History in the News
James Flippin, a determined Cedar Mill
By Nancy Olson, co-author, Cedar Mill
James A. Flippin endured two unfortunate trips from Tennessee to
the Oregon Territory before he came to settle in Cedar Mill. Flippin’s
first trip was made during 1845 when he came with his uncle, Colonel
Robert Hull, on the ill-fated Stephen Meek wagon train. Along the way, the
young man worked as a cattle driver with his friend, Ben Cornelius, together
herding over 100 head of stock.
The train became lost and guide Meek abandoned the group. As the immigrants
searched for the Columbia River, many pioneers and their livestock
died, even though most of the animals driven by Flippin and Cornelius survived.
The two men eventually reached the Tualatin Valley and made their
living the first winter splitting fence rails at Wapato Lake, southwest of
In 1849, Flippin joined the gold rush to California where he
successfully worked a placer mine. After several years, he booked
passage and sailed from San Francisco around the Horn to New Orleans, returning
to Tennessee where he married Jane A. Patton. The couple persuaded
their parents to resettle with them in Oregon, and in 1852 they all started
Soon after leaving, the couple’s first child and all four parents
died of cholera, along with half the wagon train. The determined
Flippins returned to St. Louis, outfitted another train of their
own and in 1853 started for Oregon. This time they made it and claimed
320 acres of land divided by upper NW Saltzman Road and NW Burton Road. Flippin
built a cabin near NW 135th, where 11 children were born.
About half the original claim, including property east of Saltzman,
was sold in 1864 to Justus Jones, owner of the cedar mill on Cornell.
Flippin continued to farm his remaining acres. Tax records for the
year 1882 show Flippin holding about 100 acres valued at $2,200 and
that he owned two horses worth $60, two cows at $40, and five pigs
|The Flippin Castle in Clatskanie
Flippin was an active member of the community. For 17 years, he was
clerk of the Union School District. He was county assessor for four
years, worked as the Beaverdam precinct enumerator (collector of
census information), and acted as justice of the peace for several
Flippin’s last 100 acres were sold in 1885, when he and his family relocated
22 miles northwest of Hillsboro.
Years later, son Thomas J. Flippin of Clatskanie
prospered in the lumber industry and in 1899 commissioned Markwell & Sons
to build the “Flippin Castle” which is currently a National Historic
Site in Clatskanie. The Castle was restored 81 years later and is now owned
and maintained by the Clatskanie Senior Citizens where it serves as the group’s
headquarters and houses a museum. Daily tours are available at $3.00.