Tuesday, October 16, 2012

William Packwood

We played marbles and we played a game of ball in which there were four corners, four batters, and four catchers, ‘four old cat’ as it was then called.
-Reminiscences of William H. Packwood

Packwood was born in Illinois in 1832 and lived in Mt. Vernon and Sparta.  From the best I can tell, in his Reminiscences, he was talking about playing ball while he was going to school in Sparta, which places the reference in the late 1830s or early 1840s.  

[Packwood] was born in Illinois, October 23, 1832.  His father immigrated from Virginia to Illinois.  Mr. Packwood attended school from his sixth to his twelfth year.  The next six years were spent in working on a farm in the Summer and clerking in a store in the Winter.  In 1846 he enlisted in what was known as the Mounted Rifles, and with 24 others under Captain Morris, served as an escort to General Wilson, on his way to California, who had been appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs on the Pacific Coast.  In April, 1850, Mr. Packwood came with his company to Oregon in a vessel commanded by Captain McArthur, father of the late Judge L.L. McArthur.  The company remained at Vancouver, Wash., until the next year when it was ordered to report at Benicia, California.  In December, 1851, his company was ordered to Port Arthur, and was shipwrecked near Coos Bay on January 3, 1852.  He was discharged from the Army in 1853, and then began mining and packing.  At the breaking out of the Indian war of 1855-6, he offered his services and served as captain in the volunteer service.  In 1857 he was chosen as a delegate to the constitutional convention of Oregon, from Curry County.  In 1861 he went to Eastern Oregon, expecting to engage in the cattle business, but the gold discovery that year caused him to abandon this idea.  He was one of the founders of the town of Auburn, nine miles from Baker City, a very important point in its day.  For many years he was engaged in large mining enterprises in Baker County.  He is among the best known and most highly respected citizens of Baker County.  He was the first County School Superintendent of this county. 
-Oregonian (Portland, OR), June 13, 1909

Packwood lived a rather interesting life and is well-remembered as a pioneer in Oregon.  However, he should also be remembered as a pioneer ball-player in Illinois and the greater St. Louis area.  I found his obituary in the Oregonian and I'll try and post that tomorrow.    

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