Joseph L. Meek, History Marker and Burial Site

Joseph L. Meek, History Marker and Burial Site

Located just off the NW Jackson School Road exit from Highway 26/Sunset Highway is the final resting place of one of the most important people in Oregon’s history.

The marker says: “This Marks the Land Claim of Joseph L. Meek, famed and unlettered “Mountain Main,” who arrived in 1840 after driving from Fort Hall to Walla Walla in the first wagon on that part of the Oregon Trail. He was a founder of the provisional government: served as the first Sheriff, the first Marshal, the first Census Taker. He carried word of the Whitman Massacre to Washington D.C., where President Polk, whose wife was his cousin, received him. Named Marshal under the New Territorial Government, he accompanied Governor Lane to Oregon. His final Indian fighting was as a soldier in the Yakima War, 1855-85. He died here in 1875. A neighbor called him: “Very popular and as brave as Julius Caesar”.

Joseph L. Meek History Marker

This short history of Meek’s accomplishments fails to really capture what he really accomplished in his 65 years of life. His near by grave marker as Scotch Church offers two more tantalizing clues into his life.

Joseph L. Meek Gravestone

At the middle of this simple obelisk, which really is crooked like this, is a plaque that says:

“To Honor the leader of those patriots, who on May 2, 1843 at Champoeg saved the Oregon Country to this Nation.” It’s signed Multnomah Chapter D.A.R. April 1929.

The headstone portion itself reads:

Col. Joseph L. Meek.
Feb. 9, 1810,
June 20, 1875
Aged 65 yrs. 4 mos. & 11 ds.

Luckily, there is a great biography about Joe Meek, called “No Man Like Joe: The Life and Times of Joseph L. Meek” which goes into very intimate detail of his life. Being fairly recently written it’s got a lot of good recent research in it.

No Responses to “Joseph L. Meek, History Marker and Burial Site

  • First off, thank you for your comment on my post. Second -Joe Meek is one of my heroes. In his 65 years of life, he lived several lives.

    Thank you! I intend to explore your blog some more. 🙂


  • thanks,we could sure use a few like him now!!!and old gabe too

  • The Hudson Bay Company – employed Joseph, from when he was 16 years old – and left Virginia State, to work with his Older Brothers, Stephen and William Meek. (( There’s more to be said.)) In about the 1950’s – The U.S. Census needed to account how many people traveled to call the Unknown Territory ‘home’ – and went door to door to collect information as to which settler lived where. — importantly in 1847-48, writer EDGAR ALLEN POE was assigned to visit Joseph – thanks to President James K. Polk, as the property changed hands from Hudson Bay Trading Co. to a U.S. State.

  • Joseph had trouble writing / spelling. His Daughter Olive assisted with most of the correspondence letters… especially when having to speak with Elected Officials.

Leave a Reply