Ralph Wilcox

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This article is about Ralph Wilcox, an early politician in the state of Oregon. For the actor, see Ralph Wilcox (actor).
Ralph Wilcox
Ralph Wilcox - Oregon.png
Legislator in the Provisional Government of Oregon
In office
1847–1849
Succeeded by position dissolved
Constituency Tuality District
Oregon Territory House of Representatives
In office
1849–1850
Preceded by David Hill
Constituency Washington County
Majority Speaker 1850
Oregon Territory Council
In office
1853–1854
Constituency Washington County
Personal details
Born July 9, 1818
East Bloomfield, New York
Died April 18, 1877(1877-04-18) (aged 58)
Portland, Oregon
Spouse(s) Julia Ann Fickel
Occupation physician

Ralph Wilcox (July 9, 1818 – April 18, 1877) was the first teacher and practicing doctor in Portland, Oregon.[1] He also served in the Provisional Government of Oregon, was a legislator during both the territorial period and when Oregon became a state, and a judge of Twality County during the provisional government. A native of New York, he committed suicide at work at the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in Portland.

Early life[edit]

Wilcox was born in East Bloomfield, New York to Arminta Lee Wilcox and Ralph Wilcox, Sr. on July 9, 1818.[1] In New York the younger Ralph graduated from Geneva Medical College in 1839.[1] He then moved to Missouri where he practiced medicine.[2] Then in 1840 Ralph married Julia Ann Fickel, and the couple would have five children.[1] In 1845 the family traveled the Oregon Trail to Oregon Country and took the ill-fated Meek Cutoff.[1]

Oregon[edit]

After arriving in Oregon, Wilcox took a job teaching in Portland, Oregon in 1847 and became the first teacher in that city.[1][3] Later that year George Abernethy, the governor of the Provisional Government, appointed Wilcox as a county judge for Twality (now Washington) County.[1] Also that year he was elected to the Provisional Legislature.[4] The next year he was elected again and served in the final sessions of the provisional government in 1848 and 1849, including time as the speaker of the assembly.[5]

In 1850 after Oregon had become a United States territory, Wilcox was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives of the Territorial Legislature, replacing David Hill and served as speaker of the body.[6] The following year he returned representing what had become Washington County, but was not selected as speaker.[7] In 1853 he returned to the legislature serving as president of the upper chamber Council.[8]

From 1856 until 1858 Ralph Wilcox served as a registrar for the U. S. Land Office in Oregon City, and then as county judge in Washington County from 1858 to 1862.[1] In 1862 he returned to state politics and was elected as a representative to the Oregon House of Representatives as a Republican from Washington County.[9] Also, from 1862 to 1863 he was the school superintendent for Washington County.[10] During the American Civil War he was surgeon-general for Oregon’s militia, but no Oregon companies saw action in the war due to the distance to the fronts.[3] Then from 1865 to 1877 he was a clerk for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in Portland.[1]

Death[edit]

Ralph Wilcox died on April 18, 1877 at the age of 58.[1] He committed suicide after heavy drinking.[11] He shot himself in the head with a Deringer pistol in his office of the federal court with Judge L. Sawyer being the first to discover the act after hearing the shot.[11] Wilcox killed himself in the afternoon just before court was to resume with Matthew Deady and Sawyer.[11] He left behind a wife, and a suicide note blaming drinking for the suicide.[11] Wilcox was buried at Lone Fir Cemetery in East Portland.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Corning, Howard M. Dictionary of Oregon History. Binfords & Mort Publishing, 1956.
  2. ^ Lang, H. O., ed. The History of the Willamette Valley, Being A Description of the Valley and its Resources, with an account of its Discovery and Settlement by White Men, and its Subsequent History; Together with Personal Reminiscences of its Early Pioneers. Portland, OR, Geo. H. Himes, Book and Job Printer, 1885. p. 650. Retrieved on January 28, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Carey, Charles Henry. History of Oregon. The Pioneer Historical Publishing Company, 1922.
  4. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (3rd Provisional) 1847 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 28, 2008.
  5. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (4th Provisional) 1848-1849 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 28, 2008.
  6. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (2nd Territorial) 1850 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 28, 2008.
  7. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (3rd Territorial) 1851 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 28, 2008.
  8. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (5th Territorial) 1853 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 28, 2008.
  9. ^ Oregon Legislative Assembly (2nd) 1862 Regular Session. Oregon State Archives. Retrieved on January 28, 2008.
  10. ^ Washington County officials. The Hillsboro Argus, October 19, 1976.
  11. ^ a b c d "Shocking suicide". Stockton Daily Independent. April 21, 1877. Retrieved 2016-07-16.