George Law Curry, now deceased a pioneer of 1846, and journalist, poet and one of Oregon's most efficient statesman, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 2, 1820. He was of English ancestry, his grandfather, Christopher Curry being born in England and emigrating to the United States, locating in the city of Brotherly Love, where he remained until his death, being now buried in Christ Church cemetery of that city.</div>
In 1824 the subject of our sketch accompanied his parents to South America, from where they later returned, residing at the family homestead near Homesbury, Pennsylvania, until 1829, when the father of our subject died. The son then accompanied his guardian, his uncle, William Curry, to Boston, where he passed nine years of his boyhood. While there he was apprenticed to the jewelry trade, and later became a member of the Mechanic's Apprentice Library Association, of which he was for a couple of terms elected president. This association was at that time a popular literary and educational society of Boston. Many of his addresses and poems were published, and thereby he still lives on the historical pages of that institution, to the prosperity of which he so ably contributed.
In 1843 he became a resident of St. Louis, where he formed the acquaintance of Joseph M. Field, with whom he was connected in the publication of the Reveille. In 1846 he left that city for the Pacific coast, going by way of the overland emigrant route, arriving in Oregon City, Oregon, August 30 of the same year. Here he immediately assumed editorial charge of the Oregon Speculator, the first newspaper ever published on the coast, thus exercising a marked influence on the affairs of the Territory. In 1848 he commenced the publication of the Oregon Free Press, the first weekly newspaper on the coast. The press on which this paper was printed was manufactured in the Territory, and a portion of the type, the display letters, were made of wood. This gave it a unique appearance, and was really one of its great attractions. This journal was discontinued toward the close of its first year, on account of the general rush of the population to the gold fields of California in the fall of that year.
In March, 1848, he was married to Miss Chloe Donnelly Boone, a daughter of Colonel Alphonzo Boone, a great-grandson of Daniel Boone. He emigrated from Missouri to Oregon with his family in 1846, and they were among the first to brave the dangers of the southern route to Oregon, which led them through unfriendly tribes of Indians, almost impassable canons, and over steep and perilous mountains. All who came that year by this route lost all their teams, stock and other property, barely reaching the settlements alive. Some were not so fortunate, and their bones now whiten the way.
Mr. and Mrs. Curry had six children, two daughters and four sons, all, except one daughter, still living. All reside in Portland, and are worthy citizens of their native State. They are: Mary Florence, now the wife of Mr. M.C. Webster; Ratlif Boone, Norwood Litton, Willie Lane and George L. Their mother also survives, and is highly esteemed by a large community, to whom she has endeared herself by the unostentatious practice of Christian virtues.
In May, 1853, unsolicited by Mr. Curry, he was appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate, Secretary of the Territory of Oregon. A few days after his induction into office he became acting Governor, by reason of the resignation of General Joseph Lane, who held that office. Mr. Curry discharged the duties of both offices in a most satisfactory manner, until the arrival of Governor Davis, he again became acting Governor, continuing in the discharge of both offices until his appointment as Governor a few months later. This office he ably filled until 1859, when the State government was inaugurated. His friends then made him a candidate for United States Senator, but he withdrew his name, and assisted in the election of the successful candidates. In 1860 his friends again made him a candidate for the same position, and after protracted ballotings he came within one vote of election, but a combination of the Republicans and a portion of the Douglas Democrats ultimately culminated in their success.
His official term as Governor, from 1853 to 1859, was a most eventful period in the history of Oregon. Its institutions were formed and developed with the rapid enlargement of the settlements and the prosperity of the people. Indian troubles were very frequent. The Rogue river Indian war occurred in the fall of 1853, and in the fall of 1855 war was waged along the whole frontier, north and south. Fully 2,500 volunteers were kept in the filed for several months, besides the United States troops stationed in the country. This was by far the most formidable conflict occurring on the northwestern coast. In these campaigns Governor Curry distinguished himself by his services in effectually establishing peace, and he received the thanks of the Legislative assemblies of both Oregon and Washington Territory for his efficiency in protecting the people of both territories against the attacks of marauding Indians. In commemoration of his services in this perilous hour of their need, a county of Oregon was afterward called by his name. He was possessed of a singularly amiable disposition, and was most scrupulously honorable. He was eminently gifted with a very great versatility of superior talents, which insured the able performance of everything he undertook. During his public life no one ever insinuated a dishonest act against him.
In 1866 he received the thanks of the directors of the Northern Pacific railroad for a speech which he made before the Board of Trade of Boston, and other efforts in their behalf. In 1845, when an editor in St. Louis, he advocated a railroad to the Pacific coast, and the next year, when on the Northwestern shore, he used his pen in favor of this great enterprise.
After an active public life in the years mentioned, he retired to his farm upon the Willamette river, located a short distance from Oregon City, where he engaged in land operations. He was afterward appointed State Land Commissioner and a member of the State Board of Equalization.
Governor Curry was eminently a self-made man, as his school facilities were meager and he commenced life without inherited means. Much of his leisure time was devoted to literary pursuits, and the products of his active mind and graceful pen are among the most valuable publications of the State. His death was attributed to the effects of a cold, his illness lasting for several months, during all of which time not a word of complaint passed his lips. It was on July 28, 1878, just as the Sabbath sun was settling in all the glory peculiar to the Northwest, that the spirit of this revered man took its flight, leaving a bereaved family to mourn the loss of a husband and father, whose loving kindness will never be forgotten, and a country to cherish the memory of this truly great and good man.
An Illustrated History of The State of Oregon, By Rev. H. K. Hines, Chicago, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1893. Pages # 426 – 428.