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Judge Alonzo A. Skinner Comes to Rogue Valley

When he decided to travel to Oregon from Ohio in 1845, Alonzo A. Skinner was already a member of the bar, and a prosecuting attorney. He became the first judge in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1851, he moved to the Rogue Valley as Indian agent for the area tribes and scouted a location for an Indian agency. Skinner and his interpreter, Chiley Gray, were the first Euro-Americans to settle and build houses in present-day Central Point. 

The T’Vault and Co’s Oregon and Shasta Express stopped at Skinner’s place. People in the Rogue Valley picked up their mail and packages there and it became a popular rest station for teamsters and emigrants traveling to California. 

In 1852, some teamsters looking for mules discovered gold in Jacksonville.  The sudden influx of people, many of them miners who clashed with the Indians, put Skinner’s peacekeeping skills to the test.  In 1853, he entered the world of politics, unsuccessfully running for a seat in Congress as a Whig against a much better known candidate, former Gov. Joseph Lane. 

Skinner lived on his farm until 1856, and ended up on the Oregon Supreme Court.


Source: Genaw, Linda M. At the Crossroads, a History of Central Point, 1850 - 1900. First ed. Ashland, Ore.: Self-Published, 1989. 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.