles.
The discovery of gold in California had interrupted regular farming operations. Many farmers had left their business, and young men who had been successful in digging gold could not be induced to work. Still, those farmers who attended to their business were reaping a golden reward, which seemed to be of service to them. It was, however, apparent that farmers do not work in Oregon as they do in the States. Being relieved from raising food for supplying stock in winter, they have abundant time to make improvements, which, however are much neglected. As an evidence of the amount of wheat which can be raised by one man, it is stated that a single individual raised and harvested ninety acres. The sowing of the wheat took place during several months, and the fields ripened in succession, and thus was the farmer enabled to cut and secure it. Stock was also high--hogs, cattle and horses--and all were raised with little attention. Dry goods were about double the price they usually are here; groceries still higher; iron 12½ cents per lb., but when worked up by a blacksmith the price was above all reason. Cooking stoves which are worth $35 here would bring $200 in Oregon.
Labor was high, but the towns were progressing in improvements. Vessels of different kinds were constantly arriving and departing from the river. Money was plenty, and there was great activity in all kinds of business.
Mr. Constant, in company with six others, left Oregon, as before stated, on the 5th of June. Each man rode one horse and packed another. They were well armed. In passing through the Cascade Mountains they came over snow, in some places six and eight feet deep. When they arrived at Deschutes River, at the east base of the Cascades, the Indians wanted them to stay and dig gold. They exhibited fine specimens of gold which they had found in the river. One of the company washed two pans of sand, and also found gold. In coming on, crossing Powder and Burnt rivers, they found every appearance of gold. Gold had been found, too, in the streams which run into the Willamette, though not in sufficient abundance to pay well.
On this side of the Rocky Mountains they met the party of Brown, Young, Hussey and Dr. Ambrose. He learned that Mr. Young had lost his oldest son on the Platte, of diarrhea--sick only two days. There had been much sickness among the emigrants on the south side of the Platte, attributed to bad water, which they took from holes dug in the sand. Mr. C. came down on the north side of the Platte, where the water was fine, and although a great emigration had gone that way, he heard of no sickness. He followed the Platte down, and crossed at Old Fort Kearny. The company traveled every day. They killed some game. Mr. C. killed four buffaloes. They were not troubled at all by Indians. They stood guard only five nights during their trip, which was on Snake River, to prevent their horses from being stolen by the thievish Indians.
Companies can pass over the route faster by packing than in any other manner, but not so comfortably as by having a team and wagon. Mr. C. says that with a light wagon and suitable team, he can go from the Missouri River to the Willamette easily in three and a half months, and would want no longer time.
Mr. Constant communicated to us a variety of other interesting information, which we have not now time to give. He freely expresses his opinion of the country, the proper means of reaching there &c., but he will advise no man to go to Oregon. Things which were not disagreeable to him might be so to others; obstacles which he surmounted might be too great for those who should follow him, the country which struck him favorably, the advantages it appeared to him to offer to the ambitious and enterprising--might present a different aspect to those who might follow after him. Mr. C. left home with his constitution greatly impaired; he regained his health on the route; he never enjoyed better health than in Oregon, and although much is said here of the rainy winter season there, he worked nearly the whole winter season outdoors, without serious inconvenience, and although he had suffered here winters severely with rheumatism, there he had but a single slight attack, early in winter, and which was of short duration.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, September 3, 1850, page 2
Some Other Oregon Items.
Mr. Constant confirms the statement that several Indians came down from the Spokane country in May with a quantity of sand gathered in that country, which they supposed in their simplicity was the material of which the whites made powder. This they gave to Capt. N. Crosby, an extensive merchant of Milwaukie. It resembled the sands in which gold was found on the Sacramento, and on washing it, it was found to contain a large portion of pure gold. Capt. N. ascertained of the Indians the locality where the sand was found, and immediately proceeded to make up a company, and, with a large stock of goods, to proceed at once to the spot. There was apparently no doubt among those who knew all the facts in relation to the matter that the Spokane country was likely to prove an El Dorado, if not the El Dorado of the day. It is a healthy region, in the neighborhood of that beautiful valley in the Blue Mountains which every wearied traveler admires, known as the "Grand Ronde"--a valley of prairies and groves, streams of pure water and rich soil--seeming to tired emigrants as beautiful as the valley of Rasselas. In this neighborhood also there are large settlements of Indians, who are rich in stock, raise potatoes and some other vegetables, and whose labor might be made available by the whites in their search for gold. Capt. Crosby was quite certain of amassing fortunes for all the members of his company, and strongly urged Mr. Constant to be one of them, but he had made up his mind to return home--and home he did and would come
The five Cayuse Indians engaged in the murder of Dr. Whitman's family were hung the day before Mr. C. left Oregon City. There was a large collection of people present. The inhabitants far and near seemed to have turned out to witness the exhibition. Mr. Meek, Marshal of the Territory, performed the sad duty of their execution. The Indians expressed a willingness to die for their people, but they had an utter repugnance to the fatal rope. They said if the whites would take them down and shoot them, they would be perfectly satisfied. The sentence of the law was inexorable. The five Indians were soon swinging in the air. Many Indians were present, and, it was understood, many of the Cayuse tribe. These executions will put a stop to all outrages against the whites by those Indians who can be reached by our arms.
We shall not undertake to give a statement of the amount of fir timber upon one acre of land. It is great beyond conception--not room sufficient to lie upon the ground. When land is to be cleared of this timber it is burnt green and standing; the turpentine in the tree enables this to be effected without difficulty; for timber, plank &c. the trees are not generally cut down; they are burnt down. This is easily done. Chips are cut out near the ground--a fire is made up of some dry material by the tree; the turpentine oozes out from the wound, takes fire; the wood soon ignites about it and burns until the tree falls, without injury to the timber. Fir makes excellent shingles, and perhaps it will interest our shingle makers to know that the timber can be more profitably worked up into shingles by hand than by machinery, and the handmade shingles there are regarded as much the best. Fir is the most plentiful of the evergreen timber that grows near the mouth of the Willamette.
Mr. C. made an excursion up the Willamette in a pirogue, propelled by Indians. They are at home in this employment. He found some slight rapids in the river, but believes with improvement it can be made navigable for steamboats of a small size. The banks of the river were generally covered with timber. But few fish in this stream. Salmon cannot scale the falls at Oregon City. The river will soon become a great artery for commerce. Settlements are steadily progressing south. James Watson's farm is high up in the Rickreall, which heads in the Coast Mountains.
Mr. C. admired the Yamhill country. It embraces hills and valleys, beautiful streams, timber and prairie. The settlement of the Messrs. Hussey, Burden, Branson, Bird, Eaton and Yokum is in the Yamhill country. Messrs. Sanford Watson and Elder had made claims in the same section. Mr. Hussey's residence is but eighteen miles from Clatsop Bay, on the Pacific. There is a trail passing directly by his place to the bay. On a clear night, the roar of the surf can be distinctly heard from this point.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, September 4, 1850, page 2
Some Other Oregon Items.Mr. Constant visited the office of the Oregon Spectator, at Oregon City. It gives employment to the editor, and Mr. Goudy, printer, late of this city. The paper is printed weekly. Its circulation is not large. The mail arrangements for the destruction of papers in the interior are of little value. This is an evil sensibly felt, and ought to be corrected. The settlements should have the benefits of weekly mails. There should be a government mail agent in Oregon, who should give his exclusive attention to his duties. Most of the persons who live in the Willamette Valley obtain their letters and papers from Oregon City. The Spectator has a general circulation in the river towns.
Mr. Constant intended to return home by the way of the Umpqua Valley, but a sufficient company could not, when he wished to leave, be made up for that purpose. He saw many persons who had visited and explored the valley. It was represented by them as the best portion of Oregon. The valley was twenty-five and fifty miles wide. The buttes or hills in the valley, rising beautifully from the plain, were covered with timber, while between them tracts of fine prairie were often found embracing several sections. The country was well watered with fine living streams. There were salmon fisheries on the river, and the tide rose for some 70 miles inland. The climate was more mild than in the Willamette--equally healthy--and the scenery exceedingly beautiful. Some settlements had already been made in the valley. While the country was productive in grain, it was considered to be still better calculated for the raising of stock. A man there, with a hundred head of cattle, would, in a few years, be wealthy. His cattle would require but little care, and he need only raise grain enough for his own consumption. The Messrs. Applegate, who had explored the Umpqua Valley, had removed into it from the Willamette Valley. These are shrewd men, and their movement was likely to be followed by other emigrants.
In a very short period, Mr. C. thinks that fine settlements will be found in the Umpqua Valley. The location being on the road from the Willamette to California, the market of both countries will be open for their cattle. The Indians on the Umpqua are not troublesome, and it is believed that treaties can be formed with them which will prevent all further difficulties. It has been understood that there is a harbor at the mouth of the Umpqua, which has never been explored by whites. Some time ago a small vessel tried to enter, but it ran among the breakers and was lost. The Indians who witnessed the occurrence, by all the means which they were master of, endeavored to induce the captain to change his course, into the channel, at the moment he was bearing directly for the breakers, but he was suspicious of treachery, and pursued his way to the loss of his vessel.
Some portions of the Umpqua country abound with the wild fruits common to the country below, as well as a choice variety of grapes and plums.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, September 5, 1850, page 2. The Journal articles of September 3-5 were reprinted, with deletions and a five-paragraph coda, in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, Buffalo, New York, September 23, 1850, page 2
C O M M U N I C A T I O N .
It is understood that there will be a considerable number of persons leave the central counties of Illinois the coming spring for Oregon Territory, by the overland route. It would be well, probably, that there should be an understanding at what time these persons will leave for the frontiers of Missouri, and at what point they design to start from to the plains. Mr. Isaac Constant, who has been to Oregon and back, gives it as his opinion that the route on the north side of the Platte is far the best, on account of health, of good water and grass. There has been sickness on the south side of the Platte--there has been none on the north. To reach the north side of the Platte, emigrants must cross the Missouri near the Council Bluffs. The time and place of starting should be known, and this can only be done by concert.
The object of this paragraph, Messrs. Editors, is to suggest that letters should be sent to you, or to some person in Springfield, containing the names and numbers of persons who design to go from this section of country, where they now live, and other facts which may be important.
W.To accomplish this design above stated, letters may be directed, if by mail post paid, to "Isaac Constant, care of the Journal office, Springfield."
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, November 15, 1850, page 2
Mr. Isaac Constant reached his home in this county, on Wolf Creek, yesterday, from Oregon. He came by the overland route--packing one horse and riding another. We have not seen him.--Illinois Journal.
Oregon Spectator, Oregon City, December 12, 1850, page 2
The farm offered for sale by Mr. Isaac Constant, advertised in this day's paper, is one of the finest in the county. He will sell it low.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, December 27, 1850, page 3
Valuable Farm for Sale.
THE subscriber will sell his Farm, situated on Wolf Creek, 10 miles north of Springfield, comprising 355 acres of excellent land. Of this land 260 acres are improved. There is a comfortable house and stable on the farm, an orchard, fine well, and the prairie and improved land is of superior quality. The timber comprises 115 acres, and is of the best character. The farm is well calculated for stock. There is living water on the premises A sawmill within half a mile. The neighborhood is excellent; in fact, no better farm can be found. I will sell low, as my health requires me to return to Oregon. Persons wishing to purchase are referred to the editor of this paper, or to the subscriber living on the farm.
ISAAC CONSTANT,Wolf Creek, Sangamon County, Ill., Dec. 27, 1850.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, December 27, 1850, page 3
A Farm for Sale.
The subscriber offers for sale his farm, upon which he now resides. It is situated near Wolf Creek, about ten miles from the city of Springfield, contains 320 acres, mostly under improvement, has a good dwelling house and outbuildings upon it, and a fine orchard. The farm is well calculated for the stock business. Persons wishing to purchase will call and examine the premises. Terms low.
ISAAC CONSTANT.Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, December 30, 1851, page 3
A Farm for Sale.
THE subscriber offers for sale his farm, upon which he now resides. It is situated near Wolf Creek, about ten miles from the city of Springfield; contains 320 acres, mostly under improvements, has a good dwelling house and outbuildings upon it, and a fine orchard. The farm is well calculated for the stock business. Persons wishing to purchase will call and examine the premises. Terms low.
ISAAC CONSTANT.Sangamo Journal, Springfield, Illinois, January 23, 1852, page 2
Messrs. B. R. Biddle and Isaac Constant left here yesterday morning for Independence, Mo. for the purpose of supplying themselves with stock, wagons &c. for their trip to Oregon.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, February 18, 1852, page 3
FOR THE WEST.--Dr. A. G. Henry and family, Mr. Biddle and family, Isaac Constant and family, Wm. Merriman and family, and Charles Halsted, left here yesterday morning for Oregon, and Messrs. George Eastman and Hiram Bristol for California--all valuable citizens.
Illinois State Register, Springfield, April 7, 1852, page 2
Quite a number of persons left this city on Tuesday morning for Oregon. Among them were Dr. A. G. Henry and family, Phillip Stone and family, J. H. Kendall and family, Isaac Constant and family, Wm. Merriman and family. Messrs. George Eastman and Hiram Bristol also left for California. About a week since, Jacob Johnson, Elijah Johnson, Samuel Estill and Robert Hill left Indian Creek Menard County, for Independence, designing to go out with the above company.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, April 8, 1852, page 3
A letter from Mr. David Newsom, dated in Oregon, Oct. 2, mentions the reported death of Mr. B. R. Biddle, a short time previous. We are glad to say that a letter from Mr. Wm. Owens, dated on the 7th October, says that "he has just learned from Biddle, Constant and Dr. Henry have got in safe." A letter from Mr. Joseph Williams mentions that "Isaac Constant is in the neighborhood." We wait further news with anxiety.
We learn that Mr. Anthony Propst, and his wife, died on their journey to Oregon--the latter 200 miles from the Willamette Valley, and the former at the first house after reaching the valley.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, November 24, 1852, page 2
A late letter from Miletus Ellis, in Oregon Territory, mentions that Isaac Constant took the southern route to Oregon, and that he has bought an improvement and located in Rogue River Valley, near the mines. He was concerned in the Indian fight at Klamath Lake and lost some of his stock.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, December 14, 1852, page 3
LETTERS FROM OREGON.
MARYSVILLE, O.T., Jan. 30. '53.I have at last seen the Umpqua, and will attempt to describe it. The largest valley I saw in the Umpqua was four miles wide and six long. William Churchill lives in this valley. He has a good claim. The main Umpqua [River] runs through this valley. There are many smaller valleys. It is a good grazing country and plenty of water in winter and dry in summer; timber very scarce, and poor--black oaks generally. The country does not suit me. I have also visited Rogue River Valley. It is the best country I have seen in Oregon. It is some 30 or 40 miles wide and 35 or 40 miles long, with many strips of timber running through it, and the mountains are covered with fine timber, and are generally of easy access. The valley is only tolerably well watered. Though several fine streams run through it, springs are scarce. It produces splendid grass. The snow which commenced falling on the 12th December was general in all the valleys. It lay on the ground until the 4th of January, during which time the weather was very cold. Many streams in the Willamette Valley were frozen over, much stock was lost, and many persons frostbitten. Since the snow has gone the nights are very cold. The mice have destroyed nearly all the wheat, and little seed is left in the country. The emigrants cannot get work. How they are to keep soul and body together, I know not. I pay ten dollars a week for my board. I am now down upon the country. It will never have as good society as there is in the States.
I was at Isaac Constant's, in Rogue River Valley, during the snow storm. He lost one cow. He has 18 cows and heifers, 15 yoke of cattle, 3 mules and one horse. The last emigration are generally satisfied with the country, and I would frankly advise my friends in Sangamon County to stay where they are. My advice is stay away! M.W.E. [Miletus Ellis]
LAFAYETTE, O.T., Feb. 1, '53.The worst of our winter is over. We have very fine weather. Only three gentle showers have fallen within two weeks. The winter, bad as it has been, was a very pleasant one compared with winters in Illinois. The newcomers that were beginning to mourn for "the leeks and onions" of the States are now in fine spirits generally, and when they see an Oregon spring and summer, they will be content. I have heard indirectly from Isaac Constant. He will sell and remove to this valley. I have also heard indirectly from Joseph Williams, and that he is improving a claim on the Umpqua. I am satisfied with the country. It will rise from its temporary depression, and [in] another season will furnish supplies for all coming emigrants.
LAFAYETTE, O.T., Feb. 1, '53.I must say that the Indians were least of any fears in crossing the plains. The alkali dust and sand are much more to be dreaded, to say nothing of the dreadful roads and mud in the first part of the journey. I should love to see you very much--but should be very sorry to learn that you, or anyone I cared for, was coming across the plains. I do not say this to discourage you, but truth and sincerity compels me to write as I do. It is no trip for females and children. When spring opens and we get upon our claim, I may be better pleased with Oregon, and be able to second the wishes of my husband in urging my friends to come and try their fortunes in this new world.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, April 11, 1853, page 2
MARRIED.On the 27th of April, in Rogue River Valley, by the Rev. T. F. Royal, JESSE ROBINSON, M.D., formerly of Otsego, N.Y., and Miss LAVINIA J., daughter of Isaac Constant, Esq., formerly of Springfield, Ill.--all of Rogue River Valley.
The friends of the Doctor in this place, of which he was formerly a resident, may congratulate him on his good luck, as we can bear witness that he has secured one of the fairest "Rogues" in all that valley. Sunshiny ever be your path, and decked with the flowers of bliss.
Shasta Courier, Shasta, California, June 3, 1854, page 2
On the 27th April, in Rogue River Valley, by the Rev. T. F. Royal, Jesse Robinson, M.D., formerly of Otsego, N.Y., and Miss Lavina J., daughter of Isaac Constant, Esq., formerly of Springfield, Ill.--all of Rogue River Valley.
"Marriages, Births and Deaths," New York Herald, July 11, 1854, page 2
In Rogue River Valley, O.T., on the 27th April, by Rev. T. E. Royal, JESSE ROBINSON, M.D., and Miss LAVINIA, daughter of Isaac Constant, Esq., late of Sangamon County, Illinois.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, July 21, 1854, page 2
The southern part of Jackson County was now prepared to have a school [at Talent in September 1854], but a teacher was yet to be found. It was learned that a young man from the East had lately arrived at Uncle Isaac Constant's, down toward the mouth of Bear Creek. A committee of one was appointed to go and see the young man, and try to engage him to teach the Wagner Creek school. On arriving at Constant's the committee found that the young man was across Bear Creek, driving four yoke of oxen to a breaking plow, but would be in to dinner soon, and being invited to stay to dinner, the committee accepted and did not have long to wait until the gentleman came in. He at first thought he would accept the proposition of one hundred dollars per month as school teacher rather than drive oxen, but after a private talk with one of Uncle Constant's pretty daughters (of which he had several) the young man declined the offer, and the Wagner Creek committee on teacher had to return and report a failure. Within a few weeks we heard of a wedding at the Constant residence. The couple are still alive and have raised a numerous family of native sons and daughters of Jackson County.
Welborn Beeson, Ashland Tidings, September 16, 1892 Welborn Beeson was the "committee of one"; apparently he's confusing a later incident with hiring Wagner Creek's first teacher. Beeson's visit was in December 1855; William Leever and Elizabeth Constant were married January 1, 1856
DIED.--On Fancy Creek, in this county, on Monday the 25th inst., Mr. ISAAC CONSTANT, Sr., aged 65 years.
Mr. C. was a Christian, and one of our best, oldest and most valuable citizens.
Illinois Daily Journal, Springfield, December 29, 1854, page 2
Dec 13th Thursday 1855
I went down to Mr Constance to try to engage a school Teacher. It rained in the after noon.
Diary of Welborn Beeson
DIED.At the family residence, six miles from Jacksonville, on Saturday, March 3rd, Eliza Alice, youngest daughter of Isaac and Lucinda Constant, aged fourteen years, four months and ten days.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 10, 1866, page 2
Jacksonville, April 18--On Saturday evening, Mr. Isaac Constant, an old well-known citizen of the valley, had his collar bone broken by being pulled out of a wagon by a horse which he was leading.
"Oregon," Oregon Statesman, Salem, April 22, 1870, page 2
Mrs. Lavina Jones, of Williamsville, Sangamon County, Illinois, who for some months has been in the family of her relative, Isaac Constant, of Manzanita precinct, will shortly return to her home in Illinois.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 13, 1880, page 3
A. G. Walling, History of Southern Oregon, 1884, page 525
A large shed on the farm of Isaac Constant, at Central Point, became weighted down with snow and fell, damaging a lot of machinery.
"Jackson County," Oregonian, Portland, February 24, 1887, page 3s
CONSTANT.--At his home in Central Point on Friday, January 31, 1890, Isaac Constant, a native of Kentucky; aged 80 years, 9 months and 26 days.
A prince of hospitality, a chief among pioneers in the days when a man was judged by worth alone, is the summary of the life story of Isaac Constant. No man ever came to the valley who more richly deserved the tribute, and none of the pioneers preserved to the day of his death more nearly the habits and customs of early times and the open-handed mode of living of early days than he. There was in his composition that union of all the elements of true manhood, embodying justice, humanity and morality, which made every man his friend, and gave him a place in the affections of even comparative strangers. Coming to the valley in the early fifties, he settled on the donation claim which continued his home until his death. Here, with his faithful wife, who still survives him, he saw four loving daughters and one son grow to years of maturity, and one by one depart from the parental roof to preside over homes of their own. Here he saw the wilderness develop into the garden spot of southern Oregon, through Indian wars and times of sunny peace, through the halcyon days of the stagecoach and the bustling life of the railroad.
One of his first crops was devoted to the cause of humanity. The Indians, after the hard winter of 1852, were reduced to a condition of absolute starvation, and many of them must have perished had not Mr. Constant placed his store of potatoes at their disposal. They never forgot his humanity, and when the Indian war of 1855-6 was raging, he and his family alone, of all the inhabitants of the valley, were allowed to remain unmolested on their ranch, secure from harm because of an act of kindness. [No families in the Bear Creek Valley were harmed in 1855-56.]
Mr. Constant's sense of justice was remarkably keen. A miscreant, having murdered an innocent Indian boy who rendezvoused at Mr. C.'s place, on the desert, was boasting of the deed to him at his ranch gate, when, without a word, he started to run to his cabin, and the fellow taking the hint was out of gunshot before he appeared with his rifle. "If he'd been a little closer, I'd have shot at him," said the old gentleman recently, "so mad was I at the wanton outrage."
Of his children, four daughters, Mrs. W. T. Leever, Mrs. Wm. A. Owen, Mrs. C. Magruder, all residing in the vicinity of the old home, and Mrs. Jesse Robinson of Oakland, California, survive him; an only son, Thos. Constant, having died some years ago.
The funeral was announced for last Sunday, but the great storm and flood, which culminated on that day, cut off access to the family burying ground in Jacksonville Cemetery, so it became necessary to embalm the remains and hold the body at Central Point until such time as the streams subside and the roads become passable.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 6, 1890, page 3
The funeral of Mr. Isaac Constant, a Southern Oregon pioneer, who died at Central Point January 31, took place in Jacksonville yesterday. The storms of the past two weeks had rendered the roads impassable, and the funeral obsequies had to be deferred until this date.
"Southern Oregon," Statesman Journal, Salem, February 13, 1890, page 1
SPUD PARINGS GROW BIG CROP
Pioneer Constant Feeds Hungry Reds, Makes Friends.
Speaking of weather conditions in the commercial club rooms Monday evening, Mayor Leever, a native son of the valley, told of his grandfather, Isaac Constant, who came to the valley with his family in 1852, and secured a donation claim on a portion of which part of this city now stands, and how, in February 1853, he planted his potatoes and garden stuff, even beans and other tender vegetables. These all grew rapidly and were not injured in the least with frost.
Potatoes for the winter had been packed in from Oregon City and were so valuable that the parings were saved and planted. From these potato parings, planted in February, Mr. Constant raised a bountiful crop, having more potatoes than he could use. The following winter, however, a heavy snow fell, and the Rogue River Indians, who had failed to put up their usual amount of food, were starving. Mr. Constant supplied them with spuds from his bountiful supply, and by this means their lives were saved. Two or three years later, during the Indian war, Chief Sam and his followers came down from the upper Rogue River in war paint and trappings intending to massacre all the whites in the country. They camped at Table Rock and while there old Sam remembered the Constant potato episode. "No killum Constant, no killum him neighbors," declared Chief Sam, and he forthwith sent his young daughter, Mary, to tell Mr. Constant that no harm should befall his or his neighbors' families. The girl swam Rogue River in the night and walked to the Constant ranch, where she delivered her welcome message. The Indians continued on down the river to the Galice Creek mines, where they planned to kill all of the miners, but fortunately the miners had been reinforced by soldiers, the Indians were repulsed and scattered. This raid practically ended the war. Mr. Leever states that the story of the big battle at Table Rock, which was said to have taken place at that time when romancers say many Indians threw themselves from the rock and were dashed to death 1000 feet below, is a pure myth. No battle occurred there and no Indians were killed in such a way. However, had it not been for Isaac Constant's potato parings it is difficult to tell what might have happened in this part of the valley during the war.
Central Point Herald, February 15, 1912, page 1 This article was reprinted in the Medford Mail Tribune of February 19, 1912, page 5.
In Days of Yore
Last week we promised to start printing items relating to the interesting history of this city. We therefore interviewed one of the oldest residents we could find, W. C. Leever, who was born on a donation land claim just west of town.
Mr. Leever informs us that the town started in , when the Magruder brothers started a store on the hill just south of where W. J. Freeman now lives, although across the road.
This road was then the regular stage road between Phoenix and points north.
The original townsite was donated by three men, Magruder, T. F. Beall [pronounced "bell"] and Haskell Amy. When the railroad was built a depot was erected at the Main or Pine Street crossing, and stores began to appear in that part of town.
* * *
Isaac Constant, grandfather of W. C. Leever, came to Oregon first in 1849, coming to Oregon City where he helped hew the timbers for the first grist mill erected there. The next year he returned to Illinois, but returned to Oregon in 1852. This time he came the southern route [now often called the Applegate Trail] and saw the Rogue River Valley. He and his wife took claims just east of the present city limits of Central Point.
Mr. Constant brought with him a few bushels of wheat and some potatoes. He planted four acres of wheat on land near where the old Witte house now stands. He had his wife save the "eyes" when peeling the potatoes and planted them. That fall he harvested nearly 500 bushels of potatoes and after cradling his wheat and tramping it out with horses found he had nearly 400 bushels.
That winter was a severe one, and many people suffered. About 200 Indians were camped for the winter along Bear Creek just east of Mr. Constant's house. They had been unable to catch their usual supply of fish and to prepare other food for the winter, and were starving. Mr. Constant fed them on potatoes and parched wheat.
Later when the Indian trouble started and several families massacred, Chief Sam sent word by his daughter for Mr. Constant to stay quietly at home and fear nothing. No harm came to either him nor his stock.
Central Point American, February 16, 1933, page 1
Historical Lore Abounds in Central Point Vicinity
The following is a clipping handed to us this week by Mrs. W. J. Freeman. It was taken from the old Daily News of Medford, but the author's name is not given. It is so well written and so beautifully expresses the feelings of so many people toward the town of Central Point and its pioneer history that we are more than glad to reprint it.
The clipping follows:
The casual passerby may, in ignorance, dismiss Central Point from his attention with the fleeting thought that here is a nice, quiet little town where people are lucky to have a gorgeous view in whichever direction they may choose to look, but to those who are privileged to become intimate with the place and its environments comes the awareness that there is an ancient authority emanating from the town, which is situated in the heart of one of the most important communities in the state of Oregon.
One learns to enter the neighborhood with a thrill of expectation that something new and delightful will unfold itself, some project in which the partaker is excelling (for people here have the faculty of accomplishing things with thoroughness to the point of excellence) or it may be some unforgettable personality is encountered, or an ancient tale of times gone by is brought to light with a relic gently handled to point the story.
One of the characteristics of that part of the valley taking in Medford, Jacksonville and Central Point is that one can enter the grounds of almost any home and be introduced to one or more of the scenic wonders, such as Table Rock or one of the peaks from the owner's particular point of vantage, each view taking on a different aspect to the sight one has seen before.
Two ladies, sisters, who are held in veneration in Central Point and who lived there as children long before any town existed, are Mrs. Julia A. Owen and Mrs. Margaret Magruder. The grounds of their homes adjoin one another in the east of the town and are located on a part of the original donation claims taken up by their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Constant, in the early '50s.
It was in the year 1850 that Isaac Constant, being told by his doctor that he must seek another climate for his health, left his home in Elkhart, Illinois, and accompanied by a friend, set out on horseback for Oregon where he had been told people were finding it a good place to settle. They journeyed in safety as far as the Willamette Valley unmolested by Indians, and blazing a trail with axes en route, so that they could retrace their steps. Conditions looked promising to the young men, and they returned home to pack up their belongings. The trip each way took six months, and it took them another six months to prepare a suitable outfit for the momentous undertaking. The young people belonged to a family of substantial landowners, and much thought was expended on practical appurtenances to convey to the new home.
Finally all was ready and the party, which consisted of two wagon trains, set out, Mr. Constant joining his train to that of another emigrating family.
All went well for some time, but when approaching the country bordering Utah a band of marauding Indians stampeded the trains, carrying off two white mules, of which Mr. Constant possessed a team of six fine matched creatures. The men of the party pursued the miscreants, and came upon their camping place only to find that they had fled in alarm, leaving juicy portions of fat mule roasting over the fires, while the other mule was dressed and hanging up in a tree in readiness for future consumption. Indian baskets full of ripe berries were left behind in the flight, among other camp articles, and the enraged white men gathered them all together and with the meat fed them to the flames to teach the Indians not to molest other folks' property.
The travelers replaced the mules in the team with two cows, after this being more on their guard, and pretty soon they came to a place where two routes were available. The shorter way wound along under some overhanging cliffs for some distance, while the other road was more circuitous but presented no possibilities of ambush. Mr. Constant, who possessed very sound judgment, thought it would be wise not to take any chance on the shortcut, but his companion was equally determined that there was no risk involved. The result was that the trains parted company here. Mr. Constant piloted his train along on the roundabout route while the other man took his following to meet a dreadful fate, every one of them being massacred by the Indians who were waiting, just as had been suspected.
When the place now known as Central Point was reached, Mr. Constant found a man who had a right and log cabin on the banks of Bear Creek, and wanted to leave because he was afraid of the Indians. Mr. Constant bought his right and proved upon it, and he and his wife each filed on a claim in their own right, as they were allowed to do in those days. This gave them a substantial landholding, and they enjoyed a very prosperous living in the style of the times. The young wife and mother of the family found it hard at first to live in this out-of-the-way place, and every day the children would see her wiping away tears, and she would say, "Your father had to go somewhere for his health, but he needn't have come out here to the ends of the earth." Then, being a good pioneer mother, she proceeded to make the best of things. With soap and candles to make meat to cure and butter to churn, besides the thousand household and garden tasks, there was not much leisure for repining.
There the grass was so rich and tall that it grew up to the animals' heads, and the fine cows of the Longhorn Durham breed, which had been brought out with the herd of hogs, grew fat, and considerable money was made from the butter and other farm projects.
It was no uncommon thing for Mr. Constant to slaughter 35 to 40 hogs on his place, and when the meat was cured to invite his less fortunate neighbors to go into the smokehouse and help themselves. They used to avail themselves of the offer so freely that Mrs. Constant had to protest and tell her husband that she didn't mind his letting people have all the meat they wanted, but she simply wouldn't stand for the hams being carried off.
Mr. Constant gave freely to all, even to the point of self-denial, and perhaps that is why during the period of the Indian unrest in the valley they were unmolested. They were told that the Indians looked upon them as their "tillicums" (cousins). This was because Mr. Constant had fed the Indians when they were starving, and they need have no fear, whatever happened.
Time went on, and the children grew up and married. The eldest sister, who is now 96 years old, is enjoying splendid health and keen faculties at Vacaville, Calif. One of the daughters, Julia A. Constant, married William Addison Owen, a prominent young man of the time who came to California in '49 and was attracted to Jacksonville by the gold rush in '52. Being a college man, he was looked up to in civic affairs and had an active part in the town management. He was sheriff for two terms, and revenue collector, and served as major in the Indian wars. Like his father-in-law he was a kindly, generous man, who could always be depended on to help in time of need. He built one of the three first houses in Central Point, and was mourned by all at the conclusion of a useful life.
Mrs. Owen now lives with her son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Freeman, of the Freeman Implement Company, and at 87 is active and sprightly in mind and body. She still possesses a complete suite of bedroom furniture which came 'round the coast from San Francisco to Crescent City. She is looking forward to a visit with her daughter at their cabin on Union Creek, having a keen appreciation of nature's delights in the solitary places.
She has the satisfaction of seeing her children to the fourth generation happily settled around in the valley filling honored positions and carrying out the tradition of their forefathers. W. J. Freeman has lived in Central Point and carried on a substantial business for the past 36 years. He holds the confidence of his customers, who may be found all the way to Crescent City, and has been identified with the progress of the town since its infancy.
Mrs. Owen lived for part of her life in Jacksonville, and during the smallpox scare moved to Sams Valley. With the exception of three years spent in the Willamette Valley, she has been living in Jackson County since she crossed the plains at the age of ten.
Her sister, Mrs. Margery Magruder, who is 81 years old [born in 1845], enjoys the distinction of having lived within a radius of four miles for the past 77 years, coming to Central Point as a four-year-old tot and never leaving it except for an occasional visit. She married in the town, and her husband had a store there in the '70s. While rheumatic infirmities keep her very much confined to her home, she is a great reader and her hands are always finding occupation making rag rugs and performing light tasks. She knows all the lights and shadows on her beloved hills and has rich memories of bygone days, when one of her pleasures was to climb Table Rock and look down on the valley below. Like most of the oldtimers who are really authorities on the subject, she deprecates the inaccuracy of many of the stories of early times. Her memory travels back to the time when she was a small child and the snow was four feet deep on the level. It quickly melted and caused the floods which took the lives of several people, including a whole family of children who were at home on an island in the river. She remembers in the second year of their coming that her father rebelled at the local high prices, when salt was a dollar a pound and other commodities equally dear. He took a pack train and went up the Willamette Valley, returning with stores of provisions at a more reasonable rate and a little coop containing two chickens and a rooster, the foundation of poultry in Central Point. Mrs. Magruder remembers her father's struggles to start a family orchard. The first attempt failed through an invasion of grasshoppers, the next planting fell prey to an army of caterpillars, commonly called army worms, hairy black creatures which moved along in millions, turning aside for nothing and crossing housetops and streams with equal facility. The third lot of trees were demolished by another grasshopper visit, but the unconquerable spirit of the pioneer enabled him to try yet again and he succeeded in establishing a fine orchard.
One leaves the presence of our beloved pioneer with the feeling that glimpses have been obtained of a vision of the immortal spirit the reflection of which prompted the words "The wilderness and the solitary places shall be glad thereof, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose."
(Editor's note: Mrs. Magruder died at her home in Central Point about two years ago.)
Central Point American, May 24, 1934, page 1 Judging by the reported ages of Mrs. Owen and Magruder, the Daily News article reprinted by the American was written sometime between 1926 and 1928.
JULIA A. OWEN, 94,
PIONEER RESIDENT OF C.P., SUCCUMBS
Julia A. Owen, aged 94 years, 3 months and 20 days, one of the oldest pioneers in Southern Oregon, passed away at the home of her daughter, Mrs. W. J. Freeman, in Central Point, at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 7. She had been a continuous resident of Central Point for 84 years, having come here from the place of her birth when 10 years of age.
Julia A. Owen was born in Elkhart, Sangamon County, Illinois, on September 17, 1841, being the daughter of Isaac and Lucinda Constant, who were destined to become pioneers of Southern Oregon. It was in the year 1850 the father decided to seek a milder climate in which to build a home for his family and in company with a friend started for the Far West on horseback and after six months' travel reached the Willamette Valley, and a little later explored the southern part of the state with a view of selecting a site for the future home of his family. This having been disposed of, he started on the return trip to Illinois, which took another six months' travel.
The details of getting ready for the family journey took about the same time, as it was necessary to provide the necessary camp equipment, food and other items and the necessary tools, seed and such machinery as could be taken with the train, which was to start in the early part of 1852, and was to not only include the Constant family but also a brother of Mrs. Constant, Mr. Merriman and family. Mrs. Merriman and a small child passed away before the journey was completed.
On the way many hardships had to be met and overcome, and on one occasion the Indians stole two mules from a team of six, and before they could be overtaken they had killed the animals and were preparing for a feast on mule meat. They were followed by members of the train and taught the lesson that it would be better not to interfere with the stock and other items of property that belonged to the train.
After the long and strenuous journey the train reached Southern Oregon, and the Constant family occupied the land that had been arranged for by the father on his previous trip, this being the tract lying east of the land occupied later by the city of Central Point. The first labor was the erection of a suitable home for the family which was provided slowly, as building a home at this time was a great undertaking, owing to the scarcity of building material, much of which had to be brought from a distance. The finished residence when completed proved to be well built and is the place known as the Witte place, recently purchased by Mr. Hare of Tillamook.
Grandpa Constant, as he was later called, was a friend to those who were less able to procure a livelihood, and in many cases furnished provisions to many of the people who were sufferers when a cold, hard winter was at hand, and it was he who taught the Indians to piece out their scant rations of corn by using potatoes which he had raised upon his farm, and later when the Indian war was in progress he was told by the Indians to remain upon his farm as none of the Indians would molest him or his family, and they kept their word.
Excerpt, Central Point American, January 9, 1936, page 1
1920 Cleveland Ave.The old town of Central Point was about a half mile north and east of the present center of town. The Magruder brothers, Tine and Hunt, had the only store and I believe the post office. Bill Hayes owned the blacksmith shop. When the railroad came through, it missed the old town. Magruders moved to a new store building near the depot and just across the street from the old hotel, which was run by Fred Fredenburg for many years. Bill Hayes moved his shop to Gold Hill, where he lived for many years.
February 24, 1947
Isaac Constant owned a 640-acre D.L.C. east of town, which reached across Bear Creek. To the north and west of him was the John B. Wrisley farm. Southeast of town, J. W. Olwell planted the first big apple orchard, 160 acres, in that neighborhood. Olwell had formerly owned and run the grist mill in Phoenix. To the south of town was the Cooksey ranch, and to the northwest Haskell Amy had his ranch. It extended almost up to the depot.
In looking over some old papers recently, I saw the signature of Jesse Hinkle attached to the deed for a lot in the Central Point Cemetery where my parents are buried. Also the signature of James Gay as clerk of the Central Point School District on a warrant issued to J. C. Barnard in 1901, which my mother bought from Mr. Barnard when the district did not have the money to pay Barnard for his services as principal of the school. Fifty dollars is the amount of the warrant for a month's pay as principal of the Central Point school. My mother died soon after, and the warrant was never cashed.
A Mr. Neff raised tobacco on a commercial scale on the Bear Creek bottom. I used to help pick the worms from it. He paid me fifteen cents a day. Neff was a typical Kentuckian, and he knew how to raise and cure tobacco. He chewed and smoked his own.
My brother, several years older than I, hunted ducks on the present site of Medford. All there was there were potholes and chaparral brush. I first saw Medford when there was one store, a blacksmith shop, and post office.
A. O. Freel
Letter to the Editor, Central Point American, March 6, 1947, page 6
NEW BRIDGE TO CARRY NAME OF VALLEY PIONEERYesterday the county court [of commissioners] passed a resolution fixing a name for the new cement bridge across Bear Creek on the Central Point market road east of this city. The huge structure will hereafter be known as the "Isaac Constant Bridge" in honor of the man who first took up a donation land claim on the land upon which the bridge stands in 1852. This is in accordance with the present custom of the court in naming major county bridges in honor of some pioneer who lived in the vicinity in the early days of the county's history.
The name of this bridge is particularly appropriate on account of the fact that both roads leading to the new bridge from the east city limits of Central Point and from the Hamrick Road, as well as the bridge itself, are upon land once a part of the Constant claim.
Isaac Constant was born in Clark County, Kentucky on April 5, 1809. In 1812 his parents started for Illinois, but stopped for several years in Ohio, finally settling in Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1820. Here Isaac grew to manhood on a farm and was married in 1833 to Lucinda Merriman. To this union eight children were born, two dying in infancy in Illinois.
In 1849, having been told by his physician to seek a milder climate, he, with a friend, set out on horseback for the Oregon Country. On arriving safely in Oregon City the two young men spent some months looking over the country, coming as far south as the Rogue River Valley, where he was especially struck with farming possibilities of the Bear Creek basin. Both men then returned to Illinois to get their families.
Setting out from Independence, Mo., with a large wagon train, the Constants spent a hazardous summer crossing the plains and arrived in Jackson County late in the fall of 1852. Here he took up a donation land claim lying east of what was later to become the city of Central Point. He later acquired a tract of land west of the county road and now included in the present city limits (known as the Constant Tract).
Of the six children who came to the valley in 1852 with their parents, all but one grew to maturity on the old home place, were married and lived in the county many years, in fact all but one died in this county. These children were:
Lavina J., who married Dr. Jesse Robinson and moved to California. She and her husband had five children, all of whom are now deceased.
Elizabeth, married to W. T. Leever, bore twelve children, two of whom died in infancy. Best known of these children probably was W. C. (Con) Leever, former county commissioner and longtime mayor of this city, who passed away in August 1936. Others of the family still living include: Carlos Leever, San Francisco; Ada Damon, John Day, Ore.; Lucinda Guy, Portland; Nellie McGee, San Francisco; and Elizabeth Mayer, Modesto, Calf.
William T., married to Jessie Bledsoe. Of their three children one is deceased. Of the others, Wm. C. now lives in Portland and Mrs. Julia Kincaid in Tacoma.
Julia A. was married to Wm. A. Owen, who served as an early-day sheriff of this county. Of their five children, three are deceased and one, Mrs. Mabel Hall, lives in Oakland, Calif., and Wm. C., who will be remembered as a genial clerk in various stores in this city, is now living in Cornelius, Ore.
Margery E. married Constantine Magruder, who owned and operated the first store and the first post office in this part of the county. It was located just off East Pine Street, and the old Magruder home is now occupied by Mr.and Mrs. Les Bigham. Of the seven Magruder children three are dead and of the others Mrs. Mary Coker lives in Vallejo, Calif.; Lettie L. Gregory in Central Point; Ray L. Magruder in Red Bluff, Calif.; and Vernon Magruder in Portland, Ore.
Eliza Alice Constant died at the age of fourteen years.
Of the 32 grandchildren in the Isaac Constant family only one, Mrs. Lettie L. Gregory, still lives in Central Point. There are also four great-grandchildren living in the vicinity: Lysle L. Gregory, Leonard Freeman, Mrs. Lola Kincaid, all of Central Point, and Earl Leever, of Medford. Mrs. Kincaid has the distinction of living upon the donation land claim formerly owned by her great-grandfather and within sight of his old home. Mrs. Gregory also lives on land formerly owned by her grandfather near the high school.
The old Isaac Constant house still stands on the east side of the old county road which separated the Constant farm from the city of Central Point (now known as the Freeman Road) and is owned and occupied by the [W. S.] Hare family.
Work is progressing rapidly on the new road connecting with the new bridge, and it is expected to be open for travel within a few days. However, the new road cannot be paved this fall, but will be well graveled for the present.
Central Point American, October 21, 1948, page 1
Manuscripts containing an account of emigrants being attacked by Indians on the old Applegate Trail, near Goose Lake, represent one of three gifts and one loan received by the Klamath County Museum last month, Curator Mrs. Irene Seely has reported.
The historical account was written by Isaac Constant, a pioneer of 1852, and has been donated to the museum by Sam Ritchey, 201 Jefferson Street.
Herald and News, Klamath Falls, September 8, 1963, page 4
Journey of the Isaac ConstantIsaac Constant, captain of the Constant wagon train that crossed the plains in the spring and summer of 1852, was born in Kentucky but lived in Illinois as a young man. He was a friend and neighbor of Abraham Lincoln, and enlisted in the Lincoln company during the Indian wars in that area. Sometime in 1849 he and two friends made the trip to Oregon without difficulty, and returned home full of enthusiasm for the beautiful Oregon country. He succeeded in convincing his wife they should sell their farm and make the long trip west. On March 2nd they left Springfield for Independence, Missouri.
Wagon Train, 1852
Their outfit was well planned, consisting of 5 wagons, watertight and so constructed that the beds could be raised 2' or more in high water. Horses and mules pulled the wagons, but oxen broken to the yoke were also taken along. For the convenience of his family a 4-seated hack drawn by 2 large, perfectly matched mules at the wheel, 2 more white ones at the leads. Before leaving Springfield he purchased a large new cook stove, to be used on the trail and in their new home, also a large dining tent. One wagon was used entirely for food supplies, cooking utensils and the stove, which was mounted on the rear in such a way that it could be lowered to the ground without lifting.
William Merriman, a brother of Mrs. Constant, and his ailing wife and two small children joined the party. The animals and wagons were shipped ahead by water to Independence. Here others desired to join the "Constant Wagon Train," until 25 wagons had collected. Constant was elected captain and continued so until the end of the trip.
The first stopping place was at the Methodist Shawnee Mission, 8 miles from Independence, where the wagons were better organized.. At this first stop William Merriman's ailing wife died, and it was necessary to send back to Independence for a casket. The care of her two small children was taken over by Mrs. Constant. 41 miles northeast of Independence the train reached the junction of the Oregon and Santa. Fe trails and a trail running north to Fort Leavenworth. Continuing northeast the train crossed several small streams without trouble. There was good food for stock as long as they followed the Kansas River. Sunday was always a day of rest for everybody, and usually one day's stop was made every week to allow the women a chance to wash, iron and bake. This was the territory of the Haw Indians, known to be lazy and thieving; no trouble experienced with them. Rain and snowstorms were frequent, and some found it hard to keep things dry on account of flimsy materials in tent and wagon coverings. Cholera struck a young man in the train, but the captain doctored him and he recovered completely. Many people were passed along the trail who had turned off to take care of their sick or bury their dead, a result of the dreadful epidemic.
The train had so increased in size that it was divided. Captain Constant named a new captain for half and sent them on ahead. They went off at a good clip but were overtaken by the rest in 2 days, having been forced to stop and rest their stock. This happened several times along the way. The wagons rolled along the north bank of the Kansas River to St. Mary's Mission and continued, crossing the Little Red River 119 miles west of Independence. Soon they reached the crossing of the Big Blue River, the favorite hunting ground of the Pawnee Indians, a rough and daring tribe. The train was well armed and guarded, and no trouble encountered. It meandered slowly north and west until it reached the Platte River, 316 miles north and west from Independence, near Fort Kearny, established as a U.S. military post in 1848. The Platte River was treacherous in flood and full of quicksands, and very difficult to cross, but it was deemed low enough when the Constant train arrived to be fordable. Early the next morning the captain was ready to try. 12 oxen were yoked to the first wagon, and 8 more were taken to Grand Island, a large island in the middle of the river. These were yoked to a long cable or rope securely fastened to the tongue of the first wagon. The command was given and the animals responded nobly. The wagon was on its way through the water and over the quicksand. By the same method all the other wagons followed to the island, and then from the island to the other bank. Two days of hard, wet work safely accomplished with the loss of only one animal. After a few days rest it was on to Oregon.
Thereafter almost every night, particularly when traveling through infested country, a kind of corral would be formed. The wagons formed a circle, the front of one interlocked with the next and fastened with chains. After feeding time the livestock would also be driven inside the circle, and armed guards were posted as an extra precaution.
Now they entered buffalo country, and all were well supplied with fresh meat. Buffalo chips made a good source of fuel for cooking fires and to drive away the swarms of mosquitoes. The scenery began to change, becoming higher and drier. Chimney Rock, that massive stone monument, came into view and thrilled these travelers of the plains. Some few miles east of Chimney Rock the California Ford Trail joined the original trail, and another day's travel brought them to Scott's Bluff, where an Indian council had been held in 1851 and a treaty signed between the U.S. government and the warring tribes, so no trouble was expected and none occurred. The train passed a small trading post and a few miles farther on pulled up at Fort Laramie, 657 miles west of Independence, where the Oregon and Mormon trails united and two days' rest was taken. The women seemed to enjoy the journey and its excitements, and did their share of the work, often under very trying conditions, especially during the rainy days, when cooking had to be dispensed with, as water was everywhere. Constant had prepared for all foreseeable emergencies, but not all were so well prepared. There was a large cover tent to hang over the cookstove and protect it from rain and dust storms. Mrs. Constant was not well, and the eldest daughter did the work and took great pride in her responsibility. Many families were not so comfortable and many never ironed their clothes. Most carried a special can for milk; the jolting and swinging of the wagons soon produced the desired butter and sweet buttermilk.
At Big Springs another rest was taken; they had been on the trail 55 days. Here the weather was delightful, wood and water were plentiful. Hereafter traveling became more difficult, the hills steeper and covered with rocks and boulders. Taking a shortcut they came to the North Platte River Canyon, crossed several small streams and came to a halt at Deer Creek, 700 miles from Independence. They crossed at Muddy Creek, a few miles above the present site of Casper, Wyoming. In due time they arrived at the North Platte River crossing. It was not at flood and they had no trouble. The course of the river was followed in a southerly direction, and the two Red Buttes, high and on the left, were passed. The river flowed through a deep canyon, and it was at these narrows that Capt. Fremont was wrecked in 1842. Since then the trail had been improved. Later the trail seemed to encircle Independence Rock, one of the most famous natural formations along the route. A solitary pile of gray granite, 60 or 70' high, standing in an open plain, with the beautiful Sweetwater River running along the south side, it earned the name of the "Great Register," because so many travelers book time to cut their initials on its granite surface, and so did many in the Constant Train. They halted here for a week, 838 miles from Independence by train log. The route then followed the Oregon Trail to the Green River, which is the main branch of the Colorado. It was fordable with proper care. The next stop was at old Fort Bridger, established in 1843, then on to Steamboat Springs, where they camped for several days. And the wagons rolled on to Fort Hall on the Snake River. Fort Hall had been erected in 1834 by Nathaniel Wyeth. Here all trains stopped for rest and outfitting and for reorganization. Here those going on to Fort Boise and the Columbia made up their trains; those bound for southern Oregon and California did likewise. Fort Hall by the train was 1,288 miles from Independence. Many Indians were here; they were friendly and brought fresh and smoked salmon. It was the first time many had tasted salmon. Captain Constant turned his wagons south.
They crossed the northeast corner of Nevada and joined the old California Trail from Utah, near the source of the Humboldt River. The captain was more than pleased with the journey so far. Before leaving the Humboldt Valley all water casks were filled, as the coming desert was known to be dry and barren. It was entered at evening, just after passing through a plum thicket that looked as if it had been planted, as perhaps it had, by Hudson's Bay post men. Baskets of fruit were gathered, and gooseberries from heavily laden bushes. The desert was sagebrush and whirling sand; three days and most of the nights were spent in crossing it. Many skeletons of animals were passed, and once the hack of a good friend, Mr. Riddle, was found abandoned. Captain Constant had not known that he came this way. The first camp site after this dreary interlude was near Goose Lake, where grass was abundant and the water less alkali. One of the cows ate wild parsnips; her milk, given to the Merriman baby, caused convulsions and the baby died and was buried there.
Worn out with travel, the guards that night asked to be allowed to lie down and sleep with the rest of the company. It was a mistake. In the morning not a horse or a mule was to be seen. A search was hurriedly undertaken, and the Indian thieves spotted driving the animals up a steep mountain, but it was decided to be the better part of wisdom not to try to get them back. The two white mules and a pony wandered back; later Mr. Constant bought two horses from a train that had gone on ahead. Next morning he scouted ahead as usual, and came upon two forks in the road, one the Old Emigrant Road, the other a new road that skirted the lake on its far side. He had a premonition to follow the new road, and left a sign for the rest of the party. Not long after they located a camp site a company of soldiers came by. The leader informed them they were here to protect the travelers, as a party had been ambushed on the old road just shortly before and many killed. He gave them further instructions on the best and safest way to proceed. The train crossed the mountains to the headwaters of the Pit River, climbed the Cascades, up and over the Siskiyous, and into the Rogue River Valley, arriving at their destination, Jacksonville, in September, six months after leaving Independence.
Unattributed typescript, Klamath County Museum
Last revised June 14, 2020