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~ Kathy M.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Septia Saturday #78: Daniel and Virginia Lyons, Scottsburg, Oregon

Source:  Wikipedia

Source:  Historic Douglas County Book



 Source:  Wikipedia

Along with Jesse Applegate, Levi Scott helped to develop the Applegate Trail, the southern route from Fort Hall, Idaho to Southern Oregon in 1846.  He was one of the leaders of the 1847 wagon train, the first ones to use The Applegate Trail, which roughly is where I-5 is now.  Mr. Scott became a prominent Oregon leader, serving his community, and helping to shape Oregon in many ways. 

It was Levi Scott who founded the town of Scottsburg, Oregon next to a long extinct Myrtle City at the tidewaters of the South Umpqua River and the Pacific Ocean.  Scottsburg was a busy port and the biggest one between San Francisco, California and Portland, Oregon.  Due to a couple of extensive floods that wiped out the town in 1862-63, and because Cresent City, California developed its own and better port for shipping, Scottsburg is now an "area", but no longer a town. 

So there is a brief history of the town of Scottsburg.  But this week's Sepia Saturday theme has to do with newspapers.  One of the early Oregon newspapers was The Umpqua Weekley Gazette, and indeed Levi Scott had his hand in publishing it for a while.  The paper lasted for only a couple of years, and then the plant was moved to Jacksonville, Oregon.  But it is the first editors of the Gazette who fascinate me.  We will get to them in a minute or two. 

Once upon a time, back in Kentucky, a man named Charles Putnam was born in July 1924 to Joseph and Susan Hull Putnam.  Having adventure in his soul, he decided to head west in 1846 with his bother Nathan.  The brothers joined the Jesse Applegate wagon train of  from Ft. Hall, Idaho in 1847 and they landed in Oregon City, where Nathan died.  Charles fell in love with Jesse and Cynthia Applegate's lovely eldest daughter, Rozelle.  Charles taught school, and both he and Rozelle worked at Oregon City, for western America's first newspaper, The Spectator.  The young Putnams and the Jesse Applegates eventually moved to Douglas County in Southern Oregon.  Jesse and Cynthia Applegate set up the little town of Yoncalla, and Charles and Rozelle set up their homestead not far away, in the pretty little valley of Tin Pot/Putnam Valley/Sunnydale. 

In the meantime, things were falling apart for Charles Putnam's family back in Kentucky.  His parents, Joseph W. Putnam and Susan Hull Putnam were fit-to-be-tied.  Their remaining son, Frank, was up to no good and wasting away his life with gambling, women and booze.  Their oldest daughter, Virginia, dumped the rich lawyer that she was set to marry (the wedding gifts were pouring in, the date was that close) for true love with a blind musician named Daniel Lyons, a man 17 years older than she was.  Daniel and Virginia married and had two babies, but Joseph and Susan were mortified with it all, and banned her forever.  Almost.  The Putnams had a total of ten children, most who died young.  Only Virginia and Charles outlived them, and it would prudent to make amends, I think.

After Daniel tracked down Virginia's dying brother Frank in a hotel room in Louisville, Kentucky, they brought him home and cared for him until consumption (TB) ended Frank's life.  Virginia's parents thought better of Daniel by then, and the family reconciled.  After that, at the urging of their Oregon family, Charles and Rozelle, they all decided to move to Oregon, along with Joe and Susan's youngest daughter, Catherine, and a young boy that the Lyons had adopted, Johnny O'Rourke.  The year was 1853.  

They came to Oregon by shipping their things ahead of time (mostly the first mechanical hospital bed with extra parts, that Joseph had created and patented). They traveled from New York, around the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco and then on to Scottsburg, which less than 100 miles from the rest of their family, Charles and Rozelle and their children.  They settled on nearby homesteads close to Charles and Rozelle.

Homesteading didn't agree with the newcomers, but apparently, the hotel business did.  Eventually, the elder Putnams headed off to Roseburg and later, to Wilbur, to set themselves up in the hospitality business.  They later moved to Scottsburg, where Joseph died at the age of 73.   Susan outlived Joseph by 31 years, and lived with Charles and his family in Tin Pot until she died in 1894.  

Daniel and Virginia Lyons moved to Scottsburg prior to Joseph and Susan, where they operated a successful hotel. (This account is different from the link below, which says that they worked for Levi Scott in his hotel.  This account is from the Tin Pot Valley book, which was written by Charles and Rozelle's great-grandson, who lived within 100 miles of his Great-Aunt Virginia and Great-Uncle Daniel.  I guess that the brown book below will clear that up.)  They began their own newspaper, The Umpqua Weekley Gazette (or they were the editors for Levi Scott).  The Gazette was the sixth Oregon newspaper, and the only one published south of Salem at that time.  Daniel told Virginia what he wanted to say in his articles, and she added her own stories, and stories from other newspapers that came in via ship.  There are surviving copies of The Umpqua Weekly Gazette and I urge you to click on the links below, if you are interested.  

 Source: U of O Web Library

Here is a link about early Oregon newspapers, just click here, when you are all done reading my post.


Daniel and Virginia Lyons simply fascinate me.  Daniel was a very talented musician, and as the story goes, he was friends with composer Stephens Collins Foster, and helped to write the song "Uncle Ned".  After moving to Oregon, Daniel and Johnny O'Rourke would walk 70 miles one way to play gigs in the busy town of Empire, county seat of Umpqua County at that time.  On some nights he would be paid $100!   Here is a You Tube video of "Uncle Ned", which was written pre-Civil War:


The Lyons ran their hotel until the town itself went away.  Along with the help of their seven daughters, they held two major balls each year, at Christmastime and on Independence Day.  People from hundreds of miles away would come to dance to the music provided by Daniel, and eat Virginia's delicious food.  In addition, the intelligent and energetic Virginia was a teacher, and learned to be a mid-wife and a nurse, among other things.  In 1934, their daughter, Rose Lyons Arrington Blanchard wrote a book about her parents, named: Ginia ~ The Story of an Oregon Pioneer.  I haven't read it yet, but I'm going to do my best to get a copy!



I am having a very hard time coming up with any pictures of historic Scottsburg or of the Scottsburg Hotel.  I could be that they were mostly lost in the floods.  I got most of the information for this story out of these two books:





You guys, there are so many holes in the internet!  Blank spots, where even the history of towns no longer there is posted.  I know that I can find out more by going to the library and to historical societies, and as I develop my project, I will.  I am urging you to write about your area, your towns, and the towns/communities that you remember or remember hearing about, that are no longer there.  Our history is so important, and as the older people and their stories die out, so does our history, if it isn't recorded in hard copy of some kind.

Have a wonderful week!


Kathy Matthews



This is a Sepia Saturday post.  Please CLICK HERE to learn of other great stories and to see some wonderful old pictures ... and this week to learn about newspapers.



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13 comments:

Arkansas Patti said...

There are many blockbuster novel ideas in your post. I am always intrigued by those poeple who just took off to parts unknown and started new lives. It really took courage.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Patti, I've been thinking all day about your comment ... it seems that this is a case of truth being stranger than fiction! And, of course you are right. The Kentucky Putnams were pretty well off before they moved west. They hated the tiny log cabins and Virginia was scared to death of being alone when Daniel went of to a gig.

tony said...

I Just Love The American Dream How People Created Their Own World & Meaning.You Post Well Illustrates This.Fascinating Reading.Thank You.

Little Nell said...

You are so right about us adding to what knowledge there is about our localities. That’s exactly what I did too. The trick is coming up with new stuff that’s not been reported.

Postcardy said...

It's hard to imagine walking 70 miles to play a gig, especially for a musician who is blind.

Bob Scotney said...

What a legacy - to have a town named after your family.

Howard said...

Great post Kathy, I really enjoyed it. I loved the video of the two guys playing Uncle Ned. You are right about the Internet being full of holes! It is our duty to fill these holes.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Fascinating history; had not heard of Scottsburg nor the Applegate Trail before despite all those years living in the west. The first photo card alone is stunning and all the other information kept me reading

Mike Brubaker said...

You are so right about the "holes in the internet! You've fixed at least one. Thanks.

Kristin said...

That is a lot of type unbroken by photographs or pictures of any kind there on that newspaper page.

Brett Payne said...

What an interesting story, Kathy. It reminds me of a book of ghost towns that I had out of the library last year.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, everybody! I'm off to visit you, if I haven't already.

Those days are so remarkable. And, they really weren't so long ago. What hard workers the pioneers were; even getting to Oregon took so much work.

Tattered and Lost said...

Well now see, the little town will never be forgotten. They just got all these new visitors!

No Copying!

I LOVE THE STATE OF OREGON.

I LOVE THE STATE OF OREGON.
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