Waldo, Oregon History
by Dorothy Francis

Waldo, in the southern end of Josephine County, came into being with the gold mining camps in 1851. The town was named after California politician William Waldo. When Josephine County was taken from the midst of the great Jackson County on January 22, 1856, Waldo became the territorial seat. J.B. Sykes was appointed sheriff by the legislature and James Hendershott sold the new county a small building for $100.00 for the courthouse.

The first post office was established on September 4, 1856 with Lyman H. Guthrie as its first postmaster. The post office was eventually discontinued on December 15, 1928.

Waldo's early population was decimated by the military when many of its male residents answered the call for action in the Indian Wars which weren't settled until 1856.

The first mining laws for the area were laid out at an April 1852 meeting of the miners. This meeting was held under two huge trees. The laws laid out that day were respected and used in the mining world that followed.

Waldo's school district number was four. There currently exists a marker where its last school was built. Miss Ida Woodstock was the teacher of 24 pupils in June of 1887.

By 1858 Waldo had three hotels, a Chinese boarding house, a livery stable, blacksmith shops, many saloons, a bowling alley, a stage line, a budding Chinatown and a cemetery. The first brewery was established in 1860.

The Chinese were early gardeners in the Illinois Valley and the hog farmers from the Central Point area found them fine customers for the hogs which were driven through at least once a year.

Waldo's neighbor to the north, Kerbyville, became the county seat. The later main roads never were built into or through Waldo and in the 1930's, the hydraulics (legally) took out any gold that remained and any building which was still standing, including the Charles Decker grocery store which had only received a crack over the door in the early 1860's earthquake.

Return to
Josephine County: The Golden Beginnings

Related Links:

Josephine County Historical Society