Benjamin Franklin Dowell, a native of Virginia, came west on the overland trail in 1850. He practiced law in Jacksonville, Oregon and in Washington, D.C. Dowell, with the assistance of his wife and others, owned the Oregon Sentinel newspaper in Jacksonville. The Benjamin Franklin Dowell Papers includes memorandum books, diaries, scrapbooks, and correspondence between Dowell and his wife from Jacksonville and Washington, D.C.
The collection contains one letter dated January 29, 1870, from James McDonald, of Oakland, Oregon to J. S. Smith. In the letter, McDonald asks Smith to press a claim, through B. F. Dowell, for payment for service of mules during the Yakima war, 1855-1856.