The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Alonzo A. Skinner

    Alonzo A. Skinner, formerly of this village, has been elected circuit judge of the Territory, for the next two years--salary $800 per annum.
"Oregon," Kalida Venture, Kalida, Ohio, August 17, 1847, page 2

Temperance Meeting.
    The Washingtonian Temperance Society met according to adjournment, in the Methodist Church, on Saturday evening, Dec. 18th. The meeting was opened by the vice president taking the chair.
    The committee on printing pledges reported by handing in 55 printed copies. Report was accepted, and the secretary was requested to forward copies to the following named gentlemen, in each of the several counties throughout the Territory. Clackamas, J. R. Robb, C. W. Shane, P. Foster; Champoeg, Dr. Wilson, Rev. Mr. Bolduc, G. W. Vernon, Rev. J. W. Wilbur; Polk, Rev. L. Belieu, A. N. C. Shaw, Mitchel Gilliam, Esq.; Yamhill, Dr. McBride, A. A. Skinner, Esq.; Tualatin, Rev. H. Clark, P. H. Burnett, Esq.; Clatsop, Rev. Mr. Fisher, Mr. Lampson; Lewis, ------ Langlois, Dr. Tolmie; Vancouver, Hon. J. Douglas, Esq.
    The committee on memorial reported, which report was accepted. After some remarks by Messrs. H. Johnson, Roberts, Leslie, Wilson, Newell, McLaughlin, Hartless and T'Vault, it was immediately voted that, in the opinion of this meeting, this should be a Territorial question.
    After some remarks by Messrs. T'Vault, Thurston and Elliot, the following motion was unanimously carried in the affirmative.
    Resolved, that it is the sense of this meeting that the Organic Law of this Territory should be so amended as to prohibit the introduction, sale and manufacture of all kinds of intoxicating drinks.
    On motion that a committee be appointed to draw up a memorial in accordance with the above resolution, Messrs. Thurston, T'Vault and Dr. Willson were appointed that committee, who retired to report instanter.
    On motion, S. R. Thurston, Esq. be requested to furnish the substance of his remarks of this evening, for publication in the Oregon Spectator.
    On motion a collection be raised to defray the expenses of the society.
    The committee on memorial, being ready, made a report, which report was accepted and adopted.
    On motion that the chair appoint a committee of three ladies to draw up a memorial similar to the above, for presentation to the Hon. Legislature, now in session in this city, Miss Harriet Coffin, Mrs. Vandusen, and Miss Mary Leslie were appointed that commission.
    On motion adjourned to meet in this place on Saturday evening next, Dec. 25th, at six o'clock precisely. Come one, come all, and strike while the iron is hot!!
Oregon Spectator,
Oregon City, January 6, 1848, page 4

    Judge Skinner (Alonzo) went to the mines last fall, and had not returned when Mr. R.'s letter was written.--Lima [Ohio] Argus.
"Gold Digging," Portage Sentinel, Ravenna, Ohio, July 16, 1849, page 2

    The Legislature of Oregon Territory recently elected Alonzo A. Skinner, formerly of Kalida, commissioner to examine and report upon the claims growing out of the Cayuse War.
Defiance Democrat, Defiance, Ohio, February 2, 1850, page 2

     NEW INDIAN AGENTS.--Judge Skinner has been appointed Indian agent in place of Col. [Beverly S.] Allen, declined. Edward A. Starling Esq., of this city (late of Kentucky), has also been appointed in place of Rev. H. H. Spalding, removed.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, September 30, 1851, page 2

    NEW INDIAN AGENTS.--Judge Skinner, of this county, has been appointed Indian agent in place of Colonel Allen, declined. Edward A. Starling, esq., of Oregon City, has also been appointed in place of Rev. H. H. Spalding, removed.
Oregonian, Portland, October 4, 1851, page 2

    A. A. Skinner, Indian agent, left for the Rogue River country on Tuesday last, the place assigned him for future operations. He has gone prepared to make the Indians presents, which, when distributed, will no doubt have a tendency to render permanent the good feeling that now prevails. [Oregon Statesman, Oct. 21.]
"Later from Oregon," Daily Crescent, New Orleans, December 6, 1851, page 3

    The Indians are quite friendly on Rogue River, yet they occasionally steal when a favorable opportunity presents. The agent, Mr. Skinner, has made his location near Table Rock. I called to see him at his residence and found him to be a very intelligent gentleman. He is exerting a good influence, as an agent, over the Indians. The Rogue River Valley is settling very fast; some twenty claims have been taken already and houses built; many are busily engaged in plowing; large quantities of stock are on the valley; grass fine, and everything seems to be moving on favorably and quietly.
J. C. Bell, "From the Mines," Oregonian, Portland, January 17, 1852, page 2

    At the Indian Agency, three and a half miles from the Willow Springs, we were very cordially received by the gentlemanly agent, Judge Skinner. He has selected a desirable and valuable place, and there are many such. Table Rock village is six miles from the Agency, in plain sight, over the prairie plain. Judge Skinner rode there with us. . . .
    The Indians at Rogue River, and on the route, are peaceable and friendly. A very few of the Grave Creek Indians, I suppose, have been, on a few occasions, a little saucy and troublesome to single persons, or small unarmed and timorous parties, and may have levied contributions. On our return, Judge Skinner came with us to their country, to talk to them and prevent further depredations. He seems to be well known to them, and to be highly respected, and exercises a large influence over them, and is well qualified for the place he occupies.

Nathaniel Coe, "Umpqua and Rogue River Valleys," Oregonian, Portland, July 3, 1852, page 2

Indian Agency, Sunday morning,               
July 25, 1852.               
    GENTLEMEN--It is with extreme regret that, in consequence of the state of my health, and other circumstances beyond my control, I am under the necessity of declining your polite invitation to be present at the public dinner tendered to Captain Lamerick and his company of volunteers, who, by their energy, perseverance and gallantry, have so speedily and successfully terminated the hostilities in which we were recently engaged with the warlike and wily savages of this valley. And although I cannot be present, permit me to assure you, and through Capt. Lamerick and his brave companions in arms, of my sympathy with patriotism and valor wherever exhibited.
    And allow me to propose the following sentiment.
    The citizens and miners of Rogue River Valley--Quick to discover, and prompt to repel, danger. Worthy descendants of the heroes and patriots of '76.
            Very respectfully,
                your ob't. serv't.
                    A. A. Skinner.
Messrs. Fowler, Kinney and Miller, committee, &c.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, August 14, 1852, page 1

    Another from Jackson County says:
    "We have been slow to believe that any man acknowledged to be the leader of the Democratic Party could be guilty of such infamous falsehoods, known by every intelligent man to be such, as this man Bush has published from time to time. His attacks upon Judge Skinner are stillborn in this region," &c.
Oregonian, Portland, January 22, 1853, page 2

The Encarnacion Candidate for Delegate.
    Encarnaciondom at this end of the Territory was brought up standing the latter part of last week, by the arrival of Skinner's express, announcing that Alonzo Alphonso Skinner, of Indian Commissioner memory, was out for Delegate! That rosy individual had been laid upon the shelf by the Encarnacionites in this region as a slow nag--decidedly a bad egg; and it was all arranged that the Surveyor General should be nominated by "the people" at the tremendous "mass meetings" next Saturday. But "the well-laid schemes of men and mice oft fail," and such was the fate of this. Skinner forced himself upon them in spite of their plans and preferences, and they are compelled to swallow him, as poor a stick for a candidate as he is. We are sorry for them, and would help their case if we could; but there is no remedy; the "people" have spoken, and Skinner has hobbled on to the course. We would rather have had Preston, for when Democrats win a victory they want the satisfaction of having beaten somebody.
    The names of one hundred and six persons (two only of whom we know--T. McF. Patton, of Salem, Whig, and D. B. Brenan, Toddy Jep's friend, Whig; the rest we presume are all Whigs, if half indeed are not fictitious names) are published to a request to Mr. Skinner to become "the people's" candidate for Delegate, and Skinner publishes a letter informing them that he is a candidate, and, modest man, expressing a hope that he shall "defeat the nominee of the faction who for the last two years have controlled the legislation of the Territory and misrepresented them in the councils of the nation." Modest little man! truly. A jewel of a "people's" candidate! "The nominee of the faction." A "faction" which composes a large majority of the people of the Territory, and for two successive years, with the issue distinctly made, have been triumphantly sustained by the people. How comes it that year before last the people elected both branches of the legislature almost to a man from this "faction?" And how comes it that last year, in spite of all the confusion, the power of local interests, the misrepresentations and machinations of federalism, that, before the people, this "faction" was again largely triumphant, and would have had an effective majority in both houses of the Legislative Assembly, had not base treason, "like a deadly blight," shown itself in the lower branch? These are the acts of the people, yet this self-constituted "people's candidate" talks flippantly about the "faction which has controlled the legislature of the Territory for two years."
    And too, Gen. Lane, "the nominee of this faction," has "misrepresented" the people, whose self-announced champion he is, "in the councils of the nation," and he, Alonzo Alphonso Skinner, asks for their votes that they may be truly represented "in the councils of the nation," and by an industrious and efficient man. The first Monday of June he will be likely to read, in a disgraceful defeat, who are "the people" and who are the "factionists," and who has been selected to "misrepresent" us in "the councils of the nation."
    He says he "should be unwilling to become a party candidate." Oh. certainly! He would never be a party candidate. We suppose there is not a more thorough paced partisan in Oregon than A. A. Skinner.--Like all  shallow-minded men, he is perfectly rabid. In his boyhood he was taught the odious doctrines of old Hamiltonian federalism, and today he clings to them like a mother to her first-born. Ask him if he is in favor of a United States bank, and if he can't evade the question, he'll answer yes. He was in favor of it twenty years ago, and he never changes. Progress he knows nothing about. The only change he would make in our form of government would be to make the Presidency hereditary, the Senate elective for life, and establish a property qualification for voters. And then it would be "a strong government," and, in his view, a perfect one. Alexander Hamilton has not a truer disciple, on a small scale, than A. A. Skinner.
    But the men who are going to support him are the ones who, in the face of a long list of serviceable acts, complain that Gen. Lane "has done nothing." We suppose that Gen. Lane would accomplish more in Congress, and in fact anywhere, and at anything, in one day, than A. A. Skinner could or would in a lifetime. It would be hard to find a man more utterly inert and inefficient, more completely destitute of life and energy, than he is. We have no knowledge that he has performed an hour's productive, useful labor, since we have been in the Territory. Has anyone else knowledge of such fact? During the spring and summer of 1851 he was a passive participant in and instrument of Gov. Gaines in squandering forty thousand dollars under cover of forming treaties with the Indians. At that me he received eight dollars per day "and perquisites" for doing--what? For crossing the river during the forenoon from Linn City, marching up the bank, in company with a cane, and standing about, whittling little sticks, until dinner time, when he returned, having earned his eight dollars per day "and perquisites." For months he did this at the public expense. These are facts the citizens of this place are well aware of. During that spring and summer Skinner, Gaines and Allen pocketed and squandered $40,000 in making a half dozen treaties with as many bands of cultus, miserable Indians, and not one particle of benefit resulted to anybody from the expenditure except themselves, a few hangers-on in the shape of clerks, landlords, commissaries, cooks, &c., and still fewer who obtained corrupt contracts. We need not speak of the baneful reservations made by those treaties in the white settlements (nearly one half of Clackamas County was reserved, and portions of Washington, Yamhill, Marion, &c.); it is sufficient to say of them that they were so completely odious, useless and worthless, that the United States Senate refused to consider them at all. Therefore we cay this money was shamefully squandered without any result, except the enriching of the commissioners and a few parasite favorites.
    After Congress cut short this treaty business, by annulling the commission, the post of Indian Agent for the southern country was given him, and upon his salary he has since lived, being so perfectly inefficient and incompetent in the discharge of his duties, that it has become a proverb among the miners that "nature designed him for a woman, but by some mistake he is not one." He is now the self-constituted Whig-people's-law-and-order Supreme-Court-Encarnacion candidate for Delegate. After the 6th day of June he will be a "monument of blasted ambition."
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, May 14, 1853, page 2

    MR. EDITOR--I saw this morning a petition, signed by numerous citizens, requesting A. A. Skinner, Esq., to become a candidate for delegate to Congress. If he will consent to run, he will get an overwhelming majority in this vicinity. The signs of the times are good, beyond a doubt. Judge Skinner can and will beat any man in Oregon south of the Calapooya Mountains.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, May 14, 1853, page 2

Delegate to Congress.
    Just as we were putting our paper to press we received at the hands of Mr. Hereford, of Cram, Rogers & Co.'s express, the correspondence between a large number of the citizens of Jackson County and Judge Skinner, which we publish, and to which we call the attention of our readers. It will be seen that THE PEOPLE, without distinction of party, have requested Judge Skinner to become a candidate for delegate to Congress, and that he has consented to do so. We shall await the action of other portions of our fellow citizens upon this subject with the single remark that Judge Skinner possesses qualifications infinitely superior to Gen. Lane for that office. He is a bona fide resident of Oregon, and has been for years. Those who know him best acknowledge that he is an upright, honorable man, that he has talents of a superior order, and is well calculated to represent the people of this Territory in Congress. The several counties which hold conventions on the 14th inst. will doubtless take action upon this matter.
Jacksonville, April 25, '53.
    A. A. Skinner--Dear Sir, We the undersigned citizens of Jackson County, have selected you as our choice to represent us as delegate in Congress. Not having heard you express any opinion on the matter, we take the liberty of addressing you a note, to inquire whether you will consent to submit your name to the public, and become the people's candidate for that office. We feel assured that the announcement of your name as a candidate would meet the approbation of the entire south, as well as your friends in other portions of the Territory. We proffer you our influence and support and promise to use every honorable means to secure your election.
Yours respectfully,
    Russel B. Morford T. M. Weston
J. W. Carnahan A. McElrain
J. McDonough Wm. Hutchinson
J. J. Holmes D. E. Croly
T. F. Layton J. Jackson
G. Hall W. H. Bellogree
F. W. Cook G. W. Gee
J. Osborn G. R. Steel
James Bishop D. Ferguson
Samuel Grubb Nathan Smith
N. P. Baymount S. Smith
W. J. Douthit A. McDowell
N. J. Deming W. M. Stephens
B. F. Hull H. Gillett
G. F. Risly S. Palmer
T. McF. Patton C. S. Cooper
C. C. Drew John Swinden
D. B. Brenan Thomas Briggs
M. G. Kennedy John W. James
J. B. Newman J. McKay
H. Ross E. Phillips
E. H. Cleaveland E. McCarty
E. F. Wells C. Nye
A. E. Thompson C. H. Haskell
B. F. Davis A. Richardson
Morgan W. Davis J. H. Foster
H. Barrow John T. Moxly
George Madsell E. Dickinson
H. Hudgens Alexander M. Berry
N. J. Walker F. F. Cardwell
J. J. Barbons E. H. Blanchard
W. Sladen A. F. Moffett
J. E. White W. Hess
M. Hopwood J. Knapp
J. W. Bowen H. Abbott
M. B. Gregory J. Jermnia
G. Furnace James K. Child
S. M. Dement John M. Irwin
S. Smith J. J. Fryer
Charles A. Averill Wm. Foss
J. N. Orton J. T. Jones
Cyrus Iba T. Coutter
A. Kyger James Langton
H. Furnald Wm. Leggett
R. W. Shaw Robert Cameron
M. Byrne John Driscoll
T. Wilson Wm. Lewis
George Dart John Thurbur
Z. Zeigle Wm. H. DePuy
John M. Conner Alonzo Burton
C. W. Bowlby Henry Lanfuel
John McFinsh Omega Lanfuel
Wm. DuBois Irwin L. Ross
Rogue River Valley,
    April 27, 1853.
    Gentlemen:--I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 25th inst., soliciting me to become the "people's candidate" for delegate to Congress.
    I am highly flattered by the preference of so large a portion of my fellow citizens, and feel the less hesitation in complying with your request, in view of the position you wish me to occupy, with reference to the questions which divide the two great political parties of the country. I have ever been of the opinion that the organization of political parties, and the introduction of party politics into territorial elections, was only productive of injury to the interests of the people, and I should be unwilling to become a party candidate for any office within their gift. But if the people, without distinction of political parties, wish me to become a candidate for the office of delegate in Congress, and believe my doing so will in the least contribute to the defeat of the nominee of the faction who for the past two years have controlled the legislation of the Territory and misrepresented them in the councils of the nation, I shall most cheerfully permit my name to be used in connection with the office of delegate, and, if elected, I shall endeavor to be the representative of the people of Oregon, and not of a party or faction.
    I shall, if possible previous to the June election, visit the different portions of the Territory and make myself familiar with the wants and wishes of the people, and give them an opportunity of becoming acquainted with my own views in reference to the course proper to be pursued by a delegate from a Territory.
With great respect,
    I have the honor to be, gentlemen,
        Your obt. humble svt.
            A. A. Skinner.
Oregonian, Portland, May 7, 1853, page 2

Correspondence of the Oregon Weekly Times.
From The South.
ALTHOUSE, May 1st, 1853.
    FRIEND WATERMAN: In pursuance of a call from the Democratic Central Committee, the Democracy of Althouse met today, for the purpose of listening to a speech from the Hon. John R. Hardin, long connected with the interests and success of the Democratic Party. The meeting was large, and Mr. H. was listened to with a degree of interest and attention seldom exhibited by a public audience. He urged the Democracy to unite in the support of Gen. Lane, the nominee of the Democracy of the Territory. He canvassed the claims of Judge Skinner for the office of Delegate, and after giving a history of his Indian treaties, concluded by saying that if he should display an equal talent in making laws in Washington City, he would certainly make a good Delegate--over the left.
    The Hon. G. R. Cole, being present, was then called out. He made an urgent appeal to the Democracy to rally round the standard of their party and elect Gen. Lane by a triumphant majority. He spoke of Judge Skinner as being a candidate of the "people," and showed conclusively that a "people's party" was always a "Whig party." He warned the Democrats against being caught by that same old trick to which the Whigs have so often resorted. After which he discussed the claims of the two candidates for the Delegateship. He referred to Gen. Lane's course in Mexico--to his position in Congress--to his efforts and success in obtaining the passage of acts for the promotion of the interests of the Territory--and he alluded to the reception Gen. Lane had met with everywhere, on his return to the States.
    Others who were candidates for different county offices followed, and the meeting broke up with much good feeling, and with the determination to make Jackson the banner county of Democracy.
    Messrs. Hardin and Cole are not candidates for any office, but have promised to devote all their time and energies, from this until the election, in canvassing the southern portion of the Territory for Jo Lane.
Yours truly,
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, May 21, 1853, page 1

MARYSVILLE, Benton Co., O.T.
    May 16th, 1853.
    MR. EDITOR--I see by the last Oregonian that 106 Whigs, residing in Rogue River Valley, have signed a petition to A. A. Skinner, concluding with a prayer that he will become the "People's Candidate" for Delegate to Congress. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to state what an immense amount of time and labor has been spent in getting up this petition, since it is a fact known to every man in Southern Oregon that Skinner spent the last year in drumming up his Whig friends, and the result of his labor is that 106 have endorsed him.
    Now if these 106 gentlemen consider that that they are "the people" of Southern Oregon, then the parade of their petition and names in the Oregonian is all well enough. But I wish to state, through the columns of your paper, that there are better people living in Rogue River Valley who did not sign Mr. Skinner's petition, neither will they vote for him at the coming election. A large majority of the citizens of Southern Oregon are Democrats of that kind who believe that their principles will bear transportation; consequently, when they left the States they did not leave them behind, and will be prompted by them to give the Democratic nominee a hearty support in the coming election.
    We regard it not only absurd, but contradictory, for a man who always acted with the Whig Party in Ohio, and who advocated their principles on the stump when running for the office of prosecuting attorney (in which race, by the way, he was beat), to come to Oregon and attempt to cram his no-party creed down an intelligent and Democratic community, and that, too, while so important an election is pending as that of Delegate to represent us before a Democratic Congress and Democratic Administration. Does Mr. Skinner suppose that if he succeeds in gulling the people of Oregon that he will be able to practice a like deception on members of Congress? Will not the present Democratic member from his old district in Ohio at once recognize and expose him as the hard-cider coonskin orator of former days? And will he now remind him of his feeble arguments in favor of protective tariff, U.S. Bank, and above all, the bankrupt law? With all these exposures, what would Mr. Skinner's influx be worth with a Congress and administration largely Democratic? Even his present no-party principles are regarded with disgust, and are strong evidence of his dishonesty.
    But Mr. Skinner, in his letters of acceptance, does a small thing, characteristic of his smaller mind, in accusing our present Delegate of "misrepresenting us in the national councils." Before he attempts to hurl such huge stones he should recollect the few panes of glass which protect his own scanty reputation, and bear in mind that he once attempted to represent the President of the U.S. in the delegated exercise of the treaty-making power; and that after squandering $40,000 made a treaty which the U.S. Senate decided "was not fit to be made," because, in addition to the annuities guaranteed to the Indians in their "reserve" more land than they ever claimed or had a right to! I would ask Mr. S., as an honest man, do you not consider that you swindled the government and "the people" out of the amount obtained for your pretended services? Do you not think that the word "mis" should be written before your representation of President Fillmore, in the making of that treaty?
    It is now nearly two years since we of the south have had the pleasure of seeing Gen. Lane, yet we have not forgotten him. Many of us recollect seeing the manly form of that old patriot bent over the shovel and the pick in the gulch, to gain an honest livelihood, after his rude expulsion from office by a Whig  administration. We, too, have witnessed and shared his hospitality in partaking in his camp of the scanty and humble meal prepared by the old man's own hands. More than this, some of us have witnessed his gallantry on the bloody fields of Mexico. Never, sir, shall I forget that terrific hour (when we were whipped, as Santa Anna said, but didn't know it) on the field of Buena Vista, when Gen. Lane, wounded and covered with blood, rode down the wavering line and, with sword in hand, directed the last great charge by which a hard-earned victory perched upon our standard. I saw him, too, at Huamantla, bending over the dead form of the gallant Walker, while the big tear rolled down his honest face.
    We, too, recollect, after his election in 1851, and when he had nothing more to ask from "the people," that he volunteered, and with rifle in and came out to Rogue River to fight the Indians, in our defense. The miners, headed by the Gen'l., subdued the Indians, and when all was peace and quiet, Mr. A. A. Skinner ventured out!--to "misrepresent" the U.S. government among (as he calls them) his red brethren; and when these same "red brethren" commenced depredations again, and the blood of murdered miners was crying from the ground for vengeance, Mr. Skinner undertook to "talk," while the miners undertook to fight; and when the firing commenced on the bar, Skinner, like Falstaff (whom he very much resembles), considered discretion the better part of valor, and putting spur to his horse, did ignobly run. This is the man, if he deserves to be called such, who now comes out with a lie in his mouth, and says that the defender of his home has "misrepresented us in the councils of the nation"! God save us from the representations of Fatty Skinner is the sincere prayer of your humble friend.
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, May 21, 1853, page 1

    For Delegate to Congress, there are two candidates, Gen. Lane and "Judge" Skinner. Gen. Lane is a Democrat, undisguised; the nominee of the Democratic Party, and runs as the exponent of their principles. He shows no false colors, and attempts no deception. He is a man of affirmative character, of great mental and physical energy--full of life and vigor--Whatever he does, he does "with all his might," and whatever he undertakes, he performs. He knows "no such word as fail." He has a reputation as a spotless Democrat and an honest man, as wide as the extent of our nation. He is the warm personal and confidential friend of the President, and of many if not all the heads of departments. All have unbounded confidence in his political and general integrity. He is the political friend of the ruling party in Congress, and the valued personal friend of many of the individual members. He has had much legislative experience in Indiana, and represented Oregon in the last Congress--has thus become familiar with her wants, and the means of obtaining them. He knows the members of Congress--knows who are the earnest friends of the Territories, who indifferent, and who hostile.. In the last Congress he accomplished more for Oregon than did the delegates from all the other Territories for their constituencies. No well-informed man can doubt that he can accomplish far more in the next.
    Opposed to him is A. A. Skinner, a clever
man, in the American sense of the word. A harmless, inoffensive citizen, against whom, as such, nothing can be said; far is it from our wish that anything should be. His is a negative character, so far as he has any, which makes neither warm enemies or friends. Men have little for or against him. His mental capacity is, to say the most, extremely moderate, and his mind, like his body, having for a lifetime remained dormant, has in a great degree become torpid, and to some extent ceased to function. He is an embodiment of idleness, inertness, and inefficiency, and he is as much distinguished for either, as for his proverbial cleverness. He is as destitute of resolution, life, or energy, as men "ever get to be." An effort of mind or body is made with reluctance, made seldom, and not long continued. . . . His own impulses and motives are honest enough, but he has not the courage and firmness to resist the influences which surround him and carry out his convictions of right. Thus he can be and has been made the passive instrument of wrong. When, in times past, he attempted to act the "judge," this defect in the man, we are told, was often remarked. And later, Gaines availed himself of it, and made him the passive participant in the corrupt squandering of $40,000 in the Indian treaty swindle.
"The Interests of Oregon,"
Oregon Statesman, Oregon City, May 21, 1853, page 2

Letter from Judge Skinner.
To the Editor of the Oregonian:
    A portion of my fellow citizens, without distinction of party, have requested me to become a candidate for delegate to the House of Representatives of the United States. I have acceded to their request. The shortness of the time before the day of election renders it impracticable for me to meet with as many of the people, and express to them as fully the views entertained by me in reference to the course that a delegate ought to pursue, as I desire. I beg my friends to believe that it is not from want of respect to them, but to circumstances beyond my power, that I am prevented from seeing them in person, and I am compelled to take this method of stating the course I would adopt, and some of the measures I would advocate, if elected to the office for which I have become a candidate.
    I hold that parties are unnecessary and pernicious, unless when organized to effect some practical measures of a public and a beneficial nature. Whilst we are in a territorial condition, we have no power either by our own votes, or by the votes of our representative, to effect, in the slightest degree, the national politics. The introduction of them into our midst I hold therefore as fraught with no good consequences; but, on the contrary, productive only of ill blood, strife, evil. I hold that a delegate from Oregon Territory should not be the representative of a Whig party, nor a Democratic party, but the representative of Oregon. He ought not to endeavor to secure the adoption of either Whig measures, or Democratic measures, but the adoption of Oregon measures. Whatever will develop the resources, advance the growth, and promote the prosperity of the country deserves his cordial support, irrespective of its party effects.
    I am in favor of having the general government take speedy measures for the construction of a railroad across the plains, so as to connect with an iron track the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific seas; and if we cannot have the main line, I am in favor of having one branch at least terminate at some suitable point in Oregon. I believe the Pacific railroad to be the great enterprise of the day; that if constructed, it will promote the commerce of the world--cement the Union by binding both sides of the American continent in the strongest of political, business and social relations--and advance particularly our rising territory with rapid strides to a position proudly eminent.
    I am in favor of liberal appropriations by the general government for the opening of roads into and through our territory--not for military purposes only--but for the benefit of the people of Oregon. The people I deem to be of more importance than the soldiery. What are soldiers but for the protection and defense of the people? and why ought not government to make roads for the people--the principal--as well as for the soldiers--the incident? I can see no reason, on principle or on policy, why Congress should deal out with a bounteous hand the national funds, not merely for supplying the wants, but ministering to the elegance and luxury of that part of the territory of the United States known as the District of Columbia, and yet it should be debarred, on constitutional grounds, from affording any of the national treasure for the actual wants of that part of the public domain known as the territory of Oregon. We want the avenues by which population can easily come into our territory opened and improved; we want also great public roads in the territory opened, especially when the difficulty of the work, and the sparseness of the settlements, render it highly onerous, if not impossible, for some of our own citizens to accomplish the desired object.
    I am in favor also of liberal appropriations by the general government for the surveys and improvements of our harbors and rivers--in favor of measures that will tend to develop the important fisheries that can be established on this coast--and in favor also of a thorough exploration of our coast--and of the erection of lighthouses and buoys wherever the safety of our shipping demands them.
    The subject of agriculture is one of deep interest. The general government is beginning to be awakened to its importance, and some of our wisest statesmen are in favor of establishing an agricultural bureau, as a distinct department of the government. If this matter is of such importance to the nation at large, it must, in a limited degree, be equally so to us a distinct part of the nation. I think we might, with propriety, ask Congress to make suitable grants of lands for the establishment of agricultural schools in the territory, and I should therefore be in favor of that measure.
    The land law, according to my notions, needs revision. I will mention some amendments which I am in favor of. When a husband, who is also a father of minor children, has died, either after his arrival in Oregon before having taken a claim, or on his way here, I am in favor of allowing the widow and minor children to take the same amount of land that the husband and wife would have been entitled to, if he had lived; and when both parents have died under such circumstances, I am in favor of allowing the minor children to take the amount that both parents would have been entitled to, if living--and that, too, without the necessity of residing upon the land. To compel a residence would be in effect denying to them any benefits under the land law, and would be throwing unprotected orphans upon the cold charities of the world.
    I am in favor of abolishing the justly odious restrictions upon old residents of Oregon, which have been imposed by the recent alteration of the law, and of restoring to them the rights they had under the old provisions.
    I am in favor of allowing either native born or naturalized citizens of the territory and residents of the same, to take such quantities of land as, under the unamended law, they are entitled to take, by paying for the same the usual government price, without requiring any residence upon the claims. This I deem to be but justice to a most meritorious class of citizens whose business (in the continuance of which the whole community is interested), will not allow them to live upon their claims. The proceeds of lands thus purchased, I am in favor of having paid into the county treasuries of the several counties, to be applied by proper county officers, under proper safeguards and restrictions, towards the making of roads and bridges and establishment of schools in the respective counties.
    I am in favor of allowing one who has received a certificate, that he is entitled to a patent, full power and right to sell a part or the whole of the land for which he has received a certificate.
    I am in favor of having the defects in the land law supplied--for instance: such as will arise in cases of divorce, and in cases of the death of the occupying and cultivating settler, and other defects of a similar character.
    Such, fellow citizens, are some of the measures, practical in their character, and calling for legislation, that I would, if elected, use my best endeavors to secure. I have given you briefly but frankly my own opinions with respect to them, so that it may not be in the power of anyone to say that my sentiments have been disguised.
    There are other matters of importance which it is unnecessary now to enumerate, to accomplish which will require the attention and best efforts of a delegate.
    I have resided in the territory now for upwards of seven years. I have lived with you and been of you since I first came here. I must have been a very inattentive observer not to know something of your wants and wishes; all my interests are bound up and identified with yours; you know what I am, and what reliance is to be placed upon the assurance I now make to you, and which I put in plain language, to stand, if necessary, as a record against me, that if elected I will not suffer myself to be the instrument to enable any faction in Oregon to aggrandize themselves with office and establish themselves in power, but will, to the full measure of my humble abilities, and with all the zeal I have, do what I can to advance the prosperity, character, and high renown of our beloved territory.
I am, with great respect,
    your friend and fellow citizen,
        A. A. SKINNER.
16th Mar. 1853.
Weekly Oregonian, Portland, May 21, 1853, page 2

The opposition candidate, it is conceded, would have got many more votes had he remained quietly at home. Every place he goes he loses votes. Being an amiable man without talents, he is entirely out of his element while canvassing for Congress. Reports say that he hardly says "boo" when with Lane on the stump. The Democracy of Washington County have reason to thank Skinner for his visit here.
Oregon Weekly Times, Portland, May 28, 1853, page 2

From Oregon.
    We are indebted to Cram, Rogers & Co.'s Express for the Portland Oregonian and Times, of the 7th ult. They contain very little news. Every arrangement had been made to give Gen. Jo Lane an enthusiastic welcome. Hon. Wm. M .King was appointed orator for the occasion.
    A large number of gentlemen in Jackson County have written to A. A. Skinner, Esq., asking him to consent to become the "people's candidate" in opposition to Gen. Lane, to which he responds favorably. Accordingly the following nominations have been made, in opposition to the regular Democratic ticket:
    Delegate to Congress, A. A. Skinner; Representatives to the Legislative Assembly, Chauncey Nye, Dr. Geo. H. Ambrose, D. W. Thorp; District Attorney, C. Sims; Probate Judge, T. McF. Patton; County Commissioners, James Clugage, John Gibbs, Martin Angel; County Auditor, Charles S. Drew; Sheriff, Wm. Galley; Coroner, Dr. A. B. Overbeck; Assessor, E. H. Blanchard; County Treasurer; E. H. Cleaveland.
    A correspondent of the Times, writing from Jacksonville, pronounces this ticket "nothing but a gull"--that the nominees are "Whigs to a man"--and declares that Gen. Lane will carry that county by five hundred majority.
Shasta Courier, Shasta, California, June 4, 1853, page 3

    Gov. Lane, who has resigned the position of Governor of Oregon, to run for Congress on the regular Democratic ticket, and Mr. Skinner, his opponent, running on the "People's Ticket," had a discussion before the people of Jacksonville on the 31st of May.
"From Jacksonville and Yreka," Shasta Courier, Shasta, California, June 11, 1853, page 3

    Among the news items from Oregon, which will be found in this paper, mention is made of the murder, by the Indians, of ALONZO A. SKINNER, Indian agent.
    Judge Skinner was formerly a citizen of Ohio, whence he removed to Oregon in the spring of 1845. Since his residence in Oregon, he held several of the most responsible official positions in the Territory. He was a political opponent [of this newspaper], but an upright public officer, an honorable and useful citizen, and a faithful friend. His death, at the hands of a savage and ignorant foe, will be deeply regretted by an extensive circle of friends in Ohio.--Union.

Defiance Democrat, Defiance, Ohio, October 15, 1853, page 2  Skinner was unhurt.

    STILL LIVING.--Some time ago we announced the death of Judge Alonzo A. Skinner, formerly of this place, but for a number of years past a resident of Oregon. The account stated that he was brutally murdered by the Indians, in the Rogue River difficulty. We are happy to learn that his relations here have received, within the past week, a letter from him, bearing date of 10th of September last, which was mailed on the 16th of the same month, contradicting the report, saying that he had suffered nothing at the hands of the Indians, and that for the coming two year he designed to devote himself to agricultural pursuits.
Portage Sentinel, Ravenna, Ohio, December 7, 1853, page 2

Judge of the Second Judicial District.
    A dispatch from Salem gives information that A. A. Skinner has been appointed Judge of the Second Judicial District. The appointment will doubtless give satisfaction to all except some unfortunate applicants. Judge Skinner has long been a resident of Oregon. For several years past he has resided at Eugene City.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 4, 1867, page 2

    APPOINTED.--Just as we go to press, we learn that Hon. A. A. Skinner, of Lane County, has been appointed, by Governor Woods, to fill the vacancy of the judgeship occasioned by the death of Hon. R. E. Stratton.
Corvallis Gazette, January 5, 1867, page 3

Judge A. A. Skinner
    The Bulletin's Portland correspondence contains the following in regard to this gentleman, recently appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of this state:
    Since my last, Governor Woods has appointed A. A. Skinner to be a Justice of the Supreme Court in place of R. E. Stratton, deceased. The new appointment will hold the office until September following the June election of 1868, at which election the term which expires in 1870 will be filled by popular vote. Judge Skinner gets no new handle to his name by virtue of this appointment, he being one of the earliest judicial formations in Oregon. Late in 1846 or early in 1847, he was elected Circuit Judge by the Legislature of the Provisional Government. As an inducement for him to accept the position the Legislature was magnanimous enough to increase the salary from $200 to $800 per annum. Peter H. Burnett, now of San Francisco, was the Supreme Judge of the Territory, having been elected on the 10th of August, 1845. Disgusted that the salary of the Circuit Judge should be made treble that of the Supreme Judge, Mr. Burnett resigned. Skinner held the office until the organization of the Territorial Government by the United States in 1846.
    Judge Skinner is a native of Huron County, Ohio. There he studied law and was admitted to the bar. Soon after he removed to Putnam County, and practiced there until he emigrated to Oregon in 1845. While there, even, he acquired the sobriquet of "Judge," being the  unsuccessful Whig candidate before the Ohio Assembly for presiding judge of the common pleas of that district. The party with which he came to Oregon was the first emigration from Ohio to this country. There are only two or three of them left. One of the best of them, and my earliest friend in Oregon, Maj. Orville Risley, is a well-to-do citizen of Portland, and my near neighbor. In politics Skinner was originally a Whig, but upon the formation of the Republican Party, gave his allegiance to that organization heartily and readily. From the fall of 1851 until 1853 he filled the office of Indian Agent in the Rogue River Valley. In the summer of 1863 he was the Whig and opposition candidate for delegate to Congress against General Lane, and was badly beaten. He was county clerk of Lane County (his present residence) from 1862 to 1864 and was the candidate of the Republican Party for re-election, but was beaten by the Democratic nominee.
    In early life Skinner was a well-read lawyer, yet he never succeeded at the bar in this country, nor does he seem to have made much effort to. He is very modest and retiring, and I think dislikes the indiscriminate controversy incident to a successful practice of the profession. A good lawyer is not always a good judge, and vice versa. The very qualities that made Skinner shrink from attempting to reach the front rank at the bar, and eventually to abandon it, will tend to make him a good judge, rather than otherwise. On the Supreme bench, where he can hear a case well argued and take time to consider it, I am much mistaken if he does not prove acceptable to the profession and the people. He is a man of irreproachable morals, fine feelings and unquestioned integrity--and withal a little lazy. He has good sense and a well-balanced mind. He is about 50 years of age--was married late in life. His locks are as white as snow, but his face--beaming with good nature and sly humor--is as rosy as Bacchus--although a teetotaler. My first introduction to an Oregon wedding and country dance was made under his auspices, in Yamhill County, on New Year's Day, 1850. It was a biting cold night--the cabin was constructed on correct hygienic principles--not air tight--but we managed to keep up the circulation by galloping our pretty partners up and down and round the outside until the peep of day, when up mounted our "Tartars of the Cayuse breed," and made for home. And this reminds me that Judge Skinner, considered as an Oregonian, is entitled to claim the honor of being of the blue blood of Yamhill. In that county he first pitched this tent, and through moat of his life that rustic paradise has been his home. I am the more induced to make this statement at this time because some irreverent members of the Idaho Legislature have lately indulged in profane and untimely sneers, at that famous nursery of Oregon's great and lucky men. God bless Yamhill! My malediction be upon the rude and vulgar varlets that would speak despitefully of her. May they be compelled to live out all their days in Idaho, and go hence without seeing Yamhill.
Morning Oregonian, February 6, 1867, page 4

    Judge A. A. Skinner, formerly of Eugene, has been appointed U.S. Deputy Collector for the port of Coos Bay, vice E. A. Woodruff, resigned.
"State News," Oregon Weekly Statesman, Salem, May 10, 1871, page 3

    Collector Bushey, of Coos Bay, has appointed A. A. Skinner, Esq., as Chief Clerk and Inspector of the Custom House.

"State News," Daily Oregon Statesman, Salem, July 1, 1873, page 2

    Judge A. A. Skinner of Empire City, Oregon, died at the Morris House yesterday morning, of liver complaint. He was attended by Dr. Woods, who visited him twice during Saturday. The funeral took place from the Morris House this morning at ten o'clock.
"Home Affairs," Santa Barbara Weekly Press, Santa Barbara, California, May 5, 1877, page 7

    Again we are reminded that Oregon's pioneers are passing rapidly away. The death of Alonzo A. Skinner is now announced. It took place on the 30th of April at Santa Barbara, California, whither he had gone in the hope of recovering his health, which for a year or two had been infirm. Judge Skinner came to Oregon in 1845. He was a judge under the provisional government before the organization of the Territory. In 1853 he was a candidate for delegate to Congress against Gen. Lane. By appointment from Governor Woods he was judge of the second judicial district of the state in 1860-70. Subsequently he was deputy collector of customs at Empire City. Judge Skinner was a very estimable man, preformed all duties efficiently, possessed great suavity of manners, had liberal culture and was always known for probity and honor. The age he reached was, we think, nearly seventy.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, May 21, 1877, page 2

    The death of Alonzo A. Skinner, of Empire City, is announced. The event occurred at Santa Barbara, California, whither he had repaired for his health, on the 30th of April. Judge Skinner has been well known, both in territorial and state politics, was one of that fast-vanishing breed, our pioneers, and commanded respect in every avocation of life.
The New Northwest, Portland, May 25, 1877, page 2

Noted Pioneer Dead.
    Salem Statesman: A pioneer lady with an interesting history died at Eugene a few days ago and was buried Sunday. She was Mrs. A. A. Skinner [Elizabeth Hopkins Lincoln Skinner], and was one of five lady school teachers sent here from Vermont by the governor of that state in 1851 with the self-sacrificing aim of civilizing this far-away barbarous region. Her name was Lincoln, and after teaching school a few years she married Judge A. A. Skinner, then a territorial judge, who died some years ago, leaving her a widow, which she faithfully remained. Ex-Gov. Z. F. Moody went to Eugene and attended her funeral. He was in the same company with her which came around the isthmus of Panama 43 years go. Those five young ladies had a remarkable career and played an important part in the building up of Oregon, socially and politically, showing that they had the shrewdness and Yankee gumption of the right sort. One of them married Governor Gaines, another married Joe Wilson, afterward a congressman, and another married Alanson Beers, one of the early Methodist missionary settlers and prominent in the government affairs of those days, and another married Frank McLench, also prominently connected.
Daily Eugene Guard, September 25, 1894, page 1

Daily Guard, September 21.
    In this city, this afternoon, at 12:30 o'clock, Mrs. Elizabeth H. L. Skinner, widow of the late Judge A. A. Skinner, who was at one time circuit judge of this judicial district. She was 82 years old last June. For the past year or two she has been in feeble health, but only was confined to her room since last Saturday. For several months her niece, Miss Winchester, has been constantly in attendance upon her. All her other relatives reside in Portland, Maine. She was a devout member of the Presbyterian Church, and was beloved by all who knew her.
    Thus another of the pioneers of Oregon passes away, she having come to this state in the same train of immigrants with Governor Moody and the late Samuel R. Thurston in the year 1847.
    The funeral will take place at her late residence, corner of Fifth and Oak streets, Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock, the services to be conducted by Rev. W. S. Gilbert, and the interment will take place at the Masonic cemetery.
Eugene City Guard, September 26, 1894, page 6

    Please permit me to correct a mistake made in an obituary notice in your issue of last week as I feel that it should be made and 1 know of none more competent to make the correction than myself. In the obituary notice of Mrs. Elizabeth H. Skinner, of Eugene, the writer says, "Mrs, Skinner crossed the plains in 1847, in the same train with Es-Governor Moody and Hon. S. R. Thurston, etc." Mrs. Skinner did not cross the plains in 1847, nor at any other time. She came to Oregon via the Isthmus of Panama in 1852, possibly in 1851. She was one of  several ladies who came to this coast as teachers; under the direction in some way, of Governor Slade, of Massachusetts. She, then Miss Elizabeth Hopkins Lincoln, Miss Blackler, who afterward married Gov. John P. Gaines; Miss Miller, who afterward married Hon. Joseph G. Wilson, and others whose names I do not now remember, constituted this corps of teachers. Among the passengers who came out on the ship were ex-Governor S. F. Chadwick, of Salem, Dr. A. H, Steele, of Astoria. She was married in 1856, if I mistake not, to Judge Alonzo A. Skinner, one of the noblest men I ever knew. She was a teacher of a private school in the family of my brother, J. D. Holman, for a term of years, and was my preceptress for about two years. If there is anyone, aside from my parents, to whom I owe a greater debt of gratitude than any other, for the shaping of my education, it is she. A grand, heroic woman has gone from earth, and it is with sadness I pen these lines, and in tears I must say farewell dear, good sister till we meet in heaven. I regard it as a personal misfortune that I could not have known of her illness, that I might measurably at least have repaid the debt of kindness she so richly merited at my hands. Most Respectfully,
Lebanon Express, October 5, 1894, page 1

    SKINNER, HON. ALONZO A., deceased, was born in Huron County, Ohio, and was admitted to the bar before coming to Oregon in 1845. In 1846 he was made a judge of the provisional government. From 1851 to 1853 he was Indian Agent in Rogue River Valley. Originally a Whig,  he became a Republican upon the organization of that party. He was the Whig candidate for Congress in 1853. In 1862 he was elected Clerk of Lane County by the Republicans.
Republican League Register, Portland, 1896, page 266

    The first donation land claim was located by Judge A. A. Skinner, an Indian agent, in June, 1851. This claim is the Walker farm, near Central Point. Upon it he built the first settler's house ever built in the valley. Chesley Gray, his interpreter, also located a donation land claim in June, 1851. It is what is known as the Constant farm, near Central Point.
William M. Colvig, "Indian Wars of Southern Oregon," Medford Mail, August 8, 1902, page 2

    2. When was the first donation land claim settled upon in the Rogue River Valley, and by whom? A. In December [sic], 1851, by Alonzo Skinner, who was Indian agent at that time. This claim is adjoining the town of Central Point, Jackson County, Oregon, and is known as the "Wrisley place."
William M. Colvig, "Answers to Yesterday's Questions," Oregonian, January 4, 1928, page 10

    Governor George Abernethy of Oregon had requested that some school teachers be sent to Oregon from the New England states. Five young women were sent out by the National Board of Education, their passage being paid.… [One] of these five teachers, Miss Lincoln, married Judge Alonzo A. Skinner. Judge Skinner crossed the plains to Oregon in 1845 and served as a judge under the provisional government. He was a candidate for delegate in Congress in 1853, being defeated by General Joseph Lane. Later he served as a circuit judge and still later as deputy collector of customs at Empire City, in Coos County. He died on April 30, 1877.

Fred Lockley, "Impressions and Observations of the Journal Man," Oregon Journal, Portland, May 12, 1928, page 4

Last revised November 19, 2023