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A Tale of Two Oregon Pioneer Families

On November 18, 1966, my great grandmother Ethel Foster Garside Davey died.  She was seventy seven years old.  I was thirteen. Her grandfather, Philip Foster, had come to the Oregon Territory, in 1843, on a ship from New York.  Foster Road is named for him.  His place in Eagle Creek is a National Historic Site.  Philip’s wife was Mary Charlotte Pettygrove.  She, and her brother Francis Pettygrove, traveled with Philip on the sea voyage to the Willamette Valley.  Francis Pettygrove, along with Asa Lovejoy, founded the city of Portland.  The penny they flipped to decide the name (Lovejoy favored the name of his hometown,  Boston), is at the Oregon Historical Society.  It is pretty much the first thing you see when you come in the main entrance there.  I knew all this about my family by the time Ethel died. It is also in many history books about Oregon. 

At a family gathering, at our farm in Yacolt, in 1970, my grandfather Dale Sherman Galloway, made an astounding statement.  He said “I’m tired of hearing all the talk, talk, talk, about the Fosters, Fosters, Fosters, in Oregon.  Well, the Galloways got here first!”  What was shocking is only several  hundred non-native people were in Oregon before 1843. The Galloways are not mentioned in any of the standard histories of the area.  What is more astounding,  grampa Dale was right.  His family was in Oregon before the Fosters.  The story of how two pioneer families from the territiorial days, were finally united nearly a hundred years later, is an Oregon story.  I’m here to tell it.

The first wagon train on what would become the Oregon Trail left Independence, Missouri in 1841 with California as its destination. It was the Bidwell-Bartleson party of roughly 60 settlers.  One of those settlers was William Overton who will figure more prominently later in this story.

In 1842 Dr. Elijah White organized the first wagon train with the Willamette Valley as its destination.  Dr. White had been previously in Oregon working with Jason Lee from 1837 to 1840. He had traveled there and back by ship. His purpose for going again to Oregon was his being appointed a Sub-Indian Agent for Oregon by the United States government. He  would be the first officer representing the United States in what a couple of years later would become the Oregon Territory. The job included a salary and moving expenses as long as he traveled by land.  He was also told to take as many emigrants along with him as possible.  He arranged a lecture tour that enticed over a hundred settlers to sign up for the arduous and speculative journey. One  them was Asa Lovejoy.  Another was Stephen Meek.  Both will figure later in this story.  Among the families on the wagon train were Thomas Jefferson Shadden, his wife Martha and their kids.  Also along for the trip were Martha’s father Owen Sumner and his wife Lucy (nee Prestridge) Sumner.  The wagon train embarked from Elm Grove, Missouri on May 16, 1842.

A couple of months earlier, on March 10, 1842 the sailing ship Victoria left New York, under captain John H. Spring, bound for Honolulu. It would be a trying and dangerous trip taking several months. The route would be around South America before entering the Pacific for the trip west and north.  Among those on board were the families of Philip Foster  and his brother-in-Law Francis Pettygrove.  Foster  and Pettygrove had owned a general store in Calais, Maine. They were the representatives of the AG and AW Benson Company of New York. They had with them goods to stock a store in Oregon City; which would be their final destination.  In 2005 my wife Anne Richardson and I were living in New York. We visited the slip from which the Victoria had sailed away from.  The New York Police Museum is located there now.

The Dr. Elijah White wagon train was not without internal drama.  Dr. White was a heavy handed autocrat. His second in command, Loren Hastings, was a more likable guy.  Before long the wagon train’s solidarity was broken into factions supporting White on one side and Hastings on the other.  On May 18 Dr. White issued the edict that all dogs along for the trip had to be killed.  Most of them were.  You might imagine the hard feelings that followed. At times during the journey the train was split into two separate halves that traveled independently.   Nearing the goal Dr. White hurried ahead to arrive at Fort Vancouver on September 20.  The rest of the party traveled more leisurely, arriving in Oregon City on October 5.

On October 19, 1842 the Victoria arrived in Hawaii. Philip Foster and Francis Pettygrove bought more goods to sell in Oregon. They stayed  the winter in Hawaii.  In April, 1843 the bark Fama took them as far as what is now St. Helens. Indian boats were then hired to take the families and goods to Oregon City.  On May 23, 1843  Foster and Pettygrove opened for business in Oregon City.  Among the children who made the trip was four year old Francis William Foster. He had been born in Washington, Maine on April 20. 1839.

William Overton didn’t stay in Oregon very long.  In 1843 he intended to file a property claim along the Willamette River in the area known as “The Clearing.” Finding himself short of the filing fee he brought Asa Lovejoy in as a partner in ownership.  In 1844 Overton soured on the area and sold his half of the property to Francis Pettygrove. Overton then skedaddled to Texas. After that Lovejoy and Pettygrove decided to call the place a town, laid out some streets, and after flipping a coin, it was to be known forward as Portland.

In September of 1845 a wagon train arrived at the Dalles.  Among those on that wagon train was Sam Barlow.  Mr. Barlow didn’t have the high fee needed to continue the journey on the Columbia River. He took seven wagons on a speculating route traveling South of Mt. Hood; that if all worked out would take them into Oregon City.  About halfway there the wagons got stuck in the snow for the winter.  A while later Joel Palmer showed up with a 23 wagon train.  I guess Joel felt anywhere Sam could go; he could get there better.  It was arranged to winter wagons where they were.  Sam, Joel, and William Rector then stuck forward on their quest for a wagon route. A month or so later they struggled into Oregon city.

Stephen Meek in that same year of 1845 was hired to lead a wagon train from Vale, Oregon on an alternate route into the Willamette Valley that would travel South of the Blue Mountains.  The wagon train met with much  misfortune and death before finally straggling into the Dalles.  Among those who survived the journey was William Dawson and his wife the former Mary Searcy.  They settled in the Yamhill area where they raised a family of six.  One of them, born in 1854 in McMinnville, was Amanda Dawson. 

Feeling refreshed in Oregon City Sam Barlow got the idea the Indian trail they had been more or less following could be made into viable route into Oregon City.  By this time there was some semblance of United States Government in the area.  He went to the Provisional Legislature of Oregon where he applied for a permit for a toll road.  He then, you might recall he didn’t have the cash to to float his wagons from the Dalles down the river, got Philip Foster to finance and build the road for him in a partnership. Foster with a work crew of 40 men got a barely passable road built in a year.  In the Fall of 1846 the first wagons came through.

Thomas Jefferson Shadden and his family spent a rainy winter in Oregon and in 1843 he decided the sunny California climate was more to his liking.  Luckily for our story he came back seven years later. It has been written that upon his return to Oregon he was an early settler of Yamhill County and brought with him from California $185,000 in gold dust.  There is an area in McMinnville that is currently called The Shadden Claim.  It is bordered on one side by NW Baker Creek Road, and is intersected by Shadden Drive.  At 11169 NW Baker Creek Road there now stands the house Thomas Jefferson Shadden built in 1859.  Among his several kids was Henry Clay Shadden, born in California in1845. 

In 1852 the flood was on of emigrants taking the Oregon Trail.  It was estimated 10,000 hardy souls that year took the plunge.  It was also a bad year with death;  cholera stalking people and anthrax slaughtering cattle.  One person who did make it was William Willis Cooke.   He was born in 1818 in North Carolina.  He married the former Martha Young in 1845.  On the Oregon Trail with them was their daughter Mary Francis (Fanny), who was born in Lafayette, Indiana in 1849. She might have witnessed the birth of her sister Leah, on the Oregon Trail, on August 20, 1852 in Umatilla Valley.  Poor Leah, foreshadowing tragedy for Fanny in the future, lived less than two months.  Leah Arabella Cooke died in Champoeg on October 8, 1852.

James Sherman Galloway was born August 20,1864 in Ellettsville, Indiana. On April 9, 1865 the Civil War ended.  Shortly after that his parents John Jackson Galloway and the former Mary Adkins traveled the Oregon trail. Little James learned to walk along the way. James Sherman’s brother Sheridan Emerson Galloway was born in Yaquina, Lincoln County, Oregon on the first of September 1866.

Frances “Fanny” Cooke married Francis “Frank” Foster on December 28, 1868. They settled in Clackamus, Oregon.  They had ten kids, seven boys and three girls.  The youngest, born in 1889, was Ethel Albertina Foster. Frank died when Ethel was two.  Ethel was left an orphan at the age of seven when Fanny died. 

In 1870 Henry Clay Shadden married Amanda Dawson.  On April 23, 1871, in McMinnville, their daughter Mary Miama Shadden was born.  I am not clear on the date, but from a story my mom told me, Amanda fled with Mary Miama to escape her abusive husband. My mom said Henry Clay was a mean drinker and a wife beater. Amanda went from McMinnville in the dead of winter to Spokane where they arrived in a snow storm.  Amanda then got a job to support them.  She later married Isaac Harvey Malone.  In 1888 she gave birth to a daughter, Pearl Grace Malone. 

On November 3, 1886 James Sherman Galloway married Mary Miama Shadden, in Columbia County, Washington. They had their first child, Mary Elizabeth, in 1892.  She was followed by Elven (1894), Henry (1895), Luke (1902) and Berdena (1905),  Finally, their youngest child, Dale Sherman Galloway, was born in Touchet, Washington on August 6, 1908

On July 3, 1907 Ethel Foster married Alvin Garside.  His dad was born in England.  His mom was born in Scotland.  They had one child;  a  girl born August 8, 1908, in Ivanhoe, Oregon, who they named Doris Virginia Garside.

In 1928 Dale Sherman Galloway was driving a Red Top cab in Portland.  Parked in front of a downtown hotel, the back seat passenger door suddenly was opened, and two young women piled in.   They were out of breath but made it clear they were escaping from someone and flooring the accelerator would be appreciated. Calmly around the corner Dale learned that they had been in a room with a man who unbeknownst to them was a “snow bird” or cocaine fiend.  The women had fled from the room and down the stairs of the hotel sure they were being chased.  They had also fled without their purses and were sans funds to pay the fare.  One of the women was Doris Garside.  That is how my maternal grandparents met.  Dale Sherman Galloway married Doris Garside on August 27, 1930, in Kelso Washinton. 

On December 9, 1933 twins were born to Doris and Dale; identical girls.  One was my aunt Carolyn.  The other was my mom, Joanne Lee Galloway Nyback.  Through my mom Joanne I am a seven generation Oregonian going back to Owen and Lucy Sumner on the 1842 wagon train and also a six generation Oregonian going back to Philip and Mary Charlotte Foster who arrived by ship in 1843. I am glad I know some of of the story of what it took for me to be here.  I am even more glad to be able share that story with you.