Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885

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James Willis Nesmith was born July 23, 1820 in New Brunswick, Canada. He arrived in Oregon in 1843 with pioneer missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman. Nesmith held several public offices, including provisional government supreme court judge, state legislator, captain in the Cayuse, Rogue River, and Yakima Indian Wars, U.S. marshall, superintendent of Indian affairs, and U.S. senator.

From the description of James Willis Nesmith papers, 1845-1885. (Oregon Historical Society Research Library). WorldCat record id: 32652354

Documents concerning a proposal to create a new county in Oregon called Nesmith County, 1911. James Willis Nesmith was the second US Senator elected from Oregon, serving 1861 -1867. He was also elected to the US Congress in 1873 and served until 1875. He served both houses of the legislature as a Democrat.

From the guide to the Proposals of Nesmith County, Oregon, 1911, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

United States senator from Oregon.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Washington, to James Speed, Attorney General, 1865 Dec. 23. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270611443

James Willis Nesmith was the second US Senator elected from Oregon, serving 1861 -1867. He was also elected to the US Congress in 1873 and served until 1875. He served both houses of the legislature as a Democrat.

From the guide to the James Willis Nesmith correspondence, 1867-1874, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

From the guide to the James Willis Nesmith legal document, August 7, 1865, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

From the guide to the James Willis Nesmith account book, 1867-1871, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

From the guide to the James Willis Nesmith print block and broadside, circa 1820-1885, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

James Willis Nesmith, a lawyer, rancher, and important Democratic political figure in Oregon, was born July 23, 1820 in New Brunswick, Canada. He grew up in Maine, the son of Irish immigrants who suffered financial misfortunes. He attended school in Ohio, lived for a time in Iowa, then came to Oregon with the Applegate wagon train in 1843. Settling at first in Oregon City, he served as a judge under the provisional government from 1845-1846, and member of the Provisional Legislature in 1845. He married Pauline Coff in 1846 and took a donation land claim on the Rickreall River in Polk County. He served in the Yakima Indian war of 1855 and was promoted to Colonel. He held the office of U.S. Marshall, 1855-1856, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs from 1856-1859. In 1860 he was elected U.S. Senator and served in Washington from 1861 to 1867. He was a "war Democrat," although he later opposed the Republican program for reconstruction. After returning to Oregon, he was elected to Congress in 1873 to fill the remainder of the late Joseph Wilson's term. Serving until 1875, he retired to his Polk County ranch. After suffering a debilitating stroke in 1884, he was committed to the state asylum in Salem and died at his ranch the following year.

From the guide to the James Willis Nesmith papers., 1845-1961, 1845-1885, (Oregon Historical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Rees family. Rees family papers [manuscript], 1843-1910. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Spencer, Arthur Champlin, 1938-. Arthur C. Spencer III term papers [manuscripts], 1960-1966. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Clarke, S. A. (Samuel Asahel), 1827-1909. Samuel A. and Harriet T. Clarke papers, 1845-1914. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Galloway family papers, 1851-1981 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Georgia Nesmith letter to James Willis Nesmith, September 28, 1893 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
creatorOf Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885. Autograph letter signed : Washington, to James Speed, Attorney General, 1865 Dec. 23. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Historic American Buildings Survey. Oregon. James Nesmith residence plans [manuscript], 1934. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Gibbs, A. C. (Addison Crandall), 1825-1886. Addison Crandall Gibbs papers [manuscript}, 1858-1886. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885. [Account book kept in at his mill in Ellendale]. Oregon State Library
referencedIn Buchtel, Joseph, 1830-1916,. Matthew P. Deady family photograph album [graphic], circa 1868-1894. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Ellendale Woolen Mills (Polk County, Or.). Ellendale Woolen Mills records [manuscripts], 1865-1941. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Bowman, Amos. Campfire orations : Salem, Oregon, 1878. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Tulalip Agency Papers, 1854-1902 Washington State University Libraries: Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
creatorOf James Willis Nesmith legal document, August 7, 1865 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Oregon Governors and Senators papers, 1848-1903. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Phillips, William F. William F. Phillips to J. W. Nesmith [[manuscript], 1854 June 26. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Puget Sound District Agency. Puget Sound District Agency correspondence, 1854-1861. Washington State Library, Office of Secretary of State
referencedIn Samuel A. and Harriet T. Clarke papers, 1845-1914 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Oregon. Legislative Assembly. Records, 1860. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Tulalip Agency. Tulalip Agency papers, 1854-1902. Washington State Library, Office of Secretary of State
referencedIn Addison Crandall Gibbs Papers, 1858-1886 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Autograph album: Abraham Lincoln, his cabinet, and senators, 1864 and undated. Houghton Library.
creatorOf James Willis Nesmith correspondence, 1867-1874 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
creatorOf United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tulalip Agency. Papers, 1854-1902. Washington State University, Holland and Terrell Libraries
referencedIn Hill, William Lair, 1838-1924. William Lair Hill papers, 1833-1973. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Joseph Lane papers, 1848-1940, 1850-1858 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Chapman, A. H. A. H. Chapman letter to D. N. Cooley [manuscript], 1866 January 9. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Deady, Matthew P. (Matthew Paul), 1824-1893. Matthew P. Deady papers, 1850-1923. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Benjamin Stark Papers, 1829-1894 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf James Willis Nesmith account book, 1867-1871 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Buchtel and Stolte (Portland, Or.),. Oregon legislators, governors, and other public figures photograph album [graphic], circa 1875-1880. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf James Willis Nesmith letter to Asahel Bush, 1854 April 4 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Proposals of Nesmith County, Oregon, 1911 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Lanman, Charles, 1819-1895,. Charles Lanman collection on congressional biography [manuscript], 1858-1869. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf James Willis Nesmith papers., 1845-1961, 1845-1885 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885. Public notice, 1878. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1888. James Willis Nesmith reminiscences : Salem, Oregon : ms., 1878. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Morrison, Robert,. Robert Morrison photographic collection [graphic], circa 1858-1902. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Stark, Benjamin, 1820-1898. Benjamin Stark papers, 1829-1894. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Charles Sumner correspondence, 1829-1874. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Huntington, John Webster Perit, 1831-1869. John Webster Perit Huntington papers, 1855-1869. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Myer, Albert James, 1829-1880. Papers. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
referencedIn Lane, Joseph, 1801-1881. Joseph Lane papers, 1848-1875 (bulk 1850-1858). Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Galloway family. Galloway family papers, 1851-1981. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885. James Willis Nesmith letter to Asahel Bush [[manuscript], 1854 April 4. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Pengra, B. J. (Byron J.), 1823-1903. B. J. Pengra letters [manuscript], 1862-1873. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885. Diary, 1843. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885. James Willis Nesmith papers, 1845-1885. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Nesmith, James Willis, 1820-1885. Letter, n.d. : to J.G. Wilson. Washington State University, Holland and Terrell Libraries
creatorOf James Willis Nesmith print block and broadside, circa 1820-1885 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Jacobs, Solomon D. S. D. Jacobs letter to the Postmaster of Nesmith, Oregon [[manuscript], 1852 October 22. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn Matthew Paul Deady Papers, 1850-1923 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
correspondedWith Applegate, Jesse A., 1811-1888 person
associatedWith Baker, W. H., compiler. person
associatedWith Buchtel and Stolte (Portland, Or.), corporateBody
correspondedWith Bush, Asahel, family
correspondedWith Bush, Asahel, 1824-1913 person
associatedWith Chapman, A. H. person
correspondedWith Clarke, Harriet T., 1832-1890 person
correspondedWith Clarke, S. A. (Samuel Asahel), 1827-1909. person
correspondedWith Curry, Geo. L. (George Law), 1820-1878 person
correspondedWith Deady, Matthew P. (Matthew Paul), 1824-1893 person
associatedWith Democratic Party (Or.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Ellendale Woolen Mills (Polk County, Or.) corporateBody
correspondedWith Galloway family family
correspondedWith Galloway family. family
correspondedWith Gibbs, A. C. (Addison Crandall), 1825-1886. person
correspondedWith Hill, William Lair, 1838-1924. person
associatedWith Historic American Buildings Survey. Oregon. corporateBody
correspondedWith Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879 person
correspondedWith Huntington, John Webster Perit, 1831-1869. person
correspondedWith Jacobs, Solomon D. person
correspondedWith Lane, Joseph, 1801-1881. person
associatedWith Lanman, Charles, 1819-1895, person
associatedWith Morrison, Robert, person
associatedWith Myer, Albert James, 1829-1880. person
associatedWith Nesmith Co., Or. (proposed) corporateBody
associatedWith Nesmith, Georgia person
correspondedWith Nesmith, James Willis, family
correspondedWith Newell, Robert, 1807-1869 person
associatedWith Oregon. Legislative Assembly. corporateBody
associatedWith Pengra, B. J. (Byron J.), 1823-1903. person
correspondedWith Phillips, William F. person
associatedWith Rees family. family
associatedWith Speed, James, 1812-1887, person
associatedWith Spencer, Arthur Champlin, 1938- person
correspondedWith Stark, Benjamin, 1820-1898. person
correspondedWith Stark, Benjamin, 1822-1898 person
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Thorton, J. Quinn person
associatedWith Tulalip Agency corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tulalip Agency. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Congress. House. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Congress. Senate. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Oregon Superintendency corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Puget Sound District Agency. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Tulalip Agency. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Superintendent of Indian Affairs corporateBody
correspondedWith Wilson, Joseph Gardner, 1826-1873 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Oregon
Oregon Territory
Polk County (Or.)
Oregon--Ellendale
Polk County (Or.)
West (U.S.)
Oregon
Oregon--Polk County
Ellendale (Or.)
Oregon National Historic Trail
United States
Oregon
Oregon
Oregon Territory
Oregon
Rickreall (Or.)
Oregon Territory
Oregon
Oregon
Subject
Government and Politics
Indians of North America--Government relations
Indians of North America--Wars
Yakama Indians--Wars, 1855-1859
Pacific Coast Indians, Wars with, 1847-1865
Pioneers--Diaries
Flour mills
Agriculture
Politics and politicians
Politics and government--Oregon Territory
Military
Oregon
Political Campaigns
Overland journeys to the Pacific
Indians--Warfare
Rogue River Indian War, 1855-1856
Indians of North America
Bannock Indians--Wars, 1878
Politics and government
Indians of North America--Oregon--Wars
Pioneers
Overland Journeys to the Northwestern United States
Agriculture--Oregon
Ranches--Management
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1820-07-23

Death 1885-06-17

Information

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