Biographies for Curry County, Oregon


Colebrook, Fredrick
Koch, J. A. H.
McKenzie, Robert
McSiglin, John  Packwood, William H.  Stewart, Frank


William H. Packwood, Sr.
   He was born in Jefferson County, Illinois, October 23, 1832. His father came from Virginia to Kentucky, thence to Illinois where he was married in 1831. When William was quite young the family moved to Sparta, Randolph County, where he attended school until he was twelve years old. His mother died that years (1844) and for six years he was occupied working on a farm in the summer and clerking in a store in the winter. In 1848 he enlisted in a rifle regiment and the next year was sent, with twenty-four others under Captain Morris, to California, as an escort for General Wilson who had been appointed superintendent of Indian affairs on the Pacific coast. M. P. Deady came with the same company, and on Goose Creek General Joel Palmer joined them and returned home, he having been with the escort going east. The company crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountains the 24th day of October, and arrived at Hangtown with 19 men. At Hangtown gold had recently been discovered. The company went on to Sacramento, at that time a city of tents, and Mr. Packwood had a severe spell of sickness. The soldiers nearly all deserted, and those who remained wintered at Sonoma, where General Joe Haoker, then a Colonel, was tried by a court martial. Mr. Packwood was appointed orderly sergeant at the trial. Of the army officers present who afterwards won distinction in the civil war, were Gen. Halleck, Gen. Pleasanton, Gen. Hooker, Gen. Lyon, Gen. Wessels, Gen. Casey, Gen. Percifer Smith and Gen. Page. What reflections that array of names awakens.
   In April 1850, Packwood came with his company to the Columbia River in a vessel commanded by Captain McArthur, the father of Judge L. L. McArthur. The company was at Vancouver till the next year when they were ordered to Benicia, Cal., where they arrived in May and remained till August. Packwood was then sent with an escort for an Indian agent who was visiting the coast and Northern California Indians. Returned to Benicia and in December 1851, the company was ordered to Port Orford, Oregon, and were shipwrecked near Coos Bay, January 3, 1852. The company made their way to Port Orford, cutting what was called the seven devils trail through the timber, reaching their destination in May. Packwood was then transferred to the 1st. Dragoons, and served as quartermaster sergeant. He received his discharge in 1853, and engaged in mining on the beach and packing goods, until the Indian war of 1855-56, when he entered the service again, serving as captain of a company fifty-three days, and as orderly sergeant during the remainder of the war. In 1857 he was sent as delegate to the constitutional convention from Curry County. He was afterwards clerk for a while at Stiletz Indian agency, and then went into partnership with [Knight] Abbott in stock raising.
   In 1861 Abbott undertook to drive their cattle to Salmon River but failed to cross Snake River, as related elsewhere, and that led Packwood finally to the Powder River mines. He was one of the founders of the town of Auburn in 1862, where he was engaged in selling goods for some time, and was one of the foremost men in the ditch enterprise of the Auburn Water company and also the Clarks creek ditch in 1863. From 1865 to 1867 he was a member of the Burnt River Toll Road, Bridge and Ferry Company, and then began construction of the Eldorado ditch in which he was engaged until 1870. Disposing of his interest in that ditch he began building the Eagle creek ditch in Union county. Mr. Goodrich attempted to survey a route for a ditch in 1863, but pronounced it impracticable to build on account of the perpendicular cliffs which he encountered. Mr. Packwood employed Foster as surveyor and succeeded in locating a practical route, and the work of building was begun.    In 1872 he sold the uncompleted ditch to Bowen & Cranston by whom it was finished at a total cost of $90,000.
   He had an interest in the quartz mine at Sanger which he sold in 1874, and from that time until 1887 he was in charge of the Eldorado ditch, and was elected recorder of Baker City in 1888, which office he has held ever since.

Excerp from Real Pioneers in Baker County, Oregon

©2007 Robyn Greenlund for



The hold-over Senator from Coos and Curry counties is a gentleman who at once attracts attention on the floor of the Senate. He is of ordinary height and weight, with piercing black eyes and prominent features, black beard and hair and plainly dressed. When in street costume he generally wears a tall silk hat, which style this session is an exception rather than a rule. He often indulges m debate, and his opposition to a measure is generally vindictive and severe, while his support is considered a strong feature in its favor. He is a Democrat on general principles, but in obedience to what he claimed was the wish of a majority of his constituency, he was a strong supporter of Hon. John H. Mitchell, Republican nominee for United States Senator. He did not take this stand, however, until fully convinced in his own mind that there was no possibility of the election of a Democrat, when he naturally had his preference among the Republicans named. Mr. Siglin was born in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, in 1840, and at the age of twelve years moved with his parents to Illinois, where at Galena he received the benefits of an academic education. At the breaking out of the civil war he enlisted as a private in Company F, l3th Illinois Infantry, under the gallant Col. Wyman. For meritorious conduct at the battle of Wilson's Creek, in Missouri, he was promoted to a Second Lieutenancy and transferred to the 8th Illinois Cavalry, Company B, and was the youngest commissioned officer in that regiment. He participated in a number of engagements, including Fair Oaks and the seven-days' battle before Richmond, being compelled to resign in 1863 owing to failing health. Returning north, he commenced reading law and was admitted to the bar in 1867. He came to Oregon in 1872 and settled in Coos County, where he has resided ever since. He started the “Coos Bay News," the first newspaper published in that county, and was its editor for a period of eight years. He at once was accorded a prominent part in politics and has taken an active part in every campaign since his arrival there. In 1880 he was elected joint Senator from Coos and Curry, that being the first political office for which he was ever a candidate. By the way, Mr. Siglin is conceded to be one of the finest linguists in the State, he being able to speak several languages very fluently. He was married in 1863 to Miss Nellie Sherman, of Kane County, Illinois, she being the first cousin, once removed, of Gen. W. T. Sherman, U. S. A, In 1881 he was for sent back to Washington City, D. C, on behalf of the citizens of his county, to press their claims for favorable action on the part of Congress in the way of appropriations for certain harbor improvements, and in his mission met with gratifying success.

Source: Pen Pictures of Representative Men of Oregon
Frank E. Hodgkin & J. J. Galvin
Farmer and Dairyman Publishing House
Transcribed by Ann Planca


Whatever of praise may be due to the man who has, with the advantages of a collegiate education and abundant leisure for after study, risen to a position if honor and trust in the government of the country, we must record still greater need of praise to the youth, who, without those advantages, has struggled with the waves of adversity, and, by sheer force of ambition and native integrity, has attained an education and elevated himself into a position of honor by the suffrages of his fellow citizens. The former is entitled to commendation for the ripened culture of the mind while on the latter we must bestow the praise due to force of character and singleness of purpose. The Hon. Frank A. Stewart started in life without any of these advantages. He is indebted to no man for the mental gifts which he possesses, and the degree of erudition to which he has attained. He is a plain-spoken man, thoroughly independent and honest in his dealings with his fellow man. Frank was born in Grass County, Illinois, in 1843, and immigrated to Oregon with his parents in 1854, and in that same year was left an orphan by the death of his mother. He resided from 1855 to 1858 with W. C Brown at Dallas, Polk County. He was educated at Belpassi, Marion County, and after going through the course of instruction in the schools, became a professional teacher, which calling he followed for several years. He went to Curry County in 1866, and has resided there ever since. He was for ten years a merchant at Ellensburg, during which time he established a reputation for probity and good character unblemished. During his varied career in Oregon, Mr. Stewart has also been engaged in salmon fishing, mining, lumbering, etc. He has also been a contributor to many of our leading journals, and his articles and poems have been very widely copied. At present he is residing on a stock farm at his home in Curry County, and is engaged in the occupation of stock-raising and raining.

Pen Pictures of Representative Men of Oregon
Frank E. Hodgkin & J. J. Galvin
Farmer and Dairyman Publishing House
Transcribed by Ann Planca

    ROBERT McKENZIE.  Modern, progressive agriculture finds a worthy representative in Robert McKenzie, who owns one thousand acres of land in Curry county, near Port Orford, and by his practical, intelligent and systematic methods has made it one of the finest farm properties in this section.  His success is the result of specialized activity and earnest labor along developing lines and has made him one of the leading figures in agricultural circles of Curry county.  He was born in Scotland in 1835, a son of John and Catherine McKenzie, who lived and died in their native country, the father passing away when the subject of this review was only six weeks old.  He and his wife had two children, of whom Robert McKenzie is the younger.  His brother David died in Australia.

    Robert McKenzie was educated in the public schools of his native country and remained at home until 1857, when he went to Australia and lived in that country until 1874.  In the latter year he went to San Francisco, coming shortly afterward to Curry county, where he settled on a farm at the mouth of Elk river, purchasing four hundred and eighty acres of land from George Dyer, to which he has subsequently added.  He owns one thousand acres, well improved and highly developed, one of the largest and most valuable agricultural properties in this section of the county.  Upon this farm he carries on stock-raising and specializes in dairying, keeping a fine herd of sixty cows for this purpose.  His dairy buildings are modern, sanitary and thoroughly equipped and the entire enterprise is ably and intelligently conducted and is a valuable addition to his income.  He also specializes in the breeding and raising of high-grade stock, handling sheep, cattle and hogs, which he sells in the Oregon markets.  He is interested in every phase of development in this section of the state, which is manifest in his investments in various important local enterprises.  In his farming operations he has been thorough and energetic, his well directed labor and progressive methods resulting in gratifying success.  He has devoted practically all of his time since the beginning of his active career to agricultural pursuits and by upright and honorable standards has gained that prosperity which results from earnest and well directed efforts and is accounted one of the substantial and leading citizens of his district.

    Robert McKenzie was married on July 18, 1863, in Australia to Miss Georgina Tulloch, a native of Scotland, and they became the parents of ten children:  John, of Elk river; Kate, whose death occurred in Curry county; Eliza, who resides at home; Annie, the wife of Eugene Schuyler, of Santa Barbara, California; Margaret, at home; Isabelle, who married Ed A. Ashman, of Santa Cruz, California; Ena, who is following the profession of nursing at San Francisco, California; Flora, at home; David, who is married and resides on the Elk river; and Robert G., at home.  The family belong to the Presbyterian church.

    Mr. McKenzie gives his allegiance to the republican party but never seeks public office, preferring to devote his attention to the development of his farm.  Actuated always by the most practical and scientific methods and guided by high ideals of business integrity, he has through his own well directed energies worked his way upward until he is today classed among the wealthy and prominent agriculturists of Curry county.

Source: The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1912 Illustrated; Volume IV (1912) S. J. Clarke Publishing Company; transcribed by Mary Saggio

    FREDRICK WILLIAM COLEBROOK.  Probably no man has done more for the development, upbuilding and advancement of agricultural and business interests of Curry county than Fredrick William Colebrook, who died on his old homestead in that county in 1889.  He was one of the early settlers of Oregon and the most forceful years of his life were given to the representative industry of pioneer times.  His death was felt as a distinct loss to his many friends who honored and respected him for the quality of his attainments and his honorable and upright life.  Mr. Colebrook was born in England in 1818 and educated in Blue Coat College, London, in preparation for a career as a sea captain.  He held that position on an English vessel until 1849 when he crossed to America and went to California where he was engaged as store keeper in French Camp in the gold mines.  He afterward followed general farming upon a large tract of land which he rented and after several years spent in that occupation came to Oregon, settling in Curry county, where he took up a number of acres of land upon which he carried on stock-raising.  He was elected county surveyor and surveyed almost the whole of Curry county.  Later he purchased land half way between Port Orford and Gold Beach, buying five hundred and twenty acres upon which for a number of years he engaged in stock-breeding and raising.  It is today considered the finest ranch in this section of the country.  Mr. Colebrook gave his entire time and attention to the improvement and development of this property, breeding his stock along the most modern and progressive lines.  Whatever success he attained in life was a direct result of his industry and well directed activity.  His widow now owns a tract of six hundred acres of fertile and productive land in Curry county, a farm which is one of the finest and most intelligently developed in this section.

    On the 23d of July, 1876, Mr. Colebrook was united in marriage to Miss Mary A. Shmitt, a daughter of Jacob and Barbara (Martin) Shmitt.  She was nine years of age when her parents removed to Indiana and she later took up her residence in Oregon.  Mr. and Mrs. Colebrook became the parents of seven children:  Fredrick, deceased; Mary, who is the wife of William Coy of Curry county, by whom she has five children;  Ellenora, who became the wife of Otto Newman of Bandon, by whom she has six children; Louisa, who married Richard Svius, of California, and who is the mother of four children; Anna, the wife of George Jensen, of San Diego, California; and William J., and George, both of whom reside in Portland.  Mr. Colebrook was a consistent democrat and took an intelligent interest in public affairs although he never sought public office.  He was prominent in the Masonic order and had many friends in the section in which he resided for so many years.  The importance of his work in agricultural circles and the place he had attained in the respect and esteem of his fellow citizens were evidenced by the widespread regret at his death which was a genuine tribute of sorrow, for the close of a useful, valuable and upright life.

Source: The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1912 Illustrated; Volume IV (1912) S. J. Clarke Publishing Company; transcribed by Mary Saggio

    J. A. H. KOCH is living retired in a pleasant home in Port Orford after an active career in Curry county of almost thirty years.  He has been a resident of this section since 1871 and during this period a great deal of the time has been a general farmer, operating for a number of years attractive land on Elk river which he acquired as a homestead claim.

    He was born in Prussia, February 25, 1824, and his parents died in that country when he was a child.  He received his education in the public schools of Germany and came to America when he was twenty years of age, having followed the sea for a number of years.  He landed in New Orleans in 1844 and for three years sailed out of that port.  In 1851 he came to California where he resided until 1871, spending his time in mining for gold.  In the latter year he moved to Oregon and mined in Curry county for two years before he took up stock-raising in which line of activity he engaged for a short time.  Eventually, however, he proved up a homestead claim and there lived until his retirement.

    Mr. Koch had served for six months in the American army during the Mexican war and in 1887 applied to the government for a pension and for the back pension due him.  This was granted in 1890 and shortly afterward he sold his homestead and came to Port Orford where he erected a comfortable home in which he lives.  He gives his allegiance to the democratic party but has never been an office seeker.  During the forty-one years of his residence in Curry county he has made many friends in the section, all of whom honor and esteem him for the upright and straightforward qualities of his mind and cliaracter.

Source: The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1912 Illustrated; Volume IV (1912) S. J. Clarke Publishing Company; transcribed by Mary Saggio

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