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Perhaps one of, if not the oldest known saddler maker in Portland, William Pointer was an
Oregon Trail Pioneer at age 40, in 1850. In the 1850 Territorial Census for Washington County
[now Multnomah], Oregon, in the small segment that comprised the village of Portland, he was
listed as a “sadler” [sic].
He was born in 1810 in Campbell County, Virginia, the son of John Pointer and and Mary Martha
Johnson, both of Campbell County, Virginia. Our subject married a Mary [Jones?], in Franklin
County, Missouri, near St. Louis. A second marriage also occurred in that County in 1839, to a
Martha Elizabeth [Tong?]. It would appear that he spent at least ten years at the Missouri
location, before joining a wagon train overland to the Willamette Valley in 1850.
He lived in the Oregon Country long enough to become eligible for Donation Land Grant
No. 3444. Land had to be lived upon and improved for four years before it could be titled.
William and Martha had at least two children, a son, Theodore and a daughter. It would seem
that “Gold Fever,” or the need for skilled workmen such as harness and saddle makers drew our
subject and his family to California, probably very early in 1854. Unfortunately, he died at an
early age, cause unknown, in Clarksville, El Dorado County (near Coloma), California, 14 Jan
1854 , at the residence of Hezekiah Tong [relative?].
It was written that his son Theodore stated that Martha Pointer died in 1857, also in California.
On behalf of the heirs of William Pointer, Theodore was still attempting to secure rights to the
Oregon Donation Land Claim in 1873. Charles Bacon is one of the witnesses on an affidavit.
Charles also was a pioneer of the 1851 period, and in the saddle and livery business in the earliest
[Probably in the saddlery trade in Portland, 1850-1853]
EXTRACTIONS FROM DOCUMENT # 3444
OREGON CITY OFFICE
OREGON DONATION LAND CLAIMS
William Pointer for the heirs-in-law of William (deceased) and Martha---
Patent date 4 December 1873
Being a part of Sections 1 and 12 in T 1 S, R 1 W, in the NE corner of section 12 plus
the West 1/2 of the NW 1/4 of Section 7, in T 1 S, R 1 E--- 576 4/100 acres.
East half to the heirs and west half to the heirs of Martha.-filed at Oregon City,
27 February 1869.
William Pointer was born in Campbell County, Virginia in 1810---lived on the
land 26 March[?] 1851- 22 March 1852--- married Martha October 1839 in
Franklin County, Missouri---arrived in Oregon 28 October 1850--- She lived on
the land until 1855--- William died about 1854-She died 1857---He died in
Eldorado County, California---
[Petitioning was still in progress as of 16 Jan 1873, by their son. Affidavits were
presented by Henry Corbett and Charles Bacon]
The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 (ch. 76, 9 Stat. 496, Sept 27, 1850, sometimes known just as the Donation Land Act,
was a statute enacted by Congress, intended to promote homestead settlement in the Oregon Territory in the Pacific
Northwest (comprising the present-day states of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho). The law, which is considered a
forerunner of the later Homestead Act brought thousands of settlers into the new territory, swelling the ranks of the
The law was largely the result of Samuel R. Thurston, the Oregon territorial delegate to Congress. The act granted 160
acres to every unmarried white male citizen eighteen or older, and 320 acres to every married couple, arriving in the
Oregon Territory before December 1, 1853. In the case of a married couple, the husband and wife each owned half in their
own name. The law was one of the first that allowed married women in the United States to hold property under their
own name. A provision in the law granted half the amount to those who arrived after the deadline but before 1854.
Claimants were required to live on the land and cultivate it for four years to own it outright.
Claims under the law were granted at the federal land office in Oregon City The most famous patent granted at the
Oregon City land office was the plat for the city of San Francisco, which had to be sent up the coast from California by
ship. The claims of the land were surveyed by the Surveyor General of Oregon, an office created out of the law. As part of
the general survey, the Willamette Stone was placed just west of Portland, defining the Willamette Meridian.
After the 1854 cutoff date, land in Oregon was no longer free but was sold at a price of $1.25 an acre ($3.09/hectare) with
a limit of 320 acres in any one claim. In the following years the price was raised and the maximum size of a claim was
Reference: Genealogical Forum of Oregon; Wikopedia
Research by Richard and Dorothy Egan