Where in the heck is Jump-off-Joe* Oregon?

Oregon Geographic Names
Oregon Geographic Names 7th ed.

In our Oregon research we often come across names of towns or areas we are not familiar with.  Some recent examples I  found are Goldson and Chemawa Oregon.  I knew that Goldson was in the Lane County area, but just not exactly sure where it was.  With internet search engines we can quickly find most of these now unincorporated towns or former post offices.  Oregon Geographic Names is a great book to learn more about the history of these places.  Now in its 7th edition, Oregon Geographic Names has been compiled by two generations of the McArthurs.  Lewis A. McArthur published the first three editions and his son Lewis L. McArthur took over the project for editions four – seven.  Wikipedia now reports that Lewis L.’s daughter Mary will be the editor for the 8th edition.

Sometimes local lore and fact about how the names came into being conflict and the book does a good job sorting through the different traditions and stories.

Knowing exactly where a town was or is located will better help you find newspapers to research.  If the death occurred in Goldson Oregon, I might very well search the Junction City Times or the Eugene Morning Register or Eugene Daily Guard, depending on the time period.  Likewise a death in Camas Swale may have been reported in the Creswell Chronicle, Cottage Grove Sentinel, the Eugene Register Guard – or in all three.  Each newspaper could have carried the same article or have their own account.  It is worth the search! 

To find the libraries that house copies of the newspapers you want to research, please refer to my earlier post, Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Before the days of wire services – it was not uncommon to see newspapers end with a notation like, “Salem Newspapers please copy“. This was a way for the news to be distributed to another city where there was a noted connection.  This is a huge clue that the reference city should also be investigated for members of your family.

If you are doing much research in Oregon, it might be helpful to have a copy of Oregon Geographic Names as part of your library.  I purchased my copy used.  The latest edition can be purchased at Amazon.com or from your local used book dealer

*According to Oregon Geographic Names, 6th ed, pg. 459, there are two Jump off Joes –  one in Grant County, “Jump off Joe Peak is a sharp ridge three miles south of Desolation Butte.  In the early days an important sheep driveway ran along the ridge to the east end where there was a precipitous drop that required careful herding…”  Jump off Joe Creek is located in the northeast corner of Josephine County.  As one story goes Joe McLoughlin (son of Dr. John McLoughlin), while on a trapping trip fell over the edge of the bluff when returning to camp in the dark. The injuries were severe enough to eventually cause his death.   



About gtoftdahl

Researching in Oregon Newspapers
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