Durkee Family, Baker County, Oregon

Clark Walcott Durkee
Sarah Allen Durkee

     Clark Walcott Durkee was born in 1821 in Franklin, Vermont to Charles Durkee and his wife Lydia Northrup. Clark left home at an early age and appears next on record in 1847 in the Cape Cod village of Rochester, Massachusetts when, at the age of 26, he married Sarah Amanda Allen, the daughter of Capt. Stephen Allen and Azubah Delano Allen. Clark Durkee was listed as a "trader" in the town records of their marriage.

     Clark and Sarah's first child, Charles Warrington Durkee, was born in Rochester in 1848, and shortly thereafter Clark decided to move West at the time of the gold rush, arriving in San Francisco in 1850 on the ship "Gold Hunter".

     Clark Durkee was an adventurous, vigorous and enterprising man who established himself after leaving Rochester, Massachusetts in varied business enterprises and building activities in California, Idaho and, finally, Oregon

    By 1850 Clark Durkee was in Humboldt County in Northern California, an area that was second only to the Mother Lode in gold production at that time and booming due to the Gold Rush, where he established ferry lines, including one at the junction of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers, and one further down the Klamath River.

     In 1854 Clark bought the Redwood Creek Ranch, located halfway between the towns of Union (later renamed Arcata) on the coast, and Hoopa, a town inland and east of Union. According to local historians, it was one of the most important ranches in Humboldt County because it was where the mule teams and drivers stopped to rest on their way to carry provisions to the mines in the mountainous area to the east.

     According to the Humboldt Historical Society, around 1855 the town of Weaverville had a devastating fire and Clark Durkee went there to help rebuild the town, building brick and stone buildings that are still standing today. The Society's notes state "He walked the entire distance from Union (now Arcata) to Weaverville in fewer hours than the mailman Winslett made on a trip on horseback. He did erect a number of Weaver's present brick buildings, those for Sam Kreider and M. Kopke being the first."

     In 1857 Clark Durkee was hired by Augustus Jacoby to build a fireproof stone, brick and granite building in Union (Arcata) called "Jacoby's Storehouse" to supply the mule trains headed to the gold mines along the Klamath and Trinity River. This building was the sole survivor of a fire that burned down the entire business district in 1875. The building still exists, and in 1963 was named a California State Historic Landmark.

     By 1863 the family moved to Craig Mountain in Idaho Territory, near present-day Winchester and Lewiston, where Clark established a stage stop named Durkeeville, with a partner, George Crampton. It was in Lewiston that both Adda (3 years) and George (just under 2 years) died within two days in May 1863. Durkee records do not mention the cause of their deaths, but contagious childhood disease or an epidemic may possibly have been the cause.

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