|John M. Shively|
Mention was made in communication this week about a Shively who lived in Astoria and was "run out of town". The topic sounded too good to pass up and research was done to see if any information could be discovered on this subject.
The following newspaper article was extracted from The Oregonian, Friday, February 13, 1959, Page 17, Columns 1-6:
Now-Honored Astoria Postmaster Run Out Of Town In 1844
By Harold Hughes, Staff Writer, The Oregonian
John M. Shively, the man whom Oregonians and the vice president of the United States will honor in Centennial ceremonies Saturday at Astoria as the first postmaster west of the Rocky Mountains, was run out of town in 1844.
Shively, a surveyor who laid out the streets in Oregon City and later surveyed Astoria, got his pal, President James K. Polk, to appoint him postmaster in 1847. Shively wanted revenge and Polk wanted the post office as firm evidence of the United States' claim to the Oregon territory in the "54-40 or Fight" boundary dispute.
Shively crossed the plains in 1843, laid out Oregon City and moved on to Astoria, where he got himself a half of a donation land claim for his work in laying out Astoria.
Only there wasn't much of a town in Astoria then. The fort had burned in 1818, and, in the words of Shively, the Hudson's Bay factor, Dr. John McLoughlin, had let the town become nothing "but a bald spot".
Although Shively had permission of the factor to lay out the town, Jesse Applegate, the famed wagon train leader, arrived in Astoria and presented Hudson's Bay letters which he attempted to palm off on Shively as deeds--at least this is the way Shively saw it in his later years.
"No powder was burned" between us, Shively reported, but "I pulled up Applegate's land stakes and threw them in the river".
An Indian was hired to chase a partner of Shively's out of town--and the partner fled. Shively stuck it out, even after another Indian who was a poor shot tried to kill him and missed.
Later, Shively and James Birnie, the Hudson's Bay officer, hired the Indian to do the shooting.
Shortly after the assassination try failed, a British man-of-war put in to Astoria and the captain threatened to have Shively put in irons and taken to Dr. McLoughlin's headquarters at Fort Vancouver. The captain and Shively exchanged some lively conversation in which the surveyor was called "an impudent monkey".
Finally, the Hudson's Bay company succeeded in starving Shively out of Astoria. They refused to sell him any provisions. Shively got in his canoe and paddled off up the Columbia River.
Months later he reached Washington, D.C., where he became the chief consultant with Congress on the boundary questioned raised in the "54-40 or Fight" affray with England. He got the ear of the President, who put through the post office measure, "without half of Congress knowing what they were voting on," Shively reported.
Shively came back to Astoria in triumph and set up in 1847 at what is now the corner of 15th and Exchange Streets in Astoria a post office in his residence. It was the first post office west of the Rocky Mountains.
After the Polk administration, Shively lost his job to T. P. Powers, who promptly moved the post office to Upper Town, a rival section of Astoria, leaving Shively's Astoria barren of a post office. But in 1861, Shively was again reappointed and he moved the post office back to his land claim.
Gold Rush Seen
While postmaster, Shively attempted to stimulate business (he insisted) by running off to California during the gold rush. He swore in later years that he was not attracted by gold and would not have left "Uncle Sam" in the lurch.
But gold rusher or not, Shively went to the gold fields and returned with a sack of gold with which he bought a $30,000 schooner engine in San Francisco. His luck turned at this point, and while entering the mouth of the Rogue river, the ship he and his engine were aboard was wrecked and Shively "lost all".
Shively married a second time while hobnobbing back east with President Polk. When he died April 4, 1893, at the age of 89, in an Astoria hospital after several years of illness, the property he conveyed to a son was worth about $200,000. It's probably worth 100 times that today because his claim lay right in the heart of the Astoria business area.
Astorians have long admired Shively because he stood off the British encroachments, but they have long since grown tired of his survey work.
Shively laid the town out with theoretical streets running straight up impossible bluffs and hills. Early settlers actually built some of the streets this way, creating problems that the city was still trying to solve as late as five years ago when they completed a new survey of the city.
In Descendants of Henry and Mary Banta Shively by Lottie Compton McDowell, 1972, Page 12 is the following genealogy information:
John M. Shively, son of Henry and Mary Banta Shively, was born 2 April 1804 Shelby County, Kentucky. Apparently, he spent some time in Orange County, Indiana, as old letters reveal he taught school in Stampers Creek Township before 1832. He is found listed in the 1832 City Directory of Louisville, Kentucky, where he had a dry goods store, known as Shain and Shively, located on north side of Market Street and north of Fourth Street.
He married Martha Ann Johnson, daughter of William F. Johnson, 25 December 1836 (Marriage Book 2--page 157) Jefferson County, Kentucky. William F. Johnson is listed in the 1832 City Directory of Louisville, as having a grocery store on the corner of Jefferson and Preston Streets. Due to financial difficulties, the dry goods store failed. John M. moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, where Martha Ann died in November 1842, while giving birth to twin daughters.
In April of 1843, John M. Shively decided to go to Oregon. He left his small son, Charles W., with his Aunt Sarah and made up a wagon train for the trek to Oregon, leaving Independence, Missouri the first of April 1843, and arriving in Oregon the 12th of October of that same year (Reference--"Personal account of his trip to Oregon" edited by Ralph E. Pinnick, 1971). ....."I made up a company of 120 wagons and 560 souls to go to Oregon."
On arriving in Oregon, he did survey work in Oregon City, where he met Dr. John McLoughlin, the Hudson's Bay Company chief, at Fort Vancouver, Washington. McLoughlin told him of Old Astoria and of the unclaimed land there. Late in the autumn of 1843, he arrived in Astoria, then occupied by Hudon's Bay Company, with James Birnie in charge. He set about surveying lines for a donation land claim. They ordered him to leave, but he refused to do so. His claim extended from what is now 13th Street or the east side of the Bay.
While John M. Shively was in Washington City helping with negotiations for the purchase of the Oregon Territory, he met and married Susan Elliott, daughter of Judge Elliott, in 1847, and she returned to Astoria with him, along with his son, Charles W., who had been living with his Aunt Sarah. John M. and Susan were divorced, but remarried 2 May 1859 in Astoria. Susan died in 1883 and John M. died 4 April 1893 in Astoria.