Biography of Oliver P. Coshaw

OLIVER P. COSHAW. – This leading citizen of Brownsville, for many years a merchant of that place, was born July 4, 1831, at Connorsville, Indiana. His parents, who were characteristically thriving and agreeable people of French extraction, went to Iowa in 1843. After leaving school, the young Oliver was employed in a store as salesman, clerk or book-keeper, and there laid the foundation of knowledge and experience which has so well served him in his later years.

In April, 1851, he engaged to drive an ox-team to Oregon for Honorable R.B. Cochrane, long known in our state and now, as for many years, a substantial citizen of Eugene. In return for his services, he received his board and passage and many incidental advantages. The first home was made and a claim taken near Brownsville, where Mr. William Cochrane had been living since 1849. Mr. Coshaw occupied himself with such work as was to be obtained in that sparse community, and in work on his claim, and September 23, 1853, was ready to bring to his new home as his bride, Miss Sarah, the daughter of William Cochrane. This was their home until the title to their claim was perfected.

During the Indian trouble, he was one of the volunteers belonging to Captain Keeney’s company. He relates with great good humor the many shift and resort of the soldiers who were all armed and mounted, had but little ammunition, and were often lacking provender for the horses. A freak which caused much merriment and some little trouble occurred in the Rogue River Mountains, amid the winter rain and mud, when their horses, – their own animals, – were shivering in the damp, and growing to resemble greyhounds in figure. The order was given to take the horses to grass and recruit them up for the campaign in spring. Captain Keeney observed that he knew of some good grass in Linn county, and ordered his company home. This was not construed as desertion; and the Linn county boys proved their full fidelity some months later. As the years sped by, Mr. Coshaw secured near Harrisburg a farm which he still owns. He is also proprietor of a beautiful farm well improved with buildings and orchard near Brownsville, and besides these has a cattle ranch east of the Cascade Mountains. His active business career has ever been passed at Brownsville, where he was for twenty years a leading merchant. He was also a promoter and organizer of the Brownsville Woolen Mills, for a time holding one-fourth of the stock. For the past few years, he has been disposing of his numerous business interests, and is living in the quite and pleasure of a well-spent life.

His wife, Mrs. Sarah E. Coshaw, who no less than himself has been the builder of the fortunes of the family, was born January 23, 1837, in Putnam county, Missouri, and came with her parents to Oregon in 1847. At the age of sixteen she was married to Mr. Coshaw, and has lived a representative life of the mothers of their state, bringing up in health and mental vigor ten children, – W.L., Sophronia A., Robert H., James N., Mary E., Oliver P., Sarah E., Ida A., George H. and Kate E. Seven of the ten are married, and are conducting homes of their own.

So far as possible, Mr. Coshaw and his wife, having dismissed care, and are enjoying the years on the sunny western slope of life. None of their reminiscences are more agreeable than those of the early da7ys, when they began to keep home in the little log cabin twelve by fourteen feet, with its floor of puncheons and doors of shakes, and furniture of the same, and for the babies a cradle of split cedar boards which answered for the ten. They had a big open fireplace, too, to burn roots and logs; and all the cooking was done with frying pan and coffee can over the coals.



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

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