Sunday, October 3, 2021

Are we Sure there is a Waldo DLC under the Meyer Farm?

The update in the paper on the Meyer Farm proposal and community debate is fascinating, especially for the history in the second half of the 20th century.

Link to Joseph Waldo?

But it is also asserted that the land is on a Donation Land Claim associated with Joseph Waldo. This has seemed like a simple thing to verify and learn about. But there is no proof, and it may be urban legend rather than good history.

On Marion County's current survey map, DLCs are outlined in blue and corners marked with big dots.

No Waldo DLC on current county map

We already saw that the 1919 survey map doesn't show any Waldo DLC here. Its DLC outlines correspond closely with the blue ones in the current County map. So either it is accurate, or both maps reproduce an error and omission.

The survey maps show no Waldo DLC

The 1929 Metsker map, which shows historical DLCs under more contemporary lot divisions, also indicates no DLC here. 

So the assertion that the Meyer Farm parcel is a remnant of a historically significant DLC is murky at best.

Nearly a century ago, there was also confusion.

December 26th, 1930

Writing in 1930, the Bitsman says:

Joseph Waldo never married. He spent a good deal of his time with the Pringle family, but a large portion of his life after coming to Oregon was lived at the home of Fabritus Smith - on the knoll east of the extension of South Commercial street [the area of the Smith-Ohmart house; the one we know today was not yet built, however]....

The donation claim of Joe Waldo was south of Salem, on Battle creek. 'Lon Waln now owns the land, or part of it. It was where the road that is the south extension of 12th street meets the Pacific highway.

Battlecreek and the Waln land were further south. That parcel is definitely associated with the Pringle family, though it wasn't a DLC. The 1852 and 1919 survey maps don't show a Waldo homestead or claim there, either, however. The 1852 map does show a Pringle farm on what we now call Waln Creek. (See here for a little on Battlecreek, Waln, and Pringle.)

Pringle and Mintos settle
on what is now Waln Creek
but they have no DLCs here
(1852 and 1919 survey maps)

We may not have a very firm notion about where Joseph Waldo actually farmed and lived. Evidence for a DLC associated with him is hard to find.

The assertion about a barn from 1854 is also hard to square with evidence from the paper.

Burned down, Sept. 23rd, 1865
Albany State Rights Democrat

"The large barn," not just a barn, but the barn, burned down in 1865, so it's harder to see one from 1854 that survived to today.

The one detail that does seem to line up is a small lot and building from 1915.

Zooming out a bit, even if we can establish a connection with Joseph Waldo, how strongly do we really want to lean into that history? It may be more an instance of the kind of "heritage" we should critique more than celebrate.

Joseph Waldo may have brought slaves to Oregon, and is thought by some to be the father of America Waldo, who later married Richard Bogle. Their wedding in 1863, condemned by Asahel Bush, contributed to the ouster of Rev. Obed Dickinson. In that 1930 piece, the Bitsman was writing about Tom Davis, who may have been one of the slaves brought by Waldo here. (See here for a little more on the Waldo-Bogle story.)

In the end, Joseph Waldo died in 1871, and may not be someone we wish uncritically to celebrate. The Waldo of that generation who deserves more attention as part of our local heritage as a complicated and interesting person is sure to be Daniel rather than Joseph.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added link to previous note on Meyer Farm and its prospective zoning, with the update on the 1919 map.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Minor update:

Here's a little more. The BLM database has an entry for Joseph Waldo in the right place, 08S 03W lot 11, for 304 acres. But it dates the patent to 1873, and Waldo died in 1871. It also says, "This record has not been checked against the legal land patent. We do not have an electronic image for this document." In the DB there are considerably more patents listed than show up on the survey maps, and I do not know yet what is the nature of the parent-child data relationship, what it means when a claim is listed in the DB but not shown on survey maps. So maybe this will lead to more information.