Munsel Lake view

Popular Munsel Lake and Munsel Creek are named after an early settler to the Siuslaw area. David Munsell (often spelled Munsel) was born in 1824 in Ohio and is said to have crossed the plains in 1847. Records show he spent time on a donation claim on the Clatsop Plains until the late 1850’s when he participated in the Indian Wars. Following the Wars, he utilized his carpentry skills and moved to the Dalles, then Walla Walla, WA. After 10 years, he relocated to work in Southern Oregon mines for a year. In 1879 he secured a homestead on the North Fork.

David Munsell was described as a man who “possessed an extraordinary strong constitution”. Such a strong constitution is revealed through the manner in which he led his life. One might even consider him to have been an impatient fellow at times. An example is rather than wait for a boat in Coos Bay, he put his belongings in a wheelbarrow, and pushed it all the way to the Siuslaw River. From there, he then put everything in a rowboat and rowed up the North Fork to his homestead. At that time, his belongings included an 80-pound grindstone, bed, household utensils, and tools.

David Munsell was known to be a fine carpenter, who made cabinets and in particular, hardwood chairs. He was a big man who stood over six feet tall and weighed 225 pounds. He sat in each finished chair to ensure they were strong and durable enough to sell or trade. Several of his chairs from the 1880’s remain on display in the museum today.

He spent a few years logging and making cabinets on the North Fork before moving to Florence where he continued to make tables, chairs and cabinets for sale. Those who knew David Munsell claim he was an “honest, generous, industrious and kind-hearted man”.

David Munsel Woven Chair

In addition to his virtues, David Munsell possessed a few peculiarities that can only be described as a fear of spirits. He removed all the limbs from trees surrounding his home, believing spirits dwelled in the upper branches. He would also smear pitch or tar on his head to ward off spirits.

Perhaps due to these odd habits, he never married. David Munsell died in 1896 at 72 years old and was buried in an unmarked grave (Block 61, Lot 2) at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Glenada.

David Munsel Chairs, 1880's
Siuslaw Pioneer, David L. Munsell, Early Chairmaker; 1949, pg 24
The West, Fri., July 29, 1892, p. 8, col. 2.