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WPA Historical Records
Benton Co., Oregon
Mark Phinney


Mrs. Chester (Janetta RICKARD) EDWARDS



Mrs. Sarah Jane ELLIS ERVIN



Mrs. Chester (Janetta RICKARD) EDWARDS

May 6, 1939


Mrs. EDWARDS was interviewed at the farm home in the Irish Bend district of Benton County. Being of the third generation, she had but little information of the early days. She said:

"My grandparents, John and Susannah RICKARD, arrived in the Willamette Valley early in 1853. They started in 1852, but through the ignorance of the guide were lost early on the way and almost starved before they reached Oregon. The leaders of the train were friendly with the Indians and there were no casualties in fighting with them, but several times they had to repel attacks on their stock. They came into the Valley at Eugene."

"In the same train with grandfather were his brothers, Peter, Caspar and Andrew. All settled in this part of the country and reared their families. Grandfather's donation land claim was just east of Highway 99, near Bruce Station on the railroad. His children were Peter, Michael, John Henry, Daniel, James, Julia (TRACER), Katherine (STAMS), and my mother, Martha."

"My father was Reuben TAYLOR and his parents were James and Ruth TAYLOR. The family came by Panama from Virginia. Grandfather was a Baptist preacher and moved about from place to place as the calls to preach came. My parents were married in 1882. Their children were William, Frank, Jesse, Nanny (HAWKINS), Minnie (TAIT), Jennie (VINCENT), and Alice (DAVIS), besides myself. William is a Baptist preacher in Virginia and Frank is in Alaska. The others are in this or neighboring states."

"My husband is Chester EDWARDS, grandson of James EDWARDS, a pioneer of 1853."

In the absense of her husband, Mrs. EDWARDS gave the following information about the EDWARDS family.

"My husbands father was Isaac EDWARDS and his grandfather was James EDWARDS who came to Oregon in 1853 with the CONNOR -KENNOYER party, sometimes called the United Brethren missionary train. Grandfather Edward's wife had been Mary LONGWORTH, they came from Ohio and joined the CONNOR -KENNOYER party in Nebraska."

"Grandfather EDWARDS stayed a few months south of Corvallis and then with his brother-in-law, Basil LONGWORTH, located donation land claims in the Alsea Valley below the present village of Alsea. After a few years there both came over the divide to the Bellfountain country, where grandfather lived for the remainder of his life."

"James EDWARDS' children were Isaac, Joseph, Lewis, Frank, Alice, Martha, and Lucinda. Alice died in youth. Lucinda married a man named WHEALDON, and I believe Martha's [Ed.:Elizabeth?] husband was named GALLAGHER, but I am not certain."

"Isaac's children were Orville, Loren, Clifford, Ernest, Chester, Lettie, Leona, and Mary. Lettie married Jesse FLINT, and Mary married Harold WING and lives in Lane County."

"Lewis EDWARDS' boys are farming in Canada; his daughter Alice is employed in a Government department in Washington, D. C.; his daughter Dorothy lives in Portland."





August 1938


Mr. Elgin was interviewed at his home on Kiger Island, where he operates a large peach orchard.

My grandfather, George ELGIN, came in 1852 to Marion County and took a donation land claim about eight miles south of Salem. He made the trip by ox- team and had no unusual difficulties, except for a little cholera. Grandmother's sister, Mrs. Preston FAMES, died of the cholera and left a daughter two or three days old. Grandmother took the babe and cared for her until she was grown. In 1868, when she was sixteen, she married Marion TAYLOR. Last week I visited this couple at Mehama, Oregon. Both are spry and active and they are living in the house where they started housekeeping seventy years ago.

Grandfather's children were James, Helen, Sophia, and my father, Frank.

My mother, Sarah BIGGS was born in California. I know little about her family. My parents were married in the late 'sixties. Their children are Helen, myself, Mell, Ben, Sophia, Mary, Hazel, and Clarence. All but Helen and myself live in California. Helen is in Corvallis.

I was born in 1876. 1 attended school at Salem, Oregon, and then took a course at Oregon State College. Since my graduation I have been farming in Benton County.




April 27, 1939

Mr. ELLIOTT was interviewed at the ancestral home in the Mountain View community, about four miles north of Corvallis and near the West Side Pacific Highway. He seemed very positive about his information, but was unwilling to have the family Bible brought out because he said some of the information recorded there was wrong. He said:

"My father, William ELLIOTT, came from Maryland and settled here in 1852. His donation land claim included this place and he built a part of what is now this house about 1860. Mother, whose name was Elizabeth STEVENS, crossed the plains in the same year but by a different train than father. Her mother died on the plains and was buried in a cactus bed to conceal the place from the Indians."

"Father spent some time in the neighborhood of Portland and there met and married mother. Then they came here." (Note: - This is inconsistent with known facts. The last donation land claims were taken in this section not later than 1852, at which date the country was surveyed. Later entries were made as homesteads. Relatives of Mr. ELLIOTT give the date 1849 for the migration of the first ELLIOTT.) "

"My parents' children were Elbert, Marion, Elda, Ernest, Fred, and Nat. I was born in 1867 and went to school in the Mt. View schoolhouse. The building stood about where the present building stands, but there had been a building further west. My first teacher was Miss Jane FULLER, daughter of Arnold FULLER, one of the first settlers. Others were Miss RADER, Madge and Alwilda DUNN, and Margaret KNOTTS. The DUNN sisters spent their lifetime teaching in this country. Miss KNOTTS was the daughter of another first settler. We had only a three months term of school in the spring and sometimes a second term in the fall. The roads were too bad in the wintertime for the pupils to reach the schoolhouse. There were from fifteen to thirty pupils and sometimes the school money from taxes ran short and the schools were supported by subscriptions."

"I have lived and farmed all my life in this community. In 1910 I married Laura BURGE. Our children are Arlan D. of Coquille and Kenneth, who is here on the farm with me."

"I have heard my father tell of his first days here. He traded all his oxen but one for another man's right to the claim and plowed the first twelve acres with one ox and a spotted pony. He bought wheat to seed the first sowing from Hamen LEWIS for three dollars a bushel, and paid for it by digging ditches at fifty cent a day."


Mrs. Sarah Jane ELLIS ERVIN

Mrs. ERVIN was interviewed in the Evergreen Community. She speaks intelligently of early times but her own recollections do not extend beyond 1875. She said:

"My father was Thomas ELLIS. He came with his brother Asbury and E. REDENOUR to Benton County in 1852 and took a donation land claim in the Alsea Valley. These three are said to have been the first settlers in that valley. After coming west father finished his education at Salem and taught school in Benton County. He was also a local Methodist preacher."

"My mother was Calista HOWELLS, she was about twenty-five years old when, in 1862, she came with her brothers, William and George, to Oregon. Her brother Stephen had come before and was waiting to welcome them. The HOWELLS settled and lived for years near Bellfountain. Mother did housework for the E. HARTLESS and in different homes in Corvallis. While working in Corvallis she met my father and the two were married in 1864. My oldest brother was born in Alsea and then the folks moved to Linn County, I was born near Brownsville. After some years near Brownsville and Halsey father moved again to the Alsea Valley."

"I was born in 1868. The first schooling I had was at the Independent Schoolhouse. The teacher I remember best was John B. HOMER. I do not remember the name of the other teachers. Much of my girlhood was spent in the Alsea Valley. The school terms were short there and I did not get much schooling."

"The Alsea Valley was wild and there were many wild animals there. I remember one time when my brother and I were driving in the cows the dogs roused some animal and treed it close to us. We did not see the beast and supposed it was a bear, as bears frequently approached the settlement. Father did not have a gun and brother left me to watch the tree while he went to find a neighbor with a gun. When some hunters came and shot the animal we were surprised to see that it was a cougar."

"Father followed farming all his life. About the time I was married, in 1887, he moved to Stevens County, Washington, and there passed the rest of his life. His children were Ira B., Francis A., myself, Effie (Mrs. BRENSER), and Gertie (Mrs. SILER)."

"My husband, Andrew Jackson ERVIN, was brought to Benton County in 1863 when he was less than two years old. His father was James Ervin and his mother was Mary Ann SKIPTON, an aunt of Belle Skipton who became the wife of Prof. John B. HORNER. Their children were Madison, my husband, and Maria (Mrs. LINCK). The ERVINS settled about three miles south of Philomath and my husband spent most of his whole life here, within a few miles of this place."

"We were married in 1887 and we have lived on this farm ever since except for a short venture in Eastern Washington, where my parents had moved. Our children were Walter, Pearl (Mrs. SAPP). Roy, Effie (Mrs. LANTZ), Jesse and Frank. "

"My people were all Methodists in a time when Methodists were more devout than now. I have always trusted God to take care of me and I am alive today because he answers prayer."

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