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Previous County Surveyors

Surveyor From To Comments
R.V. Short 185? July 5, 1858 Forced to resign - see notes below
C.M. Walker July 6, 1858 August 1, 1859 Resigned
Ahio S. Watt August 4, 1859 July 4, 1860  
Charles Handley July 5, 1860 July 8, 1864  
Ahio S. Watt July 9, 1864 July 4, 1870  
Charles Handley July 5, 1870 July 7, 1874  
R.S. Shook July 8, 1874 July 11, 1876  
B.E. Harris July 12, 1876 July 2, 1878  
Aaron Frazier July 3, 1878 July 8, 1880  
H.S. Maloney July 9, 1880 July 8, 1884  
J.C. Cooper July 9, 1884 July 6, 1886  
J.D. Fenton July 7, 1886 July 4, 1888  
J.C. Cooper July 5, 1888 November 6, 1889 Resigned
H.S. Maloney December 4, 1889 July 8, 1890  
C.E. Branson July 9, 1890 July 7, 1896  
H.S. Maloney July 8, 1896 July 5, 1898  
C.E. Branson July 6, 1898 January 3, 1905  
Robert W. Jones January 4, 1905 November 1906 Failed to take oath of office
Henry W. Herring November 8, 1906 July 3, 1957 died while in office
Harold E. Cox July 12, 1957 December 31, 1974  
Richard P. Lucht January 1, 1975 February 15, 1977 Resigned
Norris Jones February 16, 1977 January 2, 1995  
Dan Linscheid January 3, 1995 January 16, 2013 Resigned
Bill Gille April 9, 2013 March 9, 2021  
Jason E. Foose March 9, 2021 Present  

Some biographical facts about some of our county and private surveyors, along with opinions of the quality of their work, include:

  • R.V. Short, our first county surveyor, who was declared ineligible to hold the office after the Oregon Legislature changed the boundary of the county (near it's easternmost corner), making him a non-resident. Not much known about his survey work, given the fact that the county courthouse burned to the ground in January of 1857, destroying nearly all land-related records.
  • Courtney M. Walker, second known county surveyor. Courtney was no newcomer to the state, having arrived here in the late 1830's. Rebuffed by the countys school superintendant in his efforts to become a teacher, C.M. suceeded R.V. Short when Short's position was declared vacant due to a change in the county line. It can be difficult at times to read Mr. Walkers handwritten notes. Since he set only wooden stakes and called out bearing trees, it has also been hard to follow in his footsteps.
    Ahio S. Watt, Donation Land Claimant, who served various official positions in Territorial Oregon. Ahio was an original Donation Land claimant in the county. In the early days of county government, elections were held 'viva voce', and qualifications to hold various offices were basically an indication of willingness to do the job, whether it be clerk of the Probate Court (now called Circuit Court), county sheriff, surveyor, etc. Based on existing commissioners journals, one can only assume the cycling between Watt and Handley over a 14 year period constituted a friendly switch-off of duties between the two. His work is considered to be of average accuracy given the time period.
  • Charles Handley, (1811-1895) who was first mate and captain of several small ships off the coast of Australia before settling in Yamhill County. He served 2 terms as County Assessor before being elected surveyor. Then he took a 6 year break to allow Watt to be surveyor again. Elections in those days were 'viva voce' or by oral vote only. Not known for quality survey work. Many times he reported bearings as Exx�N or Wxx�S, confusing to say the least.
  • Jacob C. Cooper, (1845-19??) served as Deputy U.S. Surveyor on several contracts. In one of his field books is found the following note: "Grove of Yellow Jackets: offset and stampede. Chain in a gallop. Most likely some correction necessary to be made. At safe distance Shot in with telescope".
  • Hundley S. Maloney, (1849-1929) an uncle of Henry Herring, who no doubt had something to do with Henrys coming to Oregon from Tennesee in 1905. Surveys by H.S. are hard to categorize, given the wide swings in accuracy which one can find following in his footsteps. We have some of his original field books in our archives, which can give some insight to what he did on a particular job.
  • Henry 'Hank' Herring, (1882-1957) who was appointed to the office in 1906, at age 24, after the person elected failed to take the oath of office. Henry served as county surveyor for nearly 51 years. He died while in office in 1957. Hank is still fondly remembered by many of the county's old timers. It was said he could recall from memory almost as many details of the locations of corner markers as were retained in the county surveyors office. Accuracy of his surveys is considered average for the era and area. We have 31 of his field books on file, covering nearly all of the surveys he performed prior to the early-to-mid 1920's, when he went to removeable sheet field books or simply yellow paper. (Times were tough during the depression years!)
  • J. Grant Hefty, private practitioner who was in business with Sylvander Simms in the Willamette Valley. Born in 1871, J.G. was an engineer who, in 1904, was working for the joint U.S.-Canadian International Boundary Commission. Also in 1904, he married Miss Jennie Crawford, Granddaughter of Medorem Crawford, early pioneer from the Dayton area. J.G. must have been working out of state quite regularly, since he was engaged running levels for the USGS in Washington State (Stevens & Ferry counties) in 1905. His earliest survey in this county was in 1909 (CS 2034h), wherein he indicated Sylvander Simms was a chainman. Generally, Hefty & Simms' work is considered as good or better than average for this era and location. J.G. The family moved to Washington in 1919, and to Chevy Chase in 1925.
  • Sylvander Simms, partner with J.G. Hefty. Married Nella Hadaway in 1911 in Yamhill County. The late Dave Bascue, PLS from the Salem area, recalled visiting Sylvanders' office in the mid 1950's in Willamina. Dave recalled seeing an office crammed with maps and calc sheets, and Mr. Simms smoking one cigar after another. Marc Riggins, current Marion County Surveyor, has discussed Mr. Simms with Paul Ferguson, a previous Marion County Surveyor. Paul worked on many jobs for Simms, and he related that Simms was known to be rather boisterous and abrupt in his dealings with the county surveyors office in Salem in the 1950s... he would walk in, pick up a field book or three and walk out, almost daring someone to confront him on it. Another of his traits was to get upset at one or more of his field crew members for one reason or another, fire them (one or all), and then call some of them up within a day or two to hire them back. Between 1909 and 1919, he partnered with J.G. Hefty, and apparently, sometime between about 1920 and 1930 he moved his operations totally to Marion county, following his partners move back east. He worked almost exclusively in Marion county from 1930 until the mid-1940's, when he began doing a few jobs in Yamhill county. In his earlier work (1908-1920) , the accuracy of his work is considered to be so-so, when he partnered with Hefty. In Marion county, the accuracy of his early work (1930-1945) is thought to be within the top 20% of all private surveyors, but the accuracy dropped off by the time he died in the mid-1950's.

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