Applegate House, Yoncalla, Roseburg
July 14, 1989
As the coach carried 25 Obsidians and 5 friends toward the historic Charles Applegate House near Yoncalla, Ingrid Carmichael told of three of the interesting living Applegates: Col. Rex Applegate (US Army, retired) who opened his great-grandfather’s hose to the Obsidians, his daughter Shannon, whose recently published book “Skookum” tells the pioneer family’s history, and Carol Applegate who has portrayed family personages and memorable events in her widely-shown paintings. Col. Rex Applegate’s World War II Army career included travelling with Pres. Franklin Roosevelt to meetings with Churchill and Stalin; he was with the O.S.S. and later the C.I.A.; in retirement he is a consultant in crowd and riot control.
Col. Applegate briefly told of the role of Charles, Jesse and Lindsay Applegate in Oregon history, then toured the grounds of the beautifully situated farm, showing the site of the first structure, a blockhouse containing a spring, safeguard against the local Indians who proved to be only friendly. Many of the near-100-foot tall trees on the homestead — catalpa, black walnut, locust and others — have grown from seed brought from Missouri in 1843. Found in a briar patch not far from the house were many old farm implements; some of them had been hand-forged there by the Applegates. The Charles Applegate house was the “mansion” of south central Oregon of the 1850’s. The 7 columns of its front porch reach to the roofline and support a balcony at the 2nd floor level. The house has two entrances on the front — one to the women’s side where originally all the cooking was done in the living room fireplace, the other to the men’s side where they rested by their side of the fireplace. There was no door directly from one living room to the other. A dining room was behind the women’s section, and a gun room adjoining it opened into the men’s living room. On the 2nd floor were 2 large bedrooms and 4 small ones, and a dormitory under the roof on the 3rd floor housed the rest of the 16 children of Charles and Melinda Applegate. Much of the furniture in the house was built by the Applegates from trees on the property, just as the house was built from trees hewn on Charles’ land and milled by him and his relatives. The house was built between 1852 and 1856.
After lunch in the garden, the Obsidians went to Roseburg where two excellent volunteer lecturers took the group through the Douglas County Museum. Its archaeological displays, Indian artifacts, exhibits of pioneer days (rooms-kitchen, living room, bedroom, a bank, dentist’s office, general store, etc), its natural history exhibits with specimens of birds and animals of Douglas County ranging from tiny voles to Roosevelt elk, the pictures of historic houses of the county and, out-of-doors, the extensive collection of early mining and lumbering equipment all made Obsidians want a longer or return visit.
The General Lane House nearby in Roseburg was the final stop. Although Joseph Lane, the first territorial governor of Oregon and its first Senator after statehood in 1857, lived in a small 4-room, kitchenless cottage across the street (which is no longer there), he spent most of his latter days in his daughter’s home (which we visited). The house, given to the Douglas County Historical Society by his daughter, resembles the Applegate House with its tall columned front porch. In addition to furniture and other items belonging to General Lane, period furnishings and clothing of the era have been donated to the house. Two excellent lecturers, volunteers of the Historical Society, led the Obsidians on this tour.
Oregon history enthusiasts were Ewart Baldwin, Rita Baxter, Mary and Dick Bentsen, Bettie Carmichael, Beth and Eaton Conant, Jane and John Corliss, Doris Frese, Bette Hack, Herman Hendershott, Kathleen Hodges, Helen Hughes, Miki Hutchison, Helen Knowlton, Bea Lefevre, Juanita and Bob Lillick, Mary Mallery, John and Lenore McManigal, Kathleen Ousley, Bonnie Rickard, Clarence and Dorothy Scherer, Maryelton Schutz, Grace Smith, June Smith, and Ingrid Carmichael and Ardis Ebbighausen, co-leaders.