There are numerous accounts recorded regarding the life of John M. Shively. From the Orgegon Encyclopedia, written by Susan Badger Doyle, is the record that "John M. Shively was an Oregon pioneer who was active in terriorial affairs as a businessman, lobbyist, postmaster, surveyor, and gold seeker. He was born April 2, 1804, in Shelby County, Kentucky. He taught school and opened a dry goods store before marrying Martha Meade Johnson in 1836. In the Panic of 1837, he lost five stores that he had built in St. Louis, and he became a surveyor. When his wife died in 1842, the decided to go to Oregon.
As a promoter for immigration to Oregon, Shively enlisted 300 people to travel with him. After failing for receive military protection for the journey from the U.S. Congress and losing the confidence of almost all of his fellow travelers, the left St. Louis in spring 1843 with six others. At Independence, Missouri, he joined the large train that made the first great migration to Oregon. When they reached Fort Hall, Shively was one of thirty who broke off from the rest and made an unsuccessful attempt to find a more direct route to the Willamette Valley. They rejoined the main train at Fort Boise and arrived at Fort Vancouver, by way of Whitman mission and the Dalles, in October.
In 1844, Shively settled on a land claim at Astoria and laid out a town, but the Hudson's Bay Company disputed his claim and forced him to leave the area. In April 1845, he travled east on the Oregon Trail to St. Louis and then to Washington, D.C., where he lived for more than a year. While there, he participated in the Northwest boundary negotiations, lobbied for mail service to Oregon, and published a guidebook, Route and Distances to Oregon and California (1846), which includes general advice to emigrants.
In March 1847, the U.S. Postmaster General appointed Shively postmaster of Astoria, the first postmaster west of the Rocky Mountains. That summer, he and his second wife, Susan Eliott, traveled to Astoria, carrying the first U.S. mail overland to Oregon. He served as postmaster and justice of the peace in Astoria until he was lured to California by the gold rush in 1849. On his return voyage home the next year, he lost all his earnings in a shipwreck and then learned that he had been replaced as postmaster. From 1851 to 1854, he served as Clatsop County surveyor and road commissioner.
When gold was discovered in southern Oregon in the early 1850s, Shively left for the goldfields and made a good deal of money at Shively's Gulch near Jacksonville. He eventually returned to Astoria to administer his extensive properties there. His wife, Susan died in 1883. Shively died ten years later, on April 4, 1893, after spending five years bedridden in an Astoria hospital."
The following information was extracted from The Weekly Herald, August 30, 1845, Page 278, Column 6:
Very Interesting News From Oregon.--Another Revolution Probable In California.--We received by yesterday's Western mail the following late and interesting intelligence from California and Oregon.
According to the advices, there is likely to be another revolution in California, and that the emigrants to Oregon are making fine progress--fine for a trip through uninhabited regions.
[From The Western (MO) Expositor, Aug 6.]
A company arrived here on Thursday last, part of whom were from Oregon, and the rest from California.--The parties met in the wilderness on their way in, and then came here together. Mr. J. M. Shively, from Oregon, informs us that he left October on the 19th of April last. He states that the settlers have a fine prospect for an abundant crop this year; and that they were making ample preparations to have every thing necessary for the emigration which went out the present year. He informs us that he met the advance party of the Oregon emigrants who went out this year on the 9th of July last at Green River, about 200 miles this side of Fort Hall. The emigrants were travelling in detached parties, the last of whom he met only one day's travel beyond Fort Laramie. Nothing had occurred to them on their route worthy of particular notice. They were all well supplied with an abundance of provisions and their stock and teams had stood the trip exceedingly well, with the exception of their horses. These he states were poor, and seemed much jaded and exhausted. There was no sickness of any kind amongst the emigrants. He states that the number of cattle was immense. The emigrants numbered about 2375 souls, large and small.
Owing to recent disturbances in Oregon with the Wallawalla Indians, it was anticipated that the emigrants would be harrassed by them on their route. They were advised however, of this anticipated attack, and intended gathering at For Hall in sufficient numbers to repel any attack that might be meditated against them. Mr. Shively is of opinion that the settlers in Oregon will have disturbances with the Indians during the coming winter, but nothing serious was apprehended from this unexpected outbreak.
He states than many of the settlers are in favor of organizing an independent government, thinking themselves too far from the United States for protection unless the American government would act with more promptness and decision than it has done heretofore.
Major M. Harris, better known there as "black Harris", was in Oregon and engaged in hunting a better road than the one now travelled from Fort Hall to Oregon city.
Mr. Shively brought a large number of letters for the different sections of the United States.
From Mr. Sappington, who left California on the 4th of April last, we have confirmation of the recent revolution which has been published heretofore. The citizens of the country have appointed a Governor of their own, but it was anticipated that another revolution would take place, and that the old government would be re-established. He brings no other news of particular importance.
On yesterday evening another small company, under the superintendance of Mr. L. W. Hastings, left our place for California. They seem to be men of the right stamp for such an undertaking, and leave right willingly for the plains. Apparently regardless of all dangers, they venture forward bouyed up with hopes of success, and stimulated to deeds of daring, by the desire of bettering their condition and that of their friends who have gone before them. The season of the year for such a jaunt, is unusually late; but they seem to think not, and appear determined to show to the world, that nothing need prove an obstacle to our crossing the plains. Success to them. Below we give the names of the company and their residence:
Lanisford W. Hastings, (Captain), San Francisco, California; Dr. R. Semple, Alton, Ill, (6 ft., 8 in. high); O. S. Burnham, Cincinnati, Ohio; J. Nash, South Alabama; A. H. Crosby, Lexington, Mo.; W. N. Loker, T. Merange, St. Louis, Mo.; T. E. Robbins, St. Charles, Mo.; J. Bristol, N.Y. City; C. Venerable, Hagerstown, Md; J. G. Ward, R Rankin, Springfield, Ill; N. B. Smith, H. Downing, J. B. Stebbins, P. Mendenhall, H. C. Smith, St. Josephs, Mich.; J. A. Simpson, C. Carroll, S. Bancroft, P. S. Phillips, A. Little, T. F. Waters, Iowa.