Thomason Tribal Cemetery


Back: Mr. Poe (handyman), Susan Furlong Howell, Mamie Furlong Denny. Front: Damien Crispen,
Mary Thomason Furlong, John Denny, Rena Denny Cox, Ellen Furlong Crispen, Sue Crispen Shaffer
Thomason Family Photo Courtesy Of Cow Creek Band Of Umpqua Tribe Of Indians
Historic Nellie Crispen House Photo Courtesy Of Julie Hendricks

Thomason Cemetery Photo Works
Courtesy of Evan and Julie Hendricks

Last Updated by Maracon on December 1, 2005

Entrance Thomason Cemetery David O. Crispen (1882-1963) Chuck Jackson Lester R. Jackson (1921-1969)
Reatha C. Scott (1902-1995) Lewis Thomason (1882-1950) Robert W. Thomason (1866-1942)
Susan N. Thomason (1840-1909) Dolly C. Larson (1877-1969) Cemetery Sentry

Umpqua Artifacts

mortar & pestle badger pelt & arrows trading beads & stone tools buckskin & bone needles

Diary Of William P. Thomason
By Sue Crispen Shaffer, Chairman
Cow Creek Band Of Umpqua Tribe Of Indians

     William Prior Thomason, direct descendant of the "First Families of Virginia" was born June 28, 1818 at Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky. His lineage dated back to the ancient Scottish Highlanders.
     After being educated in private schools, he enlisted in the Mexican War in July 1847 and served under General Price with the Santa Fe Battalion, US Army, until October 1848. He then returned to the family plantation at Kearney, Missouri where he remained for a short period before his footsteps again turned West.
     During much of his lifetime, Captain Thomason kept a daily diary, the volumes of which are treasured by his descendants. Following is a direct quotation from his diary of this time:

     "Fort Leavenworth, April 10, 1849. I am at the fort again. There is an army preparing to start enroute across the Great American desert to Oregon Territory. This army is commanded by an officer by the name of Loering. Colonel Loering and also Major or Colonel Curtis and Major Sanderson were the head officers of the above named army, Captain Frost, the chief quarter master of Colonel Loering's army employed my service as guide across the great desert for which he agreed or promised to give me for my service one hundred and twenty five dollars equal to gold or silver coin per month. I was placed in the advance guard with three companies under Major Sanderson. When we arrived at Fort Laramie my service was not needed any longer. Major Sanderson gave me a discharge with a voucher certifying that there was one hundred and seventy five dollars due me for my service as guide and for the use of my horse from the quarter master department of Colonel Loering's army--for the above named service I have never received a dollar."

     For a period of the next eight years, he was engaged in guiding troops and emigrants across the Rockies to the Oregon Territory.
     While at Old Fort Colville, he met Susan Notah, who was an interpreter for the Catholic Mission. They were married there on July 20, 1857 by Father Joseph. During the next few years he was employed transporting mules for the government. And here is a direct quote from the writings of Ellen (Nellie) Crispen, granddaughter of W. P. Thomason relating to his coming to Southern Oregon:

     "William P. Thomason and his wife, Susan, with their two small daughters Mary and Matilda settled in the beautiful Elk Creek Valley, so named by W. P. Thomason in 1865. They at that time thought the stop was temporary as they were on their way to a mining camp in California, but an epidemic of cholera halted them, so they concluded to wait until it subsided.
     The following October their son, Robert Wesley, was born. He was later well known for his mining activities having discovered the Rainbow Copper Mine on Drew Creek in 1898, and with his brother, Lewis, developed the "Red Cloud" cinnabar mine located on the head waters of Cow Creek in 1904. Later, William, Madeline, Maude, Dolly and Lewis were born, also Elizabeth who died in infancy."

     With his own holdings and the open range, Thomason ranged cattle and sheep over several thousand acres of land from the Callahan Range to what is now known as the summit. As a result a long standing range war and the grudge that resulted from it, Thomason was shot while sitting on the main street of Canyonville visiting with a friend, by a man by the name of Eddings on July 27, 1883. He was buried somewhere near to what is the present Canyonville Cemetery. Although what is known as the Thomason Cemetery at Drew was consecrated by the Catholic Church in about 1866 on property that was part of the original ranch, due to lack of transportation, it was necessary to bury him in Canyonville.
     Several of his children lived their entire lives in the South Umpqua Valley. One daughter, Dolly, his only living child, aged 91 lives in Rose Haven Nursing Home in Roseburg. Direct descendants still living in this area are the Charles and Roy Jackson families at Drew and Sue Crispen Shaffer, who are great grandchildren of William P. Thomason and also several great-great grandchildren. (Pioneer Days In Canyonville, Canyonville Lyons Club 1968, pp. 31-36)

Historic Canyonville

     Canyonville, an historic community of Oregon, is situated at the north end of Canyon Creek Canyon, where this defile opens into the valley of the South Umpqua, about six miles east of Riddle. Hudson's Bay Company trappers used this route to California in 1828. (Oregon Geographic Names 1992)
     The first known non-indians to visit the site of present day Canyonville was Alexander Roderick McCloud in 1828. He was on his way from Fort Vancouver to California to hunt and trap. The second known group of travelers was headed by Ewing Young in 1837. His party drove 600 cattle from California to Oregon's Willamette Valley. The Reverend Jason Lee visited the Umpqua in 1838 and again in 1840.
     In 1846, Jesse and Lindsey Applegate left Fort Hall on a trip south to search for a new route to Oregon from the East. In his diary Lindsey wrote they spent the night of June 24, 1846, camping at the entrance to "historic Umpqua Canyon," now Canyonville. It took the brothers a full day to travel up the small stream and cross over the summit near Azalea. They re-explored the trail the next day.
     The trail they blazed became a road as both north and south bound travelers increased in numbers. Wagon trains sometimes required two and three weeks to travel the 11 miles from Azalea to Canyonville. The Canyon was a rough passage. In many places the immigrants had to take their wagons apart and move them downstream by hand. The little settlement at the north end of the passage was a welcome sight to many a weary traveler. Both the Canyon and the flat at the north end were sometimes littered with abandoned equipment.
     The first recorded passage of wagons through the Umpqua Canyon was in 1843, when Stephen Meek, a brother of the noted mountain man, Joseph Meek, guided the Lansford W. Wastings party of emigrants from the Willamette Valley to California. Another small group of wagons came north from California in the same year, passing through the canyon on their way to the Willamette Valley.
     Meek followed the old trail used by the Hudson's Bay Company fur brigades. This route had also been used by the detachment of the Wilkes' US Exploring Expedition, commanded by Lt. George F. Emmons en route from Oregon to California in 1841.
     In 1846 the canyon route was used by the wagon train led over the "Southern Route," the Scott-Applegate Trail. This party, led by Cpt. Levi Scott, consisted of about 150 persons and 42 wagons. Their stock was so exhausted from desert travel that they suffered greatly in coming down the canyon. The oxen were so weak that much of the party's equipment was abandoned. The family of Rev. J. A. Cornwall was in the 1846 immigration; unable to proceed further, Cornwall stopped on a small stream which enters Calapooia Creek near present day Oakland. Here he built a crude cabin, and the family wintered there, obtaining a few supplies from the Hudson's Bay Company post, Fort Umpqua. The Cornwall dwelling gave the creek its present name, Cabin Creek. A relief party from the settlements in the Willamette helped some of the hapless members of the 1846 train to reach the Willamette Valley just as winter closed in.
      In 1851 Joseph Knott and Joel Perkins operated a ferry across the South Umpqua calling the settlement Kenyonville. Knott built the first store, a small log cabin with a dirt floor. His stock consisted of the staple merchandise available, overalls and tobacco--and whiskey. Later on he sold his store to Jackson Reynolds and Joseph Roberts. Roberts had taken a Donation Land Claim of 160 acres north of the settlement. The two partners later sold the store to Jesse Roberts, brother of Joseph. It was Jesse who, in 1856, built the Roberts Hotel and the grist mill. In 1858 he platted the town site and named it Canyonville. Jesse Roberts died at the age of 47 and is buried along side his wife, Mary Jane, in the old Canyonville Cemetery on the hill overlooking the town he founded.
     When gold-bearing quartz was found nearby, a rush began, and in 1852, Congress appropriated $120,000 to build a military road from California to Oregon. The road through the canyon, however, was not completed until 1858. It was built under the supervision of General Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker of Civil War fame.
     The Hooker Survey became the overland road used by freighters and the California-Oregon Stage Company,  organized in 1860, and by other north-south bound travelers until 1920. This became the main road to California until the arrival of the railroad.
     The strikes brought an influx of miners and settlers to Southern Oregon, anxious to share in the gold bonanza. By 1852 pack trains were making regular trips from Scottsburg at the head of tidewater on the Lower Umpqua to the mines in Southern Oregon. Canyonville became an important way station. Rough Canyon Passage made rest stops mandatory. Supplying miners, packers, and early immigrants became good business. (Pioneer Days In Canyonville 1968, p. 7)


"Historic Canyonville" Courtesy of Julie Hendricks

     In the early days Canyonville was known as North Canyonville. The post office was established July 6, 1852, with John T. Boyle first postmaster of this early pioneer office. The name was originally applied in contradistinction to South Canyonville, a community located a few miles to the south. The latter never obtained a post office, and eventually the two communities merged. Canyonville post office is located on Canyon Creek about a mile from its junction with South Umpqua River, and about six miles east of Riddle. Thomas Wilson served as first postmaster of this office which is still in operation.  (Oregon Post Offices 1842-1982, pp. 21, 72)
     Canyon Creek is erroneously supposed by many to be Cow Creek although it does traverse that stream through a wide valley east of Glendale. The pass at the head of Canyon Creek is 2,015 feet in elevation. Canyonville has an elevation of 747 feet. Those who have visited this part of the state will realize that Canyon Creek and Canyonville are appropriate names.
    The canyon was known in pioneer days as Umpqua Canyon. The railroad finally selected ascended Cow Creek from Riddle and joined the old stage road not far from Glendale. The stage route for many years continued up Canyon Creek and today travelers over I-5 may see where there have been earlier routes through the canyon. The total descent from the pass at the head of Canyon Creek to Canyonville is nearly 1,300 feet, most of which occurs in the south part of the canyon.
     Difficulties have continued here in modern times, for on January 16, 1974 nine men working in a Pacific Northwest Bell Company relay station about a mile south of Canyonville were killed when a massive earth slide swept away the building. (Oregon Geographic Names 1992, p. 137, 138)

Seven Feathers Casino In Canyonville

Days Creek-Milo-Tiller-Drew

        It is not known when the first non-indians may have traversed the valley in which Days Creek, Milo, Tiller and Drew now lie, but indications are that it may have been not long after the beginning of the 19th century.  Isaac Boyle, who was among the earlier settlers in the area taking up a Donation Land Claim in 1850, is credited with discovering the potential of the South Umpqua Valley east of Canyonville. Boyle, who was from Virginia, served as a scout for the government and, with  settler Alexander Dumont,  was reported to have watched the Rogue Rivers and Umpquas wage their last great battle on the flats west of the bridge near Days Creek.


(1) Days Creek Church (2) Historic Oakland (3) Calapooia Community Church

     George T. Day, who was a Justice of the Peace, was also an early settler in South Umpqua Valley. From him Days Creek takes its name. The sites of the stores post office and school were part of Day's Donation Land Claim.
     A fort was established on the Andrew Thomas Donation Land Claim. It was located on the north side of the creek close to a spring, and while it was never under attack, women and children were taken there when an Indian uprising was feared. From it the settlers saw livestock run off and fields burned, but did not suffer casualties. Later when the Indian uprisings became more prevalent, many tribal members were gathered at the confluence of Days Creek and the South Umpqua where they were held captive until they could be transported to a reservation.
     In addition to settlers who had come across the Plains or around the Horn, many were former employees of the fur companies, predominantly French-Canadian in descent and for the most part married to indigenous women of many western tribes. These latter people tended to move further and further into the upriver country as more and more people migrated to the valley.
     In this era before roads, trails were established with river crossings numerous because of the bluffs on alternating sides of the Umpqua. Early cattle drives also came through when herd owners in the Roseburg area began to see the need of summer pasture, so brought their stock to Elk Creek country where feed was abundant. Gradually crude roads developed, and traces of the old wagon tracks many still be found at some of these fords where the bedrock was deeply cut and scored.
     Saddle horses and pack strings were the best means of travel, although many people could put many a mile behind them on "shanks mares." this was the way the first post offices were served, the mail being carried in a leather saddlebag.
     The first Days Creek post office was officially established on January 22, 1878. It was located about six miles northeast of Canyonville on the South Umpqua at the mouth of Days Creek. Samuel Taylor served as first postmaster of that office, which was named for George and Patrick Day. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, p. 30) Charles Bellman was one of the first men to carry the mail and later on his son, Edward, took over the task. (Pioneer Days In Canyonville 1968, p. 14)
     Tiller was named for local pioneer settler, Aaron Tiller. The post office is located on South Umpqua River, seven miles east of Milo. Alfred B. Marquam was first postmaster of this rural post office, which was established October 15, 1902. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, p. 100)
     Elk Creek post office was established December 18, 1877. It was located on the South Umpqua at the mouth of Elk Creek, about three miles west of Tiller. S. C. Cramer served as first postmaster of this early office, and later Rachel Tiller was commissioned postmaster. This office was discontinued on August 22, 1884, and one was re-established at Purdue, now Milo. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, p. 35)


(1) View Of Yoncalla (2) Elk Creek (3) Wigwam Burner Near Drain
Photos Courtesy of Evan and Julie Hendricks

     The Purdue office, established August 22, 1884, was closed on August 31, 1920, because no one could be found to accept the position of postmaster after Bunker had been removed from office for acting as a census enumerator when he was postmaster of Purdue, contrary to the rules of the postal authorities. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, pp. 66, 78)
     Milo is located on South Umpqua River, nine miles southeast of Days Creek. The post office was established March 13, 1923, with Cora E. Bunker first postmaster. The name was transferred from Milo, Maine, birth place of the postmaster's husband, Amos O. Bunker. The New England City was in turn, named for the Grecian island. Milo post office was discontinued February 28, 1971, and it became a rural branch of Canyonville on July 21, 1975. Post offices at Elk Creek and Purdue operated in this vicinity at earlier dates. (Oregon Geographic Names 1992, p. 568)


(1) Milo Bridge (2) Canyonville Christian Academy (3) Umpqua at Milo (4) Milo Academy

     Near  Milo Academy, Oregon's only steel bridge capped with a wooden superstructure spans the South Umpqua near Milo. The covered span replaces a venerable bridge that existed at the site since 1920. When the old bridge was replaced with a new steel structure in 1962, area residents felt they had lost part of their heritage, so the 100-foot span was domified and a new white cover emerged. Leading to Milo Academy, a private school operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the bridge features steel trussing with a covering of white plank siding and metal roofing. Square portals and windows dominate the structure, giving it a symmetrical appearance. (Visitors Guide, News-Review 1998, p. 49)

South Umpqua Valley Photo Works

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