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Cam Kilburn

Cam Kilburn (1862-1934)

Cambell Carson “Cam” Kilburn was born October 25, 1862, in Carson County, Missouri, the son of William James (Billy) and Mary Jane (Shinn) Kilburn.

After crossing the plains with his parents, he made his home in Baker City, Oregon. At age sixteen, Cam began to earn his own living, going first to California where he, in time, became foreman for a large cattle company. Later, returning to Oregon, he secured a similar position with the Pacific Livestock Company (PLS) Miller and Lux. He worked for the PLS for about 45 years of his life at the Alvord, Island Ranch, and Harper Ranch in Malheur and Harney counties. He took cattle to the San Francisco markets in cattle drives from these ranches.

He worked for a while for the U.S. Reclamation Service at Lake Lowell in Idaho. He drilled wells in the Big Bend area, in Greenleaf, Idaho, and the Island Ranch near Burns. He owned a saloon in Vale; worked in the silver and gold mines in Sumpter Valley; and while in Brogan, he and his wife, Sarah, worked for Emery Cole.

Cam and Sarah homesteaded in Big Bend country in Malheur County in 1906, where they lived in intervals.

Bennie Jordan remembers when Cam came to visit Jumper Jones at Ironside, while Bennie and Jumper were working there. He said he really enjoyed listening to those two old-time vaqueros talk. He also said the old-time bosses like Cam Kilburn always had clean camps when out with the wagons, didn’t allow any swearing, and were very polite when around women.

Jim Becker of Westfall worked for the PLS also and told his grandson “Togo” Dice that Cam Kilburn was a great hand and that he rode the best horse he had ever seen.

Cam had a fine reputation from Oregon to Nevada to California as a great old-time Miller and Lux cow boss.

Cam is mentioned on page 368 of the famous book about Henry Mille, “The Cattle King.” This is a quote from that page:

“Under Henry Miller were many foremen: Charles Cronin, who started as a boy working for John Devine’ J.C. Foley, who later became successful farmer and was chosen as county water superintendent; Lamb, who became sheriff of Humboldt County; “Cam” Kilburn, who could testify to everything that happened in the country during a century, and many others.”

Cam and Sarah’s children were William, May, 1885-October, 1885, Ethel Scott, 1886-1907, Anna Miller, 1891-1982, and Esther Loveland Kinnick, 1900-1956. They had recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary before Cam’s death in July of 1934 at his daughter’s home (Esther) in Brogan.

Inducted into the Buckaroo Hall of Fame in September 2001.

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