Facts and Historical Overview
||Gilliam County Courthouse
221 S. Oregon
Condon, OR 97823
GILLIAM COUNTY HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
Reprinted from Oregon Historical County Records Guide
The Legislative Assembly created Gilliam County on February 25, 1885, from the eastern third of Wasco County because residents felt they were too far from the county seat in The Dalles. In 1899 a portion of southern Gilliam County was used to form Wheeler County. Gilliam County is bordered today by the Columbia River to the north, Wasco and Sherman Counties to the west, Morrow and Grant Counties to the east, and Crook County to the south. Gilliam County's area is now 1,223 square miles. It was named after Colonel Cornelius Gilliam who died accidentally while commanding the Oregon volunteers during the Cayuse War of 1847.
When the Legislative Assembly created Gilliam County, Alkali (now Arlington) was selected as the temporary county seat. The question of a permanent county seat was placed on general election ballots in 1886, 1888, and again in 1890 when Condon became the permanent seat of government in Gilliam County. Condon was originally known as Summit Springs which in 1884 took the name of a young lawyer from Alkali, Harvey C. Condon, nephew of the state geologist and university professor Thomas Condon.
Once the question of the location of the county seat was settled, voters in Gilliam County proved reluctant to provide a courthouse in Condon. After the county seat moved to Condon in 1890, county government operated out of a two-room house until 1903 when the county court appropriated money to construct a courthouse. This building was destroyed by a fire in 1954 resulting in heavy losses to the contents of the building including a large number of county records. The next year, the county replaced the burned structure with the present courthouse built on the same site.
Gilliam County continues to have a county court form of government. Elected officials now include two county commissioners, a county judge, district attorney, assessor, clerk, sheriff, surveyor, and treasurer.
Gilliam County is served by Senate District 28, Representative District 59, and the Second Congressional District. Gilliam County belongs to the North Central Regional Strategies Board which includes Gilliam, Grant, Morrow, Sherman, Wasco, and Wheeler Counties. They have targeted agriculture, environmental services, and interstate tourism as key industries for regional economic development.
For many years, Indians had traversed the county on well-worn trails to reach fishing, hunting, foraging, and trading areas. Many of these trails are still visible in the rangeland. The first non-native people in the area were Americans following the Oregon Trail to the Willamette Valley. In the late 19th century, new settlers arrived from the midwestern and eastern United States and Europe. Many settlers were part of the larger reverse migration of people who had originally settled in the Willamette Valley.
Gilliam County is in the heart of the Columbia Basin wheat area. Its economy is based primarily on agriculture centering on wheat, barley, and beef cattle. Apples and other irrigated crops are becoming an increasingly important part of the economy of the north end of the county. After agriculture and livestock, other principal industries of Gilliam County include tourism, hunting, and fishing.
Gilliam County's population has dropped from a high of 3,960 residents in
1920 to 1,750 in 1992.Pioneer Name
Some GILLIAM COUNTY PIONEERS
from the previous Gilliam County USGenWeb site:
Hans Nicholi ANDERSON & Inger Marie JACOBSEN, Condon 1883
George W. BOONE & Wealthy J. BOONE,Lonerock 1871
James Pulliam CASON & Mary E. MARSH,Shutler Flat near Arlington 1882
George Allison COFFIN & Alice Elizabeth SHORB, Thirtymile Creek
John Charles COONEY & Mary Ellen SUMMERS Matney Flat near Condon 1883
Jeremiah A. CRUM & Sarah E. RINEHART, Olex 1883
Clemens Augustus DANNEMAN & Sarah E. DANNEMAN, Clem 1879
Linus Wilson DARLING & Alcy Delilah NEAL, Lonerock 1878
Pinkston DYER & Mary Wiloughby, Ferry Canyon 1899
William George FLETT & Lydia DOUGHTY, Rock Creek 1870
Alexander McLaren HARDIE & Elizabeth Ann PHILLIPS, Lonerock 1877
Hugh HENDRICKS & Nancy Jane GILKENSON & Robert Eben HENDRICKS & Angie SMITH,
Albert HENSHAW & Isabella,Lonerock 1882
John MADDEN & Madora BOONE, Lonerock 1871
Samuel MALEY & Elizabeth Smith FARRAR, Condon 1881
Thomas "Tip" C. MOBLEY & Frances LEONARD, Olex 1872
Dr. B.F. NOTT was the first dentist in central Oregon! He may have been called Dr. Ben or Dr. Frank Nott.
Giles G. PARMAN & Rebecca Elizabeth (Carl) PARMAN, Condon 1884
Charles James QUINN & Catherine "Kate" Jane GIBBONS, Arlington 1883
Elijah W. RHEA, Alkali (now Arlington) 1880
Silas Adelbert RICE & Mary Jane COTTRELL, Condon 1884
Conrad SCHOTT & Mary Francis MOBLEY, Olex 1867
Alex SMITH, Olex 1865
Joseph SMITH, Olex
Martha Ann STEPHENSON GARLETT WADE
OlexEdmund Alphonso STINCHFIELD & Phoebe PERRIN MCCONNELL, Mayville after 1867
David B. TRIMBLE & Eliza Z. TRIMBLE, Condon
William P. WEST & Mary L. MULKEY, Rock Creek 1863
Henry WILKINS & Carrie Ann CRUM
ClemAndrew JACKSON & Nancy Elmira WOODFIN YARBROUGH, Arlington|
Thomas SNELSON & Nancy Jane PIERCE WOODFIN, Arlington
James EDWARD & Laura Maybelle WARD YARBROUGH, Arlington
Jesse Berryman & Julia Bell JONES, Section 24, near Olex 1882