Oregon Emigration and Immigration

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United States Gotoarrow.png Oregon Gotoarrow.png Oregon Emigration and Immigration

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Early Migrations

  • Early 1800s, traders and trappers came into the area from Canada, Russia, Latin America and the United States.
  • 1811, John Jacob Astor, an American, established the first white settlement in Oregon.
  • 1830s and 1840s, other settlements were created in the Willamette River valley. These settlers generally came from Midwestern and eastern states, Canada and Russia.
  • 1843, a provisional government was set up by American settlers.
  • In the same year, over 900 more Americans arrived, mostly from Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa.

Oregon Donation Land Claim Act

  • see Donation Land Claim Act, a federal act.
  • The Oregon Donation Act of 1850 guaranteed free land to those who settled and cultivated the land before 1 December 1855. 7,437 patents were issued before the expiration of the Act.
  • New settlers surged into the Oregon Territory, primarily from the Mississippi River valley, the Midwest and the South.
  • Foreign-born immigrants came mainly from Canada, Germany, Scandinavia, England and Russia.

Gold Discovery

  • 1860, gold discovery at Pierce, in northern Idaho made Portland an important trade depot.
  • 1862, gold discovery at what was Auburn, Oregon by Henry Griffin and David Littlefield opened up settlement of the Eastern Oregon.
  • The completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1883 going up north from California, brought many new settlers into Oregon. This was Oregon's first transcontinental rail connection.
  • Later immigrants came from China, Japan, the Philippines and Latin America.
  • By 1889, the Oregon Short Line connected Union Pacific Railway with Oregon Railway and Navigation Company at Huntington, Oregon brought in more settlers faster in more direct link from the East Coast.
  • A helpful source on overland migration is William Adrian Bowen, The Willamette Valley: Migration and Settlement on the Oregon Frontier (Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press, 1978) WorldCat 3650932; FHL fiche 6101360; book 979.53 X4b.


  • There are no known lists of passengers arriving in Oregon ports (such as Astoria, Coos Bay (then Marshfield,) Portland and Tillamook).
  • Records of ethnic groups and shipping enterprises are available at the Oregon Historical Society Library.



African Americans

Nokes, R. Gregory. Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trail in the Oregon Territory. Oregon State University Press. c. 2013 WorldCat

Native Americans

  • For records of Native Americans, see Indians of Oregon. Some of these tribes are the Cayuse, Klamath, Modoc, Nez Perce, Paiute, Tillamook, and Umatilla.



Oregon Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001.

NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.