History-Onyx 9

       Hello fellow Internet surfer and welcome to a gem of a site dedicated to illuminating the onyx-like parallels unearthed from an otherwise beclouded and boring American and world historical perspective into its many hues and flavors, a spectrum inclusive of most light that makes up the untold stories, fascinating stories and journeys not quite attached or put together in this theatrical or holistic manner as you will find!
        We bring many years of personal and unique historical research, reading, collaboration, living, and writing  experiences. One of us is a published historian, journalist, and genealogist, whose roots are in the Central Oregon Coast, the primary though not exclusive gathering or focal point of these stories. And her co-author is more centered, though not exclusively so on the personal-spiritual journey as a former Lutheran minister, and how this has come into play to reinvigorate her own philosophical historical understanding of faith and her questions of the world-church  professional Christian training, vision and cultural paradigms, relying upon her common sense and also the expertise and critique of those historically disinherited, disenfranchised, and despised.
     Neither of us is professionally enamored by historicism in the classical sense, or any particular intellectual chains, other than the challenge to loosen the usual grip of white western european, heterosexist and masculinist elitism! And yes, we believe in being politically correct, and are proud of it, that we still name the names! We are students and practitioners of folk and established history, and are expanding our understanding of story, wishing to share some of those exciting findings and perspectives. We plan to update this site regularly with the little known gems and connections to "the rest of the story" usually relegated to footnotes we have uncovered from the current draft of our mammoth, interconnected, well documented history saga, Sovereigns of Themselves: A Liberating History of Oregon and Its Coast. We would welcome and appreciate hearing from you, comments, questions, suggestions, corrections, or other resources and we hope that you'll stick around long enough to get to know just a little bit more about what these two cyber-historians have to offer.

--Rev. Marilyn A. Riedel & M. Constance Guardino III

Maracon Challenges You To Believe It Or Not!

Before The Oregon Trail

      The Ancient Bronze Age Norse King Woden-lithi was not alone in leaving a written trace of his visit to America. Many who came after him may have done likewise. The American countryside is thoroughly peppered with ancient graffiti, writes historian Patrick Huyghe in his book, Columbus Was Last. Strange inscriptions cane be found on rocks, tablets, and stone monuments all across the continent. But few people have expressed any interest in this historical bonanza. "We have been acting like illiterates," says Berry Fell, "collecting the relics of vanished peoples and trying to reconstruct their lives without paying attention to the written records they have bequeathed us." (Columbus Was Last, Hyperion 1992, p. 65)
     The geographical distribution of finds of ancient coins  in North America shows a strong correlation with navigable coastal and riverine waterways, according to Harvard professor Berry Fell, author of Saga America. Fells says petroglyphs depicting ancient coins extend the range to the ancient equivalent of the Oregon Trail, extending across the prairies of Moneta in Wyoming. The latter town appears to mark the site of the annual fur market in Roman times, lying near the North Pass in the Great Divide, and thus as convenient for ancient trappers as the 19th century Wyoming markets were for trappers and buyers of the Astor company. The route also gave access to Nevada and California silver. In the north, the Michigan copper mines linked both with the Upper Mississippi traders and with ships on the Great Lakes. (Saga America, New York Times Books 1980, p. 35)
     When Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific in Oregon, they found that the local Indians knew a number of rather colorful English words and deduced that they acquired them from English-speaking traders in furs who, according to the Indians, arrived periodically by sea from the Southwest, purchased all the available furs, and sailed off in the same direction. Dr. John Blakeless, the authority on Lewis and Clark, deduces that the markets for these furs were in China, where the dealers exchanged the Oregon cargo for silk, and then took off for Europe to sell the silk.
   Nick Bennett,  the "InfoPoobah" of the Oregon Trail Foundation, further notes Blakeless deduced the 'round-the-world trade, called "the China Circuit" of 18th and 19th century sailors looked like this: Tools and trinkets from Europe gets you fur from North America; fur gets you silk or spices from Asia; silk and spices are worth a lot of trinkets back home in Europe; and off we go again! It was a long and dangerous trip, but all things considered, it was probably better than whaling.
     It is significant that circular petroglyphs found in California and Nevada depict the designs found on ancient Chinese coins, as of the Sung dynasty (960-1279). It seems very probable, therefore, that the entire economic structure of the western fur trade in Classical times paralleled very closely that which it had in the 19th century. Bankers financed the dealers who shipped the furs both West and East, destined for markets in the Mediterranean and in China. The demand was strong: houses were not generally well heated, wealthy Romans--and Iberians--liked comfort. The Chinese winters are severe in regions where the ancient and modern capitals were established, and China itself could not meet the demands for furs from native hunters. Imports were needed, and America provided the goods.

     Our whole idea that America was an unknown continent 2,000 years ago is false. It was a very busy trading area, with shipping on both coasts. Its major exports were furs and skins for the leather trade.
      Gloria Farley, a colleague to Fell, investigated the cliffs and caves in the Midwest and Southwest along the banks of the Arkansas and Cinarron rivers. She discovered records of visits and settlements by Old World voyagers from Phoenicia, Libya, and Egypt who ascended the Mississippi, into Iowa and the Dakotas then turned west to follow the Arkansas River, to the Cinarron bordering Oklahoma and Colorado. She found that centuries before Christ, ancient Celts had followed this southern route and that Libyans and Punic-speaking Iberians, and even one Basque king, were venturers into the heartland of this country. (America BC, Simon & Schuster 1989, pp. 7-9)
     The Moneta site, Castle Gardens, Wyoming, the first ancient banking site to be identified, was obviously not alone. In all probability the west Arkansas site that Farley and Fell had jokingly called the Grand Bank of Iberia was indeed just that--the inscriptions are too fragmentary to do more at present than identify the site as a banking location. It is significant that west Arkansas has already yielded on Carthaginian coin to the search antenna of Jesse R. Kelley's metal detector. Possibly the western Arkansas site may have been a yet earlier Carthaginian bank. The Colorado petroglyphs that match Byzantine coinage probably mark the presence nearby of a bank that dealt with Levantine currency, during the Middle Ages, both Arab and Greek; for, as shown in later chapters of Fell's book, Saga America, Byzantine Greek and Islamic inscriptions abound--all of them hitherto mistaken for Indian "curvilinear" signs.
     By following the trail of the mysterious Roman coins across America Fell has overshot the course of history by leading into the West Coast sites where the Liberians had founded a maritime community, settlements of sea dogs who traded with the kingdoms of China and India, and who had done so since the third century BC, as their coinage tells us. Coins do not deliver themselves, nor do bankers appear spontaneously without some evident form of transmission. More needs to be said about what others were doing while Rome was conquering the Western world. Conquests imply displaced people and land robbed farmers, often also a hungry native population whose crops have been seized by the conqueror. Such displaced people often form the reserve of labor for distant colonies, whose founders beckon encouragingly to those in bondage, offering a bright vision of freedom to any who will dare to join them across the sea. The forebears of nearly all Americans felt the urge to escape to a New World, and Fell examined such evidence on this matter as antiquity affords. (Saga America, New York Times Book Company 1980, pp. 161-163)

Libyans And Celts Settle West Coast

     Harvard professor and epigrapher Barry Fell in Saga America identifies areas of settlements and points of entry via the river systems of the earliest, pre-Columbian, colonists from North and North East Africa (Asia) and Europe. Some of the Indian nations with whom the visitors are believed to have come in contact are the Southeastern tribal nations believed to have descended in part from the African colonists of Iberia, Crete, and North East Africa; Phoenician, Philistine, Palestine and Israel. Traders also came via the continental river systems from Italy, and the Southern mediterranean or Africa; Carthage and Libya. The Iroquois are believed to have reached North America after most of these settlements had been made, possibly from South America around 1200 CE (Common Era;, i.e., AD), and pressed up the Mississippi River into the Dakota and Algonquin nations.
     The ancient Celts came down from Hudson Bay to enter the prairie lands, and on the cliffs at Castle Gardens, near Moneta, Wyoming, they left the petroglyph of Lug, the Celtic god of light. The Punic (African Carthage) traders of Iberia brought to America coinage of Carthage and other North East African (Semitic) cities. These coins show a horse, the emblem of Carthage, or Pegasus with wings, often without parts of the or the rest of the body, since there were no horses in America at that time. Centuries later, long after Woden-lithi, these Nordic descendants began to migrate westward to the Great Plains and finally the West Coast from British Columbia southward. They also encountered and intermingled with many Dakota tribes, referring to them as Sioux. About the same time the Celtiberian colonists who had occupied New England and some of the southeast also reached the Plains, and blended with the Sioux and the Shoshoni. They also had a great influence in forming the Takhelne people of British Columbia. The Celts spread southward along the Pacific coast, through Oregon and much of California. (Bronze Age America, Little Brown & Company 1992, p. 154)
     Libyans and ancient Celts also settled on the West Coast among the Ute and Shoshoni tribes; and the Han and Taxila-Arab cultures sailed to California and Mexico coasts for trade among the Aztec and Maya. Greeks, African Libyans, and ancient Norse traded along the Mississippi River, with the latter trading and intermingling with Eskimo and Athabascan nations as well. (Saga America, New York Times Book Company 1980, p. xi)
     Fell bases this conclusion on findings of extensive ancient North American alphabets introduced by the maritime people of the ancient world, prior to the universal Latin distributed during Roman times. These alphabets include Hieroglyphs, Nabatean, Kufic, Sabean, Greek, Libyan, Punic, Tifinag, Iberic, Ogam, and Hebrew. (Saga America, New York Times Book Company 1980, p xiii)

Reliving The Old Oregon Trail

     Travelers who speed along I-84 through Northwestern Oregon are never far from the route of the fabled Oregon Trail, the overland route of emigrants journeying West to the fertile Willamette Valley. Traveling in long wagon trains, thousands of pioneers made the arduous 2,000 mile journey in search of free land and a better life in the West. The mass migration began as a trickle in the spring of 1841, when a wagon train of 69 pioneers headed West, following routes rediscovered in recent history by trappers and pathfinders. Each year the number of emigrants increased, peaking at 55,000 in 1850.
Pioneers traveled by wagon train to Oregon through the 1870s, and travelers continued to arrive by wagon until the 1890s. Some 350,000 pioneers traveled the ruts of the Oregon Trail. (Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press 1992, p. 330) Leaving Independence, Missouri, at the first sign of spring, the wagon train arrived at Old Fort Boise on the Snake River in the late summer or early autumn. Another weary month and 400 difficult miles of travel still lay ahead. Wagons were loaded with family possessions along with provisions for the long journey and the first year in the Pacific Northwest. Most family members trudged beside plodding oxen; a lucky few had saddle horses. Straining oxen pulled the creaking wagons across dusty plains and up steel slopes; today, a modern freeway reduces that month's journey to a few hours. Where pioneers camped or stopped to water their stock, state parks and rest areas now offer conveniences to motorists. Yet time and the elements have not erased signs of the route. Ruts carved by the narrow wheels of heavily loaded wagons still run for miles across parts of Northwest and Central Oregon. South of Mount Hood on Laurel Hill, trees retain deep gashes by ropes used to slow the wagons' descent on the Barlow Road. Interpretive displays in four state parks and seven rest areas along I-84 recount the life on the trail in the words of the people who experienced it, point out details of terrain, and discuss the route's impact on Oregon and on the nation. Roadside markers relate historic details. (Sandy Area Chamber Of Commerce 1998)

Mileage On The Oregon Trail

     Mileage on the Oregon Trail was recorded in different ways. Many published trail guides, particularly in the 1850s and 1860s, listed distances between landmarks, particularly distances between watering holes. By the late 1840s, maps and experienced trail travelers and mountain men working as guides also provided fairly reliable information as to distance. Odometers for wagons and carriages had been in use for some time.


"Wagon Wheels West" Courtesy Of Julie Hendricks

     Thomas Jefferson regularly recorded odometer readings when traveling by carriage. Odometers recorded the number of wheel rotations, which at the end of the day was multiplied by the circumference of the wheel to figure total distance traveled.
     A similar method is recalled in some pioneer memoirs where one spoke of the wheel would be marked with a daub of paint or a rag tied around, and then a child would be designated to count the number of rotations. This sounds like an extremely tedious and unreliable method, and it's doubtful it could have actually been accomplished on a daily basis for four to six months.
     The most likely method used was probably an educated guess. In the mid-19th century, men and women were accustomed to traveling by foot or wagon, and thus knowledgeable about distances covered in a given number of hours and conditions. On good, level road, oxen speed was about two miles per hour. In a manuscript in the Huntington Library entitled A Woman's Trip Across The Plains, Catherine Haun wrote that in the evening men were "lolling and smoking their pipes and guessing, or maybe betting, how many miles we had covered during the day." (Sandy Area Chamber Of Commerce 1998)

Gilliam County, Oregon

      Gilliam County , with its land area of 1237 square miles, was created on February 25, 1885, from the eastern third of Wasco County. It was named after Colonel Cornelius Gilliam who commanded the forces of the provisional government in 1847-1848, after the Whitman Massacre, in the campaign against the Cayuses. He was killed toward the end of the campaign, March 24, 1848, while drawing from a wagon a rope for his horse. The rope caught the hammer of a gun and discharged it.
     Gilliam was born in North Carolina in 1798. He came to Oregon in 1844 with the early wave of westward migration. "He was brave, obstinate, impetuous and generous, with good-natured abilities but little education. Thus died an honest and patriotic and popular man, whose chief fault as an officer was too much zeal and impetuosity in the performance of his duties." (Bancroft's History of Oregon, Vol. I, p. 725)
     In 1899 a portion of southern Gilliam County was used to form Wheeler County. Alkali (now Arlington) was selected as the temporary county seat, but Condon became the permanent seat of government in 1890. Condon was originally known as Summit Springs, which in 1884 took the name of a young lawyer from Alkali, Harvey C. Condon, nephew of the state geologist and university professor Thomas Condon. In 1884 David B. Trimble took the steps necessary to secure a post office and was appointed the first postmaster.
     Although Gilliam county has a population of only 2,100, it amazingly has two Nobel Prize Winners to boast about! Two-time winner of the Nobel Prize, Dr. Linus Pauling was raised in Condon as was Dr. William P. Murphy. Renowned sculptor Anna Keeney was also a native daughter of Condon.


Oregon Trail Marker on the Arlington-Condon Highway
Courtesy of Oregon State Archives

Gilliam County Sagebrush And Poplar Bend Sunrise

Photos Courtesy Of Julie Hendricks


Alkali City Or Bust

      Arlington is on the south bank of the Columbia at the mouth of Alkali Canyon, and in pioneer days the community was known as Alkali.
     The post office at Alkali, which was then in Wasco County, was established on November 7, 1881. Thomas L. Bradbury was first postmaster of the Arlington office, established December 31, 1885. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, p. 10)
     Local residents did not consider the name Alkali suitable for a growing community, and at a town meeting N. A. Cornish suggested that the town be named Arlington, supposedly because there were a number of Southerners living in the community at the time and it was the home of General Robert E. Lee. However, an ulterior motive lay hidden, for many years his daughter, Nelly C. Cornish, in Miss Aunt Nelly, says the name was selected to honor her father whose full name was Nathan Arlington Cornish. Cornish apparently neglected to mention this connection and the honor went unknown, at least during his lifetime.
     The name of the community Alkali was changed to Arlington by an act passed at a special session of the legislature and approved November 20, 1885, and the Post Office Department conformed on December 31, 1885. Arlington post office was relocated slightly up the canyon during the 1970s due to flooding of the original site by construction of the John Day Dam.
     The Oregon Trail crossing is south of town, two miles off US-30, on State 19. A marker honors W. W. Weatherford who was 17 when he followed this route barefoot across the plains, driving a team of oxen, in 1861. (Oregon Geographic Names, Oregon Historical Society Press 1992, p. 26)
     Eight miles south of Arlington is a plateau called Shutler Flats, named for a type of wagon popular with the early emigrants, one of which was found abandoned here along the Oregon Trail, that crosses SH-19 at this place. At one time Shutler Flats was ranched by a man who owned 20,000 acres of wheat land.

China Bars, Creeks, Ditches And Flats

Chinese Miners In Roseburg, Oregon
Chinese Cowboys

     China Creek is a small stream flowing into Snake River from China Gulch. In the early days of placer mining in the Pacific Northwest and particularly near Lewiston, ID there were a great many Chinese panning for gold, and there are China bars, China creeks and China flats in many parts of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. It was at these points that large colonies of Chinese carried on their mining operations.
     Arlington lies at the mouth of a long draw named Alkali Canyon. Most of the Union Pacific was built in 1904, but when the Condon branch of the Union Pacific was built in 1904, a drainage ditch was dug alongside the railroad grade. Much of the work was done by Chinese laborers. When the job was finished, one family stayed and built a laundry. West of the ditch which was soon known as China Ditch. This drainage was later called China Creek but the dry watercourse was eventually given back its original name. (Tour Guide To The Old West, New York Times Book Company 1977, p. 321)

Condon: The Seat Of Gilliam County

     Condon, the seat of Gilliam County, was formerly called Summit City, then Summit Springs. The latter name was applied because of the sweet water springs at which stage drivers, freighters, and other travelers paused. The present name was given for Harvey C. Condon, of the Arlington firm of Condon and Cornish, which sold lots in the community. He was the son of Judge James B. Condon, a pioneer jurist in Eastern Oregon, and the nephew of Thomas Condon, Oregon's pioneer geologist who brought the nearby fossil region to the attention of the scientific world. (Oregon Geographic Names 1992, 198)
     Dr. Condon was a member of the faculty of the University of Oregon from its founding in 1876 until his death in 1907. Condon Hall, named for him houses laboratories and classrooms for geology, geography, anthropology and psychology, as well as the collections of the Museum of Natural History.
     Sculptor Anna Keeney (1898-?), whose mother lived in Arlington, studied under Arvard Fairbanks at the University of Oregon, from which she graduated in 1928, remaining there as assistant instructor for two years. Keeney developed a new approach to sculpture. Her creation of a large fountain for the Leander Stone School in Chicago featured glazed terra cotta forms set in solid stone for an entirely new effect. Keeney modeled the figure of the Fallen Aviator at Condon. (Oregon, End Of The Trail 1951, p. 131)
     Condon lived in the State of Washington during the latter part of his life, and died in Vaughn, Washington on June 21, 1931.
     After World War II, Condon was the location of two US Air Force stations. The high plateau on which the city lies was once a Native American ceremonial ground. Later it was used for cattle roundups. From the elevated site on clear days are visible the Ochoco Mountains, the Blue Mountains, and the Cascade Range.
     Condon is the heart of vast rolling wheat fields for which it is the distributing center, with extensive warehouses and elevators.
     The post office, located on the Union Pacific Spur, about 13 miles north of Mayville, was established July 10, 1884, with David B. Trimble first postmaster. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, p. 26)

Lonerock has been called so for many years. The town is located on Lone Creek, about 15 miles northeast of Kinzua, and was named for a large rock standing about 100 feet high and 60 feet in diameter in the central part of the community. Lone Creek takes its name from the same source. The town of Lonerock was founded in 1881 by Albert Henshaw and Robert G. Robinson, and was platted in 1882 by Robinson. (Oregon Geographic Names 1992, p. 518)
     The post office was established November 8, 1875 as Lone Rock, the style used by the platters. Robinson served as first postmaster. The style was changed to Lonerock on October 4, 1894, and the office closed to Condon on June 21, 1963. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, p. 61)
     Once the trading center for surrounding ranches, Lonerock now is virtually deserted. Only a few families live in this once thriving community 20 miles southwest of Condon. (Sunset Oregon Travel Guide 1987, p. 102)
Clem post office, established November 24, 1884, was located on the Condon spur of the Union Pacific Railroad in Scott Canyon, and about six miles south of Olex. The station and post office were named for Clemens Augustus Danneman, an early rancher in the area, who provided accommodations for travelers. A native of Germany and a veteran of the Civil War, Danneman was born October 13, 1835, and came to America about 1856, to Oregon in 1879, and settled in Gilliam County. He was first postmaster of the Clem office, which closed to Mikkalo on April 15, 1937. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, p. 25; Oregon Geographic Names 1992, p. 184)
Olex is located on Rock Creek at the mouth of Juniper Canyon, about five miles northeast of Mikkalo. The post office at Olex was established October 27, 1874. James H. Butler was first postmaster of this office, intended to be named for Alex Smith, a local pioneer settler. The enthusiasm of the petition writer was better than his handwriting, and authorities at Washington misread "Alex" into "Olex," a clerical error which was allowed to remain. On October 31, 1959, Olex was designated a rural station of Arlington, and was discontinued on August 31, 1976. (Oregon Post Offices 1847-1982, p. 74; Oregon Geographic Names 1992, p. 634)
     On October 15, 2000, photographer Julie Hendricks of Tiller visited Gilliam County for the purpose of capturing on camera the vast grandeur of Oregon's high desert country and the enchantment of her frontier ghost towns. She wrote in a letter:

     "What constitutes a ghost town? To me it is a place formerly, but not now inhabited by humans. Condon is listed as a ghost town, and then a semi ghost town. I don't understand that!
     "I sent you the only info I could find on Olex. Surely any place is worthy of more than a paragraph or two. How disappointing. However, I was pleased to see the name Charles Schultz, as I recall his stone. Interesting about the rock marker, but I would like more info there. Who, when, and how did they all meet death? And I would still like to know what happened in the area in 1872, when the three Schott children were lost.
     "I feel like I had been born 100 years too late, but had I been, I surely would have died of a broken heart losing my babies. If I had survived childbirth. My first was more than a bit difficult. So many lost babies! It breaks my heart now, what those poor parents went through. I realize there were few, if any doctors around back then."
     --Julie Hendricks, October 15, 2000


Olex Cemetery

Photos Courtesy Of Julie Hendricks

Entrance Olex Cemetery Panoramic View Of Olex Cemetery Baby Schott
Frances Mobley Thomas Mobley Bell Wade Martha Ann Wade U. S. Grant Wade
Frank Lewis Jessie Lewis Elizabeth Barbur Susan Little Baby Jewell



M. Constance Guardino III  Reverend Marilyn A. Riedel
This Page Last Updated by Maracon on December 1. 2005

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