The Homestead

In December, 2011, Megan, Talina, and Megan’s brother Thaddeus purchased 40 acres on a hilltop outside of City of Gaston, Yamhill County, Oregon.

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HISTORY
From our title, we learned that our land was originally part of a section of land given by the government to the Oregon and California Railroad company in 1870. As part of the agreement, after the railroad was put in, the company was to sell off the land to citizens, at sections of no less than 160 acres each, at $2.50 an acre. Although the land was not great for farming or development, it was covered with trees, and trees being money.. somebody had a great idea. That great idea became the Oregon land fraud scandal, a story of greed that made it all the way to the Supreme Court in 1915. Several prominent Oregon politicians were implicated.

As a result of the scandal, President Roosevelt was able to advance his conservation efforts and put much of the land in question into the hands of the US Forest Service, which is one of the reasons that Oregon is unique in the amount of land held by the federal government, rather than the state.

The Southeast Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 9, Township 2 South, Range 4 West (what’s that mean?) of the Willamette Meridian was sold to Julia S. Blood (nee Fitch) on August 31, 1887.

It next changed hands on Nov. 10 1973, sold by Sam and Nellie M. Moody to V. Robert and Florence M. Randall.  In 1979 and 1980, portions of the property were deeded to Yamhill County, for the purposes of building a road on the east and through the middle of the property.  It was last sold, to the previous tenants, in 1991, after the old farmhouse on the site where our manufactured home sits now burned down (arson!) in 1991.Those roadways are now the end of Olsen Rd and the first few hundred feet of Canyonview Rd. The manufactured home we live in now was placed here in 1992 by the family who sold the property to us.

JULIA FITCH
Julia Fitch was born 29 Aug 1843 in Sheffield, Lorain County, Ohio. In April, 1874, at 31, she married Benjamin Blood and moved to Benton County, Oregon. She lived there with her husband and their two sons (Benjamin – born October 1875 and Charles – born April 1880), and her niece, Sadie Fitch.

In 1887, Julia purchased the land that included our property. At the time, the property would have been larger than the 40 acres we own today, as the railroads had a mandate to sell lots of 160 acres minimum. This means that the 40 acre sections to the North, Northwest, and West of our property once belonged to Julia.

Julia’s husband Benjamin was a veteran of the Civil War, although since he turned 18 in 1864, he only served for 8 months before the war ended in 1865. Benjamin F. Blood was a member of Company I, Sixteenth Iowa Infantry. In 1880, he was registered as a blacksmith working in Portland. He died in August, 1900. Julia filed for a widow’s pension in Oregon on August 24, 1900. Her pension amount was $8/month..

United States Patent Office: Benjamin F. Blood, of Forest Grove, Oregon; Julia S. Blood, Administratrix of said Benjamin F. Blood, deceased. On April 5, 1900 Benjamin filed for a Patent for “certain new and useful Improvements in Swage-Blocks”. The Serial Number was 99,973.

On September 7, 1905, Julia died at age 62 of unknown causes. The funeral was held the next day, at the home of her adopted daughter, Mrs. J. W. Scott of Carlton, Oregon. She was a member of the First Baptist Church in Carlton. She was buried in the Carlton cemetary (though the gravestone has not been identified).

Two of Julia’s brothers followed her to Oregon. They lived in Wapato, OR, which is due east of our property, and a couple of miles south of Gaston along Hwy 47.  Wapato Lake was the name of the body of water, since drained for agriculture, on the valley floor to the east of our hill. One of her brothers, C. W. Fitch, was married to the daughter of J.R. Beach, who was a Justice of the Peace in Cornelius and may have been the first one to move to the area. He was a railroad engineer.

H.G. Fitch was the niece Sadie’s father and he was actually married 3 times, 2 wives dying prior to coming to Oregon, including Sadie’s mother. Julie lived with Sadie ( Fitch then married to a James Scott) at the end of her life.

Both brothers and C.W.’s wife Bertha are all buried in the Cornelius Methodist church cemetery.