The Spirits of Camp Polk

Oct 20, 2017
As the end of October nears, we habitually turn our thoughts to ghosts and all things ghoulish. One of the best collections of delightfully haunted stories can be found in and around the Land Trust’s Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.


As the end of October nears, we habitually turn our thoughts to ghosts and all things ghoulish. One of the best collections of delightfully haunted stories can be found in and around the Land Trust’s Camp Polk Meadow Preserve.

Camp Polk Meadow Preserve has a long and illustrious history as a crossroads for Native Americans, explorers, soldiers and settlers. The nearby Camp Polk Cemetery holds the graves of many of these settlers. So, listen closely and learn the ghostly stories of some of these earliest Central Oregonians as relayed by volunteer hike leader Kelly Madden:


Joe Claypool was the youngest of 17 children who arrived at Camp Polk in 1877. He brought his wagon and wife and began carrying freight on the Santiam Wagon Road. He carried goods and mail and news to settlers and pioneers all over the area.

One day, Joe told the folks gathered around at Samuel Hindman’s barn about Theodore Borstel. It was 1891, in the early evening when Theodore Borstel accidentally shot himself with a 44 COLT. The bullet hit his groin and kept going through his abdomen and chest, catching his trousers on fire illuminating the rocks up at Dutchman Flat. Borstel survived until 11:00 pm. He was laid to rest in the Camp Polk Cemetery.

Claypool also told a story about Elizabeth Fryrear, a sassy and strong woman from Missouri. The Fryrears lived east of Camp Polk. One fall day, a cougar killed one of her colts. Elizabeth saddled up her horse, found the cougar and shot it in the head with a 44 Winchester. She killed the cougar in one shot. The cougar measured 7 feet from nose to tail. All the Fryrears are all laid to rest in the Camp Polk Cemetery.

Claypool was in his 60’s when Robert Krug was murdered. He gave those gathered round at the Owl Tavern in Sisters a run-down of the lurid tale. Folks around Sisters were a feared that the murderer was in their midst, namely one AJ “Jack Weston”. The ensuing trial and story was the first murder in the newly formed Deschutes County. Robert Krug is buried in the Camp Polk Cemetery.

 

These are just a few of the stories of the hardy pioneers that settled in this area. To learn more join the Land Trust for a guided history walk at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. Or, if there is still space, join us for our annual Spirits of Camp Polk outing.

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