Memoirs of Orange Jacobs

Produced by David E. Brown, Bryan Ness and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
book was produced from scanned images of public domain
material from the Google Print project.)











To the Pioneers of the State of Washington, whose privations nobly borne, whose heroic labors timely performed, and whose patriotic devotion to the Republic, gave Washington as a star of constantly increasing brilliancy to the Union—this book is gratefully dedicated.



I.My Autobiography.
II.Incidents in crossing the Plains in 1852.
III.Pen sketches of events, amusing, interesting and instructive of a Pioneer’s life on the Pacific Coast, extending over fifty-six years.
IV.Indian civilization, its true methods, its difficulties.
V.Indian customs, legends, logic and philosophy of life.
VI.Religion and reasons for some fundamental doctrines.
VII.Official life and some incidents connected therewith.
VIII.Game animals and birds of the State of Washington.
IX.A few public addresses delivered by me.
X.The result of Pioneer patriotism and energy.



I have often been requested by my friends to write a sketch book, containing, first, my autobiography, with some of the incidents of a life already numbering eighty years and more; secondly, some of the addresses and papers made by me as a private citizen or public official; and, thirdly, some of the impressions, solemn, ludicrous and otherwise, made upon me in my contact with all the forms of the genus homo, principally on the Pacific Coast, where I have resided since 1852—in Oregon for seventeen years; in Seattle, Washington, thirty-eight years, plus the dimming future.

I have finally concluded to undertake the delicate task. If it is ever completed and printed, I fondly hope its readers, if any, may be interested, if not instructed, by these extracts from a long experience of contact and conflict with the world.

I say “conflict,” because every true life is a battle for financial independence, social position and the general approval of one’s fellow-men.

If an autobiography could be completed by an accurate and simple statement of facts, such as one’s birth, education and the prominent and distinguishing events or acts of one’s career, it would be a comparatively easy task. But, even then, too great modesty might incline to dim the lustre of the paramount facts, or to narrow their beneficence; while a dominating egotism might overstate their merits and extent, and exaggerate their beneficial results. Both of these are to be avoided. But where is the man so calm, so dispassionate and discriminating as to avoid the engulfing breakers on either hand? If there could be an impartial statement of the facts I have suggested, still they would be but a veil encompassing the real man. The true man would but dimly appear by implication. Character, that invisible entity, like the soul, constitutes the true man. Any biography that does not develop the traits, the qualities, of this invisible entity is of no value. Character is complex and compound. It consists of those tendencies, inclinations, bents and impulses which come down through the line of descent and become an integral part of the man, and are therefore constitutional. These are enlarged and strengthened, or curbed and diminished or modified, by education, environment and religious belief. Education possesses no creative power. It acts only on the faculties God has given. It draws them out, enlarges and strengthens them—increases their scope and power—and gives them greater breadth and deeper penetration. By education I do not mean the knowledge derived from books alone, for Nature is a great teacher and educator. The continuous woods, the sunless canyon, the ascending ridges and mountain peaks, as well as the sunlit and flower-bestrewn dells and valleys—in fact all of the beautiful and variegated scenes in Nature—possess an educational force and power very much, in my judgment, underestimated. Man’s emotional nature is enlarged—his taste for the beautiful quickened—and his love for the grand and sublime broadened and deepened by frequent intercourse with Nature. Byron felt this when he wrote

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these, our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”

I have mentioned environment above. It is not only a restraining and quasi-licensing, but also an educational force. There are, I fear, in every community, especially on the Pacific Coast, many young persons, who, lacking in fixed moral principles and habits of life like the sensitive and impressionable chameleon, assuming the color of the bark on the tree which for a time is its home—take on the moral coloring of the society in which they move, and become for a time, at least, an embodiment of its moral tone. But let the conditions change—let such persons migrate and become residents of a society of darker moral hue and of lower moral tone—and, like the chameleon, they almost immediately take on the darkened coloring and echo the lower tone. If it is their nature to command, they become leaders in a career of associated viciousness or infamously distinguished in the line of individual criminality. The general result is, however, that having broken loose from their moral moorings, they drift as hopeless, purposeless wrecks on the sea of life.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | Single Page