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William Henderson Packwood

In office
1857 – 1857
Constituency Curry County

Born October 23, 1832
Mount Vernon, Illinois
Died September 21, 1917
Spouse(s) Johanna A. O'Brien

William Henderson Packwood (1832 – 1917), was an American politician who served at the Oregon Constitutional Convention in 1857. A United States Army veteran from the state of Illinois, he was also a school superintendent and acquaintance of President Abraham Lincoln. He was an early resident of Baker City in Eastern Oregon.


Early life

William Packwood was born near the community of Mount Vernon, Illinois, to Larkin Canada Packwood and Elizabeth Cathcart on October 23, 1832.[1] Packwood received two years of formal education and later moved to Springfield, Illinois where he knew future United States President Abraham Lincoln.[1] In 1848 he enlisted in the U.S. Army with Company B of the U.S. Mounted Rifles.[1] The following year Packwood and the company were sent to the newly created Oregon Territory and stationed at Fort Vancouver.[1]


Packwood went to California when gold was discovered there, returning to Oregon in 1851 where he was transferred to Port Orford, Oregon to fight Native American uprisings.[1] In 1853 he was discharged from the Army and became a gold miner for several years.[1] In 1855, Packwood served as captain of the Coquille Guards during the Rogue River Wars against Native Americans in Southern Oregon.[1] In 1857, he represented Curry County in southwestern Oregon at the Oregon Constitutional Convention that met in Salem during August and September, and framed a constitution in anticipation of Oregon becoming a state.[2] He was the youngest of the delegates at the convention.[3]

Packwood then moved east of the Cascade Mountains to Eastern Oregon where he was involved with establishing the town of Auburn in 1862.[1] Auburn was a gold-mining boomtown that was briefly the county seat of Baker County, and Packwood helped plat the town.[4] There he served as the first school superintendent of Baker County in 1862.[1] During the 1864 presidential election he campaigned for Lincoln in that county.[1] Soon after, he was responsible for another Baker County town receiving the name of Sparta.[5] In that town he and his family built and operated a boarding house until 1867.[5]

Later life and family

In later years Packwood mined, was an assistant postmaster, clerk for Baker City, and a police judge before retiring in 1910.[1] In 1862 Packwood married Johanna A. O'Brien, with whom he would father five children.[1] He is the great-grandfather of former United States Senator Robert Packwood.[3][6] William Henderson Packwood died on September 21, 1917 in Baker City[1] with interment at Mount Hope Cemetery.[6] He was the last living member of the constitutional convention at his death.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Corning, Howard M. (1989). Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing. p. 190.
  2. ^ Information About 1857 Constitutional Convention Delegates Sought. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on March 2, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Dielman, Gary. "William Packwood (1832-1917)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Portland State University. Retrieved 2009-04-02.  
  4. ^ City of Auburn. Retrieved on March 2, 2008.
  5. ^ a b City of Sparta. Retrieved on March 2, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Baker County Oregon. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved on March 2, 2008.

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