Biography of Hon. Jackson L. Morrow

HON. JACKSON L. MORROW.- It is not so uncommon a thing in this land of a great future for a man to lay out a town or build a city; but there is, we believe, but one man in the state who may be called the maker of a county, and whose name is perpetuated in its designation: that man is Jackson L. Morrow, of Heppner, Oregon, whose sketch is here presented. This honor was worthily bestowed upon him at the instance and almost insistence of his neighbors, in recognition of his privations and labors in settling up the region, in building Heppner, and in securing the division of Morrow county from Umatilla.

A region which was once regarded as inaccessible and desolate has now become, by the efforts of a driving body of men, beginning with Mr. Morrow and Mr. Heppner, a thriving and prosperous portion of Oregon. The population of the county is now six thousand, and of Heppner itself about one thousand, with a good outlook in the near future for five thousand. A branch line of the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company brings the city within easy reach of all the markets, and taps a great grain and grazing belt. The first settler upon the townsite of the city was G.W. Standsbury. Morrow and Heppner came next; and together they set in operation the works which have made the place. A subsidy of twenty-five thousand dollars was paid to the railroad company to extend their line and make the city their terminus, as it will be for many years. This shows something of the enterprise of the place.

Mr. Morrow was born in Kentucky in 1827. His father was a trader, and in pursuit of his calling moved with his family to Illinois in 1837, and after three years to Iowa. There he was educated at Mount Pleasant. Thirteen years subsequently the young man came to Oregon, soon finding a home on the Sound at Olympia. Afterwards, in Mason County, he engaged in merchandising, lumbering, mail-contracting, ranching, etc., and induced his parents to come from the East and make their home upon this coast. The father afterwards moved to Washington Territory. He was a man of more than average ability, and showed his capacity for public affairs by taking an active part in politics, and occupying a seat in the territorial legislature. The son, the subject of this sketch, was also interested in matters political, and was auditor of Mason county, to which office he was elected on the Democratic ticket.

During the Indian war of 1855-56, Mr. Morrow did essential service in collecting the Indians who were disposed to be peaceable at the head of North Bay. It was the policy of the government to feed and protect all the Indians that were willing to surrender their arms, to parties appointed to receive them, and be friendly with the Whites. Owing to this order during the fall of 1855, Mr. Morrow went with Colonel Simmons to Fort Nisqually, and with the influence and assistance of Doctor Tomie got the consent of the Indians to be moved to the head of North Bay, where they could be more easily protected from the Whites, and where they would also be away from the influence of the hostiles then in the field.

Morrow and Simmons succeeded in gathering up some two or three hundred and locating them at that point, and kept them for at least four months. Morrow then received orders from Colonel Simmons and Governor Stevens to move them onto Square Island, the place already selected for the reservation. At that point they collected at least two hundred more Indians, making five or six hundred in all. His duties were somewhat disagreeable, as he must give passes and assign daily rations; and, feeling this work monotonous, he resigned and went into the volunteer service, serving in that capacity until the end of the trouble. Many of his experiences led him into peril; and he performed a number of memorable exploits in the field.

In 1864 Mr. Morrow turned his face away from salt water, going to the heart of the Blue Mountains, and engaging at La Grande in general merchandising. He was elected at that place a member of the common council, and was chosen president of that body, – ex officio mayor. Mr. Morrow was also county treasurer of Union county for four years. After eight years in that delightful valley, he located in that portion of Umatilla county which now is constituted Morrow county, building the first house and opening a stock of goods, with a determination to make a city. In this he has been remarkably successful, the city of Heppner (named by himself for his partner) having a phenomenally rapid growth.

He was elected to the Oregon legislature while yet in Umatilla, and in the two houses of that body pushed through the bill to erect the county of Morrow, – named thus at the desire of his constituents. He still conducts his business with marked ability, and enjoys the personal esteem of a large and influential community. He is one of Oregon’s prominent, representative men, whose life-work is incorporated distinctively in her structure. His city is his pride; and he looks confidently to its large increase in a short space of time.

In the Indian war of 1856 he bore his part, being appointed assistant agent on the Squak Reservation, and doing active duty as scout under Captain Smith.

He married in Iowa Miss Nancy McEwan, and brought his wife to this new home in the West. Of their eight children but one, now an active man of thirty, is living.


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

Search Military Records - Fold3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top