Hello, I’m Susan Wallace Masse, and I will be writing for the Canyon Weekly a couple of times a month. You may have heard my radio show on KYAC (94.9 fm). I love history, and I am especially interested in the history of Oregon, Marion and Linn Counties and our own North Santiam Canyon.
I want to invite you to send me questions: about a historical location, family or event. I will do my best to answer them for you, and may feature them on the radio or in the paper.
Although the Willamette Valley was being settled by Americans and French Canadians in the 1830’s, the Canyon saw later development. But even as early as the 1840s, American settlers were coming to this area. Allen Jones Davie, the grandson and great grandson of Revolutionary War heroes, staked a claim and set up a sawmill just west of Sublimity in 1842.
It was not until 1843 that the first mass migration on the Oregon Trail began, with families including women and children becoming more frequent travelers. Other early settlers to the Canyon area included Darst, Denny, Hobson, Morely and Porter, all before 1850.
All of these folks settled in Stayton-Sublimity. Ephraim Stout and Thomas Henness came to Oregon in 1852, and settled near Mehama. Stout established the first sawmill in the Mehama area in 1852. As late as 1856, a surveyor’s map has the notation just east of Mehama/-Lyons as “High mountainous land. Unfit for cultivation and unsurveyed.”
Fox Valley was a thriving community as early as 1860, but it would take many more years before the east part of the Canyon opened up. An 1874 survey shows settlers Alfred Dodge, Charles Spillman, William Thomas, Allen Hester, James Berry and Thomas and Isaac Henness, all living near present day Gates. Most settlers were on the Linn County side of the Santiam, and there was a wagon road going from Lyons to Gates.
As mineral and gold deposits were found, miners claimed land on the Little North Santiam, bringing a different kind of settler to the area. By the time Gates acquired a post office in 1882, the town could boast hotels, saloons and mercantile establishments of all kinds.
When did your family come to the Canyon? Would you like to share their story, or maybe find out more about them?
Please contact me! I would love to tell their story.
Susan@ABridge2thePast.com or call me at (503)-769-1406