I promised I would share Leo Oaks and his brother Michael Oaks book The 1882- 1886 Diary of Charles T. Anderson A Foots Creek Placer Miner. This is a fascinating book and I loved reading it. It begins in October of 1882 when Charles T. Anderson a young 25 year old miner and farm laborer went to work for Nelson Hosmer on his Foot’s Creek farm. You can purchase the book from the Josephine County historical society. What is great about this story is an antique store made sure the diary was placed in the proper hands. It is truly wonderful when antiques are placed with people that appreciate the story and document the story so that it can be shared with future generations. The book begins with “By valuing the past we define the present giving us a vision of the future”. If you recall from one of my earlier post Mr Leo Oaks is the gentleman who found the Conrad Chapman painting. What a find that was! Here is an excerpt from the story: The pickers found a 16 7/8 inches x 23 7/8 inches oil on canvas face up in the shed’s rafters. Though it was filthy, they planned to take it to a secondhand shop where they frequently sold things.
Oaks intercepted them and bought the painting for the princely sum of $25. The canvas was loose, and there was a piece of corrugated board jammed in the stretcher. (Oaks knows corrugated board. He worked for 40 years as a shift supervisor in a wood products plant that produced plywood.) For a year after he bought it, the painting sat dirty and untouched
“The image was so familiar, maybe because I have so many Civil War books,” said Oaks. “I didn’t recognize the monogram.”
When Oaks eventually took the backboard off, he discovered, written on the back, “Camp of the 3rd Kent., nr. Corinth, Miss. May 11th 1862. Painted by C.W. Chapman Co. D.”
C.W. Chapman was Conrad Wise Chapman, an artist well known for his Civil War pictures and Mexican landscape scenes. Oaks said that the writing on the back is in Chapman’s own hand. Oaks knew it was a find of some importance. “I said, `God Darn, that’s him!’ Then I got excited,” said Oaks. “I’ll tell you, my hair stood up.” He took the painting to a West Coast restorer who cleaned it up and repaired a small hole.