Checking in on Condon

Main Street, Condon, Oregon. August 2009.

Main Street, Condon, Oregon. August 2009.

Over time we have written with some frequency about Condon, Oregon, the small farming community where Linus Pauling spent much of his youth.  And though we have come know a fair amount about the history of this little town in Gilliam County, it was not until recently that the Blog had an opportunity to actually visit the area and take a few pictures.  Here are a few things that we saw:

Herman Pauling’s pharmacy building, written about here, no longer exists.  In its place is a lovely little park.

Former location of Herman Pauling's drugstore.  Now a park on Main Street, Condon.

Former location of Herman Pauling's drugstore. Now a park on Main Street, Condon.

Gone too is Pauling’s first school – the Condon Grade School built in 1903.

Condon Grade School, built 1903.  Photo courtesy of the Gilliam County Library.

Condon Grade School, built 1903. Photo courtesy of the Gilliam County Library.

Linus Pauling (far right) with his Condon elementary classmates, 1909.

Linus Pauling (far right) with his Condon elementary classmates, 1909.

We had known about Pauling Field at the Condon State Airport, but this was our first glimpse.

Pauling Field, Condon State Aiport.

Pauling Field, Condon State Aiport.

We had also known about Linus Wilson Darling’s (Pauling’s maternal grandfather) grave, which is located at the Condon City Cemetery, but did not realize that he was buried next to Florence Darling, one of his six children, a toddler who died twenty-two years before her father at the age of two.

The Condon Cemetary.

The Condon City Cemetery.

Linus Wilson Darling's marker, Condon cemetary.

Linus Wilson Darling's marker, Condon City Cemetery.

Grave of Florence Darling, Condon cemetary.

Grave of Florence Darling, Condon City Cemetery.

Close inspection of L. W. Darling’s marker indicates that he was very proud of his fraternal memberships – the plaque notes that “Here Rests a Woodman of the World” and elsewhere bears a symbol of the Knights of Pythias.  And though most of the marker has not been restored, the spherical stone at its peak appears to have been turned to a more symmetrical position, at least when compared with this 1988 photo.

Linda Pauling Kamb, Linus, Pauline and Lucile Pauling at the grave of L. W. Darling, Condon, Oregon. 1988.

Linda Pauling Kamb, Linus, Pauline and Lucile Pauling at the grave of L. W. Darling, Condon, Oregon. 1988.


Our trip to Condon was rendered decidedly more fruitful by a visit to the terrific Gilliam County Historical Society museum which features, among other artifacts, an antique bicycle-powered jigsaw.  The society’s collections also include a few very rare images of William P. Murphy (Condon’s “other” Nobel Prize winner) who, as it turns out, was a member of Condon High School’s first graduating class in 1909.

The Condon High School class of 1909.  William P. Murphy (incorrectly identified as Will J. Murphy) is seated at the far right.

The Condon High School class of 1909. William P. Murphy (incorrectly identified as Will J. Murphey) is seated at the far right.

Here’s an Oregonian image of Murphy and his family as they set off to Sweden for the Nobel festivities in 1935.

William P. Murphy and family en route to Sweden.  Image first published in the Sunday Oregonian, July 21, 1935.

William P. Murphy and family en route to Sweden. Image first published in the Sunday Oregonian, July 21, 1935.

The Historical Society’s Pauling-related collection includes a fabulous vertical file of stories that appeared in the local media throughout the years.  One such article, written in 1969 during Pauling’s trip to Corvallis for the centennial celebration of Oregon State University, recounts many of the more interesting details of Pauling’s colorful family history.

All the Darlings were highly intelligent people, although some had quite a percentage of oddity.  W. L. Darling, ‘Bill’ a brother of L. W. Darling, was a paper hanger and a painter.  He was also a confirmed spiritualist.  His control was an Indian named ‘Red Cloud.’  Chatting with the spirits was an every evening affair with Bill.  He was trying to get the spirits to tell him the location of the lost gold mine in the Lonerock Country.

The article further notes that

Pauling’s aunt Stella Darling was a safe expert.  She could open any safe and had a national reputation.  She once traveled to London, England to open a safe.

The vertical file likewise includes documentation of various births, weddings and deaths, most of which are written with a great deal of local flavor.

Announcement of Herman Pauling's wedding to Belle Darling, Condon Globe, May 1900.

Announcement of Herman Pauling's wedding to Belle Darling, Condon Globe, May 1900.

Announcement of the births of Linus and Pauline Pauling, and the death of Herman Pauling. Condon Globe and Condon Times, 1901, 1902, 1910.

Announcement of the births of Linus and Pauline Pauling, and the death of Herman Pauling. Condon Globe and Condon Times, 1901, 1902, 1910.

Announcement of the birth of Lucile Pauling, Condon Globe, 1904.

Announcement of the birth of Lucile Pauling, Condon Globe, 1904.

Our favorite item though, is this announcement of the marriage of either H. C. Pauling or Louis Carl Pauling to Miss Ava Helen Miller, as reported in the Condon Globe Times on June 29, 1923.  Note, in particular, the flipped ninth line of the first paragraph – part of the cost of doing business during the era of handset news type.

"Former Condon Boy Married," Condon Globe Times, June 29, 1923.

"Former Condon Boy Married," Condon Globe Times, June 29, 1923.

Condon is not an easy place to access – it was built to serve the needs of area farmers and is nowhere near a major highway.  Our afternoon in the town was, however, defined by the kind of small-town hospitality that would seem a cliché were it not so genuine.  We’re already planning a return visit.

For more stories of Linus Pauling’s life and times in Oregon, see our continuing series commemorating the Oregon150 celebration or visit the Linus Pauling Online portal.

Oregon 150

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One Response

  1. [...] following morning he drove across the border into Oregon, visiting Arlington and then Condon, where he visited the grave of his grandfather Linus Wilson Darling for the first time. He spent [...]

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