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Neighbors Covet Same Piece of Timberland

In 1893, before there were National Forests to manage public lands, homesteaders could claim timberland.  Near Spikenard, Ore., along East Evans Creek, two men coveted the same piece of property.

William Childers was ready to file a homestead on 160 acres, a quarter section.  He told his soon-to-be neighbor and friend, Wes Lewis, who looked over the land and decided that 40 of those acres would be a valuable addition to his own property.

Childers slept on his claim Sunday night and headed the next morning for the Gold Hill train station to file his claim at the land office in Roseburg.  Lewis was on the same train, planning to file on a piece of the same land. 

When the train arrived in Roseburg, both men raced to the land office, reaching it together.  Childers won the race by default when Lewis could not file because he had forgotten his naturalization papers.

Aware that timber interests had their eyes on the same land, the Childers family camped on the homestead all summer while William built a cabin to validate the claim.

Source: "A Race for a Party." Ashland Tidings 21 Apr. 1893: 1. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.