The First Men In Charge
There are six men with a legitimate claim to being called the first Governor of Oregon. The Organic Act of 1843 called for a three person executive committee in the place of a governor. Two were elected in 1843 and 1844 before the Organic Act was amended in 1845. The first committee was comprised of David Hill, part of Dr. Elijah White’s 1842 wagon train, Alanson Beers, part of the 1837 Methodist reinforcement, and Joseph Gale, an early immigrant who arrived in 1834 with Nathaniel Wyeth. Beers would join Governor Abernethy as a partner in the Oregon Milling Company. Gale built the first ship in Oregon, the Star of Oregon.
The second executive committee, elected May 25, 1844, was made up of Peter G. Stewart of the Great Migration of 1843; Osbourne Russell, a trapper along with Gale in the 1834 Wyeth Party who had taken to the mountains and returned to Oregon in 1842 as guide to Dr. Elijah White; and Dr. William J. Bailey, a sailor who jumped ship in Yerba Buena (San Francisco), was wounded by Rogue River Indians on his journey north, joined Ewing Young’s cattle company, and then took up the study of medicine in Oregon under Dr. Elijah White.