Biography of James R. Daniel

JAMES R. DANIEL. – The subject of this sketch was born in 1826, and has lived a life that might well be described in poetry as succinct as that in which Othello related his own.

The son of a machinist and shipbuilder of Philadelphia, Mr. Daniel early learned naval craft on the schoolship North Carolina in New York harbor, and on the brig Washington of the Coast Survey, and was then transferred to the Independence and Potomac. After his honorable discharge from the United States navy, he made voyages as able seaman to Havre and Liverpool, and to the West Indies. In 1846 he joined the United States army to subdue Mexico, and was in the exciting scenes of that war until its close, being one of the number to witness the planting of the American colors on the old Aztec capitol. He was in the quartermaster’s department, and at one time had charge of a mule train, loaded with silver dollars, from Vera Cruz to the City of Mexico. He was engaged for a time after the war in business at that old city, and in 1850 came to the mines of California.

With almost every passing year he encountered new romances and adventures. He was with the banished Mobile Guard of France, and served as scout to quell the Indians of the Stanislaus in California. In the month of July, 1852, he sailed for Australia, and on the way prospected the Samoan Islands of Tutuila. After mining in Australia, he came to Oregon, and on Althouse, and Klamath rivers mined with success. On Sucker creek he lost his partner by the bullets of the Indians.

In 1858 he went with a companion to Frazier river, British Columbia, and was one of the fortunates who discovered Hill’s bar, from which himself and partner took ten thousand dollars each within six months. Going now with his money to San Francisco, he fell in the way of an appointment as interpreter for the secretary of the legation to Chile. But soon after reaching this South American country the revolution broke out, compelling his return by smuggling himself off on a Danish ship.

Coming to Portland in 1859, he took a band of cattle to the Umatilla, and changed the epithet, “Hamstring,” applied to the country to “Tu tu willow,” after the Samoan Tutuila. Here he has made his home ever since, although he has made many mining expeditions to British Columbia, and did not neglect to celebrate our glorious Fourth by raising our colors and singing patriotic hymns even across the line. In the spring of 1861, he took out six thousand, five hundred dollars at Oro Fino, Pierce City and Rhodes Creek, but lost his cattle by the severity of the season. In 1862, with his old partner Hill, he procured a train of goods at The Dalles and opened a hotel at Lee’s Encampment, which he afterwards sold to A.B. Meacham. In the same year he was married. In 1878 his loved companion departed this life, leaving six children.

Mr. Daniel’s eight hundred acres of land thoroughly engage his attention; and he did not leave his home even during the time of the Indian scares in 1878.


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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