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Baker County Biographical Sketches
Please note that the following sketches were randomly selected but alphabetically arranged from Volume 2 & 3 of THE CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF OREGON. No intention was made as to which biographies were to be included except to search for those with a Baker County connection. Although indexed by name, these volumes contain countless sketches and over a thousand pages each of which none is arranged neither alphabetically or geographically - thus making the task of locating those Baker County residents most tedious. -pdp

Honorable Israel D. Haines
Listed as lawyer, age 41 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2

Born in Xenia, Greene County, Ohio on 07 December 1827, the second son of Reuben and Nancy (Connely), natives of Augusta County, Virginia - his mother died when he was but three years old. His father married a second time and Israel moved with his parents to Missouri in 1844 on the Chariton river near Bloomington, Macon county where he resided until 1849. At the age of twenty-one he bade farewell to home and friends and journeyed westward.

He was then connected with the quartermaster's department of the Rifle Regiment, U.S. Army, commanded by Colonel W.W. Loring (General in the Confederate Army), which was ordered to take possession of all the Hudson Bay territory under the U.S. treaty with Great Britian. When en route, he was stricken with cholera but recovered and arrived at Vancouver after many hardships and dangers. - Crossing the divide over to the Snake River at Fort Hall where they turned in seventy-five wagons and left some troops and mules, then came down around the bend of Snake River through Idaho, and into what was then the Oregon Territory. He arrived in the Powder River valley about the first of September in 1849 and around the middle of September they arrived at Umatilla. There they made the aquaintance of Indians of which they traded scarlet cloth, beads, and a couple of horses.

After traveling some hundred miles down the Columbia River, they arrived at The Dalles where they remained about a week to recouperate and eventually arrived at Oregon City on the 10th of October. A few months later, in the spring of 1850, he was buying horses and fitting out an expedition to go overland to California. He left Portland on the 15th of April traveling up the Willamette, over the Calapooia mountains and across the Umpqua and Rogue River valleys, over the Siskiyou mountains and across the Shasta valley and mountains, finally crossing the Sacramento River at Soda Springs. After an encounter with the Indians he arrived at Major Redding's ranch, the present site of Shasta. From here, he retuned to Portland, sailing from San Francisco and being out at sea for thirty-three days before reaching Astoria.

In Portland he engaged in the mercantile business with his brother until 1853 when they went to Jackson County and opened a general merchandise store at Jacksonville, but when the Randolph gold rush broke out, they went to Coos Bay, erected the first house there, and used it as a hotel and general merchandise store. They then returned to Jacksonville in the fall of 1854 and returned to the mercantile business until 1862 until which time Israel began to read law under the Honorable P.P. Prim while his brother took up the study of medicine.

In 1864 he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Silver City, Idaho. During the winter of 1855-56, he was in San Francisco, but it was at this point that the two brothers parted - his brother Robert remaining in San Francisco while Israel began his return trip to Idaho; and while passing through eastern Oregon, he met a number of old friends and comrades of the "days of '49" at Auburn, and the next year in Baker City where he then remained and practiced law. He became active in politics, and due to much of his efforts, the county seat was moved from Auburn to Baker City in 1869.

He founded the town of Haines which became an important shipping point for the produce raised in the valley, and was married in Baker City to Miss Sarah Minerva Dorsett on the 23rd of Nov 1871. She being born in Quincy, Illinois and the daughter of James and Sarah Ann (Ross) of southern lineage - they having come to Auburn in 1864. They were the parents of five children: Stella M. (wife of Judge J.B. Messick); Robert W., an accountant who served in 3rd Infantry OR National Guard, Amy C., a stenographer and teacher; J. David, a musical director, teacher and lieutenant in the National Guard; and Elsie A. Haines.

Israel Haines passed away on 19 June 1892, having resided in this part of the country forty-three years during which time he witnessed and aided the work of upbuilding and developing, until the frontier region had been transformed into a district replete with all the evidences of an advanced civilaztion. His widow survived him and contined to make her home in Baker City.

Frederick William Eppinger
Listed as age 3 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2

Born in Albany, Oregon on the first of July 1868, he was the son of John and Charlotte (Sweiker), both who were natives of Germany. His father had come nearly empty-handed to the United States and secured a position on a Mississippi river steamboat but on the first trip, contracted yellow fever in New Orleans. He then left and went to the Pacific coast where he met his wife and lived in San Francisco. In

1857 they came to Oregon and were married in Portland on 14 Dec 1859 but later lived in Albany, La Grande, and then took up residence in Baker City in the year1869. The father made his home there during the remainder of his life, dying in San Francisco on the 18th of April 1877 at the age of fourty four. He had been engaged in the butchering business throughout the period of his residence in Baker City and had gone with stock to California at the time he had passed away. - He and Charlotte were the parents of eight children: Paulina (wife of R. Alexander, a Pendleton merchant); William who drowned in the Columbia River; Bertha; Clara A. (wife of W. J. Patterson, realtor of Portland); Frederick William; Charles A. of Baker; and John and Minnie who passed away in childhood.

Frederick had come to Baker with his parents in 1869 and received his education at the public schools. As a young man, he turned to the cattle business and dealt in that capacity until 1890 when he was appointed to the position of depty county clerk serving in that position and as county clerk until 1896. In his later years he became proprietor of a furniture and undertaking establishment which he continued until 1904. He then purchased an interest in the Baer Mercantile Company, but continued to ranch, owning 360 acres a mile north of Baker and ten hundred and eighty acres in Union county five miles north of North Powder. He also was one of the directors of Citizens National Bank of Baker, was fomerly one of the proprietors of the street railway of Vancouver, and was indentified with placer mining in Baker County. He also owned an attractive and pleasant home at No. 2411 Main Street.

On 26 January 1896, he married Miss Lulu Chandler who was born in Wingville on 3 March 1873 and was the daughter of Honorable George Chandler who came to Baker County in 1862 and had at one time served as its representative to the state senate.

Frank Marion Alfred
Listed as age 28 year old stage driver in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 3

Born in Pike county, Illinois on the 7th of February 1832, he was the son of Alonzo and Nancy (Wilson), both who were born in the east and died there. - He was one of five children and was educated in public schools and in 1854, at the age of twenty-two, attracted to the California gold mines, he headed west. He engaged in prospecting until 1859 at which time he went to Oregon and took up his residence in Oregon City where he spent six years clerking and engaged in the apple business.

In 1864 he removed to Auburn where he took up mining and assisted in building the big ditch. In 1870 he removed to Baker and began driving the stage between Baker and La Grande continuing in that work until he retired in 1900.

He married Mary E. Hoffman, daughter of William and Martha and sister of Nancy, wife of Milton White of Portland; and of Thomas Hoffman, also of Baker. Mary and Frank were the parents of one son who died in infancy. Mrs. Mary Alfred died in September of 1905.

Leslie Oscar Ison
Listed as age 27 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 3

Born in Bryantsville, Kentucky on April 10, 1848, he was the son of Strother and Judith Ann (Gaines). His father was a stone mason who suprvised the building of the first turnpike road and bridge built in Kentucky and he was later engaged in merchandising in Louisville. In 1849 the family went to Grundy Co., MO and secured four hundred and twenty acres on Grand River and opened a dry goods store in the town of Trenton. So successful was he that in about 1858 he burned his own bricks on his farm and built a two-story building to accomodate his growing mercantile business which he conducted until 1862.

His son, Luther B. Ison, had joined the southern army and rendered conditions unpleasant for the family there, and they again moved to the frontier, starting in May of 1862 and heading toward the Pacific coast. On the 6th of September, they arrived in Baker county and there he remained until his death in August of 1889. His wife had rpresented one of the old Revolutionary war families and was a great- grandniece of General Miram Gaines of Revolutionary war fame and a distant relative of Governor Gaines of Oregon.

Leslie O. Ison studied law at Portland, Oregon in 1876 under the U.S. Senator J.J. Kelley, but later return to teach, a profession which he had previously followed in Baker and Idaho. He was married in Portland on 31 October 1877 to Amanda Fuller, a daughter of Price and Mollie Amanda Fuller. Her mother having come to her death when she was but four years of age, leaving her to be largely reared by her wealthy uncle, Amos N. King (owner of King's Heights and Malinda Heights) until she was sixteen. - Leslie and Amanda were the parents of one son, Grover Cleaveland, born about 1885.

Asa L. Brown
Listed as age 7 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2

One of the first children born to a pioneer family, Asa was born 16 April 1864 and was the son of Albert H. and Roberta (Hunstock), both of whom were natives of Louisiana. The father Albert, had served in the Mexican War from 1846 to 1848 and in 1849 he went to California, making the journey on horseback and remained there about ten years. He then went to Louisiana where he married, and then headed west two years later to settle in Baker county. He was elected state treasurer of Oregon in 1872 and held this office for four years and was also elected state senator while in Baker county. He died at the age of eighty-two on the 27th of December 1910, survived by his wife who was at the time of his death, in her eightieth year. They were the parents of four children.
(Note - 1870 census shows five children - Fannie, Asa, Roberta, Ella and Jennetta ).

Asa received his education in the public schools and then embarked in the stock business in Wallowa county. He remained there for two years but returned to Baker County and settled on the old home ranch which consisted of five hundred and sixty acres of which he took special pride in developing. He also owned a beautiful residence in Baker City.

He married Miss Catherine Benson in March of 1890, she a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leve Benson. They became the parents of seven children: Albert Lee; Conrelius J.; Francis R.; Rutherford A; Gertude; Henrietta; and Marjorie.

Stephen D. Sturgill
An Esther Sturgil Listed as attending school, age 18 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2

Rancher of four hundred and forty acres near Keating, he was one of the progressive and enterprising agriculturists in Baker County. Born in Sullivan county, Missouri on the first of September 1861, he was the son of Francis H. and Caroline (Richmond). The father, who was a farmer, together with his wife and family drove across the plains to Oregon with an ox team in 1866 and took up government land.

Only a child of five, he practically spent all of life in the vicinity where he now resides. Having been reared on a ranch he was early trained to assist with the work of the field and care of the stock, thus laying the foundation for the vocation he has always followed. He remained at home until seventeen years of age, when the home ranch was divided and sold. He subsequently filed on a claim of one hundred and sixty acres that formed the nucleus of his present ranch which is fully equipped with such implements and machines as are deemed essential to the modern agriculturists, and he has one of the most valuable and attractive properties in the community.

On New Year's day, 1880, Mr. Sturgill was united in marriage to Miss Martha Pierce, a daughter of Royal A. and Elizabeth A. (Ashdown), and the first white child born in Auburn, who passed away on the 4th of May, 1864 and was laid to rest in the cemetery at Baker City. Three children were born of this marriage, as follows: Francis H.; Albert D.; and Ethel, the wife of John Hinchey, of this county.

Frank Schlund
Listed as wheelwright, age 35 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2

Born in Wittenberg, Germany on 15 February 1835, he was eighteen years of age when he came alone to the United States and first settled in Cincinnati before making his way to the Pacific coast where he lived for a short time in Portland. In about 1867 he went to Baker and opened a carpenter shop where he also repaired wagons. After conducting his shop for several years he was able to venture into real estate and owned an office on Main Street. He became the owner of a number of good business properties in Baker and at the time of his death, had left his family a valuable estate.

He married Miss Josephine Koch on 15 October 1887, she having been born at Frontenac, Minnesota on 15 Aug 1861 and had come with her parents to Oregon in 1887. She was the daughter of Casper and Josephine (Schook) who were natives of Germany and married in Cincinnati, parents of six daughters and four sons.

Frank and Josephine were the parents of: Catharine; Veronica who died at the age of thirteen and two months; Josephine; and Frank. - A devout Catholic, Frank died on the first of January 1908 and was remembered as an upright and honorable man leaving his children to inherit an untarnished name.

De Witt Clinton Nelson
Listed as age 19 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2

Born in Butler, Montgomery county, Illinois on 15 July 1851, he was the son of Levi W. Nelson who had been born in Iowa in 1829 and Nancy J. (Wood) born in Illinois in 1831. His paternal grandfather, Dr. Samuel Nelson, was one of Oregon's pioneer settlers, arriving in Portland in 1851 where he remained the rest of his life and practiced medicine. Thomas Nelson, signer of the Declaration of Independence was a great grandfather to De Witt who further traces his ancestry to England, whence representatives of that name came to America on the Mayflower.

Levi W. Nelson and Nancy J. Wood were married in Illinois and in 1852 crossed the plains to Oregon with an ox team, being six months upon the road. They arrived in Portland in September 1862 and remained there until 1865 at which time they removed to La Grande, Union county. He was by trade a tinner and followed that pursuit until 1870, conducting a tin store in Baker but turned his attention toward gold mining and at one time was the owner of Nelson placer mine, about eight miles west of Baker. For the benefit of his health, having survived his wife for more than three years, he had moved to Denver Colorado where he died on 19 December 1909, his wife Nancy preceding him in death on 9 April 1906. They were the parents of four children: De Witt C; William S., who was born in 1853 and died in 1881; Lewis O.; and Henry L. who was living in Baker.

De Witt was only about a year old when the family crossed the plains to the northwest and his education was acquired in the public schools of Portland, La Grande and Baker. He was a bookkeeper for a number of years in Portland and Astoria, but after seven years, he returned to Baker where he engaged in mining and since 1878 had divided his attention between civil engineering and mining and became a stock holder in the Baker Iron & Supply Company.

In May 1877, he married Mary A. McNulty, who was born in Oregon in 1854. Their children are: Daisy A., who is the wife of V.V. Sparks, of Caldwell, Idaho and mother of two daughters Dorothy and Evelyn; and son Robert L. of Baker who is married and father of one son, Robert.

Taylor N. Snow, M.D.
Listed as a doctor, age 29 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2

Born on the 4th of July 1835 in Portland, Indiana, his father was a native of Boston, Massachusetts and was a member of the Continental Army during the struggle for American independence. His mother was a member of the well known Hickman family of Kentucky, but died at the birth of her son Taylor, who was left an orphan by the death of his father who died when he was eight years old. Thus, thrown upon his own resources, he started out upon a life of travel and adventure and journeying by stage coaches, he visited the most important cities of the United States and on steamships worked his way to the principal ports of the world.

In 1851 he decided to settled down and took up the study of theology with the intention of entering the Methodist ministry. He became a student in Asbury University of Indiana, but at length abadoned his original plan and began prpearing for the practice of medicine, pursuing two courses of medical lecutres at Louisville, Kentucky. He entered upon active practice before he had attained his majority and from 1856 until 1858 followed his calling,and for about six months during that period lectured on phrenolgy and physiology.

With the desire to visit the Pacific coast, Dr. Snow started on foot from Des Moines, Iowa, and on the journey met with many hardships, difficulites and some thrilling experiences, but at length reached Santa Rosa, California, in safety. - During 1861-1862 he was a student at the Cooper Medical College and was also engaged in practice in San Francisco from 1860 until 1864, and at the same time conducted a drug store there. For about a year he was assistant surgeon in the city and county hospital but left San Franciso in 1864, at the time of the gold excitement in Idaho, going to Alturas county whre he was appointed coroner and county physician. He later returned to California where he further qualified his professional service by a course of study in the State University. Soon afterward, he located for practice at Corvallis, Benton county, Oregon, where he remained during 1865 and1866. In 1867 he became a resident of Baker county and for twelve years thereafter served as coroner and county physician. He was also surgeon for the Idaho and Oregon Stage Company at this place. For a brief period he practiced medicine in Susanville, California, and in 1876 he again attended lectures at the Cooper Medical College from which he was graduated on the 2nd of November, 1876, that school conferring upon him the M.D. degree. On the 20th of July of that year the Eclectic Medical Society of California awarded him a certificate on examination and he passed the examination of the State Board of Medical Examiners of California, on the 31st of March 1877. He also held certificates for the State Medical Boards of Idaho and Oregon, bearing dates 1881 and 1882 respectively.

Dr. Snow engaged in medical practice in Reno, Nevada, from June 1876 until 1880 and later spent a year in Gunnison, Colorado. He was also surgeon for the Barlow and Sanderson Stage Company and was medical surgeon, with the rank of major, on the staff of Brigadier General Curtis of the California State Militia. He practiced medicine for three years beginning in 1881 in Bellevue, Idaho and was health officer of the city. For almost a quarter of a century he was a member of the medical profession in Baker and always maintained a foremost position as an able, capable and conscientious practitioner.

On the 25th of march 1869, Dr. Snow wedded Miss Susan Alice Chandler, who was born at Trenton, Missouri, January 25, 1854. They became the parents of three sons, of whom Charles C. and George Frederick are now deceased. The second is jesse B. Snow, well known as a prominent resident of Baker county. - The death of Mrs. Snow occured April 11, 1904. She was one of the most popular women of Baker City and her demise was, therefore, greatly deplored by her many friends. Dr. Snow was seventy-one years of age when he died in his apartments in the Crabill black, March 6, 1906. One of the local papers aid of him: "In the course of his life in Baker City, Dr. Snow formed countelss, lasting friendships and it is with sincere sowrrow and regret that a large circle of his friends learn of his demise."

Henry N. McKinney
Listed as a cook, age 34 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Condensed & Extracted from The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2

Born in Indiana on the 8th of January, 1836, he is the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Boardman) McKinney. The parents crossed the plains with ox teams in 1852, locating in this county, parents of a large family, two sons having participated in the Indian wars in Oregon.

Soon after the death of his father who drowned in the falls in 1857, Henry went to California and for about ten years prospected for gold. In 1868, he returned to Baker county and subsequently filed on some land that formed the nucleus of his prent ranch and there he engaged in raising cattle. He prospered in this undertaking and accumulated four hundred and forty acres of land, devoting it exclusively to pasturage, cattle-raising and marketing hay.

In 1880, Henry married Miss Susie J. Harrison, of Jefferson, Oregon and they became the parents of three children: Henry M. who is a state representative in the legislature from Baker county; Helen J., who is the wife of Olin Arnspiger of Medford, Oregon, where he served as city engineer; and Bertha L. McKinney who is still at home.


John W. Wisdom
Listed as a druggist, age 30 in 1870 Census - Baker City |
Source: The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911; Vol. 2 -
The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co, Chicago 1912
See also:
Genealogy & History of the Wisdom Family Compiled by Oregon Site Administrator ~ Roxann Gess Smith

In a history devoted to the lives of men whose energy and enterprise have substantially contributed toward the progress and development of this county, mention must be made of J.W. Wisdom, the veteran druggist of Baker City, who for forty-five years has been actively indentified with various business interests of that city.

He was born in Randolph county, Missouri, on the 15th of March 1840 and is a son of Thomas B. and Lucinda (Gess) Wisdom. The parents were both natives of Kentucky, the father having been born in Fayette county and the mother in Garrard county. During the early period of their domestic life they located in Missouri, where for many years the father engaged in agricultural prusuits. In 1863 he crossed the plains to Oregon with his wife and family, locating in Baker county, and here both he and the mother passed away. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Wisdom numbered twelve, five of whom are still living.

Reared on the farm where he was born, while still in his early boyhood, J.W. Wisdom began to assist in its operation, and by the time he had attained his maturity he was thoroughly familiar with the practial methods of tilling the fields and caring for the crops. He atttended the public schools in the vicinity of his home until he had mastered the common branches, when he laid aside his text-books and gave his undivided attention to the work of the farm. The Civil war having entirely disrupted this section of the state, in 1862, Mr. Wisdom decided to come to the northwest and see if better advantages were not afforded here. He joined a train containing sixty-five wagons in the summer of that year and started across the plains. About forty-five of the wagons came here and landed their parties in the Powder river valley on the night of September 6, 1862. Almost immediately after their arrival Mr. Wisdom went to The Dalles with a wagon for supplies, and upon his return he went to work on the Auburn canal, where he was employed all that winter. In the spring he went to Idaho and engaged in mining until his parents arrived in Baker City late in the summer when he joined them. He next turned his attention to freighting, covering the territory from Umatilla to Boise during the succeeding four years. During that time he began the study of pharmacy, acquring sufficient knowledge of the properties of drugs and their various uses from a few works on chemistry and the instruction of a physician to enable him to engage in business. In 1867 he opened the first drug store in Baker City and has ever since been actively engaged in the operation of this establishment. He is not only the verteran druggist of Baker City but in all probability of the state, as he has been continuously identified with the business for forty-five years. His efforts have prospered and in addition to his fine store, Mr. Wisdom is the owner of a valuable ranch of two hundred and seventy-three acres, all under irrigation, located two and a half miles from Baker City. In addition to this he is president and owns one-third stock in the Home Real Estate Company, which corporation handles its own property exclusively.

On the 14th of June, 1868, Mr. Wisdom was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Sturgill, a native of Kansas and a daughter of John Sturgill, who is deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Wisdom have five children who are living, as follows: Frances, the wife of E.H. Blake of Kansas City, Missouri; Loys W. and Mabel G., both of whom are at home; Glen Albert, a student in the law department of the Kansas State University; and John W., Jr. of Baker.

The family affiliate with the Episcopal church, in which the parents hold membership, and fraternally Mr. Wisdom has passed through all of the chairs of the Masonic order, and of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He belongs to the Canton, the military degree of the latter organization, and to Elezar Encampment, No. 7. His political support he gives to the democratic party, and his fellow townsmen have on several occasions called him to public office. He was elected to the state senate in 1874, serving in that capacity for four years, and in 1880 was elected delegate to the democratic national convention held at Cincinnati. From 1893 to 1898 he dischareged the duties of city treasurer. For nine years he was chairman of the school board, having held this office when the first large school was erected in Baker City. From the earliest period of his residence here to the present time, Mr. Wisdom has been one of the prominent factors in the development and upbuilding of the town. He has high standards regarding the responsibilities and duties of citizenship and despite the exactions his private interests have made upon his time has always dischaged his public obligations ably. At various times he was indentified with different enterprises of local nature and has on every occasion done what he could to promote commerical activities, and can be depended upon at all times to indorse every movement that will tend to advance the general welfare of the community or its public utilities.

Updated 04 Jun 2013
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