The Baltimore Colony" to Oregon
Submitted by:  Lisa Marie Sumner

 
In 1857 a depression hit the country and business failures and bankruptcies prevailed. By early 1858 a group of old friends, business associates, and local professionals, mostly of German decent, met in Baltimore, Maryland to discuss the prospect of venturing toward Oregon. It was decided that Oregon promised new financial hope, and that it would be a far better place to raise their children.
 However risky going to Oregon might have been, these were not people who took risk lightly. These shrewd business people decided they needed more accurate, and more personal information about the land that they were considering to move to. Thus they chose the reliable Dr. Henry Hermann (1812-1869), one of their number, to proceed them to the Pacific, and there by personal observation acquire such details of Oregon as would be convincing to those in Baltimore. They considered Dr. Hermann to be a learned man of wide experience because he had graduated from the University of Marburg and after occupied the chair of Professor of Anatomy and Demonstrator of Surgery there, and as a physician and surgeon in Baltimore City, he was the family physician of most of the assembled crowd. For years he had studied the progression west and the development of new territories. Though he had been tempted to join the California Gold Rush, he decided to stay in MD. Then in the Mexican war he was chosen as regimental surgeon for the troops from Western Maryland, and would have gone, but family considerations prevented.
 In 1840 he had married Elizabeth Hopkins (1821-1900), who would mother the Hon. Binger E. Herman, Theobald Mannell Hermann, Amalia Thursnelda Hermann, Washington Polk Hermann, Jefferson Kazzuth Hermann, Cass Mazzeny Hermann, Otillie Thursnelda Hermann, Franklin Pierce Hermann, Henry Hopkins Hermann, Sophia Maria Ellen Hermann, and Ernest William Hermann. Born on Mar. 1, 1821 in Tredegar, Monmothshire South Wales, England, she had come to the US in 1837 with her father, David Hopkins, who had built the first iron furnace in the US near Cumberland, MD. She would come to live and die on the old Hermann home stead on the South Fork of the Coquille river, abt. 6 miles from where Myrtle Point, OR would eventually sprout.
 About the time Dr. Hermann was preparing the trail that the Baltimore Colony would follow, Oregon was being voted on for admission as a state and a bill for its membership was pending in Congress.
 In order to lay the way for himself in Oregon, Dr. Hermann visited the capital and met with the then Delegate of the Oregon Territory, General Joseph Lane. From Lane, who was also the US Senator elect for Oregon should it become admitted, he obtained prepared letters, addressed to prominent people who lived on the Pacific Coast, acquainting them with the Dr.s purpose in visiting and requesting that they extend to him the full benefits and charities of their good offices.
 Dr. Hermann's son, the young Binger Hermann, came to Washington with his father to meat Lane, and having just finished with the Home Academy courses he wrote in his notes his elation at having visited the capital for the first time. He was fascinated by politics and in awe of the politicians that his father would bring him in contact with.
 Binger went on to start the first public school in the Coquille Valley in 1860, also serving Douglas County as a school teacher at Yoncalla in 1862, and in Canyonville in 1864. Then having studied law he was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1866 and started his first practice in Roseburg. Eventually he was elected to the state legislature representing Douglas County, and two years later, he was elected state senator for Douglas, Coos and Curry counties. He also served as deputy collector of internal revenue for the state of Oregon.
 In 1884, Binger Hermann was elected to the United States Congress as the first representative in Congress for the entire state of Oregon. He was instrumental in many river and harbor appropriations for Oregon and for the establishment of lighthouses along the Oregon coast. And he was the author of the Indian Depredation law, which provided payment for property damage committed by hostile Indians during the Indian Wars.
 In 1897 he was appointed the US Commissioner of the General Land Office. When Vice President Theodore Roosevelt assumed the office of president, he appointed Ethan Allan Hitchcock to the office of Secretary of the Interior. Hitchcock and Hermann butted heads over policy. Roosevelt supported Hermann.
 Hitchcock would go on to accuse the Hon. Binger Hermann of fraud against the government, claiming that information on land fraud in Oregon had been sent to Hermann and had been ignored, and that further Hermann had removed and disposed of several files and letters from the General Land Office concerning certain fraud investigations.
 In a letter to his children entitled 'A Review of 75 years in Sunshine and in Shadow,' written in 1918, Binger Hermann detailed his life and joys, including those shadow years. After his death, in 1932, Harold Ickes, the then Secretary of Interior under Franklin Roosevelt's administration, exonerated Hermann of any wrongdoing.
 But I digress to an earlier time of Binger Hermann's childhood. Just Prior to the departure of his father to Oregon, Baltimore was abuzz with continuous talk of the voyage that Dr. Hermann and a few of his most loyal friends were about to take.
 From New York City the group of early pioneers embarked on a Pacific Mail steamship to Aspinwal, the Atlantic port at the Isthmus of Panama; and then on rail they crossed the land to the old Spanish City of Panama, where a steamship waited for the trip across the Pacific to San Francisco, which then was a small town within the Golden Gate. From there they separated, some of the companions wanting to visit old friends on the Coast. The Dr. proceeded northward to the Sacramento Valley, promising to report his findings back. On horseback he came into Oregon and traveled through the once prosperous mining towns left from the Gold Rush of '48-'49. He also saw camps of Chinese workers who had claimed plots that others had left and found unprofitable or unworkable. Also there were vast pasturing lands for cattle, horses, and sheep, industries that were replacing the search for gold in that region.
 Dr. Hermann crossed the Siskiyou Mountain Range and then went on over  the tributary streams of the Rogue River. After coming from arid Northern CA, to the lush greenery and sparkling waters of Oregon country, he could not help but to fall in love with Oregon. Already spacious barns had begun to dot the verdant landscape along his trail.
 He found cordial welcome in Jacksonville, where one could find superior livestock for that region. While in Jacksonville he was made several tempting offers urging him to move the Baltimore Colony there, and to enter into physician and surgical practice there. However he went on to the Umpqua Valley and found the little village of Roseburg, much of which had recently been moved there from Winchester. There, in Roseburg he found Colonel L. F. Mosher, the Register, and the son-in-law of General Lane, and Colonel William J. Martin, the Receiver of Public Moneys. At the time Roseburg and Oregon City were the only land districts for the territory. But Dr. Hermann found refreshing civility in the company of the Kentucky born Colonel Mosher, who had received classical education and studied law, and who would become the Circuit Judge for that District. A typical Westerner, Colonel Martin had been reared in the South and come to Oregon in 1843. Both of these US Officials where very well acquainted with much of Oregon and the information they gave him proved to be of inestimable value.
 As the Colonels and the Dr. compared notes one day, a settler, Mr. John Yoakam from the wilds of the Coquille, came into the office. He wanted information on public land laws due to a possible dispute over boundaries. Survey work was still due to be completed there and land disputes were growing more popular. Mr. Yoakam told Dr. Hermann about the Coquille area's fertile land, its proximity to the ocean, and the river, which was a navigable current directly into the Pacific. He told Hermann of coal mines, gold, copper, the mild climate, the pure water, the freedom from sickness that had been experienced there. Travel to this highly recommended location was mostly by Indian trail winding through dense timber and rocky canyons, and up steep cliffs. So beautiful was the land and so convincing was Yoakam's story that Hermann was determined to get the whole Baltimore Colony to follow him there.
 Traveling on an Indian pony with cropped ears Hermann followed Yoakam from Roseburg across the Coast Range. The view they received upon setting their eyes on the Coquille River Valley was breath taking to be sure. The forest was uniform and dense and so shining in its green leafy canopy as to resemble a vast lake extending to the horizon and off to the sea. There were evergreens, myrtle, cedar, ash, maple, firs: all untouched by the curling smoke of cabins or camp fires as far as the eye could see. So in love with the sight was Dr. Hermann that he proclaimed that he would look no further, and that he should live and die there in that valley.
 Yoakam and Hermann made their way to the banks of the Coquille River, the trail almost getting lost in the huge ferns. Marks had been left by trappers and explorers on trees to show the way. They found a flat prairie of some hundreds of acres around the river bank, and upon a slight elevation the cabin of a solitary squatter, Harry Baldwin, the Irish writer and soldier pioneer. Not many months in the future this would be Dr. Herman's family home and on the crown of the little hill nearby he would eventually lay in his grave in the Hermann Family Cemetery, a plot of land he would clear with his own hands. A few miles further upon the prairie flat was the abode of the Yoakam family, where the Dr. stayed until his return to Baltimore.
 While in the Coquille Valley he sent articles he had prepared on the resources and probable future of the Valley back to newspapers on the East coast. He explored the mountains surrounding the area and prospected for mineral deposits, and discovered evidences of gold, copper, iron, lead, and coal. He reported that the soil was suitable for various crops from fruit to vegetables and berries. He noted the quality of lumber for commercial use, and mentioned the fish and game was abundant everywhere. He studied the winds, the tides, observed the seasons. He visited Coos Bay and the spacious harbor with its immense capabilities and tributaries.
 Reporting his success to his companions in California and urging them to come to the Coquille Valley at once to start building their homes, Hermann waited and met them, giving them the first choice of the best land surrounding his own home. As such, they began a mostly German community in an area that would become the Broadbent of today. My own grandmother, Mabel Arlene Hermann-Sumner, was born and raised on one of those pieces of property near the Dr.s original Hermann home stead. Her brother, Leslie E. Hermann, lived there his whole life and died while working the land, in the garden, next to his life long home. They are both buried at the old Hermann Family Cemetery.
 Dr. Henry Hermann met a steam ship at the mouth of the Umpqua and left for San Francisco on his way back to Baltimore, MD in 1859. The Dr. was so delighted by Oregon that the colonists rapidly adjusted their affairs of business and said their goodbyes to Maryland. Oregon had been admitted as a state in the Union, and it was drawing attention. So by April 11, 1859 Hermann had been able to assemble the Baltimore Colony in New York City and take them onto the steamer, "Northern Light," of the Vanderbilt line.
 The steam ship passed through the Gulf Stream off of Cape Lookout, then across the Caribbean Sea and past the Bahamas, on past Jamaica, and after ten days they came to the shores of Central America and the rough town of Aspinwal. On the rail they proceeded across the Isthmus and the Panama Canal. They saw the thick jungles full of palms, oranges, bananas, limes, cocoanuts, plantains, and mangoes, with India rubber trees, reptiles, birds, and flowers of every color. They came to the old Spanish City of Panama, and could see their next steamer, the "Uncle Sam," which would take them across the Pacific to San Francisco. They saw many ships, many flags, and even men of war.
 In those days the ships anchored far off of shore at that port, the small boats bringing passengers and cargo in closer, and the Indian / Mexican mixed attendants waded out to carry the passengers or loads to or from the shore. Some of the women were not pleased about being man handled as they were carried to the waiting boats.
 After a distance the "Uncle Sam" anchored off of the Mexican port of Acapulco, where they went sight seeing. They noted the formidable looking castle of SanDiego there upon its high point. And they threw money into the water, where the expert divers among the natives would dive and catch the falling silver before it disappeared.
 Soon the 50 pioneers passed through the Golden Gate and on May 7, 1859 they walked away from the wharves of the famous San Francisco. It was a whole new world to them. But the morning after their arrival in CA a local paper printed an article wishing them well and reporting on the statistical information of the Coquille Valley. It also said they planned to leave the following Sunday for OR.
 The whole party took the steam ship "Columbia" to Port Orford, OR. After arriving May 22nd, they went inland and up the Coast. Ox teams carried the heavy loads, and the children and women, along the beach route. They lead long mule trains, with heavily laden pack mules sometimes spilling precious cargo and breaking valued treasures.
 Few of these high class city folk had ever slept outdoors, so the experience of hiking through the wilderness and making camp under the stars was foreign and sometimes frightening. They ate black bear and venison, and hoped they could avoid becoming prey to wolves. One driver, Charley Hilburn, a brother-in-law  in after years of poet Joaquin Miller, had his wagon spill over and down a bank into briars. They hoisted it back up and made sure no one had been seriously injured before continuing on.
 They reached the place where Bandon now rests, a place where a few years earlier Indians had camped before being forcibly removed. And the place where my younger brother and father now reside. There where no modern conveniences, not even any houses around the Bandon area then. They had however built the massive lighthouse that then stood there.
 One day in May they had their first introduction to their Promised Land.  They rounded the river bend and saw the Hambloch Homestead, a cottage clustered with vines and flowers in a grassy meadow full of dairy cows. They were greeted warmly by Mr. John Hambloch and his wife, with whom they had lunch. They feasted grandly on the fruit and milk and honey and meat that Oregon could provide. After the salty steamer ship food it was welcome relief to their stomachs.
 One days journey past the Hambloch place they found a river camp made of settlers from near their home of Baltimore. There were two families and the Dr. had known them previously in MD. Doc Lowe was one of the party found. They shared a couple of hearty meals then continued, feeling good about their choice to move west.
 On several boats they oared their way home, sometimes passing a lone beaver trapper. William Shroeder, then about 16, was in one of the rear boats near his father and an old man named Pagels. Accidentally, William fell into the water, and Dr. Hermann's son, Binger, dove in to save him. Both boys quickly sank under the water and reappeared minutes later battling for life. William went to an untimely grave, but Binger was eventually carried to shore where his father, luckily a doctor, saved his life. The body of the boy was found 17 days later by a trapper.
 Just a week later the party lost a Mr. Wilde, who was a cigar maker of Baltimore. He was accidentally shot by himself while traveling through dense brush, the trigger pulled by a branch. He left a wife and two children, who had no one else to care for them and an uncertain future. The following week a Captain Harris was accidentally shot by his visitor, William Duke while a rifle was cleaned for a hunt. Then George Harris, a Norwegian born man who was disappointed with life disposed of himself at his solitary cabin.
 Under constant hardship and toil the newcomers homed with those pioneers already there and camped in the woods on the plots they had chosen for their future cabin mentions. Nearby Mr. Binger Hermann would open the first school in the valley. They cultivated there: patience, hope, and pride in their hard work. The Dr. set the example for all. He quickly had planted his garden and laid in a successful crop of tobacco. He imported honey bees and grew flowers for them, having eventually gathered 150 hives. He also planted and found markets for sugar beats flax seed, and many manners of vegetable. The good Dr. Hermann was constantly absorbed with his work and he was the only physician in the area.
 Over the generations the Hermann family would continue to thrive and contribute to the growth of all of Coos County and Oregon. Dr. Hermann's third son, Washington Polk Hermann, my great great grandfather, had come to Oregon when he was 11, having been born Dec. 2, 1848, at Cumberland, Alleghany Co., MD. He attended the school that his brother, Binger, started where Broadbent is now, and then went to Douglas county and became a teacher himself. He taught with success in Coos and Douglas counties for several years. He was married to Nancy Carolyn Brown June 22, 1875. He farmed and taught until 1877 when they moved to Washington. They returned and built a lovely home on the South Coquille River. Washington was buried on the Hermann home stead July 12, 1899. The Myrtle Point Enterprise, a local paper reported July 15, 1899 that Rev. Thomas Barklow was officiating.
 Washington and Nancy had their son, Arthur Bozarth, one of four children, on Sept. 25, 1876, a little over a hundred years before my own birth. He, like his father, live and was buried in the Broadbent area. He married my great grandmother, Letha Agness Neal (1893-1946), on Nov 5, 1911 in Coos Co., OR. They bore my grandmother, Mabel Arlene at their Broadbent area home on Dec 3, 1921. Mabel went on to marry Delbert Lee Sumner, who had come to Oregon from Kentucky as a very young man of maybe 16, by himself.
  At any rate they had my father in Myrtle Point, OR at the old Mast hospital that eventually was turned into a retirement home. I myself was born to Edward Lee Sumner and Della Jean Wagoner-Sumner at the old Coquille Valley Hospital. My sister, my brother, my oldest daughter, and myself were all born at a Coquille Hospital.
 Now residing in Gresham, OR, I raise my children and teach them what little I know about the land. I still stay in contact with some of my family that have stuck out the financial depression that has hit the Coquille Valley since the mills closed. Unfortunately through the years many of the Hermann family descendants have lost the knowledge of how to support themselves from the land itself and from the hard work of their hands. I, for instance, live in an apartment and don't have the benefit of a garden, like I did in Myrtle Point as a child. Still, I teach my daughters to quilt and handcraft arts, like the pioneer women did, and I preserve what I was able to grasp from the past. I remember the way my grandmother's brother used to press his own cider from his own apple grove, and how my grandfather raised cattle. I try to recall how my mother tended our backyard garden in case I'm ever able to apply the knowledge again. And I study the past, so that I might be proud of the future.
 
This is the story of my family as I know it. I hope this can be passed on to help others claim their past and embrace it.
 
Lisa Marie Sumner - LiMaSum@aol.com