Lish Applegate's $15,000 Pledge Secures University for Eugene

Jun 25, 2014

 It was said that Elisha Lindsay Applegate, eldest son of Oregon trailblazer Lindsay Applegate, was “gifted with a remarkable memory, … a vivid imagination, and a keen sense of humor.” 

 Lish, as he was known, was a prominent Republican in Oregon, and missed becoming a U.S. Senator by only one legislative vote. Eventually, though, Lish became a Populist, annoying many of his Republican friends.   He had a reputation of not having much money of his own, but possessing a “shrewd head and quick wit” and having achieved fame for long-winded oratory and storytelling. Applegate settled in Ashland, but played a key role in securing the University of Oregon for Eugene. The Legislature had decreed that the town had to raise $50,000.  Even by counting the value of every donation, including cows, eggs, labor, lumber, bricks and nails, the town had only raised $35,000.Applegate saved the day by pledging $15,000. Even though he had no money and never paid a dime, his signature satisfied the Legislature. One writer described Applegate as “one of those handy men who are never stumped.”

 Stowell, George. “Recollections of E. L. Applegate”, Oregon Historical Society Quarterly, v. 15, no. 4, p. 252-263; Elisha Applegate obituary, Ashland Tidings, in Southern Oregon Historical Society Manuscript 160 (undated copy); Guide to the Oliver Cromwell Applegate papers 1841-1938,  The Beaver. Junior Class University of Oregon, 1909. Web. 23 May 2014; "Emigrants to Oregon 1843." Oregon Pioneers.Com. Ed. Stephenie Flora. 2004. Web. 23 May 2014.