Starkweather Family

William Austin Starkweather, 1822-1905

Oak Lodge's Starkweather family legacy begins with William Austin Starkweather (1822-1905). He was born near New London, CT on Feb. 16, 1822 but headed west in March 1846. For the most of 2 years he was in Cumberland, Allegany Co., Md. and the western counties of Pennsylvania. In the winter of 1848 he removed to Cincinnati, Ohio by way of Canton. For a while he taught school in the villages of Lockland and Reading, Ohio, then in the spring of 1850 he set out to California where he unsuccessfully mined for gold from July through November 1850[1]. Following a bout with malaria Starkweather headed north to Oregon that same year, first filing a land claim in Linn Co., then settling in Molalla in 1853. He taught the first school in Molalla, and on Sept. 22, 1853 he married Eliza Gordon whose family had a land claim there. He purchased land adjacent to the Gordon claim in Molalla and he and Eliza commenced starting their family. The Starkweathers had 5 children while living in Molalla: Lydia Jane, John Hugh, Eliza Ellen, William Lincoln and Mary Maria. Three of these died as infants, leaving only Eliza ("Ella") and William ("Will").

Starkweather served in the Oregon Territorial Legislature from 1854-1857. He was a Clackamas County delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1857 and the Oregon Legislature in 1860, 1866, 1870 and 1878. He was a member of the Committee on Education and School Lands. William A. Starkweather was a surveyor for a short time, and from 1861 to 1865 was the Register of the U.S. Land Office at Oregon City — appointed in June 1861[2]. In 1880 he was made a member of the state senate.

William Austin Starkweather, 1822-1905
(Click to enlarge)

In the midst of his public service Starkweather purchased from Byron P. Cardwell, in March 1865, 220 acres located in the Benoni Rogers D.L.C. which encompassed the later combined farms of John Jacob Naef and John G. Roethe. The Starkweather home was located adjacent to a small stream at today's intersection of McLoughlin Blvd. and Naef Rd. This same stream later provided the water source for the Naef family home, and later yet Steel's Pansy Gardens. When the "Super 99 highway" was being constructed in the 1930's the Starkweather's home was the sole house to stand within the proposed right-of-way and was demolished.

William Austin Starkweather House (Click to enlarge)

It was on the 220 acre Starkweather farm where their youngest three children were born: Victoria Belle Starkweather was born in 1866, their son Harvey G. Starkweather in 1868, and Ida A. Starkweather in 1870. William A. Starkweather served as an Oregon State Senator from 1881 to 1883. In Sept. 1887 William & Eliza Starkweather sold their property to Rudolph Staub[3], and removed to an adjacent farm. It was William A. Starkweather that suggested the name "Concord" for the new school built in 1890. William A. Starkweather died in 1905, and Eliza died in 1916.

Though the Sr. Starkweathers never actually lived on today's River Rd., that road was the closest road to the Starkweather home, and was where many early families were located, including the Risley family. It was on River Rd. where Harvey Starkweather later built his grand home in 1909 after having married Alice Risley in 1894. Victoria Starkweather's ledger mentions many of the local people her family interacted with, including the Risleys, the Oatfields[4], the Neals[5], Whipple, Meldrum, the Hagers[6], Bunnell, Latourette, Wells, Walling, Thessing and many others. Victoria's entries give us a detailed glimpse into what life was like in today's Oak Lodge for one short year.

Harvey G. Starkweather, b. 1868 (Click each to enlarge)

Harvey G. Starkweather "took up the profession of teaching, which he followed successfully for fifteen years, being for two years of that time county superintendent of schools in Clackamas County [1895-1897] and also for a period superintendent of schools at La Grande, Oregon."[7] One account credits him with being the first public school teacher in Oswego[8]. Later he took up farming, and later yet "turned his attention to real estate activity"[9], for a time being secretary and treasurer of the Risley, Starkweather & Black Realty Company. Harvey Starkweather was well known and well respected for his public service in Clackamas County and was highly esteemed by the early settlers of Oregon. Harvey delivered the dedication speech for each of the three Concord Schools built — in 1890, 1910 and 1936. Starkweather was also a purchasing agent for the construction of the "Super 99" highway in the 1930's.

Following the death of Alice (Risley) Starkweather's father, Jacob S. Risley, in 1902 Alice inherited several large parcels of land totaling about 124 acres. This offered Harvey an opportunity to venture into real estate, which he practiced for many years. In 1909 Alice and Harvey built a grand home on property she inherited, on a bluff adjacent to River Rd., on Jacob Risley's original DLC — currently the Sandes of Time Bed & Breakfast. It was there that Harvey raised seven children all together. Alice, the mother of five of those children, died in 1920, but Harvey re-married to Eva Newman in 1922 and they had two daughters.

Harvey and Alice Starkweather house, now the Sandes of Time B&B (Click to enlarge)

The Starkweather legacy carries on in the form of the Sandes of Time B&B, and the Oak Grove Garden Club at "Risley Landing" on the Willamette River, donated by Harvey and Alice's son Hugh G. Starkweather in 1983.

Many members of the Starkweather family are laid to rest at the historic Clackamas Pioneer Cemetery on the east side of I-205 on Ambler Rd.


Letter from William A. Starkweather to Col. Edwin Palmer, June 30, 1895; transcribed by Nancy Starkweather Hersey (Back)
Letter to Wm. A. Starkweather from C.S. Drew, June 19, 1861; transcribed by Nancy Starkweather Hersey (Back)
Rudolph Staub had arrived in the U.S. aboard the same ship as the Naefs. He and his wife Anna sold 100 acres of the Starkweather property to John J. Naef in 1887 and moved on to Beaver Creek where he became the pastor of what we know of as the "10 O'Clock Church" from 1887-1889. Staub sold the other 100 acres of the Starkweather property to John G. Roethe in 1889. (Back)
Michael and Minerva (Thessing) Oatfield owned about 600 acres on Oatfield Rd. (Back)
Pilgrim Neal sold part of his land to Henry Thiessen in Oct. 1879. (Back)
In Feb. 1879 Barbara Hager was brutally murdered in the home she and her husband occupied, originally the old McNary home. This event caused a huge stir in Clackamas Co. resulting in a massive manhunt, a high-profile trial, and a prison sentence. (Back)
History of Oregon by Charles Henry Carey, 1922; p.343 (Back)
Interview with Mrs. G. Howard Pettinger by Mary Goodall; Oswego Review 4 Aug. 1955 (Back)
History of Oregon by Charles Henry Carey, 1922; p.343 (Back)

Starkweather Links

"Victoria's Journal: Day-to-day Life on River Road, 1879-1880" reproduced from the original by Nancy Starkweather Hersey (PDF, 23 MB)