- Benito Juarez is elected President of Mexico, although soon faced with the French invasion. An initial Mexican victory (in 1862) is commemorated with the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.
- Alexander II of Russia (The Liberator) frees the serfs and sponsors other important government reforms. (He sells Alaska to the U.S. in 1867.)
- Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, dies. She wears black in grief
for his passing, rarely appears in public or goes to London, preferring
Windsor Castle.The southern states form the Confederac
y with capital at Richmond, Virginia.
- Fort Sumpter is fired on and Civil War battles begin across the U.S.
- Confederate flag adopted, the "Stars and Bars".
- President Lincoln offers Union command to Col. Robert E. Lee, but he declines to serve with his state of Virginia: after several other unsuccessful Union generals, U. S. Grant is appointed commander of Union troops in 1864.
- A telegraph is sent between St. Louis and San Francisco.
- West Virginia and Kansas become states.
- In England, Dickens publishes Great Expectations and George Eliot, Silas Marner. In Boston, Julia Ward Howe writes lyrics for popular tune, "John Brown's Body", creating "The Battle Hymn of the Republic".
- In Salem
|The sternwheeler "Onward" on Pringle Creek at Commercial Street Bridge|
Other Events in Salem in 1861
- Edwin Cooke (1810-?) was named as our second mayor. He was Oregon State Treasurer (1862-70), a leading businessman and steamboat owner. His first Salem home was probably on Division Street, near the homes of other prominent citizens. No trace of this home remains, but correspondence of the time tells us the home was noted for it beautiful garden. By 1872, he had built a Victorian mansion on Court Street, across from the State House. (See 1872 for the story of the next three generations of the family, including Edwin Cooke's granddaughter Luella who lived to be 109 year old.)
|Alert Hook and Ladder Fire Company|
- The volunteer fire fighters of the Alert Hook and Ladder Fire Company, located at 58 State Street, assemble on Commercial Street for a photograph. This classic picture is probably the only one we have of this early year of Salem's history. The fire fighters are lined up in front of a two story Commercial Street building in the center of the photograph where McCully, Starkey and Company had a "cash store". A log cabin is seen to the right.
- This spring, a one-room school was
constructed along Military Road (Doaks Ferry Road) and named Brush College in "a spirit of fun and derision" because it was the center of
learning for all ages of students and was located where brush had been
traditionally burned-over by Native Americans. The school has been
enlarged, but retains the original structure. On May 6, 2011 the school
celebrated its 150th anniversary with an exhibit including historical
stories and photographs.
- On Water Street, Joseph Gardiner Wilson builds a house soon purchased by Isaac and Olive Durbin. The Durbin family, who operated the Livery Barn in downtown Salem, occupied the home for over 50 years when Water and Front streets were desirable residential locations in the small city. By 1988, the house had fallen into disrepair, but renovation was under consideration by contractor Gregg Olson and a committee supported by the mayor. However, in 1990 before this could be accomplished, a fire of unknown origin destroyed the house. It was reconstructed, with a different upstairs window and porch, in its original location. It is now part of our Gilbert House Children's Museum where it is used for classes and special events.