Biography of David Diggins

Although the subject of this sketch has not resided in Wallowa County so long as some others, nevertheless, he is one of the earliest pioneers of this section, having braved the dangers and suffered the hardships and deprivations in the fifties to assist in opening this country for the advent of civilization’s march. Mr. Diggins has lived the life of a typical frontiersman and pioneer, and to him and his companions is due the honor and distinction of discovering the leading placer mines of this northwest country, which in fact rivaled any on the Pacific coast, and during these long years of labor and toil, he has always demonstrated the fine qualities of manhood with which he is so richly endowed, and has steadily labored for the advancement of the county, and the good of all.

David Diggins was born in Pennsylvania in 1833, being the son of Samuel and Catherine (Fisher) Diggins, and there he remained until the age of twenty-three, then came to Illinois, then a new country, and gave his attention to farming for two years on the fertile face of the Prairie state. In 1859 he started for Denver, but was led by the glowing reports of the excellent region of southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon, to come hither, and he landed in Walla Walla on September 11, 1859. At that early day only two homes were in Walla Walla proper and he sought him a homestead in the vicinity and settled down until the following spring. Then his adventurous spirit led him to seek for gold, and in company with some companions, he went were Pierce City and Oro Fino are not situated, discovering gold there in the same year, 1860. Being assured that they had found fine diggings, they immediately returned to Walla Walla for supplies and then set out for the fields afresh, and soon was opened up the most famous camp of the country and it attracted men from all parts of the world. For eight months our subject gave his attention to searching for the hidden treasure, and then engaged in packing supplies to the miners, so quickly had crowds come to the spot. For two years he continued at that occupation and then returned to his homestead and gave himself to farming. This labor continued uninterruptedly until 1877, at which date he sold his possessions in Walla Walla county and repaired to Umatilla county, taking land and giving his attention there also to producing the fruits of the field. Prosperity attended him in that place as it had also formerly and he was numbered among the leading men of the county. In 1894 he sold out again and came to the famous Wallowa County, settling on a farm seven miles northeast from Joseph. He first owned one hundred and sixty acres, but to this he has added one-half section more, making his estate four hundred and eighty acres of good soil. In addition to this he also owns other property, among which is a house and lot in the town of Joseph, where he resides at the present time, from that point taking a general oversight of his property. During his long career in this country he has devoted himself to raising cattle, horses, and hogs, in addition to general farming and in all his efforts he has gained a gratifying success, and now in the golden time of life’s years he is quietly enjoying the fruits of his labor and is secure in the esteem of his fellows and associates.

Mr. Diggins married Miss Malvina, daughter of John B and Elizabeth J. (Hembry) Pennington, and a native of the Willamette valley, in 1874, and she has joined her labors to his and together they have trod the path of life, sharing its triumphs and partaking of the somber shades together also, and now in the days of the ripe years of life, they journey on together, looked up to and admired by all, justly deserving the commendation and esteem that they have earned in their years of faithful toil.

Mr. Pennington resides in California, but his wife is dead.

Source: Miami News 1890



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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