From the Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1885 edition of The Daily Morning Astorian: “It would be a good idea to half-mast the flags today in respect to the memory of Mr. C. Boelling, one of Astoria’s oldest and sturdiest pioneers.” The 1893 book “An Illustrated History of the State of Oregon,” by Harvey Kimball Hines, sheds some light on why he was so important.
Born in Germany, Boelling came to the U.S. in 1931. Sometime in early 1847, he purchased “an outfit of two wagons, and 10 yoke of oxen, one spring wagon and two horses,” and with his wife and two children, set out from Illinois for Oregon. The trip took seven months.
The family landed safely in Astoria in February 1848, and he headed straight for Youngs River, where he spent the summer starting to build a sawmill. Unfortunately, he got distracted by the 1848 gold rush. He took an ox wagon loaded with “bacon and supplies” and headed for the California mines, but was stopped by the fires burning in Southern Oregon.
Undaunted, he sent his team home, and went on alone on horseback, panning for gold. However, supplies were so expensive, he couldn’t make any money, so in the summer of 1849, he returned to Astoria to finish his mill. That plan didn’t pan out either, as by then the mill had been destroyed by Indians.
So, he moved back into town and built a hotel, which he ran till 1861. His last venture was buying a 640-acre farm on the Lewis and Clark rivers, where he farmed until 1877, when he finally retired and returned to Astoria, where he had always been very active in local politics.
Conrad Boelling lived to be 82 (quite ancient for that era), when he was felled by a stroke on Feb. 1, 1885. What made him of particular interest to Astorians was that he was bar pilot Capt. George Flavel’s father-in-law, and grandfather of George Conrad Flavel, owner of the mansion on the corner of 15th Street. As Paul Harvey used to say, “now you know the rest of the story.”