Two Lane County residents committed to the new State Hospital 1884

state hospital

“Insane. Two persons have been declared insane by the examining board of this county, and taken to the asylum this week.

Tuesday afternoon Silas H Walker was arrested and examined.  The examining physicians, Drs. Sharples and Jones, pronounced him insane and special Deputy Sheriff Brown took him to Salem Wednesday morning.  Walker came here a short time before the election, apparently of good mind, but the excitement of the election was too much for him and his mind gave away.  We understand that in his native state, Michigan, he was in the asylum for a year.

Thursday morning M. Champion, who has been residing a few miles east of Cottage Grove, was examined before Judge Washburne, under the medical supervision of Drs. Sharples and Jones, who pronounced him insane.  He was taken to Salem by Deputy Sheriff Cochran the same morning.”  Eugene City Guard Dec 6, 1884, pg. 5, col. 3.

The newly constructed asylum in Salem operated for many decades caring for thousands who suffered from mental illnesses, the aging building was closed in 1995.  The facility was made famous in the 1975 movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.  Tragedy struck years earlier when a dinner including scrambled eggs sickened 467 patients and killed 47.  It was discovered that when preparing the eggs cockroach poison was used instead of flour.

Unclaimed bodies of patients who died while at the hospital were cremated.  The cremains


Statesman Journal’s photo of copper canisters holding the cremains of patients from Oregon State Hospital.

of several thousand were placed in copper canisters and have been stored for decades – unfortunately not with much care.  The situation even caught the eye of the New York Times.  Family members and others with a connection to the deceased can request the cremains.  The State of Oregon can be contacted for a form to apply for transfer.

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Isaac Stull Swearingen Oregon Pioneer dies 1884


Isaac Stull Swearingen, was born Sept 2, 1812 in Kentucky; about 1830 he moved to Vermillion county, Illinois.  He was married Nov 22, 1848, to Miss Evaline Boyd, and lived to have had ten children, five of whom are living.

Mr. Swearingen became a member of the I O O F before his marriage, and remained an active member throughout life, being a charter member of three lodges in this state.

He became a member of the AF & AM* in 1852, and was one of the three living charter members of Eugene City Lodge, and also a charter member in Junction City.  He had joined with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church before leaving Illinois, and lived a consistent member thereof.

In 1852 he removed to Oregon and first settled near Spore’s Ferry.  An affectionate and loving husband and father, a tried and true friend, an openhearted and philanthropic citizen, his loss will be sincerely mourned far and near for his acquaintance was extensive.”  Eugene City Guard, Jan 19, 1884, pg. 3, col. 4.

Cemetery records claim he was born on September 12, 1812.  Find-a-grave list his wife and accompanying obituary as Evaline Buoy Swearingen rather than Boyd.  She too is listed as buried at the Masonic Cemetery in Eugene Oregon, but cemetery records list her as Emiline Buoy Carter.  The Find-a-grave posting shows her under Evaline Buoy Carter, the obituary posted gives no reference to a Mr. Carter. Given that  Mr. Swearingen died in 1884 and she did not die for another 25 years, I assume she remarried.

This is a good example of why newspaper obituaries are considered secondary sources. While there are many discrepancies noted – if this is all you had to begin your search it offers many important clues to contribute to your research.

*Ancient Free & Accepted Masons

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Robbery and burglary run rampant in Lane County Oregon August 1894

gold-cuff-links“Robbery and burglary seem to have been rampant in Lane County last Saturday and Sunday.  A very bold robbery is reported to have occurred just east of Eugene last Sunday night and although the highwaymen only got $ 3.43 and a pair of gold cuff buttons they are just as guilty as if they had secured $ 10,000 for they would have taken that amount just as willing and as easily.  Jos. Clayton had attended church in Eugene that night and was returning to his home at Highbank on the McKenzie.  At Judkins point he was stopped by three unknown men.  He was made to get out of his buggy and stand with his hands up while the robbers went through his pockets with the above results.  The men had pistols and did the job like professionals, warning the victim to drive on home and not to even look back.  The robbery occurred at 10 o’clock at night and the men can not be identified nor have they been heard of since the episode.”

Oregon State Journal (Eugene), Aug 25, 1894, pg 5.

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Death of Mrs. C.F. Hurlburt May 1894


Headstone at Masonic Cemetery Eugene OR

Mrs. Nettie Hurlburt, wife of C.F. Hurlburt, died at the residence of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. L Davis in this city, on Tuesday evening, May 29, 1894, aged about 27 years.  The immediate cause of death was failure of the lungs as the result of a lingering illness with lagrippe or acute form of pneumonia.  The lady had been ill and unable to rise from her bed since August and her demised had been daily expected for some weeks before the merciless hand of death relieved her of her great suffering.

Deceased’s maiden name was Miss Nettie B. Davis, being the third daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Davis of this city.  She was born in Lane County, Oregon, on April 20, 1867 and was identified as one of Oregon’s noblest native daughters.  She leaves a grief stricken young husband, father and mother and three sisters and one brother to mourn her untimely death.  Mr. and Mrs. L. Davis, Mr. C.F. Hurlburt, Misses Etta and Fawny Davis, Mrs. Geo Dickinson and Mr. Merritt Davis, father and mother, husband, sisters and only brother of the deceased, have the sympathy of many friends in great sorrow.

Nettie B. Davis was married to C.F.Hurlburt on Feb 11, 1891, and one male child was born to her, it dying however, while an infant.  Soon after Mr. and Mrs. Hurlburt were married they moved to Junction City, in this county, where Mr. Hurlburt is still engaged in the grocery business.

The funeral was conducted from the family residence on Olive Street to the Masonic Cemetery on Thursday afternoon, the obsequies being conducted by Rev. G. A. Blair.  A wide circle of sorrowing friends and relatives attend the last and sad rites and join us in extending our sincerest sympathy to the young husband and immediate relatives.

Oregon State Journal (Eugene), 2 Jun 1894, pg 5, col. 4

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City, County, State items Jul 7, 1894


Lane County Oregon – Lane County Historical Museum photo

Most all papers on their community pages have local items.  Sprinkled among the comings and goings of the local community are found important tidbits of information about our ancestors.  Below is a sampling of what I found on July 7, 1894 in the Oregon State Journal, published in Eugene Oregon.  Brief mentions of  life events, listed are those who were  born, married, committed and died.  Never overlook the local items when doing newspaper research.

Born to the wife of Louis Potter of this city on July 1st, 1894 a twelve-pound boy.

Monday, county clerk, Walker issued marriage permits to Mr. G.W. Potter and Miss Evaline Wilson and Mr. N.M. Bryant and Sarah E. Kirk, all of Lane County, Oregon.

Sheriff Johnson made his first official trip to Salem Friday morning to convey John F. Wilcox, a deaf-mute, to the insane asylum.  Wilcox is a young man 29 years old and has been melancholy and not responsible for his acts during the past two years.

Died at Springfield Oregon July 2, 1894, paralysis, Mr. Matthews Lyons, aged 86 years.

Married in Eugene, on July 3, 1894 Mr. Howard Vincent and Miss Lilly Hendricks, Rev. W.S. Gilbert officiating. The contracting parties live Lost Valley in the county.

Married at the parlors of the Minnesota hotel in this city, on July 4, 1894, Rev W.S. Gilbert officiating, Mr. Ulysses Walker and Miss Lilly Taylor both of Cottage Grove Oregon.

Oregon State Journal (Eugene OR) Jul 7, 1894, pg. 5, col. 1-2.


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Andrew Luce accidently shot – 1884

revolver“Accidentally Killed.

Another Case of Didn’t Know it was Loaded.

We hear some particulars of the accidental shooting of a young man up the Middle Fork, about thirty miles distant from Eugene.  As is usually the case the party who was handling the pistol did not know it was loaded.  From Dr. Jones who was called to attend the young man we glean the following particulars.  It appears that two young men were together at the residence of Andrew Luce, one a son of that gentleman aged 19 years, and another by the name of Thorn, 15 years of age, who parents reside in the vicinity of Cottage Grove.  Young Thorn was handling a 38 caliber pistol, believing it to be unloaded, when by some means it was discharged and the ball struck Luce in the abdomen passing into the intestines cutting several besides severing several blood vessels.  After intense suffering he passed away Monday evening just as Dr. Jones arrived.  The custom of carrying firearms is entirely too prevalent, and should be checked.”  Eugene City Guard, Nov. 15, 1884, pg. 5, col. 2.

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New steamer being built to transport goods on Willamette River to Eugene Oregon 1894

Albany_(steamboat)_on_Willamette_River,_circa_1910“ANOTHER STEAMBOAT.

The O.R. & N. Co. Proposes Running a River Steamer to Eugene.

J.A. McNeill, general traffic agent of the O.R. &  N. Co., of Portland, spent last night in Eugene, making arrangements for the running of a regular steamer to Eugene.  The company is building a new boat at Portland specially designed for the upper river, and when she is completed about five weeks from now, she will be placed on the route.  The boat is of light draught and draws only twelve inches, therefore, will be enable to run here at a very low stage of water.  Mr. McNeill says that they intend giving Eugene an excellent service, and hopes to do at least a portion of the business. What the people want here is a regular service, and whoever gives it at a reasonable price will do the business.  E. J. McClanahan is the company’s agent at this place, and will also transact business for the river steamer.” Daily Eugene Guard (Oregon), Dec. 28, 1894 pg 1, col. 1.

I often ride my bike along the extensive path system along the river here in Eugene and see how low the water runs here in August.  I am sure much has changed in the river since 1894, with the introduction of dams to control winter flooding, but it is hard to imagine any boat other than a jet boat making it up the shallow waters of summer time.  It might be noted that the Mr. McNeill’s visit was in December when the Willamette River runs much higher!

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