Founding of Clatskanie

Charles L. Conyers of the pioneer Conyers family of Clatskanie was the subject of an interview by Fred Lockley of the Oregon Journal. Some of the interview is reprinted herewith:

“I have lived in Clatskanie longer than anyone else, ” said Charles L. Conyers, when I interviewed him recently in his store at Clatskanie. “I was born here on September 30, 1864. My people crossed the plains to Oregon in 1852. My father’s name was Enoch W. Conyers. My mother’s maiden name was Anna C. Bryant.

Father served a year in the Mexican war, being discharged on June 17, 1847. Father then returned to Quincy, [IL], where he taught school for a while, and later studied medicine. When we first settled in Clatskanie there was no doctor between Portland and Astoria, so settlers for miles around our home called on father for medical services. He had never graduated from medical college, but through constant practice and what knowledge he had became a very good doctor.

Father learned the key and sounder and was the first telegraph operator at Burlington, Iowa. This was in 1848. After serving as telegraph operator for a year, father decided to take up outdoor work, so he worked as a bricklayer till 1852, at which time he started across the plains for California.

While crossing the plains he heard such favorable reports of Oregon that he changed his destination and came to Oregon City. He put in the winter of 1852 laying brick at Hillsboro. In the spring of 1853 he went to Oak Point, where he worked in Abernathy’s sawmill. Father and mother were married in the fall of 1853. Not long thereafter he came to Clatskanie and bought a squatter’s right to 320 acres of land from Mr. Bennett.

My mother’s father, Elihu G. Bryant, built the first building in Clatskanie. It was on the banks of the Clatskanie river. In about 1872 father circulated a petition and had a postoffice started here. We got our mail once a week by rowboat from Oak Point, on the Columbia river, and up the Clatskanie river to our store. Father was the first postmaster. In addition to the store, he ran a hotel and the postoffice in our home. The town of Clatskanie is located on the donation land claim of my mother’s father, Elihu G. Bryant.

[Elihu G. Bryant] came here in the fall of 1852. In about 1880 he platted the townsite and called it Bryantville, but as the name of the postoffice was Clatskanie, everyone called the place Clatskanie, so grandfather had to give up the name of Bryantville.

My grandfather built the first building in town, but the first business building was built by my brother in law, W. K. Tichenor. The building is still standing, and is now owned by the Clatskanie Drug company.

My father built and operated the first steamboat on the Clatskanie river. Father bought a fish boat 26 feet long, with 2 feet beam, in 1876. He sent to Illinois for a boiler and engine. It came up from San Francisco by boat and we installed it in our little 26 foot boat, which we named the Novelty. This little boat was a good money maker. We carried freight and passengers and did towing on the Clatskanie river.

My brother in law, W. K. Tichenor, started a hotel here in 1882. In about 1890, Hillsler Schute came here from Hillsboro and started a paper, which he named the Clatskanie Chief. After two or three years my father, my brother William Henry Conyers, and myself bought the paper. My cousin, E. C. Blackford, became editor.

The first church built here was the Methodist church. Then came the Presbyterian and then the Catholic.

In the spring of 1897 [?] the Astoria and Columbia railroad began running passenger trains from Portland to Astoria, so for several years I ran a hack and met the trains. Later I started a general merchandise store here, but within the past few years I have specialized in musical goods.

Copied from: The Rainier Review: Vol. XXII; Friday, Jun 29, 1928; No. 49

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