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Privately Photographed, 1908-1912. 1908-1912, N. P. - First edition. 11 1/2" x 9 1/4" oblong, pebbled, red cloth binder, titles stamped in black on the front cover, twenty-one original silver gelatin photographs, five with typed captions attached to the images, pencil manuscript notations on verso of two images, with all photographic images each preserved in archival, plastic, transparent sleeves. This small archive of 21 original silver gelatin photographs (including 1 duplicate) provided evidence against the Oregon & California Railroad Company during the famed "Looters of the Public Domain" trials, showing that very few of the "homestead" filings in public timber lands actually proved up. The images record cabins in heavily forested plots with each identifying the specific quarter section of land, and settler of record, with nearly all unoccupied, including those purportedly owned by Jess H. Lewis, Roy W. Minkler, George Edgar MacLafferty, Fred L. Freebing, Fred A. Floeter, Vincent Vivan MacAboy, and others. McClure, Benjamin Gifford, and many other noted Pacific Northwest photographers were contracted by Angell & Fisher on behalf of the O.&C.R.R.; Co. to shoot images. This significant group of original photographs of timberland homesteads in Columbia County, Oregon near St. Helens, was commissioned by the attorneys defending the Oregon & California Railroad Company for the many trials and appeals surrounding the legendary Oregon land fraud scandal which resulted in indictments against Senator John Mitchell, and U.S. Representatives John Williamson, and Binger Hermann. Ironically, these photographs ended up being visual evidence against the O.& C.R.R. Co., because they often showed dilapidated, or abandoned cabins in dense timber, overgrown, and with no signs that the homesteads were working farms providing for the filers, or their families. McClure (1870-1956) testified that he had been hired by Angell & Fisher, and then accompanied by the company's Portland manager, Alfred White Rees (1861-1944), often along with another employee named Ben Irwin to shoot the photos. He further testified that they traveled to Houlton, OR (now a timber ghost town) in ColumbiaCounty, and then hiked in on foot over steep and rugged terrain to these remote homesteads because there were no roads, and often just faint trails. Rees, Angell, and Irwin often provided the information of the exact citing of the homesteads, as well as the original filer's name. According to the witnesses, and the photographers (Benjamin Gifford as well), almost every owner was not present on the claim, except for George Edgar MacLafferty (1875-1942), who at the time had gone to work for the Milton Creek Logging Co., along with one of his neighbors Vincent Vivian MacAboy (1885-1970). The scheme had emerged out of the 1870 grant to the O. & C. R.R. Co., by the United States government, of 3 million acres to build a line south from Portland to California, with every other piece of land to be sold to homesteaders at $ 2.50 an acre for the 160 acre parcels. Over 90% of the land in some areas was so heavily timbered, it could not be farmed, so Edward Harriman and Stephen Puter enlisted local loggers, laborers, and others to register for parcels as settlers, build a cabin, and then sell large accumulated parcels back to the O. & C.R.R. Co., or their logging company partners for timber harvest. After Harriman fired Puter, the unemployed bookkeeper became a whistle blower and exposed the fraud ring to the Oregonian newspaper, testified against the company, and wrote the scathing expose, Looters of the Public Domain. Initially, more than 1,000 indictments were issued in the case. U.S, District Attorney Francis J. Henry narrowed down the list to the 35 most egregious offenders, including U.S. John H. Mitchell and U.S. Representatives John N. Williamson and Binger Hermann. Henry charged that Mitchell had illegally used his position to aid a client in the acquisition of patents to fraudulent land claims. Mitchell was sentenced to six [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
Last Found On: 2016-11-26           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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