The Souvenir of Western Women/Addison Crandall Gibbs, Oregon's War Governor
ADDISON CRANDALL GIBBS, OREGON'S WAR GOVERNOR
By MRS. A. C. GIBBS
ADDISON C. GIBBS passed his boyhood on a farm in Western New York. His early education was obtained at the little red schoolhouse on the corner of his father's farm. Later he went to a neighboring village, Springville, where he spent two years. From there he went to Albany and graduated from the State Normal School. He taught in the school at Watertown, devoting his hours out of school to the study of law, until he passed the examination, which entitled him to practice in the courts of the State of New York. His father, Abraham L. Gibbs, of English descent, traced his ancestry back to the three Gibbs brothers who came to America before the Revolution. His mother belonged to a Holland Dutch family. She spent her early life and was educated in Troy, New York, a city which, in those days, boasted of the finest and most advanced school for young ladies in the state. To the circumstance that Rachel Scobey was educated in this school her children felt themselves indebted. Addison was the only son. He had four sisters, who taught district schools until they were married.
In 1851 Addison left his native state for California, where he remained a few months, when he went north to the Umpqua Valley in Oregon. Here he took up a donation land claim on the site now occupied by the City of Gardiner.
One of his first ventures was a contract to carry the United States mail semi-monthly from the Willamette Valley to Umpqua City, at the mouth of the Umpqua River. For immediate service he purchased a cayuse pony and mounted it, with a flour sack for a mail bag. Thus equipped, he carried the first United States mail across the Calapooia Mountains into the Valley of the Umpqua. The mail carrier, who was hailed as he passed the far-apart cabins, stopped and, taking his flour sack mail bag into the cabin, emptied the bag and let each person select his own mail, tied up what wag left and proceeded to the next cabin. This trip, however, he took but once officially, as he sublet the contract.
By President Pierce he was appointed Collector of Customs for the District of Cape Perpetua, which included Coos Bay and the Umpqua River, with the office located at Gardinier. This office he filled until Buchanan was elected to the presidency, when he resigned and moved to Roseburg. During this term of office he visited his old home in New York State and while there was united in marriage, January 10, 1854, to Miss Margaret Watkins, of Springville.
In 1858 Mr. Gibbs came to Portland, where he built a home and devoted his attention to the practice of his profession. He was an active member of the Taylor-Street M. E. Church and was for many years the president of its board of trustees. For a long time he filled the same position on the board of trustees of Willamette University at Salem, Oregon. He represented Umpqua County in the Territorial legislature in 1853, and was a member of the State legislature in 1860. In 1862 he was elected Governor of the state, the duties of which office, made more onerous by the Civil War conditions, he performed with untiring industry and fidelity.
Many people thought Oregon was entirely out of the war zone, but Governor Gibbs secured proof of a rebel conspiracy and for months had men in his employ who reported to him the meetings and doings of certain friends of the Confederacy, who he had good reason to believe were planning to take the undefended State of Oregon out of the Union. The outcome of his vigilance during this period was afterwards described by one of this same band. "Yes, Gibbs got the best of us, and as things have turned out I am glad of it." After the close of the war. Governor Gibbs gave much attention to locating school lands for the state, which resulted in the reservation of ten thousand acres. This was the first move made in the state toward a perpetual school fund.
At the legislature which convened in 1866, Governor Gibbs received the caucus nomination of his party for United States Senator. When the ballot was taken he was two votes short of election—three republicans voting against him. Before the second ballot was taken he was told of the pecuniary needs of these bolters which must be supplied in order to secure their votes and thus his election. He refused to accede to their demands or to allow other persons to do so in his behalf. The balloting continued with no election until, near the close of the session, the Governor became convinced that he could not draw the recalcitrant members to him, and that if he remained a candidate the legislature would adjourn without electing a senator. He withdrew his name in spite of protests. Subsequently he served several terms as District Prosecuting Attorney and as United States Attorney. Later he entered into a partnership with men in the State of Kansas and New York City. The business of this firm took him to England in 1884, where he remained until his death in 1886.
During his residence in London, Governor Gibbs spent his hours of leisure in studying social conditions. He was surprised at the number of Mormon missionaries and their activity, especially among the laboring classes. As he had made a study of the Mormons and their methods during all the years of their growth in Utah, he spent much time delivering lectures in the communities where these missionaries had labored, that the people might not be misled. He also lectured for temperance organizations. His business would have detained him two years longer, and his last letter home disclosed his plans for his family to join him there. In this letter he mentioned having taken a severe cold. This cold developed into pneumonia, and in two weeks he slept the sleep which knows no waking. The Oregon legislature had his body returned home, and the 9th of July following his death he was laid to rest in Riverview Cemetery, on the banks of the Willamette River. His widow and two daughters still reside in Portland. Charles, the only living son, has a home in Idaho.