Morgan spreads Paisley knowledge at LCHS

As guest speaker at the monthly Lake County Historical Society meeting, Brenda Morgan provided various bits of trivia that came from her research for “The Oregon Outback” for its members.

Paisley’s Brenda Morgan, researcher for “The Oregon Outback” book, was the guest speaker during the Lake County Historical Society monthly meeting on Thursday, March 15. 

As the researcher for the sizable book about Lake County, Morgan gave credit to writer Dan O’Leary. “One of the biggest openers for me was the Paisley Irrigation Project,” she said, holding up a document with a colorful illustrated cover, which she said was used in a Supreme Court as a case exhibit. This was used as a marketing scheme booklet to attract potential buyers into speculating purchasing land in Paisley. 

Pictures were published in the book, depicting parts of Paisley along with wildlife and vegetation. “I was blown away by the documentation that was available in that era,” she said. She went through a history of litigation of irrigation water of the Supreme Court case that ended about 1916. 

“A combination of rich soil, pure and abundant water, the most favorable climate that can be found anywhere in southeastern Oregon,” said Morgan, reading out of the booklet. 

She then transitioned the topic to talking about John Coughlin, a front man for Kern County, Calif., whose namesake went to the Coglan Hills. She also talked about the man who is often credited with giving Paisley its name, Charles Mitchell Innes, born into a royal family in Scotland and was close to inheriting the oldest state and title of earl. He came to America in 1874 and settled in the Chewaucan Valley to herd sheep with his brother James. Innes eventually passed away in Hotel Paisley in 1908, where he lived for about a month before. “He was friend to everyone, young and old,” reads his obituary. 

Morgan read out a few homesteaders, all sharing unique patriotic and historic names such as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Chris Columbus among many others. 

Occupations listed in the census included stockraiser, farmer, merchant, servant, teacher, teamster, blacksmith, carpenter, woodshopper, were all listed. Unusual ones were pastry cooking, hunter, traveler, medical agent, land lady, traveling musician and gold miner. There weren’t as many nationalities as Morgan expected, identifying either as Irish or German, unless stated they were from Austria, England or Canada. 

“I was surprised there weren’t as many people of Scandinavian descent,” Morgan said. 

According to ledgers, she said that some travelers made great progress in the distance, even compared to those today. They would check on homesteaders, sawed wood, recorded weather, counted cattle and more. “Using homestead records in conjunction with census record helped me provide a better picture of the era and people,” said Morgan. “I think living in this area around 1910-1915 would’ve been a rockin’ and rollin’ place.” 

After her presentation, LCHS members were then free to ask questions from Morgan about the history and lifestyle of Paisley’s past. 

The next LCHS meeting will be held on Thursday, April 19 at the Western Villa starting at 6:30 p.m. Ben Adair is slated as the guest speaker, who will talk about Native American artifacts. For more information, contact Marie Lee at 541-417-0459. 

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