- British troops are massacred in the African Zulu war, but win victory after burning the capital of Zululand at Ulundi. Among those killed with the British, the "Prince Imperial" of France, great-nephew of Napoleon.
- Frank Woolworth opens the first of his "five and ten cent" stores.
- Thomas Edison applies for a patent for an incandescent light bulb. Also in November, the Bell Telephone Company and Western Union reach an agreement in the U. S. in which Bell agrees to stay out telegraphy, and Western Union to keep out of telephone business.
- Mary Baker Eddy founds the Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston.
- Yellowstone is made our first National Park.
- Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House" premieres in Copenhagen. Gilbert and Sullivan's musical, "The Pirates of Pinzance" opens in NYC.
- This year the open-air arena where P. T. Barnum had presented circuses, was renamed Madison Square Garden by owner William Vanderbilt who used it for sporting events. It was demolished in 1889 for a new building. (Now site of New York Life Building.)
|The Gray Cottage on Court Street|
- G.W. Gray is elected mayor. This recent photograph of his home is also seen as the beginning of the SHINE Court-Chemeketa Historic Residential District Walking Tour. The Gray brothers also build the Gray Building featured in the SHINE Downtown Historic District. Walking Tour.
- The stern-wheeler "Beaver", used by local farmers to transport their crops to other markets, is wrecked on the Willamette River. Built in Portland in 1873, it was owned by the Willamette River Transportation Company.
- Father Blanchet, (1795-1883), the first Catholic priest in the Oregon Country, retires at St. Vincent's Hospital in Portland. Father Blanchet and Rev. Modeste Demers had served in this territory, learning the native languages and teaching the prayers and doctrines of the Catholic Church. In the Willamette Valley, he celebrated mass on Epiphany, June 6, 1839, in their log church, dedicating it to St. Paul. That Mission became the regional administrative center of Catholic missions in Marion County and his base for the next decade, as well as his final resting place. Blanchet School in Salem is named for him and continues the educational goals of Sacred Heart Academy founded in 1863.
- The efforts of the local temperance societies had little effect on at least one saloon keeper if the following notice, dated November 7, 1879, is any indication: "Notwithstanding the frantic efforts of certain interested parties to close up the Granger Saloon, it's doors are again opened, and I am happy to state to my customers that no change whatever has been made in either liquors or cigars." It is signed W. B. McMahan.(Quoted from "When Salem Was Wet: Early Salem Saloons") The Chemeketa House (later the Marion Hotel) advertised that it was open all night and provided omnibus service free to and from the hotel to the railroad station. Accounts of luxuries included water closets on every floor and all the modern improvements including speaking tubes. Each of the 165 rooms had "water, gas, and a telegraph". The hotel was four stories high and contained 150 rooms. It was "along Franco-Italian lines with the French influence predominating. Along the mansard roof stood 28 chimneys 'like sentries on a watch-tower.' Below the chimneys, dormer windows looked out upon Commercial and Ferry Streets." The first floor of the hotel had ceilings 17 feet high. The second floor had 15-foot ceilings and contained 11 suites and eight single rooms. "The floors and halls were carpeted with Brussels to ease the tread cold feet padding down the hall to wash rooms in which flowed hot and cold water. All the furniture was of black walnut."
- In the basement of the new Hotel was a sumptuous bar run by one O .H. "Baldy" Smith. It included ornate chandeliers and paintings described by the Weekly Salem Mercury of January 7, 1871, as "beautiful, suggestive, and interesting." Off the saloon was a barbershop with marble bowls, a billiard parlor with three tables, and a comfort station boasting "five self-acting water closets." The hotel had another distinction: elevations could be legally measured from 9 survey control points (monuments). Salem had been surveyed in June of 1861 by Jerome B. Greer and Walter Forward. The point from which all elevations were measured was a brick projecting from the Marion Hotel's northwest corner, 2. 78 feet above the sidewalk and 48 feet from mean-low water level of the Willamette River.
- In California, Dr Elijah White, the first physician of the Willamette Mission, dies this year. Dr. White, a prominent leader in the mission and active supporter of aid to the Indian population, had left the mission community in 1840 when it moved to the Salem settlement, concentrating on American Colonization. Tragic events in families of early Oregon settlements are well illustrated in the pioneer experiences of Serepta White and her friend, Elvira Perkins.