O'Meara, 1825-1903, edited the Oregon Sentinel in Jacksonville during the runup to the Civil War, abandoning the paper when it was about to be suppressed.
Miss O'Meara writes with filial devotion and tenderness of her father, but she does not conceal the grave mistake he made in allying himself with the party represented by Senator Gwin. But the great questions that divided men in those days were finally settled only by the sword.
Those who were associated with Mr. O'Meara in newspaper work speak of him as a most capable and versatile writer.
I felt that a sketch of the life of such a man would be of interest to the American-Irish Historical Society, and in the Society's name I tender Miss O'Meara its thanks for this interesting contribution to its archives.
At four he began his school life in the "sandboard class" of the old-time "infant school" kept by a widowed lady and her 15-year-old daughter. Here he began to trace in sand those mystic symbols of human expression with which he was to make such constant use in future years. It was here that he manifested his marvelous capacity for grasping clear and permanent impressions. A quick glance of the penetrating Irish eyes caught at once the form of the letter that was immediately reproduced by the chubby baby hand. The sights and sounds that went into that brain then and thenceforth were so deeply stamped upon it that, as years went by, his statements became recognized as reliable as written records. Of himself he writes, "The earliest incident of which I have distinct recollection was the blowing up of the steam frigate Fulton in the East River, early in June, in 1829. It was a very warm day and a lot of us little fellows were in swimming not far from Webb & Simonton's shipyard. The explosion gave us an awful fright. There was, I believe, great loss of life, but I can find no record of the disaster. This Fulton was the first steam war vessel built by the government; the first steam warship ever built."
When he had completed the course in the infant school, where only reading and writing were taught, he went to private schools until ready for college. He received his college education at Williams College. From his earliest years he had loved reading and adventure. His father possessed a valuable library from which the boy absorbed that thorough knowledge of classical lore that distinguished him later. He read with avidity every new book that came within reach; history, biography, politics, fiction, poetry, science, art, whatever it might be. His love for companionship and adventure made him familiar with all that went on about the wharves and the streets. The playhouse had for him that fascination that made Irving creep from his bed at night and steal away to enjoy a play in spite of his father's stern protest. Throughout his long life he was an ardent lover of the stage, feeling that it was one of the finest vehicles for education. It was this lifelong familiarity with the stage that furnished the material for that series of articles entitled "Recollections of the Stage by an Old Playgoer," published Sunday after Sunday in one of the San Francisco dailies during the eighties.
Another source of keenest enthusiasm was the opportunity to hear a great public speaker, a pleasure that his indulgent father gratified to the utmost. His father never considered him too young to listen to great men talk; so when Daniel Webster was pouring forth all that magnificent eloquence of which he was master, Timothy O'Meara took his little boy to hear and to meet the great man. When the boy grew to manhood, he recalled his childish elation when Webster, while talking to a group of friends, unconsciously placed his hands upon the soft, curly, brown head of the little boy standing beside him, then looked down and said, as he patted the head: "Here is a head that should count some day. I think when you grow up you will be a writer, my boy." This experience, perhaps, more than any other influence in his life, aroused the desire that led James O'Meara to make political journalism his life work.
When he was nineteen years of age his brother Maurice, the eldest of nine children, died in South America. The father sent James, his second son, on the sad mission of finding and returning with the body. Though a sad journey, yet it was not without a certain value, for his search carried him through countries filled with interest for one whose keen love for adventure and desire for knowledge were constantly stimulated by the novel experiences in these strange new lands. The death of Maurice necessitated a journey other than that to South America, for now James became the eldest son and as such became the heir to certain estates in Ireland. As soon as he was twenty-one his father took him back to the old lands, where certain business affairs required his signature. This trip gave him glimpses of life in the Old World, the vivid recollections of which never forsook him.
Upon his return to New York he became interested in New York politics and newspaper work. His familiarity with life in the great city made both most attractive to him. He won the friendship of James Gordon Bennett and the kindly interest of such a man proved most helpful. It was in those days that he met and knew Edgar Allan Poe, at whose home he frequently spent an evening.
But politics claimed more and more of his interest, and though so young a man, his skill with both pen and tongue won for him a place in the New York Legislature. Just what might have been his career had he remained in New York will never be known, for the news of the wondrous El Dorado was beginning to set the spirit of unrest at work in those filled with the ardor of youth, and he, too, was aglow with the desire to see this glorious new land of gold.
His home ties were of the strongest, for he was of the most affectionate and social nature, but the fascination of the new life "around the Horn" impelled him to leave home and a promising career in New York for the West.
On March 8, 1849, the stout bark Palmetto sailed out of the harbor bearing an enthusiastic throng. For one hundred and ninety-three days she sailed down the Atlantic and up the Pacific. September 17, 1849, the bark reached the long-looked-for haven and James O'Meara was in California. Like thousands of others he sought the excitement of the gold fields, but soon returned to the more attractive life in San Francisco. He wrote for the Times and Transcript and was soon associated with those interested in politics. The "fifties" were days of ceaseless excitement for him. Peter Donohue, Joseph Donohoe, Calhoun Benham, Eugene Casserley, Geo. Pen. Johnson, Major Hammond, Col. Stevenson, Gen. Estill, Col. Jo Hoge, Denver, Dameron, John Maynard, Charley Fairfax, and scores of others were those with whom he constantly associated. But there was no man who won so much of his affectionate loyalty as did Dr. Wm. M. Gwin. It was his misfortune to be blind to the disastrous influence of this man whose cause he so devotedly espoused. He saw in this master of political manipulation a hero whom he idealized and idolized. With his ardent and affectionate admiration so thoroughly aroused, he set about to do his utmost to serve one in whose integrity of character he had not the shadow of a doubt. It was this intimate association with Dr. Gwin that gave him the opportunity to write his history of the most famous political episode in California with such accuracy. A frequent guest in the Gwin household, he felt their interests as his own. A careful reader of "Broderick and Gwin" will be able to detect his presence in the countless incidents related in spite of his modest concealment of his own connection with the events. The book has been acknowledged as a remarkably accurate and intimate record of the most thrilling episodes in the election of Gwin and Broderick as senators from California. That it is so is due to the fact that it was written a quarter of a century after the events had taken place, by one who had intimate connection with these events at the critical moments. After the lapse of years the writer looked back upon those scenes with dispassionate reflection; the glamor of youth no longer dazzled his eyes, he saw men as they really had been, not as he had once seen them. And though the years had proved to himself, as to others, that the mortal cast in heroic mold was not so noble as he had once so firmly believed him to be, yet these years had so cleared his vision that he saw that one may be magnanimous to ignoble friends as well as to noble foes. And it is due to this magnanimity that the name of William M. Gwin is given as generous praise as is accorded to David Broderick.
The blind adoration of Dr. Gwin was disastrous to James O'Meara's life. He had, in New York, espoused the Democratic cause, but in California, in his reverence for the powerful leader's political opinions, he allied himself with the Southern politicians, fully persuaded that they were right--as were thousands of other good and honest men--but time proved otherwise.
In 1854 the government sent commissioners to the Hawaiian Islands to negotiate with the king in regard to annexation. Of this commission James O'Meara was a member. After several months spent upon the islands, the commissioners finally succeeded in bringing matters to the point where all that was necessary was to secure the signature of the king. The hour for this was set at twelve o'clock the following morning, and then the commissioners were to sail for the United States on the vessel awaiting them in the harbor. But before eleven o'clock the following morning the king was dead. Prince Liholiho, or Alexander, became king, the treaty remained unsigned, and annexation was delayed for decades.
Leaving Mr. David C. Gregg, an old friend then serving as United States commissioner to the islands, the disappointed commissioners returned to San Francisco. Again O'Meara plunged into political affairs, writing and using all the influence of personal persuasion to secure the success of the Democratic Party, supporting William M. Gwin. The memorable campaign of 1856-1857, which he has so graphically recounted in "Broderick and Gwin," resulted in the remarkable victory of the two men--Broderick and Gwin were the United States senators from California. Late in January of 1857 Broderick and Gwin left San Francisco for Washington by the Panama Isthmus route. The campaign of 1857 ended in the election of the Democratic ticket, with John B. Weller as governor.
How potent was the influence of James O'Meara in this campaign may best be proved by quoting from a letter: "Since my return to Fresno from San Francisco the first inquiries have been, 'How is O'Meara?' The next expression was, 'I am glad you nominated him for state printer.' If anyone comes into this section electioneering this fall, it must be yourself. No one can do better, if as well. Hurry up your newspaper articles. God bless you."
The supposition that James O'Meara was the candidate for state printer was an error; it was John O'Meara. But the mere mention of the name was sufficient to elicit expressions of support.
In 1854 Dr. Gwin had written to him from Washington: "You have my acknowledgments and gratitude for your unwearying and unwavering friendship." In the campaign of 1856-1857 the evidences of unwearying and unwavering friendship were even more apparent to Dr. Gwin, for there was no one who could have been more trusted than the young enthusiast who was with him on that momentous Sunday night of January 11, 1857.
In "Broderick and Gwin" is told the strategic measure which resulted in securing for Wm. M. Gwin the retention of his seat in the United States Senate and made him the colleague of his most formidable opponent, David C. Broderick. "Just about midnight, when Sunday was passing into the fresh following week of toiling days, through the upper hall of the 'Orleans' (hotel) softly stepped two men, the one much larger in figure and of greater stature than the other. They hurried down the rear stairway, through the courtyard, into and along the alley, across J Street, struck at once into the continuation of that alley, and to the two or three steps before the door at the rear hall of the Magnolia. A light rap on the door was given. The door bolt was instantly drawn, the door carefully opened part of the way, and Col. A. J. Butler stood ready to show the pair the way through the hall to the stairway, which they ascended while he remained at the foot. In a few steps No. 6 was reached. A tall man of strong mold, plainly dressed in a suit of full black cloth, stood at the door inside, and evidently had expected this midnight call. His prompt and courteous salutation was 'Good night, gentlemen; walk in. Dr. Gwin, I am glad to see you; be seated.' After a brief conversation the friend withdrew and Gwin and Broderick were left in the room together." Such was the confidence of Dr. Gwin in James O'Meara's unwavering friendship that he was the trusted companion in this midnight conference that achieved the results that marked the caucus of Monday evening, January 12, 1857. "Forty votes were necessary to nomination--the equivalent of an election--and Dr. Gwin received forty-seven. Field's vote, together with the larger portion of McCorkle's--mainly Broderick's men--had gone over to Gwin." Latham had been defeated and Broderick and Gwin were United States senators from California! This was the result of Broderick's remarkable organization, which gave him complete control of the legislature. Tuesday, January 13, 1857, the legislature in joint convention chose Dr. Gwin for the succession to his own seat, the term to expire March 2, 1861. At two o'clock that afternoon Dr. Gwin left Sacramento for San Francisco and late that month left for Washington.
That same year saw James O'Meara in Oregon. The years of 1858 and 1859 were spent in Portland and in Salem. In Portland he wrote for the Standard, wielding his pen for the cause of Democracy. An ardent advocate for the Southern Democrats, he not only wrote but delivered frequent orations in defense of that party, before and after the war. In September of 1860 he married Miss Fanny Davidson, the daughter of prominent Kentucky pioneers who had gone into Oregon in 1847. At the wedding was Col. E. D. Baker, who had been in California for several years. In Baker's early struggle in Illinois, the father of the bride had aided him materially in studying law and in gaining access to fine law libraries, which Baker himself was too poor to possess. But the Kentucky gentleman had much interest in the ambitious young Englishman who had expressed the regret that his foreign birth would never permit him to aspire to be president of the United States. But he had aspirations for an honor less exalted that might be attained. Baker had come into Oregon from California at the solicitation of Republicans and Northern Democrats to wrest the power from Jo Lane, who held Oregon in his hand, ready to place her among the states upholding the Democratic doctrines. Baker had proved himself a most persuasive advocate in his chosen profession as a lawyer and it was thought his eloquence would secure Oregon as a prize for the North. Because of his untiring energy in the support of the Democratic Party, the proffer of the senatorship from Oregon had been extended to James O'Meara, who, it was confidently believed by his friends, would receive the election. But it was Col. E. D. Baker--not James O'Meara--who went to Washington as senator from Oregon. Baker's supporters had fulfilled their promise that his efforts to wrench Oregon from the hands of the Democrats should be rewarded with a seat in the United States Senate. That the promise was fulfilled by the use of money may not have been known by Col. Baker, but it was a fact known by politicians who made use of the fact later.
With his young bride, James O'Meara went to Jacksonville in Southern Oregon, where he published the Sentinel. At the outbreak of the war, he warmly defended the Southern cause. Fearlessly he maintained his position. Unknown to him, an officer of the Government was sent to arrest him and take him to Alcatraz. The officer in question, who had been a warm friend when Mr. O'Meara had been a frequent guest of the officers at Fort Vancouver, lost heart when he saw the young wife and little son of the editor, and failed to execute his commission. Not long after this, the government suppressed the Sentinel. Then Mr. O'Meara left Oregon and took his little family to California. The winter of '62 found him in Marysville, where he and Linthicum published a paper. After the lapse of a year he returned, with his wife and his little son, to Oregon. In Eugene he remained until 1865, publishing the Review. Among his warm friends during this period were Gen. Jos. Lane, John Adair, Jesse Applegate, Nesmith and John Whitaker. Selling the Review, in 1866, he went to Albany, where he published The State Rights Democrat, but this, too, failed to bring financial success.
In 1867 he left Oregon and went to Idaho City, where he published The Idaho World in partnership with "Ike" Bowman. The three years spent in Idaho were more prosperous and as full of exciting experiences. To be sure, no officer appeared at his home to conduct him as a prisoner of war to Alcatraz, as had appeared in Oregon; but the life in Idaho was full of adventure. Party feeling was at its height, miners were uncontrollable in their passions, Indians were on the war path; but a brave man proves his mettle in times of dangers and James O'Meara went on his way undeterred in his championship for what he cherished as right. Highwaymen had shot at him before now; poisoned fish failed to do its deadly work; a stab in the dark made only a flesh wound. A newspaper man who had twenty-eight scars was not the man to intimidate. "That fearless unchangeable," as Joaquin Miller called him, dared speak and publish whatever he believed.
In 1870 he returned to Oregon. Leaving his family in Salem, he went on to Washington for a brief visit. Returning, he settled in Portland. For several years he edited the Portland Bulletin and became closely associated with Ben Holladay, an association he lived to regret.
In 1876 he left Oregon and returned once more to California. Here he spent the remainder of his long life editing, and contributing to almost every newspaper of any prominence from Shasta to San Diego, from the Sierras to the Pacific. He became the editor of the old San Francisco Examiner, in which his friend of pioneer days, Geo. P. Johnson, and Col. Phil. A. Roach were owners. He remained in San Francisco until 1881, among many of his old friends. It was at this time that the friendship with Henry George was formed. Though the two differed in opinion upon many subjects, yet they were most congenial friends, and James O'Meara was among those to whom the manuscript of "Progress and Poverty" was submitted for criticism and advice.
In the spring of 1881 the Examiner passed into new hands and James O'Meara moved to Santa Rosa, to become the editor of the chief Democratic organ of Sonoma County, the Sonoma Democrat. He remained in Santa Rosa until his death on January 23, 1903. It was during these years that he contributed articles reminiscent of the past or expressive of his political views to the Call, the Chronicle, the Alta, the Star, the Argonaut, the Post, the Bulletin, the Sacramento Bee, the Colusa Sun, the Oakland Tribune, the Fresno Republican, the Los Angeles Times, the Overland Monthly and kindred journals. One winter he spent in Oregon, where he went as a witness for his devoted friends of long years' standing, Gen. Rufus Ingalls, in connection with a suit involving the custody of the two youngest children of Ben Holladay, whose guardian the general was. "Broderick & Gwin" was written during the summer of 1881. The pamphlet on "The Vigilance Committee" was published by Jas. H. Barry in 1887. "Broderick & Gwin" is out of print, but this contribution to the history of California has served as authority for countless writers, who have quoted from it as the sole authentic source for much that is valuable in the early history of California. The copyright is held by his family, who contemplate printing a new edition in loving remembrance.
James O'Meara lived to mourn the passing of the "Old Guard." When, in the fullness of years, he sank into eternal sleep, there were but few of those whose friendship had been so dear to him. None were left to greet him with the old, affectionate "Jimmy." Among the new friends he had made, none held a higher place in his regard than Luther Burbank, whose genius he recognized and fostered long before the world echoed the great man's name.
The closing years of his life were spent in his home. No literary work of any sort came from the fingers too enfeebled to write, for at least three years. He spent his days reading and re-reading books, old and new, and the countless newspapers and magazines that every mail brought to his table. His interest in the world's progress never flagged, and to the last his political prophecies were verified. He left no fortune when he died. He had provided his family a home and left to them recollections of priceless value. They had no regrets that he had left them no money, since he had left what no money can buy. A gentleman of the old school, his gentle, chivalrous and affectionate demeanor in his household had produced a home of unusual happiness. Always hopeful, always cheerful, the devoted husband and father had earned and spent freely to make his family happy. They are thankful that his money was spent while he could enjoy the spending of it; they are grateful that he gave them the capacity for enjoying the best things that go to make life happy, and that the memories of their childhood are linked with the fondest associations.
Side by side, he and his well-beloved sleep on the gentle hillside that overlooks the town where their children live. No graven stone marks the spot, but deep in the hearts of those who loved them and revered them is inscribed a veneration that neither chisel could trace nor time obliterate.
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EDITORIAL WITHDRAWAL.--H. Hamilton, the founder of the Calaveras Chronicle, has retired from that journal, after having conducted it creditably and profitably for three years and a half. James O'Meara assumes the tripod.
Sacramento Daily Union, May 7, 1855, page 2
Portland, Nov. 12th, 1857Dear General:
I arrived back here on the 28th ult. from San Francisco, and the next day got from McCracken a letter written by Bush dated the 25th October, in anticipation of my return, in which he says that an immediate sale will be preferable to him, although he would like to retain the editorial control until the close of the present volume. However, if I wanted immediate possession to follow the purchase, he would give it. Thus matters stood until last week, when I went to Salem and called on Bush to close the matter at once. He surprised me by answering that he had since concluded not to sell. I said that I must ask a reconsideration of his last resolve, and wished him to state at what time he would give me a final answer. His reply was in just these words: "I can't tell yet; Nesmith is not in town." He then went on to say that he was bound in gratitude to some friends in the Territory for past favors, and that soon the most important political crisis ever known in the Territory would occur--that these friends were greatly interested in the results which could occur therefrom, and that since they heard of his intention to sell to me, almost all of them had either written to or called upon him not to do so until the full canvass was over. They would deem it desertion upon his part if he sold out to me, of them and their interest. These were about the reasons he gave for his change of mind in the matter.
I have since learned something more of the meaning of all this. On the day of my return here, Nesmith called upon me and in a quiet way wanted to know what paper I was going to take hold of. I declined telling him. That day at noon he started (in a fierce rain storm, too) for Salem. The next day, Bush dispatched a letter to John McCracken, in which he withdrew his offer to sell to me, but while this letter was coming to Portland, I was on my way to Salem. At Salem, I called to see Nesmith. His clerk told me he was not in although I know that he was, for I had seen him just before I opened the door, and he left so sudden that his hat and coat were lying upon the table still. I did not endeavor to see him again. Bush also acted singularly. He was to meet me at his office on Friday afternoon. I called four times and found no one in. I saw him once rushing over from his office to his house, and he turned and saw me, but only hurried on the faster. He is to send me written final answer here this week. Should it come before the mail steamer sails I will inform you of its import.
On my way down from Salem, I stopped one night at Wm. Barlow's, a farmer living some ten miles from Oregon City. There I met a man who had overheard a conversation between Judge Williams and another gentleman a few evenings before while the two lay in bed in an adjoining room to him.
Williams stated that Deady was positively in the field for Senator, and that he regretted it, for it might injure his own chances. He did not think the people would stand two ex-judges of the Supreme Bench, and the election was certain to come off for the Southern District first. Therefore, if Deady beat you, Nesmith would be almost sure to triumph over himself (Judge W.). (From Nesmith's clerk, I gleaned that some time since he intended to resign the Indian Superintendency, but he has since resolved not to do so.) Williams further stated that he feared Bush would support Nesmith in preference to himself, and that he would make every effort for Deady, because when he (Bush) first came to the country he was penniless and Deady assisted him more than any other man. Curry's name was used by Williams, but he spoke of him as Bush's and Nesmith's catspaw. He thought that for Congress, Bush would throw [off] Smith and support Grover, because the latter had managed to make his (Brook's) father-in-law Territorial Surveyor. You may know what this means. Of course I have not been here long enough to be posted. Smith was looked upon as reaching for the Senate certain, though his friends claimed only Congress for him.
There is one matter I now wish to speak of to you in this, and I shall duplicate this portion of the letter by the Columbia, in order that you may know it without failure if the mail steamer should not connect at San Fran.
I have not yet got Bush's answer. If it comes a negative to my wishes, I shall then purchase Carter's interest in the Times and assume control of it. I am positive I can do you greater benefit there than Hibben, for he has somehow got honeyfuggling with Bush, and I am not sure that he is sweet enough to fool Bush; therefore Bush must fool him. Then, the recent affair between Hibben and that poor wretch Leland has not added laurels to Hibben's reputation, so far as I can ascertain. Neither has his late course in following the usual abusive style of the Oregon press done him any good.
I shall conduct the paper in a dignified manner at least. No man shall be abused by me in virulent personal manner, and I shall take good care that no one shall abuse me the second time.
From the letter you wrote to Capt. Cain in my behalf, he does not feel himself at liberty to draw upon you in any other event than the purchase of the Statesman. I wish to know if you cannot, and if you will not, render me the same assistance in the purchase of the Times. The security shall be under the same arrangements, viz: upon the office together with one half of the building. I ask for no bequest. I request a loan and wish the whole transaction upon a strict business basis. In the event of your assent or dissent to the proposition here made, let me know if you please by first mail succeeding the receipt of this.
Please remember me to Dr. Gwin, Mrs. G. and Miss Lucy when you see them, and to Gen. Denver, Gov. Stevens, Mr. Hibben, Broderick, and accept the assurance that I am
Truly Yours,Joseph Lane Letters
I may as well send this.
It was written for last mail.
Portland, Nov. 12th, 1857General Lane:
I sent by the Commodore yesterday a long letter to you, of part of which this is duplicate.
Last week I went to Salem to make fiscal arrangements with Mr. Bush for the purchase and conveyance to me of the Statesman. Before leaving this place, Mr. McCracken showed me a letter just then received from Bush, wherein he stated that he was anxious to make the sale at once, but would like to keep possession for a short time longer. But upon this latter point he would urge, if it were not agreeable to me.
On my arrival at Salem, fully prepared to close the bargain and sale, I called on Bush, when after some hesitation he handed me a copy of a letter he had sent to McCracken but a few days previously, and which had passed down [the Willamette River] while I was on my way up. It contained the withdrawal of his intention to sell. I instantly told him he must reconsider the matter; that he had offered to sell to me, in writing--that I had agreed fully to his terms--that he had accepted my offer to purchase, and that I was then prepared to close the transaction. He replied that he would again think of the matter, and would inform me soon of his final resolve. I pressed him for an answer that day. He at last told me he could not, for Nesmith was not in town. He then went on to say that since it was rumored that he was to sell the paper to me, most of his prominent political friends had either written to or called on him and insisted that he must not leave the conduction of the Statesman until after the approaching important canvass. Some of them, he was free to tell me, were candidates for high positions, and they would deem him recreant to every principle of honor and gratitude if he were to now leave the paper, at the very crisis when they most needed his support. Therefore, he had concluded not to sell, but would remain here until 1860.
I think, General, that I can see through this movement. Nesmith and Deady are the chief two who have thus influenced Bush. Nesmith was in town the second day I was in Salem. I called at his office to see him. Before entering I saw him. When I entered he was not in, and his clerk so informed me. His hat and coat were lying on a table in the office. I did not again seek him. Bush was to meet me that afternoon at his office. I called four times, but found the door locked and nobody in each time. Once in going from the office I saw Bush walking rapidly towards his dwelling. He turned, saw me, and hurried faster homeward. All this sort of action I can well understand now. In good time I hope to be able to clearly fathom everything connected with this refusal to sell the Statesman. I ascertained one fact which is somewhat evidence in the premises: The day I reached here from California, Nesmith came to see me early in the morning, and endeavored to know from me what paper I intended to take control of. I declined giving any information upon the subject. That day at noon he left for Salem, which place he reached the next day, and the evening of that day Bush wrote the letter to McCracken of his determination not to sell.
I have not yet received Bush's final answer. If it comes before I have to mail this, I will tell you what he says.
Should he not sell, I will purchase Carter's interest in the Times. He owns one half of the office and of the building. I have his promise to the bargain. I desired Capt. Cain to let me have a portion of the draft you were kind enough to give towards my purchase of the Statesman, and upon the same style of security, viz: the office and building, but he seems to think it not in accordance with your instructions. I shall therefore make the purchase without assistance, but I trust, General, that by return of mail you will authorize me, through Capt. Cain, or whomever else you care to appoint, to draw against you. Or, to facilitate the matter, will you not empower Capt. Cain to let me have the sum you placed at my disposal for the purchase of the Statesman at once. I will give the entire interest bought from Carter in security. The office has more material and is of double the intended value of Bush's. Besides, the building is as much additional. With this aid I can get along handsomely, and I trust will be enabled to assist you proportionately. One thing you may rely upon. I shall never be caught in any clique at whose hands you are likely to suffer, neither by accident nor design. I am satisfied that in your absence a powerful organization is sought to be built up against you. Men who are really candidates for the highest places, but who declared while you were here that they were not, are working strenuously to form such combinations as will defeat you. Williams, Deady, Nesmith, Smith and Kelly are positively in the field for the Senate, let them deny it now much as either of them may.
I shall see Curry next week. By next mail I will write you fully.
Truly yours,Hon. Jos. Lane
Joseph Lane Letters
It will be recollected that some since we stated that Czapkay's organ had been sold out. The editor afterwards denied it. It now seems that we were correct. Mr. O'Meara bought the office, as we are informed, and upon leaving Salem, word was sent after him to Portland that Bush wouldn't stand to the contract. Mr. O'Meara is about to commence suit against him for damages. We also learn that O'Meara has sent to California for another press, and intends to start another "sound and reliable" Democratic paper in Salem. If any man can print a more re-lie-able paper than the one already in Salem, he must be "a Democrat as is a Democrat."
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, December 5, 1857, page 2
A NEWSPAPER SUIT.--The Standard states that James O'Meara, of San Francisco, is about to institute a civil suit against the editor of the Statesman for breach of contract, in not delivering up the Statesman establishment to him, agreeable to a purchase he had made of said office.
"Late from Oregon," Sacramento Daily Union, December 24, 1857, page 2
Portland, Jany. 1st 1858.Dear General:
At last I am fixed in business. On Tuesday last I purchased the Standard office for six thousand dollars, and on Thursday next it will appear under my conduction. Capt. Cain loaned me $750.00 towards its purchase. Other friends assisted us further.
I still have my suit against Bush, which shall or shall not be prosecuted agreeably as I hereafter conclude shall be for the benefit of yourself and my own interests. However, dollars shall not overcome policy in the matter with me. So far, he has kept his columns free from attack on me. The first offset by him will bring me out in a personal way. I can never stoop to reply to Billingsgate by Billingsgate. My paper shall never fall below decency, come what may. Hibben has acted scurvily in the whole transaction but was powerless for harm to me. I disregard him. I may lead, but shall never follow him.
Avery, Kelly, Farrar, Quinsby, Brown, old Kinney and some dozen others owned the Standard. All of them acted handsomely with me. Farrar at first opposed, from having somehow heard in California that you had backed me in the proposed purchase of the Statesman. At last, Capt. Cain showed him your letter regarding the affair, and from that moment he became my warmest friend in the purchase. Capt. C. also showed Avery the letter after the sale was concluded, who was in time perfectly satisfied, as his liberal conduct best evinced. In fact, I am now certain that none of these men opposed you because of any other reason than from belief that you were an advocate of Bush & co. and the Salem Clique. Now they seem to be your friends, since Capt. Cain proved to them you had no faith in Bush.
There is to be a successful attempt to throw overboard the platform and present apportionment, I believe from all I can hear. In my next you shall know all about it. At present, I am kept so busy in clearing up the office to get to work in good shape, that I am constrained to write you more briefly than otherwise.
Capt. Cain told me he would write to you in favor of your sending him the $750.00 he loaned me. Let me ask you to make it $1500.00 for the following reason. Brown, one of the owners, declined to give me longer than three months to pay his $600.00 in, and he will be a troublesome fellow. Then there is another note of $217.00 made payable in ninety days, to a man who, I am told, will not wait. These are the only notes due under one year, or bearing interest. I wish to be rid of their pressure. There is not a penny of lien of any sort upon the office, and from debts due me on the books I hope to realize enough to pay off everything within the year.
Capt. Cain declined taking a lien for the amount advanced, but Farrar has endorsed the note. If you will send me $750.00 more, making $1500.00 altogether, I will be relieved of all trouble. Do it if you can, for God's sake.
In intrinsic value, the Standard office is worth double what the Statesman is. Type, press and everything in good condition. This much assistance to me now will be of paramount benefit, and you shall be well secured. But I must have it early, if at all.
There is no longer any doubt that Bush's favorite candidates are Deady and Nesmith first, Delazon Smith second--for the Senate. That whole clique are certain to oppose you, save Curry, who is being fooled by them, I fear. He is honest, but unfortunately, not keen enough. Of Boice, I cannot speak.
I told Williams all about my affair with Bush, who had pledged him his word that there was never a word said by him to me about selling the Statesman, and a week ago he (Williams) started up to Salem fearfully angry at Bush. I have not heard from him since.
Should the Territory be admitted as a state, I think you have nothing to fear. I have never met your son, Nat. He seems a strong Bush man, and I prefer to let his mind be disabused the natural way.
Present my regards to Gen. Dawes, and say to him I got the pub. docs. he sent by last mail--also to Dr. Gwin, Broderick, &c.
A long letter next time.I shall not change the name of the Standard.
As ever, yours truly,
Joseph Lane Letters
The last Standard announces that its past editor, Mr. Leland, is to be succeeded by Mr. O'Meara, recently from California. The Standard, we believe, has a larger circulation at present than any other Democratic paper in the Territory, while its usual tone has been more like that moderate kind of journal which generally finds little favor among Oregon Democracy, while the ability that has characterized it, though presenting nothing striking, has been more than a match for any of the clique organs, and its continual appeals in behalf of the people's rights as against caucus sovereignty, as taught by the Salem faction, has made slow but constant inroads upon this black cockade federal wing of the black Democracy, and caused them an immense amount of uneasiness. What will be its character under the management of its new editor remains of course in the future, although Mr. Leland assures us that there is no doubt at all but he is "perfectly sound and reliable" on the anti-caucus-sovereign wing of the goose. Well, we shall see.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, January 2, 1858, page 2
Portland, Feb. 11th 1858.Dear General:
Guthrie goes to San Fran. today. He talks of resigning his place soon. Gen. Lovejoy is a candidate for it. For God's sake, don't let him have it. You will alienate many warm pro-slavery friends of yours in Clackamas if you do--Officer Cason and others.
Better news comes every day. The people of Salem sent me $100.00 worth of new subscribers day before yesterday with strong congratulatory letters. New names come in daily. I have gained 171 up to date--lost 9 and two moved away.
I shall go through the counties every week from Thursday to Sunday until the contest is over. Bush has never attacked the Standard yet.
At his "oyster supper" last given two weeks ago, Nesmith drank the following toast: "Here's hoping that Douglas fights a duel with Buchanan, and that Douglas kills him." Pretty good for a fed. officer.
Hibben is tamed down again, but I shall not trust him anymore. Bush has got him dead beyond redemption.
The new movement prospers in every county heard from. I am certain we will carry even Marion. Curry stays at home in quiet, and will remain so, he assured me. They now talk of altering the programme--offering Gen. Adair the governorship in place of Drew--heading us off by dropping Grover and nominating Kelly for Congress--and one or two lesser changes are named. This won't work. I wish they will do this. Kelly will not accept, and Grover will open on them.
We can beat them working. Our people are full of spirits and sanguine of success. They are shaky. Williams don't know what to do. But I am certain he will be tamely for them.
I shall not rest until the contest is over. After the nomination I shall stump the Territory.
You need have no fears. They cannot beat you.
Truly yours,Joseph Lane Letters
Another "Missionary."The Portland Standard of the 31st December ult., contains the valedictory of Alonzo Leland, late editor of that paper. In retiring, Mr. Leland strikes a last feeble blow at the "Oregon Democracy," against whom he has waged incessant warfare, with very ill success, for the last three years and a half. We opine that very few of his readers will find fault with the article in which he bids them adieu. He announces that Mr. James O'Meara will succeed him in the editorial conduct of the Standard.
Mr. O'Meara comes from California, of which state, if we are correctly informed, he has been for some years a resident. Of his object in coming to this Territory, and assuming the charge of a paper which, under the guise of Democracy, has been assiduously striving to effect the disorganization of the Democratic Party, we have as yet no means of judging, except from the declarations of the Oregonian, Standard and Messenger, which journals have heralded his advent, and have even gone so far as to indicate the course which he is to pursue. If these journals speak from authority, his "mission" is to renovate and purify the Democratic Party in Oregon; to overthrow and utterly to "crush out" the present "Salem dynasty," and to reorganize the Democratic Party, under new leaders, who--if the "mission" is successful--will probably have to be imported from California, as, in the opinion of our "missionaries," every Democrat possessed of the smallest spark of talent or ability has been already corrupted by contact with the "Salem clique." Or, perhaps, leaders under the new regime may be selected from the ranks of the opposition, who, having fully accomplished the work of purification in themselves, have suddenly, Know-Nothings, Black Republicans and all, become deeply interested in the regeneration of the Democracy; and their disinterested sympathy with the enslaved and oppressed masses of the Democratic Party certainly deserves some reward. Can there not be found among them men good and true, who will undertake, just from motives of pure and disinterested patriotism, to guide and direct the Democratic masses, and instruct them in the principles of Jeffersonian Democracy? Let us see--there's Dryer--not a very able man to be sure; but that's the fault of his early education, or rather want of it--but then he's a handsome man; and besides, hasn't he always opposed the "Salem clique," and pointed out to the outraged people their wrongs, and the authors of them? And there's Adams, of the Argus--not so handsome a man as "t'other feller," but he must be a good man, for he has "Rev." prefixed to his name. If you doubt his honesty, see the Statesman and the records of the Clackamas County Court; if you doubt his ability, read his paper. He has labored long and zealously for the purification of the Democratic Party, and is not the laborer worthy of his hire? Not that he wants it--not that any of them want it; oh, no!--the thought of "power and spoils" never entered their heads! The "approval of God and their own consciences" is all they're after; certainly!--Jacksonville Herald.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, February 16, 1858, page 2
Portland, March 1st, 1858.Dear General:
The mail steamer arrived this morning and goes away at 5 p.m. This gives me little time to write you. However, Col. Farrar goes on, and can tell you everything I fail to. I got no letter from you this time--regret it.
Nesmith got back this morning--looks well, and has lots of cash. He saw all my old friends below, and is wonderfully pleased with them.
The new movement is progressing every day. Bush is badly scared, and in his last number re-read Kelly out of the Party--also threatens to have Farrar removed from office for opposition to Salem.
Hibben is at last convinced of the perfidy of the Clique towards you. Hughes of Jackson confessed to him that just after the House adjourned, Creanor and others approached him to ascertain if he would not consent to heave you overboard in favor of Delazon Smith. Hughes was firm for you. Col. Tilton of Olympia also states that last summer, during your election canvass, when Bush and Nesmith were at Olympia, he heard Bush denounce you bitterly--said you were a "damned old fool" and he "expected and hoped you would be beat." Tilton is a man of nerve and truth.
The last shuffle to quiet Williams, who swears vengeance if Delazon Smith is put on his track for U.S. Senator, is: Grover for Gov. and Delazon for Congress. Of course this is all a sham. The ticket is as I gave it to you some time since.
At the Clique primary meetings here last week in one precinct, out of only 15 of their stripe they had to nominate 9. They finally got the number by appointing some outsiders, as those named present declined to serve. In Hibben's precinct it was still worse. Out of 16 they had to select 14, and five of the first called declined instantes. These two, with Bybee's district, were the only precincts represented in county convention on Saturday--24 in all. Hibben, Ben. Stark and Waterman each got only three votes of all these, as delegates to Salem. Norris, Ritchie (not present), Riddle and another were elected. Williams spoke at night to a full house, a majority of whom were against his party. After he was through they called for me, but I declined to take any step which would smack of interference with their meetings. We hold a mass convention next Saturday.
I went to Astoria (both places) last week. Everything is right for our side in Clatsop. Adair and I had a long talk. He is sound, when the time comes to act. It is advisable for him to keep quiet now. Moffat showed him a letter recently written to him from Del. Smith, in which he unqualifiedly announces himself a candidate for U.S. Senator.
Bush's action about the Salem charter will kill him in Marion. The rowdies broke in the stores of merchants, Jews and others opposed to Bush again week before last. All the Hebrews will go with us.
They have let up on Capt. Bobby Thompson lately. They now want his influence, but he is against them to the end.
I am fully announced now as a Lane man, and next Saturday will publicly avow it in my speech. Williams dodged the issue. I shall force Bush to come out positively in a few weeks.
They are foolish enough to reaffirm and advocate the clinging to the Salem platform whenever they dare. We have got them dead in this.
Capt. Cain is in town, and in high glee with the looks of affairs. He will yet control Hibben. I have no further confidential conversation with H., nor will I. Capt. C. will hereafter manage him, and he and I can talk confidentially. Now that H. has become satisfied of the rascality against you from their own men, through direct confessions to himself, he is tractable. He is angry, too, that he was not elected a delegate.
Kelly is going through Polk, Lane, Linn and Marion now. He will be here on Saturday to speak, and return again upcountry. Cheering accounts come in from all sides.
For God's sake, don't let them remove Farrar. It will injure you and our cause if it be done. Don't cut off our friends' heads while we are fighting your battles. If you do, of necessity, many now truly your friends will become opponents and seek out someone who does not punish friends to reward enemies.
I am as everYou never send me a Pub.Doc.
Joseph Lane Letters
Portland, March 26th, 1858Dear General,
Absence unexpectedly by last mail time and illness combined prevented me from writing to you. The latter cause will still preclude me from saying all I wish to now. I am under the torture of neuralgia, and next to crazy with it.
Your kind and interesting letter of the 18th came this morning. In regard to national matters I endorse all you have said, and were it not for the urgent advice of your best friends here would have come out in my paper on the Administration side at the first outbreak. Policy for your cause alone restrained me. I am sound for the President and will always be.
As to matters here, pardon me, but with all due deference, I say it, you and I think not alike. I cannot believe that men like Drew, Boise, Smith and Nesmith, whose antecedents are anti-Democratic (some of them Abolitionists) are at heart Democrats, or ever will be. They fight for spoils and spoils only. Neither would I like to trust Judge Williams in the U.S. Senate. He says now that he is a Buchanan man. But I will swear, and can find ample other evidence to prove, that for a month after the news of this imbroglio, and until after he returned from a trip to Salem, he was openly for Douglas. I can never believe any man a good national man who could pen such an abolition letter as Judge W. did in this Territory last year. My opinion of Grover can never have a change. He is a polished trimmer who will shift his political opinions as his interests lead. Deady is not to be feared taken by himself, but in the hands of others he may grow strong. Although nominated for a judgeship (which I am satisfied is all a blind) his bosom friends talk of him for Senate, and one of them in Josephine--John Piles--is now openly announcing him. I know these men will beat you if they can, and I also know that you are furnishing them the power to better accomplish this.
In their convention they merely passed a complimentary resolution regarding you to please Waymire. At Eugene City I am determined to have a resolution passed endorsing you as our next first U.S. Senator to be elected, or I will break up the organization. This will show you whom are your real friends.
I am still of the opinion that we will beat the Salem men, and this is the opinion of the best men I know in Oregon.
If I can do nothing else by the course I have taken, I will have the influence to prevent these tricksters from swamping you, and this I shall do. I am ready to sink the state to gain a Democratic national administration representation in Congress. Even the germ of a success which we must have in 1860 is dearer to me than any issue under this in importance.
But I must stop writing. My head is cultus today, and I cannot say what I wish in a proper way.
By next mail I hope to be all right, and if so will give you as full history as possible of all that has transpired.
For that draft I am grateful. About the other--all right. It would have helped, but its absence cannot effect. I have never committed an ingratitude. I will stand by you until you ask me to let go.
Capt. Cain will go to Washington in a month. He will tell you all.
I am as everJoseph Lane Letters
The audience at Gasburg, Jackson Co., will recollect that Mr. O'Meara spoke of Leland in the most contemptuous terms at that place--characterizing him as "that dog, Leland," &c. We learn from the editor of the Portland Times and others that at that very time, Leland was editing the Standard in O'Meara's absence, and is still editing it. What does the Gasburg audience, Leland, and the candid reader think of such deception?
Oregon Statesman, Salem, May 4, 1858, page 2
Two-Faced, and Double-Tongued.We last week gave some of the evidences of O'Meara's double-dealing upon the slavery question, and his endeavor to obtain the votes of ultra pro-slavery men, and then to obtain the votes of ultra abolitionists; his private consultations and caucusings with Messrs. Officer and Cason (strictly honorable and straightforward men) and others, of Clackamas County, about organizing a pro-slavery party, his representations to those gentlemen of his being in favor of slavery in Oregon, and his promise to advocate slavery in the Standard; the discovery by those gentlemen of the double-dealing attempted to be practiced by O'Meara, and Mr. Officer's rebuke of it. From pro-slavery men in Polk County we hear that the same game has been practiced there, while on the other hand, anti-slavery men have been made to believe that O'Meara is against slavery. And Mr. Leander Holmes, of Clackamas, the nominee of the Republicans for Secretary of State, told us, at the time they (the Republicans) held their state convention at this place, that he was informed by some of Mr. O'Meara's supporters in Clackamas County that he, O'Meara, was strongly opposed to slavery, and Holmes so understood him to be, though he had not so heard him say. Every day we hear from one quarter and another of Mr. O'Meara's being on opposite and both sides of this slavery question, and every day strengthens the testimony of double-dealings until, indeed, we believe the fact has come to be pretty well understood by the public.
In his speech at Jacksonville (that being a strong pro-slavery locality), Col. Kelly wanted to know "why the Democratic Central Committee did not order their call published in the Jacksonville Sentinel, the Corvallis Messenger, and the Portland Standard?" "I'll tell you why," said he, "the two first are pro-slavery papers, and Mr. O'Meara would have voted for slavery had he been in Oregon and entitled to vote when the question was taken." Mr. O'Meara was present, and did not correct, or allude to the statement, though he spoke after Kelly. There were few or no Republicans there, and a great many pro-slavery men.
But, at Long Tom, O'Meara, when pressed by Mr. Jones, of Lane County, after evasion, reluctantly replied that he should have voted against slavery had he been in Oregon at the time the vote was taken!
Which side of the slavery question is Mr. O'Meara on! It depends upon the sentiments of the man with whom Mr. O'Meara talks! "ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN." Are either pro-slavery men or anti-slavery men in Oregon going to be deceived by these arts of a California political trickster? Whom is he deceiving? the former or the latter? Is a man who will deceive either worthy of the confidence or support of either?
Oregon Statesman, Salem, June 1, 1858, page 2
ACCIDENT.--An accident has happened to James O'Meara, of the Portland Standard. He was canvassing Jackson and Josephine counties, on behalf of the National ticket, when he had his arm broken by his mule falling on it. He is at present lying at Kerbyville, and we trust will soon recover.
Sacramento Daily Union, June 14, 1858, page 4
We regret to learn that the editor of the Standard, Jas. O'Meara, has by a fall in stepping from a skiff again broken his arm.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, October 9, 1858, page 2
ARDENT.--Mr. Leland, the old editor of the Standard, has always cherished a kindly feeling toward the paper since the time that he was ousted as editor. The feeling has continued to grow upon him until it became evident that fatal consequences must result from it. We are happy to say, however, that, instead of injuring him, the strength of his "attachment" has only killed the Standard.
----The following was not received at this office till last Saturday night:
Portland, Jan'y. 4th, 1859.
Mr. Adams: Will you please state in your next number that the publication of the Democratic Standard will be suspended until further notice.
Respectfully,The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, January 15, 1859, page 2
The last Jacksonville Sentinel announces that Messrs. O'Meara and Freaner have purchased that paper, and will hereafter publish and conduct it.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, August 4, 1859, page 2
JAMES O'MEARA, formerly of San Francisco, and subsequently proprietor of the Portland Standard, has become editor and part owner of the Jacksonville Sentinel, in Southern Oregon.
Daily National Democrat, Marysville, California, October 5, 1859, page 3
PARTY AND PARTISANS.Oregonian, Portland, December 31, 1859, page 2
"The fact is patent to every informed person that the Democratic Party of Oregon is being rapidly, unmistakably converted into an engine with no loftier purpose than the elevation of certain men to office, and the proscription of certain other men from participation in the benefits flowing from party triumphs, without any regard to the principles, the integrity, or the moral character of either the favored or prescribed individuals.--Jacksonville Sentinel."
Yes, and that fact was "patented" when you received the vote of the party for Public Printer. Your twaddle about principle is about as sincere as the rebuke the Devil gave to sin, upon one occasion.
Poor little Jimmie O'Meara, how his little soul is troubled at the degeneracy of "the Democratic Party of Oregon," which has failed to appreciate his extraordinary "integrity, or moral character" and peculiar fitness for office. If "Jimmie" would call down this way and discharge some few trifling obligations to various persons, and for different objects, the people would have a "loftier" opinion of his "integrity, or the moral character" which he took to the land of gold and flowers.
Query--How much have the people gained by swapping off old T'Vault for little Jimmie to teach them Democracy.
THE JACKSONVILLE SENTINEL.--This paper, published in Oregon, as we mentioned yesterday, has put up the names of Breckinridge and Lane, whereupon W. B. Freanor, one of the editors and proprietors, issued the following:
"By the publication of the above article, and a difference of opinion entertained between Mr. O'Meara and myself, I regret to announce to the friends and patrons of the Sentinel that my connection with it ceases from and after today. Believing that Mr. Douglas fairly and legitimately received the nomination at the late National Democratic Convention, and moreover believing that he is the choice of the Democratic masses of Oregon, I considered that it was the duty of the Sentinel to sustain him as the regular Democratic nominee; hence my reason for withdrawing from the concern."
Sacramento Daily Union, July 28, 1860, page 3
Our friend James O'Meara, of the Jacksonville Sentinel, heads the Oregon Breckinridge electoral ticket. Delazon Smith very appropriately constitutes its tail. We'll wager a hat that Jim will not sleep with Delazon once during the campaign. And if he does, we'll bet a coat that he will figure in a divorce suit just so soon as his wife gets a glimpse of "Delusion's" form and face.
Shasta Courier, Shasta City, California, October 6, 1860, page 2
Declaration of Mrs. Fannie D. O'Meara.of us as witnesses
Be it known that I, Fannie D. O'Meara, a married woman, the wife of James O'Meara, of Jacksonville, Jackson County, Oregon, hereby declare it to be my intention to hold as my separate property, a certain pianoforte given to me by my Father James Davidson.
Dated this thirty first day of October A.D. 1860.
Signed & executed in presence Fannie D. O'Meara (seal)
U. S. Hayden
I. H. Reed
State of Oregon, County of Jackson ss.
Before me the undersigned a Justice of the peace within and for said County and State personally appeared Fannie D. O'Meara, wife of James O'Meara, personally known to me to be the identical person described in and who executed the foregoing declaration and acknowledged that she had executed the same freely and without fear or compulsion from anyone. Done on this the 31st day of October A.D. 1860.
U. S. Hayden (seal)Filed for Record October 31st, 1860 at 5 O'Clk P.M.
Justice of the peace.
Recorded November 20th 1860. Wm. Hoffman
Recorder Jackson Co. OregonRegister of Married Women's Separate Property, Jackson County Clerk's Office
James O'Meara, Esq., one of the late Breckinridge electors in the state of Oregon, repudiates the Pacific Republic representatives at Washington in his paper, the Oregon Sentinel.
"Driftwood," Pioneer and Democrat, Olympia, Washington, March 8, 1861, page 2
While at Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras County, I met an old friend, C. A. Clark Esq., who in 1855, being proprietor of the Calaveras Chronicle and sheriff of the county, employed Dennis O'Meara to edit the paper. On the nomination of John Bigler Dennis bolted and refused to support him, whereupon Mr. Clark politely informed him that his services were no longer required. Dennis prates frequently of fealty to party, supporting the regular nominee &c., but seems to forget his own proclivities in that line
D. W. Porter to Harvey Gordon, letter of May 18, 1861
On Saturday evening last the undersigned terminated his connection with the Oregon Sentinel, in every respect. He retires from the part he has occupied for nearly two years willingly--with few regrets and with many gratifying emotions. His ambition was ever to make the Sentinel the very best news journal in Oregon, a sound and faithful Democratic exponent, a valuable local organ, and in every sense an acceptable and welcome newspaper. It rests with the patrons and readers to say what measure of success has attended his efforts to accomplish this. But a steadily increasing business patronage from the day he assumed control of the paper down to the day he left it somewhat assures him that his efforts were, at least, comparatively successful.
It is shameful that the only Democratic paper in Southern Oregon--in which Democrats outnumber Republicans three to one, and all Oppositionists combined two to one--has been permitted to fall into politically unfriendly hands. The fault is not with the writer of this. He bore the brunt of open attack and withstood the effects of a sapping approach to his stronghold as long as he was able, and had finally to choose whether to accept a good bargain or hazard bankruptcy. Duty to himself and those dependent on him quickly decided the alternative.
Should another Democratic paper ever be published in Jackson County, or in Josephine, or in Douglas, it is hoped that Democrats will contribute in a legitimate manner much better to its support than they have to the Sentinel. Unless they shall do so, they must not expect to have a paper useful to themselves, a credit to the party, profitable to its conductors, or valuable in any degree. The Sentinel has been very liberally and quite profitably patronized during the past twenty months, but candor and justice require the avowal that for this it has been mainly indebted to the Oppositionists of all shades. Even bitter ultra-Republicans have continued their patronage to it--on purely local grounds and for the news found in its columns--while they detested its political sentiments. Hereafter, if a Democratic paper is to be established and find support in Southern Oregon, Democrats will have to sustain it, and until they are ready to do so, let them abandon all idea or hope of having an organ.
In taking this farewell of patrons and readers, the undersigned tenders his earnest acknowledgments to them, one and all, for the liberal support and cheering patronage they have extended to him. To the coterie of noble, generous, devoted friends who have so faithfully and disinterestedly assisted him in days of perplexities and deep cares, he presents his profoundest gratitude.
JAMES O'MEARA.Jacksonville, May 22nd, 1861.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 25, 1861, page 2
THE OREGON SENTINEL.--James O'Meara has retired from the paper, and it has come out strong for the Union. The new conductor says:
In regard to the civil war now pending in the Atlantic States, we have a fellow feeling with every American in believing that the Union must be maintained and the laws enforced in all sections at whatever cost. We are of those who make it a religion to sympathize with our common country when her flag is dishonored, and to that degrading pass have the secessionists brought it. And under such circumstances we would consider ourselves unworthy [of] the proud title of American citizens were we the least dilatory in boldly affirming our determination to support the government, to the best of our ability, in any capacity to which we may be called.
Sacramento Daily Union, May 29, 1861, page 1
Affray in Jacksonville, Oregon.
Yreka, July 1st.
A letter from Jacksonville, Oregon, dated June 30th, says, yesterday James O'Meara, ex-editor of the Sentinel, and Denlinger, present proprietor, had an affray. The parties were separated. This afternoon they again came together, and after severe struggling. Denlinger succeeded in taking O'Meara's pistol from him, and shot him three times, one ball taking effect in the wrist, one in the leg, and one in the side, when Denlinger was caught by the bystanders. O'Meara is not seriously hurt, and will probably recover.
Sacramento Daily Union, July 2, 1861, page 2
YREKA, July 1.A letter from Jacksonville, Oregon, dated June 30, says that Jas. O'Meara, ex-editor of the Sentinel, caned Mr. Denlinger, the present proprietor. The parties were separated. This was in the forenoon of the 29th. During the afternoon they again came together, and after a severe struggle Deninger succeeded in taking O'Meara's pistol from him and shot him three times, one ball taking effect in the wrist, one in the leg and one in the side, when Denlinger was caught by the bystanders. Mr. O'Meara is not seriously hurt, and will probably recover.
Daily National Democrat, Marysville, California, July 2, 1861, page 3
NOT CURED YET.--James O'Meara, Esq. has purchased the material of the defunct Crescent City Herald, and intends to publish a semi-weekly newspaper and treason-peddler at Jacksonville. We hope he will not meet with success.
Weekly Oregonian, July 6, 1861, page 1
You will doubtless have heard of an unfortunate affray in Jacksonville, Oregon, in which Mr. O'Meara, late of the Oregon Sentinel, was severely injured, having been badly cut on the head and shot three times with his own revolver. It is understood that O'Meara and Mr. Pomeroy of the late Crescent City Herald are about to start a new paper in Jacksonville--of course a rival of the Sentinel--and as the antagonist of Mr. O'Meara is one of those conducting the Sentinel, there would seem but small probability of much being done in Jacksonville to change the somewhat notorious reputation of Oregon papers for personal abuse and vituperation. Let us hope, however, for a miracle in this case.
"Letter from Crescent City," San Francisco Bulletin, July 17, 1861, page 1
They settle editorial difficulties in Oregon with lead in the shape of bullets instead of types. Mr. O'Meara, not liking something Mr. Denlinger printed in his paper, slapped Mr. D. in the face, when the interference of bystanders prevented further demonstrations. They met on the day following without any belligerent acts on either side until they had passed each other, when Denlinger turned with a large knife in his hand and stabbed O'Meara in the back, above the kidneys; as the latter turned he received another cut on the head which caused him to stagger; as he recovered he drew his pistol--a small five-shooter--which Denlinger wrenched from him and shot him three times, the first shot causing a slight wound on the left side under the arm; the second crossing the left wrist, disabling that arm; and the third in the thigh, causing only a flesh wound. The wounds are all painful but not considered mortal.
Springfield Republican, Springfield, Massachusetts, August 13, 1861, page 2
The first number of the Southern Oregon Gazette, published at this place by O'Meara & Pomeroy, made its appearance on Thursday morning last. It presents a fair typographical appearances, publishes and endorses the late speech of John C. Breckinridge, and professes to be Democratic in politics.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 17, 1861, page 3
We hear it hinted that O'Meara, the little man who traveled around exhibiting a learned pig for a living some time ago, is coming to Eugene to take charge of Noltner and exhibit him as candidate for State Printer through the Register. This extra effort is doubtless intended to counteract the influence of the independent secession candidate for that office.
The State Republican, Eugene, Oregon, April 26, 1862, page 2
In relation to the justice of my vote in Stark's case, I have never had a doubt, yet I am aware that many good people in Oregon condemn it. The only thing that I do, or ever have, regretted about it, is the fact that it meets the approval of those in Oregon who sympathize with treason. I saw a letter from little Dennis O'Meara, to Stark, in which the dirty cur said with his usual pomposity, "I have an irrevocable quarrel with Nesmith, but the manly vote he gave in your case disarms me of resentment"! The only desire that I could have of "disarming" him of his resentment would be to shoot him in the as----e with it, as Dillinger did when he "disarmed" him of his pistol. I want nothing in the mildering form of approbation from that source. I am as indifferent about his good, or ill will, as his "learned pig" was of the opinion or sentiments of the unlearned pork of his youthful associations.
Senator James W. Nesmith to Asahel Bush, letter of June 9, 1862
C. H. Miller, formerly of Mossman & Miller's Express to Salmon, has now the editorial charge and is also assistant publisher of the Democratic Register. From his salutatory, we don't discover any material difference in sentiment from that of O'Meara, who used the paper through the past campaign to very little purpose, as one would use a small switch, cutting and slashing at the supporters of the government over the shoulders of the "Abolitionists." Personally we have the best of feelings towards the editor, and hope that experience and a careful study of the public sentiment of this community will lead him to improve the tone of the paper, which has not yet been known to give indications of joy at federal victories or regret at rebel successes.
The State Republican, Eugene, Oregon, June 28, 1862, page 2
We notice that Jimmy O'Meara has found his way back to Oregon. Probably he is ciphering 'round to buy out Bush and his remnant, as understand they are for sale. How is it, "Malignant"--going to sell out to O'Meara again?
Oregon Argus, Oregon City, January 31, 1863, page 2
OREGON DEMOCRAT.--This is the title of a Peace Democratic paper published weekly in Albany, Oregon, and edited by James O'Meara. We have received its first number.
Sacramento Daily Union, February 17, 1863, page 3
$300.--The remains of the Oregon Democrat have been dug up and galvanized into something like life, with James O'Meara (Ah! Jammy, we know you, don't we?) as editor. We hope "the printers will be secured by the first mortgage this time." Cumtux?--Washington Standard
The Statesman says Jimmy diddled Murphey, of the Standard, out of $800, while he figured at Portland. He is up to such little tricks.
The State Republican, Eugene, Oregon, March 7, 1863, page 2
GOOD JOURNEYIST.--O'Meara, having got tired of staying long at one place, has left the Albany Democrat, and gone up to turn the crank of the Review, a Copperhead thumb-paper at Eugene City.--He will probably next turn up as an "associate editor" of the T'Vaultinger [sic--T'Vault/Denlinger] office. The Review announces Jimmy's coming as that of "one of the best journalists on the Pacific coast." The fellow probably had in his eye Jimmy's journeyings--showing his pig, borrowing money, and editing Democratic newspapers--and meant to say that James was a good journeyist. The careless typo is probably responsible for making a "good journalist" of a man who hasn't really much more brains than Asahel [Bush]. If their skulls were both scraped, the product wouldn't fill the empty coconut of a passably sensible contraband--that of an "intelligent contraband" they wouldn't near fill. They both have one capital qualification for Democratic journalists, however--while they tell a good many lies about Union men, they tell a good deal of truth about each other.
The Oregon Argus, Oregon City, May 25, 1863, page 2
The great "konkerin' hero," Jo Lane, at a Copperhead meeting lately held in Roseburg, officiated as bottle-holder to the "Pygmy Chief of Oregon Copperheads," James O'Meara, while the latter spread himself through three mortal hours of space in denunciation of Abolitionists, etc. The "Democracy of Douglas County" (twenty persons) were there, in mass meeting assembled. By resolutions adopted and endorsed by "Josef," it is evident that he thinks the "rights" of the South have been "invaded," her "citizens oppressed," and, in conformity with the promise made in his North Carolina banquet speech, probably designs to "fly to their relief from his far-off Pacific home, to lend all the power of his arm and head (oh!) in their defense--in defense of the rights of the South." The breezes from the north are too bracing to be pleasant to foul birds inured to the foetid atmosphere of slavery. They should migrate.
Oregon Sentinel, November 28, 1863, page 2
Eugene City, April 9, 1864.Dear General:
The Democracy of Lane County propose to get up an old-fashioned, rousing ratification meeting in this place on Saturday fortnight, the 20th inst., and as chairman of the committee of arrangements, I am instructed to tender a pressing invitation to you, asking that you will honor the occasion by your presence and an address.
Permit me to add that it is the express desire of the Democracy of Lane County that you should not be put to any expense in responding favorably to their warm and unanimous invitation.
With profound respect, I have the honor to be
Truly Yours,Gen. Jos. Lane
for the Com. of Arrangements
Joseph Lane Letters
I have on the preceding page performed my duty as one of a committee in tendering you the invitation, per instruction. Permit me now, as a true and devoted friend, to beg that you will come to participate in and lead our intended grand rejoicing time, on the 23rd. I am aware, my dear sir, of your physical infirmities--the consequence of severe wounds--and of the hardship even the journey hither must impose upon you; but notwithstanding all these adverse causes, I repeat the earnest solicitation for your presence. It is but simple candor when I assure you that there is no man in the country more honored by a people who have tested and do know him than are you by the Democracy of Lane County at this day. Let us have the assurance that you will be with us, and on the appointed day the legions of the [illegible] great and honest Democracy, all of them, will rally to greet, honor and cheer you, and hearken to your counsel. These are no times for aught but sincerity among Democrats, and I tell you that as one having the weal of our torn but rising party deepest at heart, I say in this only solid truths. Of all men in the state, our Democrats look to you in this dark hour, promising to break away in brightness however, and words of counsel and good cheer from you can now effect more benefit than is possible from any other source. Come, and Lane County can be reclaimed from the enemy. Come, and hundreds of warm hearts and honest hands will welcome and grasp you. At least we will use your name, but will you not give us also your presence and speech? Pray do, if by any means you can make the journey.
Truly Yours,Gen. Jos. Lane
Pray give me timely notice of your coming.
Joseph Lane Letters
[According to the Oregon State Journal of April 30, 1864, Lane was announced as the speaker, but failed to arrive in time.]
James O'Meara has retired from the editorial control of the Eugene Review, and is succeeded by Mr. A. Noltner, the proprietor of the paper. W. G. T'Vault is succeeded in the Jacksonville Intelligencer by P. J. Malone, formerly of the Corvallis Union. Rev. W. F. Boyakin has taken the editorial control of the Corvallis Gazette.
"75 Years Ago in Boise Basin--From Files of the Idaho World, Idaho City, 1865," Idaho Statesman, Boise, January 28, 1940, page 21
THE STATE RIGHTS DEMOCRAT is the title of a new paper recently established at Albany, Oregon, by James O'Meara, formerly of the Eugene Review. Mr. O'Meara is well known in Idaho Territory as one of the most forcible and eloquent writers on the Coast, and in the capacious columns of the Democrat he will have ample scope for the display of those abilities which always make his papers interesting and instructive.
The Idaho World, Idaho City, September 9, 1865, page 1
James D. Fay, Democratic candidate for Congress, says:
I believe in the right of secession as a divine right.
James K. Kelly, Democratic candidate for Governor, says:
If United States bonds are not taxed, I will never vote to pay the interest of the public debt, by G-d.
James O'Meara, Democratic candidate for State Printer, says:
If the people get a chance, they will extinguish the whole corrupt public debt in thirty days without any tax.
M. H. Abbott, editor of the Oregon Herald, and a Democratic leader in Oregon, said in 1861:
We consider the Union dissolved, never to be reunited.
In 1862 James D. Fay said:
I demand that the South be allowed to go in peace.
In 1864 James O'Meara said that he would not take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States because he would not commit perjury.
In 1861 James K. Kelly declared that the Union never could be saved by war.
These are a few little incidents in the political career of prominent Oregon Democrats.
Oregonian, Portland, May 4, 1866, page 1
The Jacksonville Sentinel, in noticing O'Meara's discourses on repudiation, closes with: "We advocate but one kind of repudiation, James--the repudiation of such men as you at the polls."
Oregonian, Portland, May 16, 1866, page 2
SALEM, May 19.ED. HERALD: I see in the Oregonian of the 8th inst. a slanderous lie on Jas. O'Meara--who is no great friend to me, yet justice is due him from my hands. The facts are these: Mr. O'Meara had given up his seat to accommodate two ladies, from Salem to Waconda; near the latter place the stage stopped for the ladies to get out. Mr. O'Meara, as any gentleman should, got out to assist the ladies and their children to the ground. As the ladies vacated the seat, a gentleman (sitting by my side on the front seat) squatted down in Mr. O'Meara's seat. Mr. O'M. remarked--"That is my seat, sir; I only gave it up to accommodate the ladies. I wish you would take the other side" (but on the same seat). Gentleman No. 2 replied--"I won't do it!" The driver was called, and he (the driver) requested gent. number 2 to let Mr. O'Meara have his seat. Mr. O'M. never attempted to draw, nor even named [sic] pistol, nor did gent number 2 attempt to smash or mangle anyone. The Oregonian has made a big lie out of nothing. You are at liberty to use my name if you like.
A PASSENGER.Oregon Herald, Portland, May 23, 1866, page 2. I was unable to find a report of this incident in the four pages of the May 8, 1866 Oregonian; it may have been published in an edition other than the one microfilmed. O'Meara is mentioned, however, on page 4 in a speech by Governor Gibbs.
JAMES O'MEARA.--We are very glad to meet with Oregon's oldest and ablest Democratic editor, James O'Meara, Esq., of the Albany Democrat, who is now making the Boise country a visit for the first time. He is an accomplished writer, a worthy gentleman, and a sound Democrat, as those who have read the Eugene Review well know.--Mr. O'Meara was the Democratic candidate at the June election for State Printer of Oregon, and was really elected, but swindled out of the office by innumerable frauds.
The Idaho World, Idaho City, July 21, 1866, page 2
JAMES O'MEARA, ESQ.
James O'Meara has endeared himself to the Democracy of this Territory. Coming here a stranger, and without any intention of remaining long, he generously volunteered his assistance to the Democracy of Idaho, and has borne himself bravely through the thickest of the fight. In California and Oregon and Idaho Mr. O'Meara has made his name familiar as a household word, and made his influence felt everywhere for good. As an orator and as a writer he is bold, philosophical and effective. Much of the enthusiasm and unanimity which brought the Democracy of Idaho with such sweeping effect to the polls last Monday is due to O'Meara. That the Democracy appreciate his efforts was very apparent last Monday night. When the polls were closed O'Meara was seized, lifted upon the shoulders of the crowd, and borne triumphantly from Cody's corner through the streets amid the rousing cheers of the multitude. A crowd of not much less than a thousand men swept along making the air ring with their triumphant huzzahs. On arriving at Taylor & Owens Saloon he was released and had an opportunity of expressing his feelings. Short addresses were made by Mr. Holbrook and others. On Wednesday evening a proper testimonial of the esteem in which he is held was presented him by the Democracy in the shape of a valuable present.
The Idaho World, Idaho City, August 18, 1866, page 2
HENRY DENLINGER, the gentleman who brought Dennis O'Meara to think of his "latter end," in a street fight in Jacksonville some years ago, was married at Portland on the 6th inst. to Miss Humphrey of Salem.
Oregon State Journal, Eugene, September 15, 1866, page 3
AN EDITOR LECTURER.--James O'Meara, the editor of the Idaho World, is lecturing in Idaho City on the subject of Irish history.
Sacramento Daily Union, January 19, 1867, page 2
HEAVY UNDERTAKINGS.--Our old friend Reynolds has undertaken to give a history of the meanness of Jim O'Meara, in the Boise Statesman, and Brother Hewitt of the Olympia Tribune has opened his columns to the publication of Frank Clark's record.
Oregon City Enterprise, May 25, 1867, page 2
The Herald says: "The only disgraceful street brawl which we have ever witnessed in Portland was a Sunday fight between the editor of the Oregonian--a young man weighing about 200 pounds--and a much older man, crippled in one arm, whose weight would not exceed 130 pounds." As this affair has been alluded to several times by the Democratic press, says the Oregonian, we take this occasion to say in regard to it that Jim O'Meara insulted the editor of the Oregonian in the street without provocation, and got spanked for it--the very same treatment which Beriah Brown would receive under similar circumstances.
Oregon City Enterprise, March 14, 1868, page 2
JAMES O'MEARA, editor of the Idaho World, is reported as dangerously ill. With another mail we hope to hear that he is improving.
Walla Walla Statesman, Washington, December 18, 1868, page 2
JAMES O'MEARA has retired from the editorial control of the Idaho World. Reason ill health. Under his management the World has been an able and efficient exponent of Democratic principles, and we regret that he is compelled to retire from a position he is so well fitted to adorn.
Walla Walla Statesman, Washington, September 10, 1869, page 1
EDITORIAL CHANGE.--We regret that Mr. O'Meara has retired from the Idaho World. Cause--ill health. Yet we are pleased to learn that he will be succeeded by Mr. George Ainsley, a gentleman of equally fine abilities.
The Weekly Enterprise, Oregon City, September 18, 1869, page 2
James O'Meara, whose want of honesty in private transactions is so notorious that he is known from San Francisco to Pend Oreille Lake by the euphonious title of "Jeremy Diddler," has become subsidized in the interests of Radical piracy, and makes the columns of the little Commercial vocal with lamentations over the degeneracy of a people who would not only pay all they owe according to contract, but much more.
Willamette Valley Mercury, quoted in "Dishonest Democracy," The Weekly Enterprise, Oregon City, April 23, 1870, page 2
THE BULLETIN.--We have received the new daily by this title, printed at Portland, by James O'Meara, publisher. It is a 32-column paper, presents a very neat typographical appearance, and is a good newspaper. In politics it professes to be Independent, but its tone is Radical. The editorial staff consists of Jas. O'Meara, editor-in-chief, Dr. A. A. Ames, assistant, and J. M. Baltimore, local. It is furnished at 25 cents per week, or $10 per year by mail. It issues a morning and evening edition, also a weekly, which is $3 per annum.
The Weekly Enterprise, Oregon City, July 23, 1870, page 2
"THAT'S WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HANNAH."--Old Oregonians will remember that in 1858 there existed in this state what was known as the National Democratic Party, and the "Bush" wing, and that Mr. O'Meara was regarded as the leading editor of the former. After the defeat of the National ticket, Mr. O'Meara counseled the abandonment of the organization and [to] go back to what was termed the Bush wing. At this time Mr. Slater, Congressman-elect, was editing a paper at Corvallis, and having been one of the principal organizers of the National wing of the party, assailed Mr. O'Meara very bitterly for what Mr. S. termed treachery on his part "in selling out the National party to Mr. Bush." The attack was so severe that when these gentlemen next met they did not speak to each other, and we do no believe that they have become reconciled to this day. Here the first move was made by Mr. O'Meara for a combination of the two wings, and they have acted together ever since. Some of the leaders of both wings have gone over to the opposition and come back to the Democracy. But these men who have changed from one to the other have not received any favors at the hands of the party, while the Radicals have rewarded every renegade Democrat. Mr. Williams was one of the leaders of the Bush wing, and yet we find now Mr. O'Meara laboring very hard to re-elect him, even in preference to those who belonged to the National party, and at the same time he cries against the "Bush" party. His inconsistency in this matter is too apparent to deceive anyone and comes with bad taste from one who was the first to advocate the abandonment of the National organization.
The Weekly Enterprise, Oregon City, August 27, 1870, page 2
A KNOCK DOWN.
Mr. Patterson met James O'Meara last Thursday on the street and without ceremony gave him a salute that brought him to the ground. This forcible argument was in reply to a slanderous article which appeared in the Bulletin of the day previous, and which was entirely justifiable on the part of Mr. Patterson. Pistols were drawn, and had not the bystanders interfered there might have been someone hurt. James took the precaution to fortify himself behind the form of a large man and thus preserved his carcass for someone else to wipe their feet on.
The Weekly Enterprise, Oregon City, October 7, 1870, page 2
An altercation occurred on the streets of Salem on Sept. 29th, between James O'Meara, editor of the Portland Bulletin, and T. Patterson, State Printer. Pistols were drawn, but friends interfered and saved, perhaps, the loss of life.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, October 8, 1870, page 2
A BASE SLANDER REFUTED.
The Portland Bulletin, edited by James O'Meara, in charging perjury upon the State Printing Expert, says:Newspapers in Portland.
"He has received recompense from Patterson for endorsing the frauds in the state printing, and has been promised a certain other thing in consideration of his betrayal of the trust confided to him by the Secretary of State."
When James O'Meara penned the above he wrote a willful, malicious-based lie. We never received any recompense from Patterson or anyone else for endorsing a fraud of any kind; hence we pronounce James O'Meara a base, contemptible, malicious liar. We never received a promise of "a certain other thing"--nor have we the most remote idea of what O'Meara refers to when he speaks of "a certain other thing"; therefore we again brand James O'Meara as a lying puppy and base slanderer.
We have heretofore studiously avoided any sort of controversy with this filthy blackmailer and characterless adventurer, though he has frequently recently fulminated this charge of bribery and corruption against us as State Printing Expert, incited to that dishonorable course not because he believes his own vile assertions, but rather to gratify his personal spleen against Mr. Patterson, whom he has continually charged as perpetrating frauds upon the state printing performed by him.
James O'Meara, the man who six years ago was editor and publisher of this paper, and who, while in that capacity, bummed, begged and borrowed money from almost every Democrat of any prominence in Linn County, every cent of which he owes today; James O'Meara, who secured all the pre-paying subscribers to the State Rights Democrat that were attainable, and then pocketed the money and deserted his post, leaving the firm of Abbott & Brown (his immediate successors) to fill out to over five hundred subscribers the unexpired time of their papers for which the said O'Meara had received pay; James O'Meara, who bled the Democratic Party, both in Oregon and Idaho, as long as they would stand it, and then, after the basest cringing and humblest appeals from the dirty cur could not secure him a crumb from the Democratic table, in a spasmodic fit of hydrophobia, went over to the Republicans and there engaged himself in the capacity of a blackmailer and lickspittle for his bread and butter--virtually sold himself for a mess of pottage--and who is now used as a night scavenger in the Republican Party, and who sends out his cart every morning laden with the foul gatherings of his nocturnal labors; James O'Meara, who was knocked down and choked by the present editor of the Oregonian for lying about him, and who was too cowardly to resent the injury; James O'Meara, who was soundly thrashed by Mr. Patterson in Salem, last fall, for lying; and who had not the manhood even to attempt to defend himself; James O'Meara, who was shot in the posterior at Jacksonville while valiantly retreating from an enraged printer whom he had basely swindled out of his hard earnings; James O'Meara, into whose forcibly opened mouth Sam. Hailey expectorated a mouthful of tobacco spit, and who gulped down the foul insult and, coward-like, slunk away to his kennel, followed by the jeers and sneers of the bystanders; James O'Meara, who is a Fenian for popularity, a Republican for pelf and a blackmailer for bread and butter, is a villainous liar, and we brand him as such before all men. He is a Thersites in instinct, an Iago by profession and a Judas Iscariot by nature--and the devil will never receive the compensation for the loss of a place in heaven until he has the said James O'Meara impaled upon a red-hot fork and roasting upon the central spit in the burning, scorching regions of Perdition.
We trust our readers will pardon us for this digression from our usual course in conducting the paper, and forgive our plain language in regard to the lying viper who forms the subject of this article. This is the first, and shall assuredly be the last time that his foul name shall pollute these pages with its pestiferous stench.
The State Rights Democrat, Albany, Oregon, March 24, 1871, page 2
The Daily Portland Herald, in a recent issue, publishes what purports to be a certified copy of James O'Meara's oath of allegiance to a Sandwich Island potentate, in 1854. In other words, it makes the broad assertion that "Jimmy" is a naturalized Kanaka. It is a little strange, however, that under such circumstances he should have been a "Democrat in good standing" up to within the past year or two. The "Kanaka editor" of the Bulletin, as the Herald styles him, polled about his full party vote when he ran for State Printer in 1866, and if his cotemporary of the Herald had been in Oregon instead of Kansas at that time, it is highly probable that he too would have cast his vote for him of the Sandwich Island antecedents. The plain inference from all the facts in the case is, that it is not because O'Meara was a Sandwich Islander, and that he is denounced by the Herald, but because his Democracy now does not suit the fastidious taste of that pretending organ which aspires to a dictatorship in the Democratic Party.
Democracy covers a multitude of sins, and O'Meara would have been a "Democrat in good standing" to this day, had he not "gone back" on his Democratic brethren within the past two years.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 27, 1871, page 2
A Hawaiian Historian in Oregon.AN UNPLEASANTNESS.--From Portland papers we learn that on Wednesday last, in that city, an altercation took place between Sylvester Pennoyer, Esq., late editor of the Herald, and James O'Meara, Esq., editor of the Bulletin, occasioned by a number of articles recently appearing in the latter paper, reflecting upon Mr. Pennoyer. We give the circumstances as we find them reported in the morning papers. Mr. Pennoyer had, some time since, waited upon Mr. O'Meara, and notified him that such personal attacks must cease, but on Wednesday morning a very severe article appeared in the Bulletin. Mr. Pennoyer met Mr. O'Meara in Richardson's auction rooms, and, approaching him, deliberately spit a mouthful of tobacco juice into his face, and struck him a blow with his cane. Mr. O'Meara stepped back and drew a pistol; but further hostilities were prevented by the crowd. The gentlemen soon met again outside, when Mr. O'Meara charged Mr. Pennoyer with coming upon him unawares, when the latter threw away his cane, and told Mr. O'Meara to throw down his pistol, and then asked him if he was not satisfied. No further demonstrations occurred.
The editors over in Oregon are famous for their disposition to quarrel with one another, and bore their readers often with whole columns of personality. The Daily Oregon Herald and the Daily Oregon Bulletin, both published in Portland, have recently had a duel with pens, which would not interest us at all were it not that one of the combatants has brought into the contest a bit of Hawaiian history, more or less inaccurate, but nevertheless amusing to hear at this date. It appears that a correspondent of the Herald stated that he was informed on good authority that some years ago Mr. O'Meara (the editor of the Bulletin), "voluntarily renounced his American citizenship and swore allegiance to a foreign potentate." On the day following, the Bulletin emphatically denied that "he had ever renounced or in any manner lost his American citizenship." Whereupon the Herald produces a copy (which had been procured from Honolulu), duly certified by the clerk of the Interior Department, of the oath of allegiance to Kamehameha III, subscribed and sworn to by Mr. James O'Meara, on the 13th day of November, 1854. The Herald is jubilant over this, which it evidently considers a perfect crusher for the Bulletin, and indulges in no little amount of sarcasm, suggests that Mr. O'Meara left San Francisco for these islands at a time when the vigilance committee persuaded so many to leave their country for their country's good, and concludes thus:
"Henceforth, to be consistent, Mr. O'Meara should not only procure from Col. McCracken, Hawaiian Consul at this port, his beautiful ensign of the Kanaka Kingdom, which he should hoist over his office, but he also should write all his editorials in the expressive language of the Kanaka tongue, in which case there would not be the universal objection to style which there is now, while they would still be fully as intelligent to our citizens, and quite as widely read. The vexed question, 'Have we a Kanaka among us,' may now be considered fully settled."
Does the Bulletin man feel utterly "squelched" by this onslaught of "official documents," and cutting satire? Not much. He merely takes a day in which to get his wind, and then comes out with a two-column article in small type, in reply, headed "Suppose we turn the tables." He says he is the James O'Meara referred to, and furthermore that he is, and ever shall be, "rather proud of that act of Hawaiian denization." He thus very ingeniously puts the case:
"In the first place it may be well to state that nearly the whole of the business population of the Hawaiian islands, but of Honolulu particularly, is composed of foreigners, of whom the greater proportion are Americans--chiefly from the New England states--whose principal traffic is connected with the whale fisheries, and the sugar and coffee trade of the various islands. In order to afford for these residents a means whereby they can hold a quasi citizenship there, the government years ago instituted what is called 'denizenship' by any American citizens or the subjects of any foreign government [who] can hold this quasi citizenship without affecting or in any manner impairing their rights or obligations of citizenship or subject condition in their native country. The 'denizen' is not invested with powers of complete citizenship, but he is by his denizenship possessed of certain privileges which are very essential in the maintenance of property and other important rights. One who asks naturalization must renounce his allegiance to his native land, and become a subject of the King. The 'denizen' makes no such renunciation, but merely declares his purpose to do just that which every resident of the Islands has to do while there, that is: to support the Constitution and laws; and, as we have stated, he in no way loses his citizenship in his own land."
It is certainly news to us that those who take the oath of allegiance to the King of these islands "are not invested with powers of complete citizenship."
But Mr. O'Meara tells us he came to the Islands as a secret negotiator of annexation, and mysteriously intimates that his taking out "denization papers," as he terms the oath of allegiance, was a measure somehow connected with the scheme. In the following, however correct he may be in other respects, he antedates the Crimean War some three years: [O'Meara is correct; the Crimean War occurred 1853-56.]
"Our business in the Hawaiian Islands in 1854-55 was in connection with the negotiation of a treaty of annexation between the government of the United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom. It was during the administration of President Pierce, when William L. Marcy was Secretary of State and David L. Gregg, a distinguished citizen of Illinois, was United States Commissioner to the Hawaiian Islands. We labored with Mr. Gregg in the work of negotiation. The British Consul General at the Islands, Gen. William Miller, and the French Consul General, M. Perrin, were bitterly opposed to the annexation. At that time the Crimean War was raging, and the antagonism of the English and French residents of the Islands was materially intensified from the fact that the Americans generally sympathized with the Russians. A reference to our journal of the events of that day enables us to present the following facts:
"In the King's Privy Council there were, in favor of annexation--John Young (Keoua Ana), a native chief, Premier and Minister of the Interior; R. C. Wyllie, a Scots gentleman, Minister of Foreign Relations; Elisha Allen, an American, Minister of Finance; Rev. R. Armstrong, an American, Minister of Public Instruction; William L. Lee, an American, Chief Justice of [the] Supreme Court; Judge Andrews, an American, Associate Justice; and A. B. Bates, an American, Law Advisor to the Crown. Opposed to annexation, of the Privy Council, were: Prince Lot (now King), brother of Prince Alexander, then the heir apparent to the throne; Kekuaonoa, the father of Princes Lot and Alexander and Governor of Oahu; Lot Pakee, the greatest native chief of the Kingdom and Chamberlain; and John Ii, native chief and an Associate Justice. We had a majority of the Council, but the anti-annexationists were energetic, untiring, and in one or two instances unscrupulous, in their efforts to defeat the measure. The old King favored it, but declined openly to give his adhesion to the measure until Prince Alexander, whom he had selected as his successor, would give assent--and Alexander purposely absented himself with his confidential friend and adviser, Mr. Neilson, of New York, in the mountains of Hawaii, hunting wild cattle."
Further along in his narrative, he notes the arrival here in November 1854 of Chris. Lilly, a notorious filibuster and prizefighter, with a few comrades of like proclivities; describes the alarm that ensued among the chiefs and people; the request of the government addressed to Capt. Dornin, of the U.S. ship Portsmouth, then lying in the harbor of Honolulu, to the effect that the forces of the U.S. assist in protecting persons and property; tells how that an American brig arrived from Petropaulski, bringing the news of the repulse of the allied fleet and the Russian victory at that place (this, it will be remembered, is in 1854, while the war did not happen until 1857); tells us that "Mr. Wyllie, the Minister of Foreign Relations, was a clear-minded, cool, sagacious diplomatist, and an ardent annexationist;" and brings his lengthy history of the annexation scheme to an end by stating that the project "finally failed by the death of the old King, and the refusal of his successor to entertain the proposition." If the spirits of the departed ever read the newspapers, what must be the disgust of the late Minister of Foreign Affairs to see himself described as "an ardent annexationist"!
The Herald, in a manner quite characteristic of Oregon editors, concludes with a few little pleasant personalities, by way of an extinguisher:
"The truth is the individual who penned that is eager to fill the place which we fill. He wants to have control of the Bulletin. When this paper started we were requested to give him employment in the office. As we knew him to be utterly unworthy in every characteristic, we refused to do so. Subsequently importunities to the same end have met the same refusal. We have known him for over twenty years. Our objections to him are--he is a 'rat' among printers; his hands are stained with the blood of a victim he cowardly shot down; he is an ingrate who has frequently turned and bit the hand that fed him; he has betrayed important trusts committed to him; and he is, in brief terms, an abandoned wretch and a scurrilous old rogue, and we congratulate the Herald editor in having such an hoary old villain for an associate and a chum. Par nobile fratrum. And with this we let the twin calumniators slide for the present."
Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Honolulu, July 15, 1871, page 2
Oregon City Enterprise, January 12, 1872, page 2
James O'Meara and Ben Holladay were passengers by the Oriflamme yesterday. Mr. O'Meara will spend the winter in Washington City.
Tri-Weekly Astorian, Oregon, November 18, 1873, page 1
Reports have it that James O'Meara has gone to Washington Territory, in capacity of editor of the Courier during the pending canvass. If the Republicans of that territory depend upon such as he to forward their claims and promulgate their principles, the probability is that defeat, so complete as to render them "a laughter to their opponents," will be their portion.
The New Northwest, Portland, Oregon, October 23, 1874, page 2
TO BE REVIVED.--We are informed that the Portland Bulletin is to be revived next week under new management. Mr. James O'Meara is to be editor, and Mr. S. J. McCormick business manager. The former is well known as one of the best newspaper writers on the coast, and Mr. McCormick has had considerable experience as a publisher and a practical printer. It is understood that the concern is owned by Mr. Holladay, who furnishes the funds to put it on its legs again.
Oregon City Enterprise, October 22, 1875, page 2
James O'Meara, so long a disgrace to Oregon journalism, has again been superseded by a gentleman, and is once more out in the cold. He must be pretty well inured to outdoor atmosphere by this time, however.
The New Northwest, Portland, Oregon, January 28, 1876, page 2
James O'Meara has been dismissed from the editorial staff of the San Francisco Chronicle.
"Home News," The New Northwest, Portland, December 15, 1876, page 3
A private note from a gentleman versed in the matter informs us that Captain Winant's statements as to the destitute condition of the Alsea Indians will be (if not already) corroborated, by leading citizens of Oregon. It seems that the attack made in retaliation upon Captain Winant was generated by one James O'Meara, a bohemian who has bilked more white people in Oregon than there are Indians upon all the reservations in this state and Washington Territory. A creature void of honest principles, a snake in the grass, who left this state, it is understood, to avoid serving a term in the penitentiary.
The Daily Astorian, Oregon, November 14, 1877, page 1
JAMES O'MEARA, Esq., was born in New York City, on the 22nd of June, 1825. His parents emigrated from Cork, Ireland, at an early age, and gave their son James the best education that the country afforded, in order to prepare him for one of the learned professions. The young gentleman having had a taste for literature from his boyhood, instead of preparing himself for the bar, the pulpit or dissecting room, took to the press as his choice. He became contributor to the New York journals when quite young, and, since 1843 has been permanently connected with newspapers and journalism. Mr. O'Meara came to California in September 1849, and continued in connection with the daily and weekly press for about eight years, when he went, in 1857, to Oregon, and remained for nine years at the same business of journalism. In 1866 he settled in Idaho, where he established a leading newspaper, which he conducted as the sole editor and proprietor for three years, after which, in 1869, he returned again to Oregon, where he continued for seven years more in the same occupation. Finally he came to San Francisco in 1876, where he has been editorially employed at the daily Examiner and the Argonaut, a weekly family journal.
Mr. O'Meara may be called a veteran journalist, having been engaged over thirty-five years at the profession, without changing his mind or occupation. We do not know, nor do we care to inquire to what party in politics he belongs. Literature, taste and genius are above the influence of party, or should be so, and from Mr. O'Meara's style of writing, and the elegance and facility with which he writes, we are sure that he deserves high rank in the journalistic profession. His sketches and editorials in the Argonaut and the Examiner are models in their way of graphic description, and easy, elegant composition.
"Dr. Quigley," The Irish Race in California and on the Pacific Coast, 1878, page 455
Mr. James O'Meara, formerly of this city, and recently connected with the editorial staff of the S.F. Examiner, has purchased the Santa Rosa, Cal., Democrat.
"Brief Mention," Eugene City Guard, Oregon, November 13, 1880, page 5
James O'Meara has returned to Portland and taken editorial charge of the News of that city. He is well known as an old-time Oregon journalist and able, versatile writer, either from a Democratic or Republican standpoint. It will seem like old times for him to be engaged in fighting the Oregonian again. The Oregonian of today is a great paper, but when the Bulletin, backed by Ben. Holladay's money and O'Meara's skillful editorial work, was in its prime, there was a contest between the two that made it uncertain for a long time as to which would win. When the Bulletin was finally compelled to suspend, the Oregonian was tottering on its legs, and a few more months would have sent it to the wall. The Bulletin cost Holladay over $100,000; the News has already cost its different managers $150,000; the Herald, another old-time opponent of the Oregonian, cost its owners a mint of money during its short career. It is a safe estimate that in a little over twenty years $600,000 or more have been sunk in the effort to establish in Portland a newspaper rival to the Oregonian, and nearly every year of the two decades is strewn with newspaper wrecks that sailed gaily along for a time but were sooner or later left high and dry on a lee shore. It costs much in time, money and brain work to establish a good newspaper on a substantial basis, but when it once reaches the point where it pays a profit to its owners it is exceedingly difficult for a rival to ever break down its prosperity.--Seattle Press.GOLD HUNTERS' PERILS.
Daily Morning Astorian, August 25, 1887, page 2
SCOTT AND O'MEARA.
TWO OLD-TIMERS MEET--THEY MET, FOUGHT AND QUIT.
The Evening Democrat attempts to write up a reminiscence of James O'Meara and Harvey Scott. The editor of that paper was away down South when Scott and O'Meara first met in Oregon. James O'Meara is a fine writer; he is about the only Democratic editor of marked ability who ever invaded the state, except, perhaps, "Billy" Haley, who died young, at Albany, in 1866. O'Meara came to this state, then a territory, about 1855. He at once sprang into prominence because he had an ability to do so, but he had a rival in the person of Asahel Bush of Salem, editor and publisher of the Oregon Statesman, at that time the Democratic bible of the Pacific Coast. The Democratic Party of Oregon was at that time of such vast proportions that it didn't adhere, so to speak. There were but few Whigs here. There was John P. Gaines, Dave Logan, "Billy" Adams of the Oregon City Argus, Dr. McBride, Thos. J. Dryer, Dr. H. V. V. Johnson and a few others, but they were not numerous enough to be effective
IN A POLITICAL FIGHT.Of course, the dominant party, being so much in the ascendancy, could afford to fight within its own organization. So when O'Meara came up from California he and Bush at once locked horns. O'Meara swung off and he and Colonel James K. Kelley organized what they termed the National Democratic Party. The Whigs, being so hopelessly in the minority, were prone to vote for anything to beat the Democrats. It was in 1858. O'Meara secured the nomination for State Printer on the "National" Democratic ticket, and Col. Kelley stood in for Congress on the same layout. Bush sailed in for State Printer on the "Regular" Democratic billet and L. F. Grover for Congress. Both of the latter were elected. The canvass was acrimonious. Bush was very personal in his writings and could turn his pen to all the epithets in his native vernacular. O'Meara was more inclined to use polished language, but his adversary at times drove him to the use of expletives which were, at times,
MORE FORCIBLE THAN ELEGANT.It was during those years that California writers gave to those of this state the title of the "Oregon style," and it clings to them still, no matter what may be their literary excellence. In 1860, the Democracy again became a "house divided against itself" on the secession question. Stephen A. Douglas swung off on the Squatter Sovereignty theory, while the Breckinridge-Lane following held to the superannuated doctrine of State Sovereignty, which simply meant the right to secede. [It was more complicated than that.] Mr. O'Meara adhered to the Breckinridge-Lane faction. The Douglas Democracy and the Republicans united and became the dominant party, leaving Mr. O'Meara and his friends far in the rear. This was during war times, when men's blood was at the boiling point. Of course the result of that internecine struggle wrought startling changes in the minds of some men, among whom was Mr. O'Meara. When Ben Holladay came to the state and concluded to own a newspaper, he established the Bulletin and employed Mr. O'Meara as chief editor. The paper went to wreck when its owner began descending the declivity of misfortune, over which he eventually plunged. With the surrender of Holladay his friends were compelled to disband, though Mr. O'Meara continued in the line of his profession, going to California, where he has since been constantly engaged. He is here now to take editorial charge of the News. That he will make it readable it is useless to doubt, for he possesses the ability and ambition to do so. But it is not probable that any of his old fights will be recommenced, for there is no occasion for their removal.--[Oregon Siftings, Rep.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 9, 1887, page 1
A VETERAN KNIGHT OF THE SHEARS.
An old-time newspaper man was charging about the Occidental last week in the person of James O'Meara, once famed as an editorial writer on the Examiner while this paper yet was wont to delight the soul and line the pocket of Alcalde Philip A. Roach. O'Meara is yet in editorial harness, and is located in Santa Rosa. But the frosts are descending, the shadows gathering, and the well-stored mind is not so yieldant of the treasures as it was years ago.
Mr. O'Meara is noted as the possessor of the most valuable set of newspaper scrapbooks now on the Pacific Coast, if not in the country. It comprises several hundred volumes, and dates back to the days of the old New York Courier and Enquirer run by James Watson Webb. That was before the time of the New York Herald, and long antedated the existence of a press on the Pacific Coast. Mr. O'Meara took an active interest and a prominent part in the Terry-Broderick duel in 1858, and has lately written a brochure on the causes which led to the tragedy, which is perhaps the most comprehensive account of it now in existence. Mr. O'Meara was a Broderick participant, but he has managed to tell the story fairly. Mr. O'Meara means at an early day to present his valuable set of scrapbooks to some library or institution of learning--probably the University of California, or if Senator Stanford will accept the gift, the Leland Stanford Junior University may get them. There was a time when Mr. O'Meara valued his scrapbooks at $25,000, but he is now ready to donate his gatherings of the past to the benefit of the boys of the future.--[Ambrose Bierce, in S.F. Examiner.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 20, 1888, page 1
THE STATE RIGHTS DEMOCRAT.He would be an unnatural parent who failed in the gladdening recognition of his own offspring. An old man now, with memory of the years that have gone, I recall the establishment of the State Rights Democrat in 1865 when Democrats of weak heart in the doctrine of Jefferson and in the faith of Jackson owned that State Rights was a "treasonable heresy." They bended the knee to the occasion and prostrated their forms in the mud of political mire. Without the backbone doctrine of State Rights, the federation of the states is a rope of sand. Union! What is Union! It is a confederation of equal powers mutually agreeing in respect to defense and offense as toward all other powers combined. State Rights is the spinal column of this Union. It is the rudder of the ship of state. Departure from the doctrine will be as floating upon the sea of circumstance, the haven is in the accidents to probable safety, to possible disaster. To take State Rights from the states is as taking the backbone from the Union. "Old Linn" used to be the banner county of Oregon. Marion was its nearest peer and Lane was debatable. The young generation do not remember Delazon Smith. He was for years the foremost representative of Linn County and ended his life after he held a place in the United States Senate. Do the dwellers in Linn County generally know that the name of the county was the grateful compliment of the early pioneers, who cherished the memory of Lewis F. Linn, United States Senator from Missouri, colleague of great Tom Benton from 1833 until his death in 1843? Linn County is central in the mighty valley of the Willamette. The towering Cascade Range guards it. The Willamette laves it, and its tributaries help in the fructifying process. Linn County will forever be the keystone county of the Willamette. I recall names and persons. It is a friendly communication. These were solid men of Albany. The name was given to the town by Walter Monteith. He was of Albany, New York, a sturdy Whig in politics and honored in all his lifetime. His younger brother, Tom Monteith, was likewise conspicuous in Albany. There was McConnell, strictest of Democrats, honest from his toes up to his poll. Martin Payne, the Burkhart brothers, good old Matthew Fountain of Harrisburg, and Hiram Smith, old man Haley of Peoria, and straight John T. Crooks of Syracuse and the Crabtrees of "Canada" (the Forks). Lord! what Democrats they were. Old John, avoirdupois 190, that of his little bunch of a wife 242 pounds. There was a fair division in the marriage. She was a Virginia widow of nine children, Johnny Crabtree a widower with nine children. They married and emigrated to Oregon, settled in the forks of the Santiam and increased the household to twenty--boys and girls. The Crabtrees and the Bilyeus were noted stock in the "Canada" (Forks) region. Hugh L. Brown of Brownsville, Enoch Hoult and Willoughby of Harrisburg and "Rob" Cochran of Lane and William of Linn, the Price brothers, John Crawford and his intense Scotch-Irish brother who would always pronounce fish "fash," estimable Dr. Hill, his good son Lindsey, a boy of mine [sic--nine?], in enduring memory, held because of his intelligence and worth, solid and reticent John Conner the banker. It was a remarkable incident that on his counter, when he kept hardware store away back in 1863-4 there rested undisturbed a package of $2,000 in gold coin, forwarded from Jacksonville, directed to Portland, by Tracy & Co., who afterwards sold to Wells Fargo & Co. and dispatched by C. C. Beekman of Jacksonville, of first-class responsibility. The package reached Albany on a Sunday morning about 6 o'clock and was duly checked. The next stopping place was Salem. J. C. Bell was the Wells Fargo & Co.'s agent. A clerk attended to the express matter. There was no package of money as waybilled. The money did not reach Portland. The $2,000 was the missed quantity. Wells Fargo & Co.'s agent at Portland paid the sum. The clerk of J. C. Bell at Salem was suspected and dismissed. He was innocent. One year afterwards on taking an inventory of stock, honest John Conner picked up a weighty package from his counter, supposing it to be hinges, but upon tearing open the wrapping he discovered it to be $20 pieces--one hundred of them. The missing $2,000 had been for the year on the counter of John Conner's hardware store in Albany in its wrapping of strong paper as only so much hardware. John Conner was strictly honest in the find. He immediately communicated the fact, Tracy was reinstated and made happy. John Conner's thick eyebrows never concealed wrong of which he was cognizant. I started to pay a compliment to your fine newspaper. I have strolled into reminiscences. I will cease. There used to be a Rainwater across the Willamette from Albany. I fear any further downpour this season. Here in California we have had enough. It is not the thing to "take water" save with discretion. To take leave is better.
JAMES O'MEARA.Santa Rosa, Cal.
Mar. 17, 1890
State Rights Democrat, Albany, March 28, 1890, page 2
James O'Meara's Reminiscences of Early Days.
AN ENCOUNTER WITH INDIANS
Some Thrilling Experiences of a Party of Wealth-Seeking
Pioneers on the Klamath River.
The ship Mechanics' Own, 600 tons burden, Captain Matterton, master, sailed from New York August 15, 1849, bound for California, with a company of 100 men, organized for mining and trading in the land of gold. Among these, writes James O'Meara in the San Francisco Call, were Thomas Gihon and a chum named Hoyt. The ship arrived in San Francisco harbor January 2, 1850, and the company separated, some going to the mines and others engaging in the several occupations which at that time commanded the high wages of from $12 to $29 per day in San Francisco. Gihon was an engraver, and found good employment in his art. Hoyt also remained in the busy city. Both, however, continued their association with the company. Early in the spring of 1850 attention was directed to the far northern coast, now comprising the counties of Humboldt and Del Norte, and the western portion of Trinity. The larger number went to prospect for gold diggings, but some were in search of large tracts of land in the interest of parties in San Francisco. In these expeditions embarked Judge Tobin, now of the Hibernia Bank, and one of the police commissioners, Frank Lemon, one of the California volunteers who came with Colonel Jonathan D. Stevenson in 1847, Smyth Clark, a well-known pioneer of '49, Major Sayles, Dr. Gros, Dr. Clapp, also early pioneers of the gold-hunting period. In another expedition Gihon and Hoyt, Thomas Young, a banker, and a comrade of his named Kellogg were among the number. They left San Francisco in the bark Hector, Captain Camp, for Trinidad Bay. On landing at Trinidad some of the party started for the interior country and camped on a high hill, where they found another party of fourteen men from Australia, who had come from San Francisco in the ship Laura Virginia, Captain Ottinger, to hunt for gold mines.
PLUNDERED BY THE INDIANS.During the night the Indians robbed both camps of their weapons and mining outfits, and in the morning all resolved to return to Trinidad and make their way to the mouth of the Klamath River. The Australians had been well provided with rifles and hatchets, and among them were some known as bushmen. Gihon had besides his short-barreled yager a hatchet, Kellogg a navy Colt's revolver and Hoyt an Allen pepperbox pistol. These they had kept close at their sides as they slept, and thereby succeeded in saving them from the thieving Indians. At Trinidad they found the Laura Virginia still at anchor and made the arrangement with her captain to be taken to the mouth of the Klamath. They found there also a Frenchman who had for sale a lot of common swords, and several of them bought these at exorbitant prices. They were, however, better than no weapons.
In two days the ship arrived at the Klamath, where the distinctive [sic] parties separated, each to pursue their own chosen course. Outside the bar were many Indians in canoes catching seal and salmon; inside was an Indian village. All the Indians showed signs of becoming troublesome. Gihon, Hoyt and Kellogg resolved to sleep together, and two other passengers by the Laura Virginia, Ehrenberg and Arthur, both armed with rifles and an ax, joined them for common and mutual protection.
ANOTHER INDIAN DEPREDATION.The experience in the night camp back of Trinidad a few nights before had taught them to be wary of Indians, and they camped for the night more cautiously. Notwithstanding this the Indians managed to steal a rifle and an ax. Arthur shot at one of the fleeing Indians, but missed him. The next day the party moved on to Redwood Creek, twenty-five miles from the Klamath, where they met Frank Lemon, Judge Sayles and Smyth Clark, who were taking up claims. A band of thirty Indians gathered near them, manifestly with no friendly intentions. The party camped that night near the creek, and careful vigil was maintained until morning. The Indians were armed with only bows and arrows and had a wholesome fear of the firearms of the whites. In the morning Lemon and his two comrades, joined by Arthur, Kellogg and Ehrenberg, started off to take up claims. Gihon and Hoyt concluded to return to the Klamath. Arrived at the river they engaged two Indians to take them across in a canoe. Hoyt sat in the bow and Gihon in the stern. A short distance out in the stream they observed the Indians on the shore making significant signals to the two in the canoe, and immediately they began wobbling the frail craft, evidently to upset it and throw them in the river. At once Gihon aimed his yager at the Indian in front of him and ordered a return to the shore. Hoyt leveled his pepperbox at the other Indian, and between the two fires, as it were, the Indians ceased their movements for an upset and paddled to the shore as directed. Holding their weapons ready for instant use, Gihon and Hoyt stepped ashore and kept the Indians at a safe distance. The bucks ordered the squaws back from the shore and began to draw near the two men, with their bows and arrows in a threatening manner. There were in all ten bucks opposing Gihon and Hoyt, who stood them off with their firearms, the hatchet and sword, as they made their way to a bluff a mile distant, where they discovered the tents of a camping party of whites.
A BATTLE WITH THE REDS.In his emotion Hoyt touched the trigger of his pepperbox, and most fortunately the trifling revolver made an effective shot. One of the Indians fell dead. Instantly all the bucks but two turned and ran at the top of their speed. The two who stood, advanced. Hoyt in his nervous fright dropped his pistol, and quicker than Gihon could work the defective trigger one of the buck grabbed and wrenched the yager from him and snatched the hatchet from his belt. Hoyt stooped and recovered his pistol, and again it did effective service. The Indian fronting Gihon made a blow with the hatchet as Gihon drew his sword. At the same instant came the blow and the desperate thrust which pushed the blade deep into the groin of the Indian. But the hatchet was crashed into Gihon's skull, on the left side, high up on his forehead, inflicting a stunning and a painful wound. In an instant, while the weapon was raised for another blow, Hoyt leaped and grasped it from the Indian's hand, but neglected to strike the savage with it. Gihon's fall and the sight of the blood rushing from his ugly wound for the moment disconcerted him. His first care was his prostrate comrade. The Indian, unarmed and powerless, endeavored to pull the sword from his body.
A STRANGE SPECTACLE.As Gihon rose from the ground quite blinded by the blood which was streaming down his face, weak and not wholly conscious, the strange spectacle met his gaze of the Indian endeavoring to withdraw the sword. The hilt had come off in the attempt and was held in one hand, while the stoical buck was using the other in his attempt, working it up and down, as unconcerned, apparently, as though his body was insensible to pain or feeling, like so much wood. The extraordinary scene helped to restore him to clearer consciousness.
Singular good fortune brought speedy relief and safety from further attack by other Indians in the neighborhood. The white men camping on the high bluff had witnessed the encounter and with all possible haste had rushed to the scene. They arrived in good time to rescue Gihon and Hoyt. The Indian last shot by the latter was not killed but badly wounded. He had recovered sufficiently to go to the aid of his brave companions in the deadly fray. With a heavy rock in his hand he was dragging his way to the spot where Hoyt was endeavoring to stanch the flow of blood from the head of Gihon, who was sitting upon the ground from sheer weakness. Their backs were to him. In a few minutes more he would be close enough to hurl the rock. The advancing party of rescue at once took in the situation.
TWO MORE SHOT.Two well-aimed shots made the proverbial "good Indians" of the pair, and the crack of the rifles was the signal of deliverance to Gihon and Hoyt, who had not until the moment observed the approach of their deliverers. They were taken to the camp on the bluff. Among the party there was a Dr. Robinson, a skilled surgeon. He examined and dressed Gihon's wound. The skull was cut through, but the brain was uninjured. In a few weeks the wound was healed, leaving a deep scar which Mr. Gihon, now in [his] sixties, will carry all his lifetime as an ineradicable testimony and a vivid remembrance of his first year in California, and of his rough experience in the Humboldt and Klamath country, of his perils among the hostile Indians of that region. He had got enough of that kind of adventure and departed on the first vessel from Trinidad, after he was able to make the trip to San Francisco. He took employment with Adams & Co., the famous pioneer express company of California and New York, as messenger between the two cities, by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company's steamers and the Panama route, and in that employ he continued for years, a trusted, faithful and thoroughly honest servant in guarding millions of treasure, and in the essential, quick dispatch of business committed to his charge. He has since made his home in San Francisco and followed his profession as an engraver, in the enjoyment of a good home, happy domestic relations and ample custom. Large of stature, compact of form, wiry of fiber and sound in health, ripe age deals gently with him, and his nature is as warm and true as in his youth, with the indomitable pluck of the period of his pioneer expeditions for gold and manly adventure. In his case and that of his pioneering friend the Indians were not aggravated to hostilities and attacks upon the whites by any act of the early Californians to provoke their savage natures, as it is the habit of ill-informed philanthropists to allege in all such cases against the people of this farthest West.
Oregonian, Portland, April 14, 1890, page 10
Gen. James O'Meara, of Santa Rosa, Cal., one of the ablest and best-known of the veteran newspaper writers of the Pacific coast, accompanied by his two daughters, arrived in the city last evening from Portland, where Mr. O'Meara had been as a witness in the Holladay case. Mrs. O'Meara is a sister of Hon. T. L. Davidson, and Mrs. L. J. Goodhue, of this city, and they will visit with them a few days. Mr. O'Meara will also renew old acquaintances here, where he has many friendly ones.
"Personal and Local," Evening Capital Journal, Salem, Oregon, October 21, 1890, page 2
OUR PIONEER HISTORY.
First Political Campaign of the State, in 1858.
PARTY LEADERSHIP OF THOSE TIMES
The Republicans, Though Insignificant in Numbers, Put Up a Ticket.
DEMOCRATS DIVIDED IN FACTIONS
B. F. Dowell as Guide to a Party of Campaigners--
Stump Speaking in the Wilds of Forests and Mountains.
BY JAMES O'MEARA.
The first state campaign in political aspect followed the adoption of the state constitution by popular vote, November 9, 1857. The first state election, agreeable to the constitution, was appointed the first Monday of June, 1858. The accustomed preliminaries of party contest, by each of the contesting parties, began early in February, 1858. The territorial legislature convened in Salem, December 7, 1857, and sat until finally adjourned February 4, 1858, with Hugh D. O'Bryant president of the council; T. B. Micon, chief clerk; William S. White, assistant clerk; George A. Edes, enrolling clerk; Robert Shortess, sergeant-at-arms; Ira F. M. Butler, speaker of the assembly; Charles B. Hand, chief clerk; N. T. Caton, assistant clerk; George S. Russell, enrolling clerk; J. B. Sykes, sergeant-at-arms; Joseph H. Brown, doorkeeper. In the council Aaron E. Wait, of Clackamas, and Dr. Edward Sheil, of Marion, were conspicuous of the clique Democrats, who were in majority. Stalwart Colonel Nat Ford, of Polk, was foremost of the anti-clique Democrats. Sturdy Colonel Tom Cornelius, of Washington County, the most trusted of his party, was the leading Whig. In the assembly the clique were in large majority; of their number were Jacob Woodsides, of Marion, Anderson Cox, Hugh M. Brown and N. H. Barnes, of Linn; John Whiteaker, of Lane; Ben Hayden, of Polk and Tillamook; N. H. Gates, of Wasco; A. A. Matthews, of Douglas; H. H. Brown, of Jackson; and J. G. Spear, of Josephine; Dr. R C. Hill and James H. Slater, of Benton; Andy Shuck, of Yamhill; W. H. King, of Multnomah; James Cole, of Umpqua, were anti-clique; and Tom J. Dryer, of the Oregonian, was the combatant Whig member. The clique ruled in federal and local affairs of the Territory, except in few instances. They were weakest in Portland, in Yamhill, in Washington, in Clackamas, in Benton and in Clatsop. In the more populous counties of Marion, Linn, Polk and Lane, the clique ruled with almost absolute power. The Salem Statesman was the powerful organ and champion of that wing of the party. The Democratic Times in Portland followed in its tow, but possessed limited influence. John Orvis Waterman had been displaced as editor, to make room for E. C. Hibben, who was sent out from Indiana for the purpose by General Lane, to control the paper in the state campaign. Alonzo Leland's Democratic Standard, established in Portland by Judge O. C. Pratt as a personal organ to combat the clique and advance the cause of Pratt, was indifferently supported after the departure of Pratt from Oregon to make his home in California. The Standard was bitterly antagonized by the clique leaders, and January 8, 1857, at the noted Jackson jubilee in Salem, at which the leaders of the clique were dominant, Leland's paper was denounced as inimical to the Democratic Party of the Territory and subsequently was formally read out of the party and its editor declared recreant to Democratic principles. The clique leaders had proclaimed the extraordinary doctrine that it was incumbent upon the representatives of the party to obey the ruling of caucus in opposition to the will and instruction of their constituents, and had formally declared as recreant to this doctrine and unworthy [of] the fellowship and confidence of Democrats some of the most honored and trusted of the party, among whom were Colonel James K. Kelly, of Clackamas; Joseph C. Avery, of Benton; Colonel William M. King, of Portland; Nicholas Shrum, of Marion, and many of the earnest and sturdy Democrats throughout Oregon. The Jackson jubilee was a clique frolic, designed by the managers to their own partisan ends, and to that purpose it was carried out in flow of liquor and intemperance of speech. It was a notorious partisan debauch, in which glib tongues wagged in wild speech and venomous sentiments; where license of conscious mastery ran riot in grosser indulgence as the maddened fumes dethroned decency and temporarily obliterated sense of restraint in the malignance of denunciation. The jubilee was a desecration of the great occasion of "Jackson's day," an orgy of partisan chiefs to celebrate the immolation of their adversaries. It afterwards bore its hateful fruit, and to some most prominent and most clamorous in their maledictions, as they quaffed and stormed. The poisoned chalice was in after years mercilessly administered to their own utter condemnation and destruction. But the jubilee, nevertheless, had its designed effect at the time, and the prevalent sentiment of its managers shaped the preliminaries to the initiation of the state government, and formed the foundation on which the superstructure has been reared.
Party lines were formed early in 1853, upon which to make the contest at the polls in June of that year. The clique Democrats were dominant in the Territory, formidable in every county, and the leaders ruled in the spirit which resembled party tyranny. The disaffected Democrats organized with the party of national Democracy. The Portland Democratic Standard was the accredited organ of the party. The Corvallis Occident and Jacksonville Sentinel joined in support of the nationals. The Whigs of Oregon had no organization. The Oregonian was the pronounced organ of the remnant party. Editor Tom Dryer was its public exponent. Dave Logan was its brightest expounder. Tom Cornelius, Uncle Billy Rector, Uncle Jesse Applegate, Captain Marye, Dan Waldo, Jim Barlow, Amory Holbrook, General Hamilton, John C. Bell, the Monteiths of Albany, were prominent among the devotees and advocates of that party. They fused and cohered it as a national party. The Whig Party of the Union has been defunct since 1852, after the overwhelming defeat of General Scott for President and the death of its mightiest leader, Henry Clay. The death of Daniel Webster in the fall of that year added to its demise. Clay died the last of June, Webster in the closing week of October of the same year. Their deaths bereft the party, and in the presidential campaign of November of that year the national Whig Party succumbed to the towering public sentiment of Democracy, symbolized in Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, and William M. King, of Alabama. Only four states of the thirty-one--Maryland, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Vermont--had given a majority to the Whig candidates. The triumph of Pierce was as the sweep of a tornado of politics. Yet the Whigs of Oregon remained [as] steadfast and firm as the Old Guard of Cambronne at Waterloo, and did not surrender. They cohered and adhered. But in the state campaign of 1858 they were not sufficiently formidable to encounter the Democracy, divided as that party was, and their leaders and counselors advised that no ticket should be put into the field--leaving it optional with the Whigs to vote as they individually chose, for the clique Democrats or the nationals. The Republican Party had barely organized in Oregon. It was hopelessly stigmatized as the "black Republican" party. Prominent in its meager following were Rice, of Jackson County, an avowed abolitionist; Father Beeson, abolitionist and friend of the Indians; David Newsom, of Marion; Dr. McBride, of Yamhill; A. Denny, Dr. Watkins, of Josephine, and G. W. Lawson, who had been opposite candidate against General Lane for delegate to Congress in 1855. Still insignificant in numbers as the party was, the Republicans of Oregon put a ticket in the field in 1853, with A. Denny for Governor and John R. McBride for Congress and candidates for every state office.
The clique Democrats met in Salem and made their ticket. Dr. Joseph Drew was their state candidate for Governor, but Joseph Teal, of Eugene, was a delegate of much influence, and he insisted upon the nomination of John Whiteaker for the place. Joseph Teal accomplished the nomination of John Whiteaker, of Lane County, for Governor, in place of the clique candidate, Dr. Joseph Drew, but the clique secured the nomination of every other of their candidates upon the state ticket--of Lafayette Grover for Congress, Lucien Heath for secretary of state, John D. Boon for state treasurer, Asahel Bush for state printer. The nationals nominated E. M. Barnum for Governor, James K. Kelly, for Congress, J. M. Rice for secretary of state, Jo. Brumley for treasurer, James O'Meara for state printer. The Republicans put a partial state ticket in nomination with A. Denny for Governor and John R. McBride for Congress, Craig for state printer.
The clique Democrats were the first to hold state convention to nominate their state ticket and make the order of the state campaign. There were at that time nineteen counties in Oregon, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Umpqua, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill. Wasco was the only organized county of the Upper Columbia region, and embraced the enormous territory now classed as Eastern Oregon, with the several counties into which that expansive region has since been carved. The inhabitants of Wasco were averse to the institution of the state government. They preferred the territorial condition. The Dalles was the only settlement in the entire region, and it was a place of only a few hundred, with the military post of Fort Dalles, a mile back from the river, on the high bluff, to make business and give activity to the town on the low bank of the river. Captain McFarland then ran his littler steamer Wasco from the Upper Cascades to The Dalles tri-weekly or occasionally, as the business required or the weather permitted. The machinery had done first service in a small lumber mill, and had [a] cogwheel attachment with rattling, incessant noise and shaking motion to the little craft. The low half-cabin had room for four--it was crowded with the five of us, who were the only passengers. There were four narrow berths, and a spread was made upon the floor. The steering was by rude rudder gear at the stern. Forward was the sunken deck for freight, and accommodated besides three or four deck passengers. The Wasco was of about fifteen tons capacity, captain, engineer and one deck hand, and it took all day to make the trip from the Upper Cascades to The Dalles, as I first traveled the route in the summer of 1857. The following year the Indian war broke out afresh, and a better and more commodious boat was put upon the Upper Columbia.
The nationals held the first state nominating convention in Eugene City, early in April. The trip from Portland was made in three days, by river steamers to Lancaster landing, Lane County, and thence twelve miles by wagon to Eugene. After a session of two days the state ticket was nominated, the platform adopted and the plan of the campaign agreed upon. The resolutions were mainly directed to affirmation of national Democratic principles, to the support of General Lane for United States Senator, and the condemnation, as opposed to Democratic doctrine, of the platform resolutions of the clique Democracy, which upheld the obligation that a representative was bound to obey caucus direction against the instruction of his constituents. It was upon this rock, in fact, that the clique and the nationalists split. The Republicans organized for the first time in Oregon later in the campaign and took part in the canvass.
The campaign opened in Jacksonville, April 15, 1858. At that time the mails from the states east of the Missouri and from California were brought into Oregon by the overland route from Sacramento to Jacksonville, and thence to the counties north, all the way to Portland, by weekly service, in one-horse conveyance or on horseback, except between Salem and Portland, in which a semi-weekly stage line or small river steamers of the Upper Willamette were employed as carriers, as time and occasion offered in point of expedition. Pack trains and freight wagons occasionally traveled the long route to the Umpqua and to Southern Oregon. I recall that as late as August, 1857, Colonel John D. Fry and myself made the first journey from Salem to Rogue River that had ever been traveled in a top buggy, and in stopping at roadside hospitable farm houses of nights--there were no hotels or taverns--the trouble was to prevent the children of the household from climbing in the buggy and working open and shut the lifting and closing top.
Immediately upon the adjournment of the national convention at Eugene, it was determined to be essential that Col. Kelly and myself should proceed to Jacksonville to meet the candidates of the clique party in opening the campaign. I had protested against the nomination of state printer, as I had come from California only eight months before, and could barely be counted a citizen of Oregon. Protestation was fruitless. The convention made the nomination. I had left the Standard, in Portland, simply to attend the convention and return to conduct the paper during the campaign. I had made no plans for the campaign conduct of the paper. The exigency into which I was forced by the convention compelled me to make temporary arrangements, which produced damaging and unsatisfactory consequences.
The route from Eugene through Southern Oregon was little traveled and not very well known. B. F. Dowell agreed to guide Colonel Kelly and myself to the end of the journey in Jacksonville. We gladly accepted his escort. The clique candidates had already started upon the journey, two days in advance. The canvassing party consisted of Delazon Smith, Lafayette Grover, Asahel Bush and Lucien Heath. Colonel Kelly and I were joined on the first day from Eugene by John Whiteaker, clique candidate for Governor, who continued in our company the remainder of the way into Jacksonville. Dowell was a trusty and invaluable guide. He thoroughly knew every cutoff and byway. Where the road was difficult from rains and deep mud he led us direct routes over adjacent hills and by circuitous meandering as though ours was a surveying party. He had traveled the route many times, was conversant with its every feature, had scraped or formed acquaintance with every dweller. All the old folks knew him the moment he spoke, the young folks hailed him, the youngsters rushed to or ran from him, agreeably as he had impressed them. His was not, as the churchly member of the Oregon assembly remarked to James D. Fay in the session of 1862, a "Christly voice," but no sane mortal lives who ever failed to recognize the organ of speech of the indomitable, almost ubiquitous and irrepressible B. F. Dowell, attorney at law and indefatigable pursuer of claims in Washington for Oregon and Washington Indian war services for damages or losses, and the never-let-go agent of kindred claims. Colonel Kelly and I will forever owe the obligation incurred on that memorable journey to Jacksonville, to B. F. Dowell, guide and entertainer as he was throughout. The first night from Eugene we put up at Cartwright's, at the foot of the Calapooia, and the next day nooned at Jesse Applegate's Yoncalla home of hospitable recollection. He was a warm friend of Colonel Kelly, and I had enjoyed pleasant acquaintance with him at Salem during the constitutional convention the preceding year. He related to us his refusal to accede to the "rude demand of General Lane's off-color cane-bearer," as he termed Hibben, of the Portland Times, for a night's lodging at his home, and led us to his well-stocked library, in which were rare and choice and valuable volumes, with proofs that they were prized and used. At Oakland we were made acquainted with Dr. Baker, owner of the mills, and met huge Hen Owens, since of the "Saints," swamp lands, cattle and schemes. Our next stopping place was Canyonville, at Roberts' hotel, from which Colonel Kelly came out worsted from his night's encounter with "big bugs," which disputed his possession of the bed. They seemed to appreciate a good feast when found. Whiteaker similarly suffered. Dowell taught me a plan of escape--in cleanly straw not ticked or blanketed by the landlord. Through the ugly canyon the next morning we all had a rough time of it from the swelling creek and turbulent water, but we refreshed at Hardy Elliff's and pushed on past John Redfield's, through the Cow Creek country and the scene of the Indian massacre of the Baily company, and at noon reached Jimmy Twogood's at Grave Creek, where the five Indian murderers taken during the Rogue River War were planted as "good Indians" forevermore. Jimmy was a noted character of the route, and kept a famous house--host, postmaster, humorist and brave withal, between his exploits and his queer stutter, requiring the rubbing of his right leg with his right palm to unloosen his tongue, and the coincident shuffling of his left foot to enable the utterance of his emphatic speech. Twogood was curious to observe and entertaining to the listener. He never stuttered as he swore; his oaths had free exit, and they came with droll volubility and vigor.
About noon of the fourth day from Eugene we reached Jacksonville. The meeting, or speaking, as the term was common, was appointed for that afternoon at 2 o'clock, in a beautiful grove on the outskirts of the town, outdoors. Seats were not provided. Audience and candidates could either stand, squat or move around. A large number gathered. Jacksonville was unlike the towns of the Willamette. It depended mainly upon its adjacent gold diggings for business and support. Along Bear Creek, in Rogue River Valley, and in other portions of the county, lands were of uncommon fertility. Farms and vegetable patches produced enough to supply the miners, and the merchants of Jacksonville were the middlemen of this easy traffic. Gold was plenty, prices ruled high. Few practiced frugality. Extravagance was the rule, and Jacksonville was as a mining camp of California. The inhabitants did not include themselves in the Territory of Oregon. It was the common phrase of any departing on a trip to the Willamette region, "I am going down to Oregon." The singularity was that the Willamette was far north--so that to go north was to go down.
Jackson County had been the principal scene of the Rogue River Indian War of 1855-56, in which Chiefs John and George had proved formidable warriors and skilled leaders in fighting alike the troops of the regular army and the companies of volunteers, until the killing of the one and the capture of the other brought truce and resulted in ending the war. There were all along the road into Rogue River Valley, from Canyonville to Jacksonville as late as 1858, melancholy testimonies of that cruel and savage war. B. F. Dowell had active part in it. On our route of travel he pointed out to Colonel Kelly and myself the scenes of tragic occurrences, the ruins of homes burned by the marauding Indians, the blackened sites of buildings destroyed. The desolated spots the savages had occasioned. The massacre of the Wagoner family was a lamentable tragedy. Wagoner had been prevailed upon by Miss Pellet, an enthusiast from the East in the cause of the Indians, to escort her to Port Orford, there to take the steamer to San Francisco. [Pellet was actually a prohibitionist; Wagoner escorted her only as far as Vannoy's ferry.] He left his home and family at daylight to escort Miss Pellet. Before noon that day a band of raiding Indians, murdering and burning as they sped, fired the Wagoner dwelling and butchered Mrs. Wagoner and daughter. Farther on they murdered Mr. and Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Haines and her two children, Mr. Harris and his son, Reed, Gwin and Cartwright, farmers, and five other men. Mrs. Harris managed to fly from the burning house with her infant daughter in her arms and escape the shots of the Indians, but her little daughter was wounded by an arrow in her mother's embrace. [O'Meara has confused the events; see here and here.] She succeeded in reaching a clump of willows, and from that safe retreat kept off the savages with the rifle which she had taken from the side of her murdered husband as he had fallen mortally shot by the assailants. On that 9th of October, 1855, these unoffending and peaceful inhabitants of Rogue River country and the adjacent region north were sacrificed to the savagery of the hostile tribes of Southern Oregon. Other and similar tragedies were at the period added to the enormities of the raiding savages and swelled the roll of human blood. The inhabitants of Jackson and Josephine counties were harassed and in great peril. The conduct of General Wool and the action of leaders of the clique in the Willamette, in giving no heed to the Indian hostilities in Southern Oregon, and in ridiculing the actual situation, had deeply affected and greatly incensed the periled and suffering inhabitants. The comments of the press of the Willamette rankled in their hearts. There was much of this feeling of animosity toward the leaders of the clique at the time of the first state election of 1858.
At the opening meeting of the campaign, in Jacksonville, Lafayette Grover made the starting speech. It was plausible, self-laudatory, with bare reference to his colleagues upon the ticket, an hour long and of feeble effect. Colonel Kelly followed in a speech adapted to the occasion, directed to the political issues of the contest. next followed Delazon Smith, the admitted orator of the party, skilled in declamation, of stentorian voice, conscious of his power of speech, and by no means careful of either his utterance or his logic, his harangue was mainly directed at the "Little California Adventurer" [O'Meara] who was a candidate for state printer upon the national [Democratic] ticket. The object of Smith's ungenerous speech followed Delazon, and was not long in appreciating that the sympathies and favor of the people of Jackson County were with the nationals, and that their antipathy to the clique party and its candidates was very apparent. H. Rush, not withstanding he had been active in politics for years in Oregon, made his maiden speech before a large audience on that occasion. He was a shrewd party manager; he did not aspire to campaign declamation. His forte was in council and not on the stump. Heath barely announced his own candidacy. Whiteaker patiently sat and comfortably smoked his solacing pipe. None could make issue or be offended with his remarks. The meeting ended with sharp exchanges between Smith and the national candidate for state printer in which neither of them were discreet. At the subsequent meetings the two found it more judicious to preserve their tempers and better regulate their speeches. Still, their occasional sharp hits at each other were as nuts to some of their hearers. It is in the nature of a multitude to cheer the remarks against another which, if made in relation to themselves, would violently enrage and provoke a fight.
In Jacksonville at that time were two weekly newspapers--the Sentinel, of William G. T'Vault, and the Herald, of William J. Boggs. T'Vault was an early pioneer of Oregon from Arkansas. He was editor of the Oregon Spectator in 1847, and founded the Sentinel, the first newspaper in Southern Oregon, at Jacksonville. He was aged, crafty and crooked in his walks and ways. Boggs was the son of a clergyman, young, bright, flippant and incurably vicious. The Sentinel favored the nationals. The Herald took sides vehemently with the clique party. Boggs' fierce antagonism to T'Vault for the assembly resulted in his election to the first state legislature. At the Jacksonville meeting I had opportunity to learn of Delazon Smith's extraordinary faculty of memorizing. At Quincey [sic] Twogood's I found two or three copies of a Boston paper, which was Edward Everett's polished eulogy of Daniel Webster. Delazon had stopped at Quincey's two days before and taken away a copy of the same paper. At Jacksonville he was invited to deliver an evening address. He announced as his subject "An Oration on Daniel Webster." I listened throughout his remarkable oration, delivered without notes or pause. It was the precise language of Everett, from beginning to end. The incident was to me in explanation of the nickname given to him of "Delusion," by which he was commonly known in Oregon. Delazon was nevertheless a really very able campaign speaker. In 1860 he encountered Colonel E. D. Baker in the state campaign, and that great orator bore willing testimony to Smith's ability and eloquence.
The clique party was unpopular in Southern Oregon on account of the course of the Salem leaders in respect to the Rogue River Indian War of 1855-56. They had denounced the war as an "expedition to fight the emigrants," who were in those years entering Oregon by the southern route in preference to the northern route by way of Fort Hall and the Columbia River. The Salem leaders endorsed the sentiments of General Wool, who asserted in his official report to the War Department that "the war had been forced upon the Indians by a set of reckless vagabonds for pecuniary and political objects, and sanctioned by a numerous population, who regarded the Treasury of the United States as a legitimate object of plunder." General Wool found profit and peaceful life in San Francisco, in his large winnings at draw poker and comfortable quarters at the Oriental Hotel, and gave no heed to the implorations and complaints of the endangered and unfortunate people of Jackson and Josephine counties. No military commander ever more grossly neglected his duties than did General Wool toward the people at Southern Oregon in 1855-56; no American general more shamefully abused the high trust confided to him in the protection of the remote settlements. As a distinguished army officer remarked at the time, with clear knowledge of the facts and of the extraordinary conduct of General Wool, the error rested with the War Department. "Jefferson Davis knew General Wool in Mexico, and he ought to have known better than to send him to a command out of the reach of telegraphic dispatches." Wool maligned the people of Oregon generally, of Southern Oregon particularly, in connection with the Indian wars. He neglected to visit Oregon and the scenes of war. He infelicitously proclaimed that his headquarters were in the saddle--to impress the authorities at Washington and the people of the East, but all the time he was mostly found sitting at the poker table raking in the big pots and small stakes. His attempt to make himself the Democratic candidate for President in 1845, essayed during his command upon this coast, was the crowning failure which caused his recall from the command of the military forces of the Pacific--greatly to the gratification of the people of California and Oregon and Washington territories, who had too much learned the manner of man he was to admire him as a hero or respect him as a warrior.
From Jacksonville the opposing canvassing speakers journeyed northward, to fill speaking appointments at Canyonville, Roseburg and Oakland, and thence into the Willamette Valley, to Eugene, Corvallis, Soap Creek, Albany, Salem, Dallas, Lafayette, Oregon City and Portland, and from there to The Dalles and down the river to Astoria. On the way from Oakland to Yoncalla, Col. Kelly and I had a strange token of Umpqua hospitality. Towns were few and far between south of the Calapooia Range, and sometimes we had to put up at the homes and rude cabins of farmers. We had promised Jesse Applegate that on the return journey northwards we would stop the night at his roomy and hospitable home. At Oakland, Judge [David C.] Underwood, county judge of Umpqua, and a candidate on the national ticket for reelection, pressed us to accept his invitation to go with him to his home for the night, from which, he assured us, it was a direct road to Yoncalla, and not in the least out of our way. The ride to his home in the hills was difficult, wearisome and very rough. It was a miserable cabin, and the shelter for our fatigued animals was scanty. There were no oats--only hay of poor quality. It was dark when we reached the place. Supper was served in about an hour. Sassafras tea, rusty bacon, heavy hot biscuits of the "Oregon sinker" quality, brown with saleratus and indigestible, and a kind of greasy stew served as soup constituted the meal. Hunger was barely sauce for the wretched layout. Shakedown sleeping places were prepared for us in the unpartitioned garret, and our own blankets were necessary to supply us covering to keep out the cold. Neither of us got much sleep, and we rose early, to see to our animals. No care had been shown them--very little hay and no water. The call for breakfast was bawled from the cabin. The meal was less satisfying than the supper of the previous evening--the similar slices of rusty bacon, the same order of Oregon sinkers for hot biscuit, discolored with saleratus, and a nauseating decoction for coffee did the business for us. Our host had the hardihood to ask a blessing over that breakfast. It was as grace before torture. In a short time we led our animals out, were mounted, and about to depart. Judge Underwood spoke out: "Well, gentlemen, which of you pays the bill?" The amount was called for. The surprise at the demand was overpowering, the circumstances considered. The judge responded: "Well, I guess about $2.50 apiece will be about right, don't you?" He was paid, and we left, content to get away at any cost from the miserable place. Judge Underwood had lured us, by his wanton, false statement, more than eight miles from our intended route to Jesse Applegate's Yoncalla home. It was our only instance of that kind of hospitality. The blotting of Umpqua from the counties of Oregon subsequently wiped from the county bench the infliction of Judge Underwood, and it was a process akin to Charles Lamb's story of the Chinese burning a house to roast a pig--worth the abolishment of a county to accomplish the removal of that pattern of county magistrate.
In the real and simple hospitality of Yoncalla, Colonel Kelly and I enjoyed nearly two days of entertainment and repose. Uncle Jesse Applegate was a famous host when in the humor with his guests. His library was a storehouse of chosen works, his post office and store a snug retreat for general conversation, and his keeping of pioneers at table and sleeping was of plenty and uninterrupted quality. Philosopher, sage, patriot and sturdy citizen, Jesse Applegate lived [his] allotted years, and upon the tablets of the enduring history of Oregon his name and record are never to be effaced.
Oregonian, Portland, November 9, 1890, page 16
THE PIONEER DAYS.
How Oregon's Hardy Settlers Electioneered in Early Times.
THE WORK OF THE SALEM CLIQUE
The Famous Campaign Between David Logan and Lansing Stout.
NEWSPAPERS OF "OREGON STYLE"
Preventing the Election of Delazon Smith as United States Senator--
General Lamerick's Determination to Reach Charleston.
The conventions of the two parties in Oregon had placed their respective candidates in nomination, at Salem, late in April. The day of election was June 27th. Lansing Stout, Democrat, and David Logan, Republican, were the contestants for representatives in Congress. The two were residents of Portland, lawyers of a high order of ability, in the early prime of life, socially friends, but as different in natures and political sentiments as two men could be. Stout was a bedrock Democrat; Logan abhorred Democracy and in 1856 had joined the Know-Nothing Party, not because he approved its prescriptive features, but, as he said himself, he "thought it a club with which to help kill the Democratic Party." The state was unquestionably Democratic, on a fair vote of the two parties; but with the strong opposition of the Salem clique to scratch Stout and to cast their votes for Logan, the result seemed uncertain. As the campaign progressed and this antagonism appeared to grow in spread and strength the common belief was that Logan would be elected. This bullet was strengthened in view of the bitter feud of the clique leaders and Delazon Smith, and the apparent determination of the clique to defeat the reelection of Smith to the Senate. Hibben had ceased to be editor of the Portland Times, and had gone to Washington in the interest of General Lane. No man could be better spared. He had dismally failed as an editor; was miserably qualified as a party manager, and although he harangued after the style of the typical frontier hard-shell Baptist exhorter of strong nasal twang, his consuming vanity prompted him to blow his blathering horn on every possible occasion. He had the eyes, nose, lips and color to sustain the common belief that the taint of African blood was a portion of his heritage. Hibben returned to Indiana and wrote letters back to the Portland Times denunciatory of the clique and ridiculously eulogistic of General Lane.
The Portland Standard was still under my management. It gave vigorous support to Stout for Congress, but was uncompromising in its hostility to Delazon Smith for United States Senator. I was an earnest friend of General Lane, and his ardent efforts in aid of Smith's cause did not weaken my devotion to his own, although for the time we became estranged. I was as strongly opposed to the election of Grover for Senator as I was to Smith. Senator Williams, of Multnomah, and Assemblyman Nichols, of Benton, had pledged to me their votes in the choice of Senator, and these pledges were faithfully adhered to until the final adjournment of the legislature. It will suffice to state here that these two votes became at length the key to the situation.
The legislature convened early in June and sat while the campaign for Congressman was going on. Grover had sulked after his defeat for renomination, and manifested indisposition to support Stout. He declined to speak in Stout's behalf in the campaign, until at last the assent to do so was coupled with the condition that he should be chosen Senator. Judge Williams declined his signature to a similar agreement. Neither of the two engaged in the campaign in aid of Stout, but Grover made speeches at Salem and at Dallas that were covertly inimical to Stout's election.
Soon after the return of Smith and Grover from Washington, Grover related to a dozen or more of prominent members of the clique in Nesmith's "Superintendent of Indian Affairs" office a long account of the irregularities of Smith in Washington and on the Isthmus. The relation was made in a spirit of confidence. Among the listeners was W. M. Barnhart, clerk in the Indian office. He did not consider himself bound to secrecy. He wrote, as he remembered, the revelations by Grover, and published the offensive mass in the Statesman. W. W. Bristow, senator from Lane County, read the Barnhart publication in the senate. This brought a note from Grover to the senate, in which he stated that Barnhart's publication was "a gross exaggeration of a few words" spoken by himself in confidence. To this came the response of several of the persons who had been present at the recital, to the effect that Grover had said all that was stated by Barnhart, with the remark that several facts which Grover had related were omitted from the published statement.
This disgraceful episode more embittered the friends of Smith, and the rancor increased on both sides. The intense animosity of some toward Grover helped Stout's cause. The Salem clique had already done their utmost against him. Grover had announced himself as candidate for the United States Senate. Colonel Nesmith was first suggested as the clique candidate, but through the active partisanship of Fred Waymire, in Polk--Nesmith's own county--the clique Democrats there declared their preference for Grover. It was agreed that he should be the Senator. Also in the field were Governor Curry and W. H. Farrar. The contest, however, was between Smith and Grover. Farrar's efforts were directed mainly to the prevention of an election. Aware that his own election was impossible, he wrought with the Republican legislators and schemed with the disaffected Democrats to defeat the election of any. Judge Williams was not announced as a candidate, still he had friends in the legislature who preferred him to either Smith or Grover. The caucus of the Democratic members of the two houses was held on the Wednesday of the closing week of the session, in the assembly hall in the old building on the riverbank, occupied as the statehouse. After repeated ineffectual balloting, at a late hour of the afternoon, the caucus vote was declared in favor of Delazon Smith. It was expected that the next day the two houses would meet in joint convention and that Delazon Smith would be rechosen United States Senator for the term of six years. It was not to be. The antagonism to him was active, fierce and uncompromising. A meeting of the managing parties of this implacable opposition held a caucus of their own that night and agreed upon the plan which finally defeated Smith's election. Thursday morning neither Senator Williams, of Multnomah, nor Assemblyman Nichols could be found. Both had attended the caucus of the day before, and had voted on every ballot to defeat Smith's nomination. Without their votes in the joint convention his election was impossible, unless two Republicans should vote for him. An effort had been attempted and failed to bring about a concentration of the kind to elect Grover. It could not be made in the interest of Smith. The meeting of the joint convention to elect a Senator would be futile without the presence of Williams and Nichols. No word was obtainable as to their whereabouts. Friday passed the same as Thursday. The two houses regularly met and adjourned, as usual, after due course of proceedings, but without the attendance of Williams in the senate and Nichols in the assembly it was useless to go into joint convention. On Saturday the forty days' limit of the legislature would expire, and the final adjournment would be declared.
John Wilson's circus showed in Salem that Friday night. I always go to see a circus show. Toward the end of the performance Joe Teal came to me in a high state of excitement and requested that I should come outside and accompany him. I asked as to the place and purpose. It was revealed that an arrangement had been made that night by which Judge Williams was agreed upon for Senator, and his election could be made sure the next morning, in joint convention, providing Senator Williams and Assemblyman Nichols were in their seats. The proposition was impracticable. Neither Williams nor Nichols would vote for Judge Williams, for Delazon Smith or for Lafayette Grover. The arrangement failed. I had missed the close of John Wilson's circus performance. The ending of that session of the Oregon Legislature and of the senatorial circus the next morning would be the more inviting show.
Saturday morning at the usual hour the two houses met for the last time. Williams and Nichols did not put in an appearance. No motion was made for a joint convention in either house. The ordinary closing scenes were enacted. Committees were appointed in each house to wait upon Governor Whiteaker and inform him that the Legislature was ready to adjourn and awaited from him any message he had to communicate. His earnest but unofficial message, impromptu and energetically spoken, was: "I am d----d glad of it." His official response was: "Well, gentlemen, I have nothing to communicate." As with General Taylor at Buena Vista, when Santa Ana demanded his surrender, the unofficial response of Governor Whiteaker on that occasion was the better fitting, although more forcible and less refined. The committees reported to their respective houses the Governor's official response, and the two houses thereupon adjourned sine die. To the general public immediately after the adjournment, the members of the committees made known the more appropriate unofficial response, and everybody approved the Governor's sentiments and admired his sense of the situation. An old Lane County bedrock Democrat, a warm friend of the Governor's, once portrayed to him the gabrulous infirmity of a neighbor who always needed a cork in his mouth, by the rude but pertinent remark that "he don't know when to don't." Possibly Governor Whiteaker recalled the remark as he felt the relief that the Legislature did "know when to don't" and ceased its own existence as a salutary instance of felo de se without benefit of clergy or prayers for the dead, in a public body which had few mourners and gave general satisfaction by its dissolution.
At high noon on Saturday the Legislature adjourned. The election of a United States Senator had failed. Oregon was represented in the Senate of the United States by only one senator--General Joseph Lane, whose term expired March 4, 1861. Delazon Smith was defeated for the exalted station and forever politically showed as a bright-colored back number. The unruly tongue beyond his own ability to bridle, which had gained him party promotion and highest honors the state can bestow, was likewise the cause of his sudden downfall from this lofty place, through his intemperance of speech when in proud position and his malignance of destruction when not confronted by the object of his vituperation.
A word of merit is due to Nichols of Benton. He was elected to the assembly on the national ticket. Early in the session he imparted to me that at the time of his election he was a Democrat. He had since become a Republican on account of the slavery question. He had determined all through that session to faithfully fulfill his pledges to his national constituents. He had given pledge as to the one he should support for United States Senator, and had resolved to conscientiously observe that pledge. He simply requested that I should not divulge his change of political belief and plan of action during the session. He never deviated from his promises. On Saturday afternoon, an hour after the Legislature adjourned, honest Nichols came to me, openly proclaimed his Republicanism to some Benton County Democratic friends, and returned to his home to take active part in the service of that party.
Senator Williams was a native of Kentucky, bred in that state and was an ardent Democrat. He had lived several years in Oregon. Elected upon the national ticket, he was unfailingly true to that wing of the Democratic Party throughout his term of senator. He confided to me before the Legislature convened, his course of conduct, to which he scrupulously adhered. The same as Nichols he had determined not to vote for Delazon Smith, Grover or Judge Williams. The two could have much profited in pocket, had they bent to the pressure of the occasion, but they resisted every proposition to such effect and maintained their integrity unsullied.
The contest between Stout and Logan continued to the close of the campaign. In the counties of Marion and Polk, in which Grover had strong following, partisan spirit ran wild. I had been canvassing in aid of Stout through Clackamas, Lafayette and the northern portion of Marion--French Prairie and Champoeg--and on the day of election stopped in Salem to vote. Herman Leonard, of Portland, was visiting the capital. In the morning we went together to the courthouse polls to vote. Over the main doorway, just in front of the polls, was stretched a long and broad canvas strip, with the words printed upon it in large letters, "Don't Vote for the California Bummer." This was intended for Judge Stout, whom the clique party in Multnomah had the year before elected county judge. The outrageous thing was denounced by us, but we were derided by a crowd of bystanders, who were encouraged in their disgraceful conduct by Sam. E. May, who had been a Know-Nothing leader and was at that time in the service of this clique. After voting I drove from Salem to Portland that day, and all along the road I met parties engaged in electioneering, nearly all of them Democrats, and the greater part of them active in Logan's interest.
It was before the period of railroads and telegraphs in Oregon. There was not even a stage line in the state. Weekly mail service between Jacksonville and Salem was performed with a common wagon, and between Portland and Salem the mails were carried tri-weekly by the river steamers. Mails from and to California and the East were carried by the ocean steamers semi-monthly. Between Salem and the coast counties--Tillamook, Coos and Curry--and the ocean settlements of Umpqua and Douglas were semi-occasionally and uncertain. As the returns came to Portland from the counties of the Willamette, from the west-side counties, from Clatsop and Columbia, from Wasco, and from the counties of the Umpqua and Rogue River, the impression became stronger that Logan had carried the state by a considerable majority. In the first state election, 1858, the vote of Marion for Congressman was for Grover 827; for Kelly 408. Now it stood for Logan 1026; for Stout 296; in Polk 1858 for Grover 362; for Kelly 273. Linn County did better for the Democratic candidate. It had given, in 1858, 784 for Grover; for Kelly 257; it gave Stout 723; Logan 602. Multnomah had voted Grover 396; Kelly 543; it gave Stout 434; Logan 563. Jackson County had voted Grover 628; Kelly 243; it voted Stout 603; Logan 218. For the two weeks after the election the Democrats generally conceded the election to Logan. Then came returns which changed the complexion of the count. The chances appeared in favor of Stout. The reported figures made his majority sixteen. The official count, in due time, proved it to be only nine. Still, it was a majority, and it was for Stout. Logan's friends urged him to contest the election. Some of the clique leaders were still more eager that he should do so. The Congress of 1857 was composed of 237 members, of whom only ninety-three were administration Democrats, and Stout was of this order. A contest by Logan, with the meager majority conceded to Stout, would undoubtedly have secured the seat to Logan, but he positively refused to make the contest. He protested that Stout had been fairly elected and justly entitled to the seat. From this determination David Logan could not be moved. Judge Stout went to Washington, took his seat and served his full term.
Judge Stout made a faithful and excellent representative for the people of Oregon. He vigorously pressed to accomplishment the measure to establish a daily mail, by stages, between Sacramento and Portland. The contract was awarded to the California Stage company, at the low rate of $90,000 a year. The entire distance of about 700 miles was stocked the same year, and the stages regularly preformed the daily service, with four-horse and six-horse teams.
The campaign of 1859 caused bitter animosities, and these were perpetuated in the virulent attacks and acrimonious exchanges between leaders and organs on each side of the divided Democracy. The Portland Standard had ceased publication in the summer of 1859. In the early fall of that year I became half owner of the Jacksonville Sentinel and took editorial charge. It was the only paper south of Corvallis. The Herald had succumbed and Beggs had taken a place as writer for the Salem Statesman. Vile attack and fondness for scurrility were inseparable from his depraved nature. As one who lingers in a soap factory to feast upon the smell, he dabbled in all manner of nastiness to win the most reeking rank of the "Oregon style." In Harvey Gordon he found a fellow of infinite jest like himself. The two would have preferred the sewers of Paris to the boulevards. Delazon Smith had started his personal organ at Albany. It was not a newspaper. It was Delazon's own, and he had his gentle Shepherd, who had been a violent Know-Nothing in California. It was a weekly, and every week it fumed and spurted its volcanic discharges. The readers of that period, in whose callow adolescence was molded the bent of nature by basest models, can ever plead the infant act if reproached for their fancy for yellow-covered literature and the vicious publications of the day. It was between the two chief Democratic organs, at Salem and at Albany, a duel of the stench of the Chinese pots of war. Tom Dryer changed the tone of his Oregonian. It was conducted as a newspaper and a vigorous Republican organ. He could well be content with non-interference in the fight of the Democratic organs, to the profit of his own party. The Portland Times, with A. C. Russell as editor, made little stir in the scathing cauldron of angry Democratic crimination and recrimination--without much care as to discrimination. Any head that bobbed up received a sharp rap. The Jacksonville Sentinel held aloof from the disagreeable encounter.
In November 1859 the Democratic state convention was called to meet at Eugene to appoint these delegates and three alternates to the national Democratic convention at Charleston, April 10, 1860. In the order for the call for the primaries to elect county delegates, the state central committee made the apportionment with the vote cast for Stout in the June election. This was protested against by the clique Democrats, who insisted upon the basis of the vote for Whiteaker for Governor in 1858. Accordingly, the Democrats of Marion, Polk and a few other counties of the clique wing held county conventions and elected delegates to the state convention on that basis. This basis would give control of the convention to the wing which had endeavored to defeat Stout, and entirely ignore the nationals of 1858, who had helped greatly in the election of Stout. The faithful Democrats held the control of the state committee and of the state convention. They refused to accede to the demand of the clique Democrats. Upon this the latter, headed by Grover, seceded from the convention and organized a separate convention. Grover offered a resolution to the effect that the seceders would not appoint delegates to the national convention, but pledged themselves to support the nominees of that body to meet at Charleston. Among the seceders, besides Grover, were John Smith, of Linn; Ralph C. Geer, of Marion; Cyrus Olney, of Clatsop; A. D. Babcock, of Polk; H. S. Hadley, of Lane; J. W. Drew, Umpqua; Vic Travitt, of Wasco; W. McMillan, of Multnomah; J. C. Powell, of Benton; Peter Ruffner, of Curry; D. S. Holton, of Josephine; D. M. Jassee, of Yamhill.
The regular convention, Colonel W. W. Chapman, chairman, appointed General Lane, Lansing Stout and Judge Deady as delegates to the Charleston National Convention; General J. K. Lamerick, General John Adair and John F. Miller as alternates. The action of the convention and the conduct of Grover and his fellow seceders were as the wider splitting of the Democratic trunk, the deeper driving of the shifting wedge. The strife between the contestants increased in vehemence and deepened into irreconcilability.
General Lane and Judge Stout were in Washington and sent to Oregon word that they would attend the convention. Judge Deady declined to go--his judicial duties prevented his going. General Lamerick was his alternate. He had resolved to go. On Saturday afternoon, February 3, in Jacksonville, while seated on a sofa in the room of a dwelling room occupied by a man named Berry and his wife, Lamerick was shot by the infuriated husband, who had suddenly entered the room, pistol in hand, with deadly intent. It was a navy-size Colt's revolver. The ball entered near the inside of Lamerick's left eye, close to the nose, penetrated the head and made exit just behind the lower part of the right ear. It was thought he was killed, but he was living and able to talk. He was taken to a convenient room over John Hillman's saloon and surgeons Brooks and Thompson quickly attended him. His face was terribly powder-burned, but it was found that his sight was not destroyed in either eye. Almost his first words, after the surgeons had dresses the fearful wound, were: "See here; I am going to Charleston to that convention." Dr. Thompson humored him with "Yes, yes," in response. Actually the surgeons expected a fatal result. They feared hemorrhage and that meant death. During the night Lamerick asked for a drink of water. Dr. Brooks said to him water was likely to cause hemorrhage, and intimated to him the probable consequence; it would cause him to cough and coughing would provoke hemorrhage. He was refused the water. Soon he began to slightly cough. The surgeons besought him to cease it if possible. His response was, "You won't give me a drink of water, and I'll cough until I get a drink." The water was given him--a teaspoonful. It had good effect, he coughed no more and no hemorrhage followed. The night was passed better than the surgeons had expected. But the next morning I was called from home by a messenger dispatched in haste by Dr. Brooks. On going to the room he whispered to me that death was imminent, and it would be advisable to speak to Lamerick in relation to the disposition of his property. A cloth saturated with soothing liquid covered his eyes as he rested in bed. I asked: "Do you know me, Lamerick?" Quick and characteristic came the response: "Know you? Hell, yes; you're O'Meara." I spoke cheeringly and encouraging as I could, but went on to remark as to his condition and the probable consequence. He replied: "O, hell, I'm going to the Charleston convention, to be there in time. Now, one thing; I don't want to have Berry put in trouble for shooting me; bear that in mind." He told me of his different pieces of property, in land and lots, in various places, and wished them to go to his brother in Philadelphia in the event of his death, giving the brother's address. Last I asked him with reference to the services of a clergyman, of which denomination, should the worst befall. His response to this was: "Well, come to think that over, the fact is that since I was a boy I've never had much to do with the clergy, and to call them in now would be sort of cowardly and hypocritical; don't you think so?" I made brief reply, and the subject was discontinued. The occasion for a clergyman happily did not occur; Lamerick recovered. The last Saturday of March I rode with him on the outside front seat of the stage, alongside of the driver, from Jacksonville to Yreka; we remained there Sunday, and early Monday morning I saw him off by stage for Sacramento. In a few days I got a letter from him at San Francisco. He had called on Dr. Cooper, a noted surgeon of his time, who expressed his astonishment at Lamerick's recovery from such a wound. Again he wrote to me, from Charleston, April 14. He had reached there in time for the convention sure enough. A few weeks afterward he sent to me, from Nashville, sprigs from the hickory trees of the Hermitage, and a few of the hickory nuts from the favorite trees of the venerated warrior-sage, whose memory Lamerick worshiped. He had made the visit as the devoted Mohammedan makes the pilgrimage to Mecca. General Lamerick joined the Confederate army early in the war, and was killed in one of the desperate engagements. [Lamerick survived the war.] Judge Stout went from Washington to the convention. General Lane remained in Washington. On his return to Oregon, years afterwards, in Portland, Judge Stout told me an interesting incident of the Charleston convention. On the grave trouble, just before the final disastrous division and adjournment, when it became apparent that neither Breckinridge nor Douglas would be nominated, a movement was broached to harmonize the two factions by nominating General Lane. It appeared to meet favor on both sides. The nomination was likely to be made the following day. That evening Stout received the memorable telegram from General Lane at Washington: "Go out, and stand!" Stout did not reveal the dispatch to anyone. But a leak in the telegraph office had made it known to some of the friends of Douglas. Stout was interrogated. He could no longer conceal the fact. That settled the matter. General Lane had prevented his own nomination for President by the indiscretion of that dispatch. His nomination at Charleston at the time would have prevented the fatal split in the Democratic Party. Lane would undoubtedly have been elected. The fortune of the whole country would have been changed. There would have been no secession of states; no colossal internecine civil war. The destiny of the Union was involved in that brief dispatch. It is a momentous matter to contemplate; a tremendous theme to dwell upon. I have no disposition at this day, in view of the mighty events which have occurred, and the present splendid condition of the country, in this advanced Union of added states, with greater power to the Pacific side and greater glory to the Republic, to indulge in the fruitless contemplation. I simply repeat the statement of Lansing Stout, whose word was never successfully questioned. The Oregon of today and the magnificent Northwest of the period, with the sublime promise of both, are ample to command the deepest study and engage the greatest efforts of the profoundest statesman of the age.
Oregonian, Portland, November 30, 1890, page 16 Refer to the Joseph Lane Papers for Democratic correspondence during the tumultuous campaigns described above.
WINS ONE OF SANTA ROSA'S FAIREST FLOWERS
Harvey S. Jordan of Seattle Leads Miss Julia O'Meara to the Altar.
SANTA ROSA, July 14.--The residence of Mr. and Mrs. James O'Meara of this city was today the scene of a brilliant society event, the occasion being the marriage of Miss Julia O'Meara to Harvey S. Jordan, cashier of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and one of the rising young business men of the Northwest.
The ceremony took place in the drawing room, beneath a canopy of greenery and pink sweet pea blossoms. The whole house was decorated in harmony with the scheme adopted for this room, and the effect was charming. The Rev. James Cope, rector of the Church of the Incarnation of this city, was the officiating clergyman.
The bride was attended by her sister, Miss Pollie O'Meara, as maid of honor, and Miss Bess Riley as bridesmaid, while Dr. W. B. Morse of Salem, Or., acted as best man. Little Grace Dougherty, who in May was the queen of the flower carnival held in this city, attended the bridal party as flower girl.
At the conclusion of the ceremony and after the congratulations had been tendered the guests sat down to a breakfast. When the bride's cake had been cut and distributed among the members of the bridal party, it was found that Miss Florence Boggs had the penny, supposed to be typical of the fact that she would soon marry someone well supplied with this world's goods, and Miss Bess Riley was found to have the bride's ring, a dainty affair of costly workmanship, in the form of a true lover's knot.
The bride is one of Santa Rosa's fairest and best known society girls. During her residence in this city she has made hosts of friends, a great number of whom assembled at the train this afternoon to wish the departing couple Godspeed on their journey to Seattle, where they will in the future make their home.
San Francisco Call, July 15, 1898, page 4
JAMES O'MEARA DEAD.
Prominent Journalist, Well-Known at One Time in Portland.
SANTA ROSA, Cal., Jan. 23.--James O'Meara, who many years ago ranked among the foremost journalists of the Pacific Coast, died here tonight, aged 78 years. In editorial capacities he was connected with the San Francisco Examiner before it became a morning paper, with the San Francisco Chronicle and Portland Oregonian, and the Portland News in the late '80s. He has been living here quietly for years. He leaves a wife and four children.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 24, 1903, page 1
Some Reminiscences of O'Meara
BY MAJOR BEN C. TRUMAN
The death of James O'Meara at Santa Rosa on Sunday last, at the age of 78, removes from our state one of the last of the editors of the '50s--and we are not so sure that he is not the last but one--that one being George K. Fitch. Mr. O'Meara belonged to the old Lecompton pro-slavery Democratic school that ran the state's politics from the early '50s up to the election of Mr. Lincoln, after which California began to get into the Republican line, and soon after the second election of Mr. Lincoln sent Cole and conner to the United States Senate and elected Leland Stanford governor.
Mr. O'Meara was, otherwise, a gentle-mannered person and a man of much literary attainment. For many years he was one of the editors of the Evening Examiner and the author of one or two books, his most conspicuous production being a volume entitled "Gwin and Broderick," in which there is betrayed the more ardent admiration for the former than the latter and a good deal of leaning to the side of Terry, who killed Broderick in a duel in 1859, rather than on the side of the Senator. But there was a good deal of loveliness of character about "Jimmy" O'Meara all the same. Cope died at about the same hour on the supreme bench. Terry had resigned as chief justice in order to fight Broderick and Cope was appointed to succeed him.
Los Angeles Herald, January 28, 1903, page 6
California, and indeed, the whole Fourth Estate, sustains a loss in the death of James O'Meara, one of the ablest of the western journalists, who died not long since at Santa Rosa. He was an honest man, with the courage of his convictions. On the old Examiner, under Phil Roach, he wrote editorials on almost every public question, which were quoted by the independent press of the whole country and were recognized as "authority." Aside from editorial work, he was a contributor to many leading periodicals. He was a kindly, lovable man, who made many friends and kept them.
Duluth News-Tribune, Minnesota, February 16, 1903, page 4
A pioneer newspaper of Oregon was the Jacksonville Sentinel. It was started in the early '50s [the first issue was on November 14, 1855], and had a career of about 25 years. W. G. T'Vault, an original character in the early history of Oregon, was its first editor. B. F. Dowell was [for a] long time its editor and publisher. For a number of years D. M. C. Gault, now editor of the Hillsboro Independent and member of the Legislature for Washington County, directed it. It ceased publication a good many years ago, but there is a new Jacksonville Sentinel, started recently by Charles Meserve. It is a local weekly, carried proofs of industry, and revives memories of the old Jacksonville Sentinel.
The above from the Oregonian tells a part of the story but not all, and as some think not the most important. In 1860 the Sentinel was a semiweekly published by Henry Denlinger and edited by Jas. O'Meara. At this time the paper was strong, considered the equal of any in the state, or if it was surpassed then [it was by] the Statesman at Salem published and edited by A. Bush and a little later by Gordon. O'Meara quarreled with Denlinger and assaulted him with a pistol. The latter wrested the gun from his assailant who then ran. Denlinger snapped the pistol at short range. Before he could get ready to shoot again, O'Meara was some feet away, but the shot striking the fleeing man in the buttock, the incident was the cause of much comment and merriment at the time throughout the state. This closed O'Meara's career in Oregon for many years. He was succeeded by Orange Jacobs, then a young attorney in Jacksonville, who was a finished writer. Afterward in 1864 Jacobs was a Lincoln presidential elector. He received the appointment of [the] Chief Justice of the Washington Territorial Supreme Court. He is now a resident of Seattle. Jacobs is an uncle of Homer Davenport, the cartoonist. About the time of Jacobs' connection with the Sentinel the methods of the newspaper making in Oregon changed. The telegraph wire was strung from Sacramento to Portland in 1862. Associated Press dispatches were used, but the expense was so great that the little county paper at Jacksonville could not bear it. The active reporters who used the mail and Beekman's Express were too slow. The Sentinel was no longer a guard at the front but had to take its place at the foot of the class. Dowell, its proprietor, was a lawyer and not a newspaper man. But it would have made no difference. Bennett himself could not have maintained the Sentinel under such adverse conditions
Hillsboro Independent, June 19, 1903, page 3
It is largely owing to the disregard of shorthand reporting that the American newspaper press has developed so many facile writers, who have a style of their own and who have made their mark in literature. . . . The work of this school compares more than favorably with that of James O'Meara, an editor of pioneer days, who continued his career down to the close of the nineteenth century, who did not aim at brilliancy but enjoyed the reputation of carefulness and accuracy.
San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 1915, page 47
S. F. BLYTHE TRACES HISTORY
OF JOURNALISM IN OREGON
Numerous Newspaper Ventures in Oregon in Early Days
Fail in Competition with The Oregonian.
HOOD RIVER, Or., July 21.--(Special.)--An outstanding feature of the session of the 16th annual convention of the Oregon State Editorial Association, held here last week, was a paper by S. F. Blythe in reminiscence of early-day Oregon journalism. The brief history of pioneer publishing in Portland was eulogistic of the late Henry L. Pittock and The Oregonian.
Mr. Blythe, now 81 years old, was associated with numbers of early-day Portland newspaper ventures. He is a Civil War veteran and a past commander of the department of Oregon, Grand Army of the Republic. Mr. Blythe is the dean of Pacific Coast printers of the old school, when newspapers were set from the case. His record at hand composition has never been broken in the Northwest. Mr. Blythe's paper follows:
"My acquaintance with Oregon editors and writers began in 1870. Ben Holladay, then in the heyday of his business and political activities in Oregon, imagined he needed a newspaper to further his aims in politics as well as business. He could not purchase The Oregonian, then owned exclusively by H. L. Pittock, nor could he buy its influence. He, therefore, decided to start a paper of his own. James O'Meara, a forceful writer of the old school of journalism in Oregon--known as the 'Oregon style' for its vituperative qualities--was sent to San Francisco to purchase a plant for the new paper. The San Francisco Times, a morning daily paper, after an existence of about two years, had ceased publication and the plant was for sale. Mr. O'Meara made the purchase and shipped the plant to Portland. He also selected a printer for foreman, and the foreman was instructed to select a force of compositors, of which I happened to be one. Even a city editor was engaged in San Francisco, a bright fellow named Ames. Years afterward he became mayor of Minneapolis. We were all given free passage on one of Ben Holladay's steamers, the old California, and arrived in Portland on July 5, 1870.
Bulletin Is Published."In one week after our arrival the Bulletin, morning and evening, made its appearance and was issued six days in the week. And right here began the split in the Republican Party that lasted for years and which gave the Democrats an occasional United State Senator or a Governor of the state.
"The paper made a fine appearance printed from broad-gauged type. There were then three daily papers in Portland, all publishing dispatches. The Herald was Democratic. Its editor, about the time of the starting of the Bulletin, was Sylvester Pennoyer. W. Lair Hill was editor of The Oregonian. In him O'Meara found an adversary worthy of his vitriolic pen. Attack upon The Oregonian was launched immediately upon appearance of the new paper. Names of contemporary newspapers in those days were always italicized, and the compositor, finding the name of The Oregonian occurring so frequently in Mr. O'Meara's writings, 'made fat' by placing the word set up in type in tiers in what one of the printers called 'the unexplored regions' of his upper case. It saved time to have the word set up in type instead of having to cross the room to the italic case, which also might be occupied.
"The Willamette locks at Oregon City were then in process of construction. O'Meara was bitter in his attacks upon everyone connected with their building. The locks might have been considered by Mr. Holladay as an infringement upon his rights to monopolize the hauling of freight up and down the Willamette Valley. His railroad, the Oregon & California, was then completed as far as Salem. The locks were always mentioned by O'Meara as the 'Lock and Dam Swindle.'
Paper Lasts Five Years."The Bulletin lasted five years, during which time it changed editors and business managers many times. Among its different editors and writers, besides O'Meara, I remember Joseph Gaston, A. W. Waters, Calvin B. McDonald, a Mr. Cracker from California, John Baltimore, Frank Hodgkin, Joe Leveridge, Billy Beens, Charles Newell, and for the last year of the life of the paper H. W. Scott was its chief editor.
"While Mr. Holladay had the money to lavish on the Bulletin it flourished, and everyone that got on its payroll flourished also, but when the Bee's [sic] sack got low and the paper was thrown upon its own resources it soon succumbed to the inevitable. What hurried its demise was a move made by W. Lair Hill. He slipped off to Chicago and secured the exclusive right to publish the Associated Press dispatches in The Oregonian. Mr. Pittock assumed the payments that had been divided among the three daily papers for the dispatches. The Herald suspended at once. The Bulletin, after a lingering existence of a few months, followed the Herald, and The Oregonian was safe against opposition for years to come.
"Publishing a daily paper without the news dispatches was out of the question. Someone on the Bulletin conceived the idea of swiping the news from The Oregonian after it came out every morning. The compositors were instructed to work only at night, to come to the office in the evening, distribute their cases and take copy along about midnight. At daybreak, or as nearly as The Oregonian carriers got out to distribute papers to subscribers, scouts were sent out to buy or steal a copy. As soon as a copy could be secured the compositors were again at work and in about an hour the Bulletin would come out with full dispatches. But the game couldn't last. The Oregonian was kept from the streets until too late for the opposition paper to come out with the dispatches. A change was then made to an evening paper, but the Bulletin had lost its prestige and gave up the fight. At that date, September 1875, there was no other means than through the one news organization of getting news over the telegraph wires.
"W. Lair Hill's act killed all opposition and saved The Oregonian, but had there not been an abler head, a business head, controlling the destinies of The Oregonian, it might have succumbed before the thought came to Mr. Hill to move as he did. H. L. Pittock was foreman of the composing room of his own paper. He it was who made up The Weekly Oregonian and saw that only the best and most important matter was saved from the pages of the daily to make up a weekly that was second to none among the weekly papers of the Pacific Coast.
"The Sacramento Weekly Union was the great paper in the mining districts of the Pacific Coast, while the farmers and people of the small towns of the Pacific Northwest read The Weekly Oregonian. It had a large circulation, and at $3 a year brought in sufficient to save The Daily Oregonian when Ben Holladay's paper was cutting down its income. In those days farmers and country people generally did not read the daily papers. The big weeklies, got out by the city dailies, gave them the news. Rural free delivery changed this, and today the daily paper is brought to the farmer's door. The country weekly still holds its place, but the city weekly, published in connection with a daily, is doomed.
"Mr. Scott, after the demise of the Bulletin, at once resumed his place on The Oregonian, and was its editor-in-chief up to the time of his death.
Another Venture Launched."The death of the Bulletin threw a lot of printers out of employment. About this time a young man from Vermont, a bright Yankee named Don Harding Stearns, made his appearance in Portland. He had had some experience in newspaper work on the Omaha Bee. The Oregonian then had the newspaper field to itself, except for an evening paper published by A. Bushwiler. It was named the Evening Journal and later became the Evening Telegram and was purchased by The Oregonian. James O'Meara was its editor at the time of which I write. Stearns, after looking over the field, saw an opening for another paper. He immediately set to work and organized a publishing company of printers, with George H. Himes included with his large and complete job printing office in which to get out the paper. I was one of the unfortunates who fell for the scheme. The new paper was named the Bee. It came out as an independent weekly evening paper, delivered by carriers in the city at 12½ cents a week. A weekly was got out at the price of $1 a year. These low prices were unheard of in Oregon at that time. Stearns was an indefatigable worker, a great success in soliciting and writing ads. The independent Bee flourished for a while and it seemed that the venture would prove a success. To give the paper a moral tone Stearns joined the Y.M.C.A., gave considerable church news in his columns and had General Howard contribute editorials. General O. O. Howard, it will be remembered, was the Christian soldier who commanded a corps in the army of the Potomac; a good Christian like Stonewall Jackson, but unlike Jackson, he generally got licked. General Howard was then in command of the department of the North Pacific with headquarters in Portland. He took deep interest in the Y.M.C.A.
"Alfred Holman began his career as a writer on the Bee. Stearns had him for an office boy, liked him and saw that there was something in him. He had the young fellow walk the streets and pick up news items. Stearns would help him prepare his copy for the compositors.
"Every Saturday evening the members of the publishing company would hold a meeting to talk matters over, and figure out where we 'were at.' At one of the meetings Stearns said the paper needed to start something that would get the people to talking about it. He thought if the paper could make some enemies among the prominent citizens it would have the desired effect; that no great paper was ever built up without making enemies. He proposed looking up the records of some people and giving them write-ups. No opposition was offered him by members of the company. A few days later he began the work of making enemies by writing up the past history of James O'Meara. It wasn't long before Mr. O'Meara called on Mr. Stearns. I was working on the case some distance from the office door one day when I happened to turn and look across the big room. I saw Mr. O'Meara standing in the doorway of Stearns' den. I immediately walked over to where O'Meara was standing, feeling, of course, that there was going to be trouble. O'Meara stood with a derringer pointed at Stearns' head while the latter was trying to write. I have seen men shake with the regular, old-fashioned fever and ague; I have seen soldiers tremble while standing in line expecting immediate orders to go into action as the roar of the battle got nearer and nearer. In fact, I have experienced both kinds of shakes, but never did I witness a spell of buck ague such as Stearns exhibited as he tried to write.
"Hello, Blythe! Are you one of the bunch?" O'Meara asked as I approached.
"'Yes,' I answered. 'What's the trouble?'
"'Nothin', I'm just dictating a little piece for your editor.'
"If the retraction was ever published I never saw it. This episode kind o' put a damper on any further attempts to make enemies for the paper. Stearns could now realize he was not a successful follower of the 'Oregon style' of journalism.
"The Independent Bee went through the winter of 1875-76 with all hands staying with it. The wages of each man of the company was $25 a week. Saturdays, after all claims against the paper were paid, if there was not enough to pay our $25 we would divide what there was and let the balance go in stock. If there was anything over our wages it was divided pro rata.
Printers Drop Out."The Independent Bee was paying its way. We lived up to our motto: 'How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour.' All hands were content, believing that we were building up a business that would someday bring each of us a sufficient income to make us independent of asking employment of others. I said all hands were content, but it seems Stearns was not. We were not getting along fast enough to suit him. He thought we could do better by going into politics. He said he didn't care which political party he worked for; he was ready to come out for the party that paid the most for the paper's influence. We took a vote on his proposition. It carried, but two dissenting. The Hayes and Tilden campaign was then on, and in a few days the Bee came out with the Republican ticket at the head of its editorial column. If there was any sum paid for our political influence none but Stearns ever saw it.
"The printers kept dropping out of the company soon after going into politics, and Stearns bought our stock by giving his note. Later he sold the Bee to W. S. Chapman. Mr. Chapman made a sensational paper, going back to the good old 'Oregon style.' He went back after the gamblers and degraded men of the underworld and made it hot for them. From the composing room I saw two gamblers come into his sanctum and, approaching him from behind, belabor him on the head with a horsewhip. Instantly Chapman was on his feet. He faced the two men, got possession of their whip and drove them away from the room and down a stairway to the street. Later Mr. Stearns again got possession of the Bee. In the campaign of 1880 he espoused the cause of General Hancock and supported the Democratic ticket. The business manager of the Bee got into an altercation on the street with the business manager of the Evening Telegram. The Telegram man was shot dead. Public sentiment sided with the man who got killed, and the Bee died soon after.
Upstate Papers Started."Portland was prolific of newspapers in the old days, but all went down before the progressive march of The Oregonian. But few papers were published in the state outside of Portland 50 years ago. A. Bush started and was publishing the Salem Statesman; Harrison R. Kincaid, the Oregon State Journal at Eugene; Mart Brown, the State's Right Democrat at Albany; A. Noltner, the Oregon City Enterprise. The Bedrock Democrat was started at Baker City about this time. D. C. Ireland started the Astorian in 1875. W. L. Adams, who had one of the brightest minds of any man who ever edited a paper in Oregon, proficient in the use of the 'Oregon style,' published a Union paper in Oregon City during the Civil War. He took delight in grilling the enemies of the Union. For 35 years he was my neighbor here in Hood River. It was delight to hear him tell of the political battles fought and won in the long ago and give his estimate of the men who figured on the stage of action in those days. With a wonderful memory, he could recite passages from the Bible, quote Shakespeare and recite speeches he had heard 70 years before.
"It was an easy matter to start a paper 50 years ago. A man once got in the habit of starting newspapers in every community where he could find progressive citizens to put up a bonus. His motto, placed at the editorial column of every venture, was: 'We are here to stay.' He grew fatally ill, and when his friends gathered at his bedside and asked him if there was anything they could do to comfort him he shook his head. Finally brightening up, he said: 'Yes, there is one thing I'll ask you. Please see that on my tombstone are placed the words: 'We are here to stay.'"
Oregonian, Portland, July 22, 1923, page 64
Last revised April 11, 2021