Jacob Whitehurst creates historical marker for tree marking Ewing Young's grave

Although he doesn’t have any strong ties to Newberg, Wilsonville High School junior Jacob Whitehurst has done the community, and Oregon history, a service by creating a historical marker for the Ewing Young Oak and the Ewing Young Farm just west of town.

Whitehurst undertook the effort for his Eagle Scout project, researching and designing an informational sign that not only marks the tree, but tells the story of pioneering fur trapper Ewing Young, whose grave is marked by the towering Oregon white oak at what is now Oakhurst Farm along highway 240. SUBMITTED - Local history - Wilsonville High School junior and Boy Scout Jacob Whitehurst unveils a historical marker about pioneer Ewing Young and the Ewing Young Oak during a ceremony Sunday at Oakhurst Farm outside of Newberg. Whitehurst researched and created the informational sign about Young and his role in the settling of the Oregon territory and formation of Oregon as a state for his Eagle Scout Project. The Ewing Young Oak was planted at the site of Young's grave by his partner, Sidney Smith, and his fiancee, Miranda Bailey, in 1846. Oakhurst Farm hosted a dedication ceremony for Whitehurst's sign Sunday afternoon.

Whitehurst unveiled a temporary version of the historical marker at a ceremony Sunday and expects to install the permanent sign, which is located along the driveway to the farm across a field from the tree, in about two months.

“It’s important to keep that part of our history alive because it has relevance for today,” said Doug Root, whose brother, Jack, owns the farm. “The perseverance of pioneers, their innovative mindset and their daring and hard work, those are all things that we think are important for young people and everyone to remember today, where we came from and how our society was built.”

Whitehurst consulted and worked closely with Root, an amateur historian who has worked with his brother for more than 15 years to help preserve the legacy of the farm.

Root has long desired to install a fitting marker for the tree and for visitors to the farm and was impressed with research Whitehurst did to ensure historical accuracy.

“He discovered a lot of new things about Ewing Young for himself and kind of crystallized everybody’s thinking just to remind them of how important Ewing Young was,” Root said. “He was very easy to work with, very earnest and diligent. He was practicing project management and he got to see first hand, even on small projects, how many components and pieces go into it. He got a lot of real-world experience there.”

With no known heirs, Young’s death in 1841 created an immediate need to divide his vast property in the Chehalem Valley, which in turn required a civil government. That directly led to the Champoeg Meeting two years later and the beginning of the organization of the Provisional Government of Oregon in 1843, the first government by Americans on the Pacific Coast.

Whitehurst himself came to feel that Ewing Young is underappreciated for his role in the establishment of Oregon and unfairly overshadowed by John McLoughlin.

“He was getting the credit when Mr. Young did it all,” Whitehurst said. “He went down to San Francisco and got all of these cattle, 700 head, and brought them all back up here. Instead of loaning them to the settlers, he actually sold them to them.”

Whitehurst joined the Cub Scouts in first grade after first learning of the Boy Scouts because of a cousin of his who had earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

Achieving that same feat has pretty much been his goal ever since and, as person who “always follows through,” he expects to receive approval of his project and Eagle Scout application in a matter of months.

He hopes to enlist in the Navy after high school, following in the footsteps of two grandfathers and one great-grandfather.

“Seeing Jake accomplish an Eagle before he becomes 18 is a pretty good accomplishment,” Scoutmaster John Budiao said. “He’s a pretty driven young man. I hope to hear big things from him.”

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