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John B. Waldo

13th Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court
In office
1884 – 1886
Preceded by Edward B. Watson
Succeeded by William Paine Lord

29th Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court
In office
1880 – 1886
Preceded by James K. Kelly
Succeeded by Reuben S. Strahan

Born October 6, 1844(1844-10-06)
Salem, Oregon Oregon
Died September 2, 1907 (aged 62)
Spouse(s) Clara Humason

John Breckenridge Waldo (October 6, 1844 – September 2, 1907) was an American politician and jurist from the state of Oregon. A native of Oregon, he grew up near Salem as part of a prominent pioneer political family that included father Daniel and brother William. A trained lawyer, he was elected to the Oregon Supreme Court and served for one term from 1880 to 1886, including as the 13th Chief Justice from 1884 to 1886.[1] He also served one term in the Oregon House of Representatives. Waldo spent many summers in the Cascade Range fostering an appreciation for the natural environment, which led to conservation efforts to preserve the range and later to the naming of several natural features after Waldo, notably Waldo Lake.


Early life

Waldo was born in 1844 in Oregon to parents who immigrated to Oregon Country from Missouri via the Oregon Trail in 1843.[1] The family settled near Salem in an area now known as the Waldo Hills in the Willamette Valley.[1] John’s father Daniel Waldo, was also the father of William Waldo (1832-1911) and an illegitimate daughter America Waldo.[1] America’s mother was a slave of the Waldo family who the Waldos brought with them to the Willamette Valley.[2] These slaves were some of the first Blacks in Oregon where slavery was later prohibited, and where “Negros” were also banned.[2] Daniel Waldo was also a politician in the early days of Oregon, while John’s brother William was a lawyer, judge, and state legislator, serving as President of the Oregon Senate in 1885.[1][3]

John B. Waldo’s education was at Willamette University in Salem, graduating in 1866. He then passed the bar in 1870 and began practicing law in Salem.[4] On October 8, 1877, he married Clara Humason of The Dalles, Oregon.[5] They would have one daughter named Edith.[4]

Political career

Waldo was elected to the Oregon Supreme Court in 1880 to a six-year term. He was not re-elected in 1886. During his time on the state's highest court, he served as Chief Justice from 1884 to 1886.[6] John Waldo was also elected and served one term in the Oregon State House in 1888, representing Marion County.[7]


Beginning in 1880, Waldo took annual horseback trips into the Cascade Mountains.[8] Stops included Elk and Davis Lakes, climbing the Middle and South Sisters, Crescent Lake, Odell Lake, Black Butte and many others before his death in 1907.[8] His brother would often accompany him on these vacations, as would John Minto.[4] In 1888, Waldo and four others traveled from Waldo Lake south to Mount Shasta along what is now the Pacific Crest Trail.[9] This is believed to be the first recorded journey of this route.[9]

These trips helped foster his appreciation for the natural world and spark a campaign for conservation of the Cascades.[10] He was consulted by William Gladstone Steel when the later was attempting to get federal protection for Crater Lake.[10] Waldo dreamed of a larger goal of preserving the entire Cascade range.[10]


John B. Waldo died on September 2, 1907, at the age of 62.[4] He was buried at the Pioneer Cemetery in the Salem, Oregon, where other family members such as his father, brother, and wife were also buried.[5] Waldo Lake in the Cascades and Waldo Glacier on Mount Jefferson are named in his honor.[11] However, Waldo Hall at Oregon State University is not named for him,[12] and Waldo Park in Salem is named for his brother William,[13] while Waldo Middle School in Salem is named for his father Daniel.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Salem's Historic Figures". People. Salem Online History. Retrieved 2006-12-21.  
  2. ^ a b "Biographical Sketches of Black Pioneers and Settlers of the Pacific Northwest". End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Retrieved 2006-12-21.  
  3. ^ "Oregon Legislative Assembly (13th)". Oregon State Archives. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2006-12-21.  
  4. ^ a b c d Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1956. p. 256.
  5. ^ a b John Breckenridge Waldo. Salem Pioneer Cemetery. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  6. ^ "Oregon Supreme Court Justices". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2006-12-21.  
  7. ^ "Oregon Legislative Assembly (15th)". Oregon State Archives. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved 2006-12-21.  
  8. ^ a b "History - 1800 to 1899". Deschutes & Ochoco National Forests: About Us. USDA Forest Service. Retrieved 2006-12-21.  
  9. ^ a b "Sky Lakes in Southern Oregon". Retrieved 2006-12-21.  
  10. ^ a b c Mark, Steve. "The Campaign to Establish a National Park in Oregon". Crater Lake. National Park Service. Retrieved 2006-12-21.  
  11. ^ Snowshoe Routes: Oregon, Shea Andersen, 2001, The Mountaineers Books ISBN 0-89886-833-5
  12. ^ Chronological history: 1900-1909. Oregon State University Archives. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  13. ^ Salem Oregon Heritage Trees. OregonLink. Retrieved December 2, 2007.
  14. ^ Waldo History. Waldo Middle School. Retrieved December 2, 2007.

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