Samuel Colver
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Samuel Colver
Samuel Colver
Samuel Colver
Born (1817-09-10)September 10, 1817[note 1]
Irwin, Ohio, U.S.
Died February 15, 1891(1891-02-15) (aged 73)
Klamath County, Oregon, U.S.
Cause of death Drowning
Resting place Phoenix Pioneer Cemetery; Phoenix, Oregon
Occupation Lawyer, United States Marshal
Huldah Callender (m. 1843-1891; his death)
Children 2 (possibly 3)

Samuel Colver (September 10, 1817 - February 15, 1891[1]) was a pioneer of the U.S. state of Oregon, where he co-founded (along with his brother, Hiram) the town of Phoenix. Samuel was born in Irwin, Union County, Ohio, one of five known children of Samuel Colver[2] and Rachel (Curry) Colver.[3]


Early in life he studied law at Plymouth College in Indiana. Afterward, he served as a Texas Ranger and served with General Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto, and later served as an Indian scout.


In 1850, he and his brother Hiram moved their families to Oregon via the Oregon Trail, beginning their migration from St. Joseph, Buchanan, Missouri. Samuel and Hiram founded the small community of Phoenix, initially called Gasburg, settling on donation land claims.

Samuel constructed a home in Phoenix in 1855-1856. During Colver's life, in addition to a residence, "Colver Hall" served as a school, a dance hall, a public meeting place, and a refuge during the Rogue River Indian Wars, though it is doubtful if the house ever actually was under attack. The Samuel and Huldah Colver House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. When it was destroyed by fire in September 2008, it was one of the oldest residences in Jackson County.[4] The remaining three walls of the house were razed after the fire and the property was removed from the National Register in April 2009.

Colver served as a U.S. Marshal. He was instrumental in the founding of the Republican Party in Oregon, supporting Lincoln, and occasionally wrote poetry that was published in several Oregon newspapers.

Samuel Colver was married to Huldah Callender[5] on December 5, 1843, in Logan County, Ohio. Huldah was born near Mechanicsburg, Champaign County, Ohio on January 1, 1823. Samuel and Huldah were the parents of two children, Lewellyn, born March 19, 1847, in Irwin, Union County, Ohio, and Isabelle, who was born in a covered wagon on February 7, 1850, near St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri. Lewellyn was killed on March 9, 1884, by a neighbor who shot him after mistakenly believing he was a burglar.[6] Samuel's daughter Isabel died of diphtheria on April 12, 1885, in Phoenix, Jackson County, Oregon.[7] Grief-stricken over the loss of both of his children, Samuel Colver was confined for a month to the Oregon State Insane Asylum in Salem. A third child is suspected to have been born to Samuel and Huldah, named Alice Colver, but she died in infancy in Ohio.

Samuel died somewhat mysteriously in February 1891. He was found drowned near Upper Klamath Lake after riding out alone. He was known to have some enemies and there was rumor of land swindles, but nothing was ever proven.[8]

Misattribution with Samuel Henry Culver

Samuel Colver has been very often confused with Samuel Henry Culver in numerous articles concerning the life of Samuel Colver. Both Samuels were residing in Southern Oregon during the early 1850s, and they may have very likely met one another. The result has been that articles regularly attribute Samuel Colver as serving as an Indian Agent in Southern Oregon when it was actually Samuel Henry Culver who served as Indian Agent in Southern Oregon.

Samuel Henry Culver was born in New York on April 11, 1824, and died October 26, 1866, in Janesville, Wisconsin, located in Rock County, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Janesville.[9] Samuel Henry Culver served as an Indian Agent in Oregon from approximately 1844 to the mid 1850s. He lived in Port Orford, Curry County, Oregon, and later at Fort Lane, Jackson County while serving as Indian Agent. It is Samuel Henry Culver that signed the Table Rock Treaty on September 10, 1853, near present-day Tolo, Oregon. Samuel Henry Culver's brother-in-law, Orville Charles Pratt, served as an Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court between 1848 and 1856 and may have assisted Samuel in obtaining a government commission as an Indian Agent. Pratt had married Samuel's sister, Cordelia Culver.

It is believed that first incorrect published attribution that Samuel Colver served as an Indian Agent in Southern Oregon was made by Orson Avery Stearns (b. 1843 - d. 1926), a contemporary of Samuel Colver. Stearns authored a manuscript titled "A Brief Sketch of the Life and Character of Samuel Colver" in 1922 and 1923 while residing in Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon.[10] On page five of his manuscript, Stearns writes that "When a treaty was made with the indians, a company of U.S. regulars stationed at Table Rock and Saml Colver, who had been appointed as Indian Agent by Superintendent Joel Palmer, was in charge of the Rogue River Indians. at what date Colvers appointment as agent was made, or when it terminated I do not know, but in the treaty made by Joel Lane and others with the Rogue River Indians at Table Rock on Sept. 10th 1853, as recorded in Vol. I page 399, 'Gaston's Centennial History of Oregon,',[11] the following names appear as those of the party of whites who visited the Indians in their encampment under the cliffs of Table rock, at the invitation of Chief John. They were General Joseph Lane; Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Samuel P. Colver, Indian Agent, Capt. A.J. Smith, 1st Dragoons; Capt. L.F. Mosher, Adjt.; Col. John E. Rose; Capt. J.W. Nesmith; Lieut. A. V. Kautz; R.B. Metcalf, J.D. Mason, and T.T. Kerney. Eleven white men and 700 indians."

Stearns misquoted Joseph Gaston's history, which was published in 1912. Gaston writes on page 399, quoting Colonel Nesmith that: "Early on the morning of the 10th of September, 1853, we mounted our horses and rode out in the direction of the Indian encampment. Our party consisted of the following named persons: Gen. Joseph Lane; Joel Palmer, Superintendent of Indian affairs, Samuel P. Culver, Indian agent, Capt. A. J. Smith, 1st Dragoons; Capt. L. F. Mosher, Adjutant; Col. John E. Ross; Capt. J. W. Nesmith; Lieut. A. V. Kautz; R. B. Metcalf, J. D. Mason, T. T. Tierney." The correct spelling of Colver/Culver, namely Culver, was published in Gaston's history.

Thus, it appears that Stearns incorrectly attributed Samuel Colver with Samuel Henry Culver based on a published history of Oregon rather than relying on his own personal knowledge of Samuel Colver's life in the early 1850s. It is understandable that Stearns would not have been aware of Samuel Colver's life in the early 1850s since Stearns himself was not yet a teenager at that particular period of time.

Currently, genealogical research does not indicate any familial relationship between Samuel Henry Culver and Samuel Colver.



  1. ^ There seems to be a dispute over whether Colver was born in 1815 or 1817. Most sources list the former as his year of birth, but his grave marker lists the latter; because of this, we are choosing to go by the date on his grave marker (September 10, 1817 (1817-09-10)), as it is likely more accurate.

External links

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