Morrow Co. Chronicles, Vo1. 1, September 1982

Oregon Geographic Names, Lewis A. McArthur


Cason Canyon, Morrow County.


Cason Canyon empties into Rhea Creek at Ruggs.  It was named for James P. and Mary Cason who settled there in the early days.  Cason was a son of Fendell Cason of Clackamas County and came to Oregon with his family in 1843.  Mary Ellen Marsh Cason came west in 1847, her mother died enroots and Mary Ellen stopped at the Whitman Mission.  She was there at the time of the massacre and was one of the children held captive by the Indians and rescued by Peter Skene Ogden in December, 1847.


A bit more on these Casonís from: The History of Gilliam County, 1981.


   Six generations of Casons have lived in Oregon, five of them in Gilliam and Morrow Counties.  

   James Pulliam Cason was born near Fayette, Howard County, Missouri, January 5, 1832, the son of Fendall Carr Cason and Rebecca R. Holliday of Spottsylvania County, Virgina. She was the sister of Ben Holliday, early western railroad builder.     

   James married Mary E. Marsh, December 25, 1853 at Oregon City.  She was the daughter of Walter Marsh and Louis Meeker and was born October 8, 1836 in Springfield, Illinois.  Her mother died of mountain fever on the Oregon Trail and was buried near Soda Springs, Idaho.  The family arrived at Whitman Mission near Walla Walla, Washington in October, 1847, where her father was killed in the Whitman massacre in November of that year.  She witnessed the tragic event and with the women and children hid under the schoolroom floor but was found and taken prisoner.  She was held captive for about a month  until rescued by Peter Skene Ogden of the Hudsonís Bay Company. 

    As an orphan girl of eleven, she found a home with Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Lovejoy, one of the founders of Portland, Oregon where she lived until her marriage to James Cason.  To this union ten children were born: Francis Anne, Charles, Lucius, Rebecca Eliza, Lettie Marie, Walter Carr, and John Benton born near Oregon City and Sarah Isabelle, Mary Oradell, and James Franklin born at rhea Creek, and Ada May at Ione.  Rebecca and Lettie died with a week of each other during an epidemic in 1863.  Both times James had gone for help and Mary had to face the ordeal alone and prepare the little girls for burial by herself.  Mary Oradelle died at Ione at eh age of five. 

   James and Mary left the Willamette Valley in the spring of 1868 and settled on Rhea Creek, just east of where the Condon-Heppner highway now crosses the creek and enters Cason Canyon.  The Dalles was their post-office and trading post.  They made two trips a year to town for supplies and mail.  After several years, a stage line was established between Umatilla and Canyon City and Mary acted as postmistress for the new midway office.  This was the first post-office in the triangle between The Dalles, Canyon City, and Umatilla. 

   They lived on Rhea Creek until 1879 when they moved to Ione and then to Shuttler Flat in 1882 where they were the first to break sod and raise wheat. 

   James died there on September 6, 1887.  He was buried there but his grave was later moved to the Arlington Cemetery. 

   Mary and the family soon moved the Kahler Basin, settling at Haystack near Spray, where she died April 6, 1907.

   Charles married Caroline Hale in 1882 and he and his children remained in Gilliam County with other Cason families in Morrow and Umatilla Counties.  More on the Charles Cason and Willis E. & Mildred Moor Cason can be found in The History of Gilliam County Oregon, 1981. 


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