‘Go west young man‘ was the popular saying of the 1850s-1890s and for many individuals and families that meant going to the Pacific west coast of the United States and settling in Oregon. A special route was established known as the Oregon Trail, which provided the safest path to the west. It went from eastern Kansas, some 2,200 miles, to the Pacific coast.
If any of your ancestors eventually settled in the Oregon Territory in the 19th century, you will need to research on the Oregon State archives online site of early Oregon. With over 103,000 entries covering the people in the region between 1800 and 1860 it can aid you in your research. Keep in mind that the vast Oregon Territory in the first half of the 1800s included what would later be the state of Washington.
The state archives have primary sources, vital records of various forms to provide as much actual information as possible. There are also secondary resources that are marked as such, which still be of assistance.
Use the search by placing a surname. Reminder, there can be variations in family names over the years especially going back to the 1800s. You can also fill in a date range and a county name. If you know a spouse’s name or parents that can help narrow the search, place in the advance search section.
In the information available, an individual may have lived most of their life in the 1800s but also lived into the early 20th century, so don’t be surprised to see death listings for those who died in the early 1900s.
Those profiles on individuals can provide parents names beside birth-marriage and deaths dates. Having that additional family names can be extremely helpful. For example, there was Virgil M. Donaldson, born 1859 in Oregon Territory, died Dec. 16, 1914 in Santa Clara Co., California and the son of John Donaldson and Hannah Allen.
Some sources have when the individual arrived in the Oregon Territory, their occupation and where they were buried. Each is different in what is available.
To learn more about Oregon, there is also a link to the scenic images, the counties’ history and exhibits done by the state archives.
Photos: Oregon Trail map, Wagon train to Oregon, 19th century miners in Oregon and 1911 Oregon poster.
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