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Josephine County, Oregon

Josephine County is a county located in the U.S. State of Oregon. It was named for an early pioneer inhabitant, who is usually identified as Virginia Josephine Rollings Ort, who was the first white woman to live in the Illinois River valley, settling there in 1851, then marrying Julius Ort in 1854, and moving to Colusa County, California in 1863. Josephine is sometimes identified with Martha Leland Crowley, who died in 1846, and buried near what came to be called Grave Creek, who is said to have known as Josephine. As of 2000, the population is 75,726.

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Economy Most of the commercial activity during the territorial period centered on gold mining and the supply of provisions to miners. Miners had been active in the Rogue and Illinois Valleys since 1851. By the late 1850s, however, gold mining was beginning to decline and population dwindled as well. In 1859, gold was discovered along the Fraser River in British Columbia and numerous people left Josephine County to search for valuable claims there.

Josephine county shares with Jackson the Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley wine appelations. The U.S. government is landlord of the majority of the land within the county boundaries, with the Bureau of Land Management owning of 28% of the lands within the county boundaries, most of which are Oregon and California Railroad[?] lands, and the Forest Service in possession of 39%.

Grants Pass is now the departure point for most Rogue River scenic waterway guided fishing and boat trips. The Illinois River, one of the Rogue's tributaries, has also been designated a scenic waterway.

Geography According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,252 km² (1,642 mi²). 4,247 km² (1,640 mi²) of it is land and 5 km² (2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 0.12% water.

Demographics As of the census of 2000, there are 75,726 people, 31,000 households, and 21,359 families residing in the county. The population density is 18/km² (46/mi²). There are 33,239 housing units at an average density of 8/km² (20/mi²). The racial makeup of the county is 93.90% White, 0.27% African American, 1.25% Native American, 0.63% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 1.17% from other races, and 2.68% from two or more races. 4.26% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 31,000 households out of which 26.90% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.40% are married couples living together, 10.40% have a female householder with no husband present, and 31.10% are non-families. 25.40% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.10% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.41 and the average family size is 2.85.

In the county, the population is spread out with 23.10% under the age of 18, 6.50% from 18 to 24, 23.20% from 25 to 44, 27.20% from 45 to 64, and 20.10% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 43 years. For every 100 females there are 94.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $31,229, and the median income for a family is $36,894. Males have a median income of $30,798 versus $22,734 for females. The per capita income for the county is $17,234. 15.00% of the population and 11.30% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 21.10% are under the age of 18 and 6.80% are 65 or older.

History The discovery of rich placers at Sailor Diggings (later known as Waldo[?] in 1852 and the resulting gold rush brought the first settlers to this region. Several U.S. Army forts were maintained in the county and many engagements during the Rogue River Indian War[?] (1855-1858) took place within its boundaries.

Josephine County was created by the Territorial Legislature on January 22, 1856, from the western half of Jackson County. It was the nineteenth, and last, county created before statehood.

The county seat was originally located in Sailor Diggings, but in July of 1857 was relocated to Kerbyville, situated on the main route between the port of Crescent City, California and the gold fields. In 1886, the county seat was finally relocated to Grants Pass, a new town on the railroad that was completed through Oregon that same year.

Although several tribes of Native Americans lived in the area from which Josephine County was created, most of their members had been moved to reservations by the end of the Rogue River Indian War. Soon afterwards all Indians in southwest Oregon, with the exception of a few tiny bands, were moved to the Siletz Reservation[?] in Polk County.

Josephine County was also the home to a large Chinese population. Most had come to the area to work gold claims purchased from whites no longer interested in working them. Even though they could not own land, they had to pay a tax to mine gold, and were relegated to inferior claims.

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