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Musical DeMoss Family Serenades Oregon

James DeMoss and his wife Elizabeth were part of an 1862 wagon train.  They were musicians who traveled the world with their five children, playing 41 different instruments.  Son George played two cornets at the same time and also had the ability to play several different pieces of music at the same time. Son Henry composed the song “Sweet Oregon,” which became the unofficial state song for a number of years.

In June 1897, they went to Crater Lake.  It had been a year of deep snow, and their personal stage coach, which they had bought for touring in Carson City for $150, was often stuck in the snow. Then they had to remove a log to clear the road.  Horses yanked a rope Henry held, pulling his arm out of joint as they were navigating one of the 10-to-15-foot snow drifts.  George took Henry 14 miles down the mountain to the Indian Agency where a surgeon set it. 

They did manage to see the beautiful lake and serenade it with the song “Sweet Oregon.”  During his 61-year career, George played more than 12,000 concerts.

Source:  De Moss, Elbert Oliver.  Sweet Oregon.  Maverick Publications, 1995. Print.

Maryann Mason has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon.