WPA Historical Records
Benton Co., Oregon
Mark Phinney
 

INTERVIEWS -- G

 

Mr. Robert GELLATLY

Mrs. Georgia HARTLESS GEORGE

Henry GERBER

David Vernon GRAGG

Mrs. Sophronia RITNER GRANT

Doke GRAY

Mrs. Susan MEANS GRAY

Mrs. Rosetta ALLEN GREEN

Emma HORNING GROVES

 

 

Mr. Robert GELLATLY
 

Mr. GELLATLY was interviewed at his farm about three miles southwest of Philomath in Pleasant Valley on the South Fork of Marys River. Mr. GELLATLY is above the average in intelligence and education but he has little knowledge of the times beyond his own recollections. His parents left no written records and did not speak much of the early days. Mr. GELLATLY said:

"My father, Andrew GELLATLY, was born in Scotland in 1838, came to the United States and settled in Wisconsin in 1853. A little later his brother Peter came, bringing the mother and sister. Grandfather GELLATLY had died some time before. Father worked for a time for Mr. TAYLOR who had a grist mill and store."

"My mother, Isabella LYLE, daughter of John and Mary LYLE, was also born in Scotland in 1850. The LYLES got a farm near Madison, Wisconsin, My parents were married in 1862 and came to California. There father was employed in the Mines in Grass Valley. He was a guard or inspector and it was his business to see that the men did not conceal any gold about their persons and smuggle it from the mine when they went off shift."

"In 1870 my parents came to Oregon and bought this farm from James BONDS. The farm originally was the George BOONE donation land claim. This George L. BOONE was a nephew of Daniel BOONE, the famous Indian fighter in Kentucky, His sister, Mrs. Delia MAY, also lived in Pleasant Valley then and used to tell us children stories of the famous hunter and scout. George BOONE and the MAY family moved to the Yaquina country, and at her death Mrs. MAY was brought back to Pleasant Valley Cemetery for burial."

"Father died in 1898 and mother in 1912. Their children were, William A., Mary I., John A., Jennie M. (Mrs. PALMER), Delia E. (Mrs. DENTLER), myself, Hettie L. (Mrs. THAYER), and David N. Brother Will was sheriff of Benton County for eleven years and served one term as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Washington. He was elected in 1924 - I think- on the Republican ticket. Sister Delia married Lieutenant DENTLER who was instructor of cadets at O.S.A.C. and is now retired with the rank of Colonel and lives in Portland. My uncle, Peter GELLATLY, followed my father to Benton County and bought a farm about a mile below Philomath on Marys River. My cousin, George GELLATLY, and his sister Mrs. Lillian HOLDERMAN are now living on the place. In this connection it might be noted that my father pronounced his name with the accent on the second syllable, while Uncle Peter insisted it should be on the first syllable. The children of both men have followed their father's preferences."

"My schooling began and ended with attendance at college. My first schooling was in the primary department of Philomath College where Prof. SHEAK taught. Then I went to the Philomath public school when J. J. BRYAN taught there. In the Pleasant Valley school my teachers were my sister Mary, Ed L. BRYAN, J. J. FITZGERALD and H. C. BRANNON. (J. J. BRYAN and Ed L. BRYAN were each elected County Superintendent in later years.) I enrolled in 0. S. A. C. in 1891 but was obliged to drop out at different times to earn money to continue. I was graduated with a B. S. degree in 1899. Since that time I have spent my life on the Old Home Farm."

 

 

 

Mrs. Georgia HARTLESS GEORGE

May 9, 1939
 

Mrs. GEORGE was interviewed at her home in the village of Monroe. She has a much better recollection of the early happenings than most people of her age and generation. She was able to answer without hesitation, and in most cases without reference to records. Her testimony seemed thoroughly reliable She said:

"My father was William HARTLESS, son of Eldredge HARTLESS, a pioneer of 1846. Grandfather's HARTLESS'S first wife was Lucy WILLETT. Beside three who died in early childhood, their children were Emmaline (JOHNSON), Sarah (OGILSBY), William (my father), and Virginia. Virginia was born in 1856. After her birth her mother was in poor health and grandfather took her to her home in the east. There she died and grandfather married again, some time before 1860. His second wife was a widow, Mrs. Emily BATES, of Boston. Grandfather had made the trip both ways by water around the horn, and when he brought his second wife to Oregon he came again by that route. The children of this second marriage were Clara (ZIMMERMAN) and Eldredge. Clara had a daughter who is now Mrs. Frank KELLY of Portland, Eldredge lived in Philomath, and left a daughter, Emily, who is now Mrs. Charles STALEY of Seattle. Eldredge HARTLESS' wife was Martha DITMAR. At the time of her marriage to grandfather, Mrs. BATES had some very fine rosewood furniture which she brought west with her. Among this was an old spinet, the first instrument of the kind in this part of the country. I do not know what became of it."

"Grandfather's donation land claim was just south of the present town of Philomath. In an early day he engaged in business with Wayman St. CLAIR who had settled just north of Philomath. By 1850 HARTLESS and St. CLAIR were running a store in Lower Marysville (now Dixon's Addition to Corvallis) and they also bought out the Dixon Ferry. Later he had an interest in a store at Lewiston, Idaho. In this venture he trusted things largely to the management of his partner and as a result he soon lost all the capital he had invested."

"Grandfather HARTLESS was one of the first men in this part of the country to go into the raising of hops on a large scale. At one time he was prosperous and well-to-do, but he later suffered reverses. His farm was divided among the children of his two wives, and has since passed into other hands. None of the name are left."

"My mother was Ceatta DAVISSON. Her father was Dewitt Clinton DAVISSON and her mother was Margery MASON. Both came to Oregon before their marriage in the Connor party, the United Brethren missionary party of 1853. Grandmother Margery's father was George MASON, one of the leading members of the party and of the early United Brethren church, and one of the founders of Philomath College. His brothers, Peter, Solomon, and Samuel, were also members of the party."

"Among George Mason's children were by grandmother Margery; Olive who married John EAKIN, a druggist of Philomath; Catherine, the first wife of Jerry HINKLE, aged pioneer of Philomath community; and Jerry, who lived in the Alsea Valley."

"Grandfather DAVISSON lived for a time in Corvallis, and mother was born there. Then he went to Washington where he served two terms as sheriff of Pierce County. He died when mother was seventeen and grandmother brought the family back to Oregon. Grandfather was a cabinet maker. The children were: my mother, Ceatta; Ira S.; Mary O., who married Sam WYATT; Ralph M.; Florence R., who married W. S. GILBERT, one time president of Philomath College and later chaplain of the Second Volunteers in the Philippine War."

"My parents were married in 1879 in the chapel of Philomath College by Bishop Castle. I am the only child and was born in 1880."

 
 
 
 
 

Henry GERBER

February 22, 1940

 
Mr. GERBER is retired and lives in the boyhood home, within a few blocks of the place where he was born. He is mentally and physically vigorous. He seemed not at all inclined to exaggerate or embELLISh, but there was a suspicion that his memory for such details as dates might be faulty. He said:

"I was born in Corvallis in 1871 and have lived here all my life, much of it in this house.

"My father, Henry GERBER, was born in Alsace-Lorraine in 1828. I do not know when he came to the United States, but he had learned the baker's trade and was working in a bakeshop in Philadelphia when gold was discovered in California. He came west with the gold seekers. He was about as successful as the great mass of gold hunters and in 1861 he enlisted from Placer County in Company B, Second California Volunteer Infantry. The Volunteer Infantry was organized to protect the new country from the Indians and so release the regulars stationed in the West for service in the War."

"Soon after they were mustered into service Company B, came to Fort Cady in Washington and then to Fort Hoskins, in this county. In 1862 they were ordered south again to California and spent some time chasing Indians in Humboldt and in Klamath Counties. Father was mustered out at the expiration of his term of enlistment, October 8, 1864, and about two months later he reenlisted in Co. A, First Oregon Volunteer Infantry. This company was recruited in Benton County and was commanded by Captain LaFOLLETT. He was finally mustered out at the close of the War, at Fort Yamhill, in 1866."

"My mother's name was Victoria ENTZ. One of her grandfathers had served under LaFayette in the American Revolution and two of her great uncles had been in Napoleon's armies."

"Grandfather ENTZ left his family in Missouri and came alone to the Willamette Valley and settled in Salem. In 1850, or perhaps, a little earlier, he sent for his family. The children were John, Kate, Rachel, Mary, and my mother, Victoria. They came by water by way of the Isthmus of Panama. While crossing the Isthmus Grandmother ENTZ was struck by lightning and died as a result of the shock. The captain of the steamer on which they had engaged passage brought the children safely to Portland and put them in charge of Captain BENNETT who commanded one of the Willamette River boats. Captain BENNETT was acquainted with grandfather ENTZ and brought the family on to Salem. Grandfather did not think it best to try to keep his family together. Captain BENNETT, who had brought the children to Salem, was childless, and he and his wife took Mary. Kate was cared for by a family named FERGUSON. My mother found a home with the BENNETT family, who were pioneers of Benton County. The brother, John, was interested in mining and dropped out of sight. It is supposed he was killed by Indians or met some other such lonely fate."

"Grandfather later came to Benton County and bought the farm that included the hills northwest of town and part of what is now included within the limits of Corvallis. He was a devout Catholic and donated the ground on which the Catholic Cemetery is located. His daughters were all adopted by people from the south and none of them grew up in their father's faith. After some years grandfather turned the place over to his children and my parents bought out the other interests."

"My mother was first married, at the age of 19, to a man named BAUERLINE. He soon died and left her with one child, a girl whose name was Maggie. Maggie afterward married a man named Charles CARTER and left a daughter who is now Mrs. Cleo WOOD and lives in California."

"My parents were married in 1866, soon after father was discharged from the army. I was born in 1871, and was eight years younger than my half- sister. There were three other children but all died in infancy or early childhood."

"Although father owned the farm near town he never farmed himself but rented it out to others. He himself did whatever other work offered. He and a partner named Tim DONAHUE dug many wells here in Corvallis, before the days when there was a water system. The rate charged was a dollar per foot, and the work was profitable. Tim worked under ground and father worked on the surface."

"Then there was a granite quarry on the farm from which they took out much stone for foundations of buildings in Corvallis and for bases for tombstones. There were no persons living here who were skilled in shaping stone for finer uses."

"I attended school at the old North School at Fifth and Harrison Streets. I remember Minnie LEE used to teach there and a Mr. BENNETT whose father at one time was pastor of the North M. E. Church. At the Evangelical Church Mr. BOWERSOX was pastor. When he took down the bell rope to keep the boys from ringing the church bell on New Year's Eve, we climbed a balm tree whose limbs spread to the belfry window. But Mr. BOWERSOX had the last laugh for he was waiting for us at the base of the tree with a heavy switch and we had to come down that way."

"Most of the merchants in the early days were Jews. I remember JACOBS & NEUGASS, KLINE, STOCK, HARRIS, and Max FRIENDLY all had drygoods stores here. There was no racial feeling and no social discrimination."

"There were also many Chinese here then. The Chinese worked as laundrymen or as railroad laborers. They were not socially recognized. "

"There used to be a planing mill at Third and Jackson and a tannery on Adams Street, but the tannery never operated after I was old enough to remember. In the seventies there was a fruit drying plant on First that dried quantities of apples. Almost every farm had a good sized orchard and as there were no pests then to injure the crop there was always a good supply of apples. Pears were plentiful, too, and there were some peaches along the river. Father had a block or more of land here planted to cherries. They were the old fashioned kinds, but were a very profitable crop."

"The big business in my younger days was wheat raising. There were four large warehouses on the river bank, owned by Mr. AVERY, Mr. NICHOLAS, Mr. CAUTHORN, and Mr. BLAIR. These were built chiefly for the storing and shipping of wheat, which was of course transported by river steamers. During the harvest seasons the teams would extend in an unbroken line for half a mile, all waiting turn to unload, while across the line waiting to cross the ferry they extended as far up the road as one could see."

"Father used to go out to the farm on thrashing day and not come back until all the wheat was in. I remember one time he returned in the middle of the night in such a bad humor he wouldn't speak to mother. Finally she said to him "What is the matter with you? Did you have a fight with John" (John was the tenant.) He replied, "No. A damned sight worse than that. The wheat made only fifty bushels to the acre. We'll all starve to death. We had better sell the old farm." Sixty bushels to the acre was a common yield at first but the farmers kept raising grain year after year and putting nothing back until the soil was worn out. The thrashing machines had no blowers or stockers of any kind and the straw was bucked away from the machine in all directions by a boy with a team. Then a strip was plowed around the field to protect the fences and when the first sprinkle of rain started the straw piles were fired and straw and stubble were burned off the whole field. You could almost read at night from the reflected glare of all the straw piles burning at once."

"Joseph AVERY had a flour mill below the mouth of Marys River, built before my time. Mr. WILSON and others built another mill on First street. Then Mr. FISHER, who ran the mill here so long, bought both mills and removed the machinery from the one on First Street."

"The old ferry was at the site of the Van Buren Street bridge. St. CLAIR and Isaac and Reuben MOORE operated at first, and then BROOKHART bought it. The County bought out Mr. BROOKHART'S interest and operated the ferry until the bridge was built.  There has been no brick yard right in the town since I can remember, but there were great pits at Ninth & Van Buren, at Tenth & Harrison, and at Seventh & A Streets, where clay had been dug out and made into brick. These pits would fill with water and make excellent skating ponds whenever we had a cold winter."

"There was a saw mill on the river bank about a block below this house, which was built in an early day. Before I was a man in years I began to work there and continued to work in the engine room until the mill burned and was not rebuilt in 1911. As I recall, the different men who owned it, in succession, were H. P. HARRIS, Mr. ROBINSON, Mr. McCULLOUGH, Max FRIENDLY, and Mr. STRONG. It burned in 1889, but Max FRIENDLY rebuilt it. The only man who really made it pay was STRONG, who bought it for $8,000 and after operating it a few years, sold to a group of men from Texas for $75,000."

"I have never married, and since my parents died, mother in 1923 and father in 1910, I have lived alone. At present I am not working, except as caretaker of the Odd Fellows Cemetery."

"I was about to enlist in the Oregon Regiment in the Philippine War. When I asked father what he thought about it he said: "You have a good job now, at good wages, a good place to sleep and regular meals. You do more or less as you please and when you go out in the morning you are reasonably sure of coming back safe. If you join the army you'll work for Uncle Sam at a dollar a day, do what you are told and nothing else, eat what is offered to you when you can get it, and sleep where night finds you." I thought it over and didn't enlist."

 
 
 
 
 

David Vernon GRAGG
 

Mr. GRAGG was interviewed at his farm about one-half mile north of Bellfountain where he keeps bachelor's hall in the ancestral home. He said:

"My father came from Schuyler County, Illinois, in 1852, when he was twenty-five years old. In the same train were his uncles, Joe and Ebenezer DIMMICK. Joe was accompanied by his wife, Comfort. Ebenezer left his family in Illinois and returned to them after a short time."

"There was heavy immigration in 1852 and it was often hard to find sufficient grazing for the cattle. There were a few deaths in the train from cholera, but they did not suffer as some other trains. The cholera seems to have been a severe dysentery accompanied by cramps and severe vomiting. It came on suddely and was sometimes fatal in from five to six hours."

"The train reached The Dalles in September. There was heavy traffic down the Columbia, and father's uncle, who had had experience in river boating, built his own raft which brought the wagons to Portland. In November of 1852 father reached George BELKNAP's place near here. I have heard father tell that on the same night word was brought to BELKNAP's of the death of Jesse Caton's daughter. This little girl was the first person to be buried in the Alpine cemetery."

"Father came west to get to the gold mines. The first winter he made shingles with his uncle just over the divide on the head waters of the North Fork of the Alsea River. In 1853 he went to California and spent some years in the mines there and in southern Oregon without too much success. He made one trip to Idaho to a mining excitement. He was married in 1862, but made a second trip to the Idaho mines before he settled down for good."

"My mother, Levina BUCKINGHAM, was bom in 1843. Her parents, Heman BUCKINGHAM and Betsy TRUMBULL BUCKINGHAM, came to Oregon in 1846. The immigrants were met at Fort Hall by Jesse APPLEGATE who piloted them in by the southern route. Grandmother BUCKINGHAM was sick on the way and died the first winter in Polk County where they stopped. The children were my mother and George BUCKINGHAM. Grandfather stayed in Oregon City for a time, but in 1849 he came to Bellfountain and bought the right of A. L. HUMPHREY to his land claim. HUMPHREY had just lost his wife and was anxious to move. Grandfather later married Matilda STARR and had several more children, but I cannot give their names.

"My parents were married in 1862. In 1867 they bought the John LLOYD donation land claim which we have held ever since. Of father's eight children three died in childhood. Those living to maturity were, Thomas Heman, Betsey M., James Phile, David Vernon (myself), and Marcus Edward."

"I went to school here at Bellfountain. Then I went to College of Philomath (not Philomath College) where I graduated from the Normal course in 1899. For four years I taught in the Prep department of the College of Philomath and then taught in the district schools at Alpine and Bunker Hill. My oldest brother, Thomas Heman, taught in the College of Philomath for a time and then taught in our church college at Huntington, Indiana from 1897 to 1912."

"I never married and all my life I have lived here on the home farm."
 

The following partial list of the teachers in the Bellfountain school was compiled by Mr. GRAGG in consultation with others at the pioneer reunion at Bellfountain.

 

George MERCER, 1854. Mr. MERCER was later County Surveyor for several terms. He taught the first term in the Bellfountain schoolhouse about half a mile east of the present site at the Park.

C. W. STARR, -
Elizabeth STARR (TURNER), 1857.
Thomas ELLIS, 1857.
Asbury ELLIS, -
H. H. Howard, -
--- SMITH, an old settler who taught a subscription school for a month about 1866.
John FLORENCE, -
Will MARTIN, 1864. Martin volunteered in August 1864
Norris HUMPHREY, 1872.
Charles CROSNO, -
Al NICHOLS. He was the first in the new schoolhouse on the present site in 1873-74.
Kate THOMPSON (BOSWORTH), 1874. spring and fall.
Carrena ACRES (BELKNAP), 1875.
James CONNER, 1876. He was adopted son of Rev. T. J. Connor.
J. W. INGLE
--- HOWERT, 1878.
W. C. McCAY, -.
Angie BELKNAP (HENDERSON), 1880.
W. C. TAYLOR, 1881, Spring.
Alwilda DUNN, 1881, Fall.
Alex FOSTER, Spring 1882.
Frank KITTERAGE, Spring 1882.
Minerva STARR, 1882, Fall.
Mariah STARR, 1883-85.
Alice PALMER, 1885, Fall.
Isabel GRAY, 1886-7.
T. H. GRAGG, 1887, Fall. Summer of 1888.
Bettie GRAGG, Fall of 1888.
A. M. Reeves, 1889, Summer.
 
 
 
 

 

 

Mrs. Sophronia RITNER GRANT

May, 1939
 

Mrs. Grant, a widow, lives in her own home at 719 South Fourth St., Corvallis, She is keenly interested in the work of the Historical Records Survey and lively in her answers and in telling her recollections of the early days.

"My father, Sebastian RITNER, was born in Switzerland and came from Missouri to Oregon in 1844. He took a donation land claim on the west side of the Luckiamute River a short distance below Kings Valley. Mother was first married to John RITNER, my father's brother. Father had located a claim for his brother and the family started across the plains in 1852. On the way the Indians succeeded in stampeding the stock and John RITNER tried to stop the team by running out on the wagon tongue and whipping the oxen in the face with his hat. In some way he fell and was crushed to death under the wagon. Mother was left alone with four little girls, but a man in the train helped her and she came through safely. Afterwards she married my father."

"My father's children were John, Lew, and myself. My brother Lew is still living on the old donation land claim on the Luckiamute River in the Peedee section. I was born in 1860. All my schooling I got at Peedee in Polk County. The teacher I remember best was Nicholas TARTAR whose father had a farm not far from ours. This was his first school and he taught several years. Some years later he was hired again and two of my children attended his school. Later he became a professor of mathematics at the Oregon State College in Corvallis."

"The old schoolhouse at Peedee was well built for the times. All the furniture was handmade. When Mr. TARTAR first taught there he had between sixty and seventy pupils. Other teachers were Harry MILLER and Ann LEVINS. When Mr. TARTAR was first hired he taught for so many years that the pupils got to know him too well. They became familiar and discipline suffered. We studied the three R's, grammar, spelling, geography, and history. With so many pupils for one teacher in an ungraded school there was no time for some of the things taught in the schools today."

"My husband, James Milton GRANT, was born in 1853. His parents, Richard and Sarah Grant, were born in 1826. They stayed the first winter with my fathers folks and my husband was born in the same house in which I was born seven years later. The GRANTS then took a claim on the hill a mile or so east of the RITNER claim on the other side of the river."

"The train with which the GRANTS came had a tough time crossing the plains. They had to stand guard continually against the Indians and the Mormons. The Mormons were worse than the Indians. My husband's mother's sister had malaria and had to wean her little baby. There were no cows with the train and no way of getting milk. One of the men had a mare with a sucking colt. They killed the colt and the mare furnished milk to keep the baby alive and thriving. My husband's mother sat one night on the bare rocks by the brink of a river, sheltering her children under a quilt and waiting for morning. The wagons had been gotten across but the wind rose and the river became too rough before all the women and children had been brought over."

"In the early days grandmother GRANT had to stay alone while her husband was working at a distance. The wolves were so bad that they had to take the dog into the house at night to keep him from being eaten. Even though the cabin was strong it made grandmother uneasy to have the wolves howling about the whole night. At first grandmother cooked at a makeshift fireplace of stones on the dirt floor of the cabin. The smoke found its way out at an opening. The only light at night was from a twisted wick in a pan of lard. Grandfather was working that winter at Dallas."

"The GRANT farm was a hill farm and they raised mostly cattle. These were sold to the itinerant cattle buyers and found their way to market in Portland or San Francisco, or perhaps in the mines of southern and eastern Oregon. The Grant children were Vina, Gilbert who died at the age of eleven, my husband, and Mary who married a BEVENS."

"I was married in 1878. My children are Richard GRANT and Mrs. Sarah BROWN. I lived all my life in and near Kings Valley until I became too old for hard work. I had to work hard as a girl and missed most of my schooling. My mother was sick and I was the only girl in my mother's second family."

"I have a homespun coverlet that my mother made from the sheep back to the finished product before she came to Oregon. It is more than a hundred years old. I do not know what I shall do with it as I am afraid neither of my children would take care of it if I should leave it to them. (Note: - The coverlet was displayed. It was woven in a pattern of squares in red, white, and blue, chiefly blue, and was woven in two widths and sewed together. It looked as if it had seen almost no service and was by far the best preserved specimen the Field Agent had ever seen.) My people did not do much of that kind of work after they came to Oregon, but I remember mother used to have an old loom. The GRANTS used to spin and weave blankets but I do not know that they made clothing. I do know it was not uncommon for the men to wear home-spun clothes of linen."

"When I was a girl I had to work hard, as did other young folks and there was not much time for social amusement. Of course there was always dancing and church going."

"It seems to me the world is going from bad to worse with its whiskey and politics."
 
 
 
 

 

Doke GRAY

 
Mr. GRAY was interviewed at his farm on Beaver Creek, about twelve miles southwest of Corvallis on Route 2. Aged 65, he is still active and a competent witness of things happening within his memory. He said:

"My mother, Susan MEANS, came from Missouri to Oregon in 1852, when she was just a girl. Her father had died some time before and her mother and brother died while crossing the plains. She came on with her grandfather, Bob IRVIN, and her uncles, William and James IRVIN. There was no trouble with the Indians on the trip, but there was much sickness on the plains that year and many in the train died. Mother had one sister who came to Oregon."

"My father was Joseph M. GRAY and my grandfather was Robert D. GRAY. The GRAY's moved from Tennessee to Arkansas, and in 1853 came to Oregon. The GRAY donation land claim was north of Bellfountain not far from the former site of the Auxiliary Schoolhouse. Grandfather was in poor health when he came to Oregon and father, who was fifteen years old, had to drive a team and take turns standing guard at night. I have heard him say he walked all the way from Arkansas and missed driving the wagon only one half day. The train was met on the Malhuer River by a man who said he could guide them by a new and shorter route. There had been heavy travel that year and the cattle suffered greatly from the heavy clouds of dust as well as from the scarcity of feed along the usual route. Grandfather and a part of the train decided to try the new route to escape these evils."

"It was soon evident that the guide did not know the way. The train became lost and for three days before reaching the De Chutes River were without water. They finally succeeded in passing the Cascade Mountains and came down the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. "

"Grandfather GRAY was a Baptist preacher. Soon after coming to Oregon he organized the Baptist Church which met in the Auxiliary Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse then was about a mile south of the present site on the east side of the road. Some years ago when a new schoolhouse was to be built a certain man, who coveted the big spring on the school grounds, succeeded in having the school moved so that he might buy the spring."

"Grandfather's children were: George, Nat, Robert, Joseph (my father), Elizabeth (SLATER), Malissa (GARRETT), and Sally (TAYLOR). Mr. SLATER, who married Elizabeth, was elected Congressman from eastern Oregon and later U. S. Senator from Oregon."

"In 1865 grandfather and all his children went to Union County where grandfather died. I was born in Union County in 1872 and my parents returned to Benton County in 1873. I have made my home here ever since. My father was a farmer and carpenter. In 1861 he helped build a house for Mr. FOSTER on the place on Beaver Creek now owned by Grover AVERY. Mr. AVERY lives in the house which is about as my father built it."

"Soon after coming to Oregon my father worked in a brick yard in Corvallis where the Independent Lumber Company now is (about Sixth & Washington). He helped make brick for the first jail in Benton County. Uncle Albert TAYLOR, who came in 1849, ran the brickyard there in the 'fifties."

"Father never told us much about the trip across the plains and the things that happened afterward. Some way they never seemed important, just as the things I am doing every day do not seem worth recording. They were too busy doing things to talk much about them."

"In 1896 I married Alda DIXON, daughter of Ezra DIXON and Emmaline BETHERS DIXON. Grandfather DIXON was related in some way to William F. DIXON, one of the founders of Marysville which later became Corvallis. We lived on the farm most of the time except for about ten years when I worked as a carpenter in Corvallis."

"My father was J. M. GRAY, and my grandfather was Robert GRAY, a Baptist preacher. They came to Benton County in 1853 and settled in this community. Grandfather organized a church in the Auxiliary Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was built of logs and was there in the 'fifties. Dr. HILL, another Baptist preacher and a physician, also came to Benton County in 1853. Dr. HILL organized the Baptist Church in Corvallis. In 1865 grandfather GRAY went to the Grande Ronde in Union County, Oregon."

 
 
 

 

Recollections of Mrs. Susan MEANS GRAY
as told to Mrs. H. C. MORRIS

January 15, 1927
 

"My grandfather, Robert IRWIN, was born in East Tennessee, January 25, 1799. He first came to Oregon from Missouri in 1850, to Benton County. He stayed all that winter and the next fall returning to Missouri. In the fall of 1852 Judge IRWIN led a train to Oregon. He had with him his family as well as the family of his daughter, my mother."

"My father, George Washington MEANS, had died in Missouri, leaving mother with four little children, Nancy Jane, Susan (myself), George, and Martha Ann. I was seven years old at the time."

"My grandmother, Millie IRWIN, died on the Humboldt river near where the trails separated. My grandfather decided to go on by the southern route. When they were on the Platte River my mother, Sylvina IRWIN MEANS, died, leaving us to be cared for by my grandfather."

"We were met near the southern part of the trail by G. W. ISAACS who piloted us in and doubtless saved our lives. The train before ours was massacred by the Indians."

"I was born in Andrew County, Missouri, August 28, 1844. My husband, Joseph M. GRAY, who was the son of Robert D. GRAY, another pioneer, was born in Knoxville, East Tennessee, January 17, 1838. They came to Oregon in 1853. We were married in Benton County, August 22, 1861, by the Rev. Reuben HILL, now of Albany, who was a Baptist minister. We had six children: Agnes, who married George BETHERS, was born in 1865; Edna Jane, who married Edwin DAVIS, was born in 1867; Susan Effie was born in 1870 and married W. E. RICH; George DOKE, born in 1872; Cora Ann, born in 1874, married Mark PORTER; Nellie Sylvina, born in 1878, married Otis SKIPTON."

"When my grandfather landed in Benton County he bought a piece of land southwest of Corvallis, about two miles this side of Philomath, near the GRAYS and Nicholas OWNBYS on Muddy Creek, from Hall BAILEY who was afterwards killed by the Indians."

"Francis Marion IRWIN, my mother's brother, had come to Oregon in 1850 when grandfather first came out. In the same train was Nannie JASPER who had married John LANGTON. He died on the way out here and grandfather afterward married Nannie LANGTON. My Aunt Jane, Uncle Jim IRWIN's wife, helped grandfather look after us children until he married again to Nannie JASPER. We went to school on the Chisolm place. Later grandfather had charge of Columbia College in Eugene and we attended there three years. We returned to the old place and attended the Auxiliary school on the old MILLER place."

"The next year grandfather decided to take us on a visit to California. I was then fifteen. Such a journey was quite an event. It was before the days of the railroad, so we drove all the way by wagon. I was used to riding and driving, however. In fact, when we crossed the plains my sister and I rode most of the way on horseback. Going down the Rogue River valley and through those deep canyons was no small feat for a seven year old child."

"My sister, Nancy Jane, married Merrill JASPER of Corvallis, while Martha Ann married John M. LEWIS of Salem. My grandfather IRWIN and two uncles were buried in the old HANSEN graveyard near Oak Ridge. Grandfather GRAY is buried in Grande Ronde valley; my husband is in the Mt. Union cemetery, or as it is sometimes called, the Newton Cemetery. "

"Mr. LOCKLEY came here once for our history, but he was in a hurry and I could not take time to tell it just as I wanted it. So I want you to put this all down just as I have given it to you, so it will be correct."
 
 
 
 
 

 

Mrs. Rosetta ALLEN GREEN
 

Mrs. GREEN was interviewed at her farm home near Philomath, where she and her husband are still carrying on. She said:

"My father, William Franklin ALLEN, came to Oregon about 1852. His boyhood home was at Paynesville, Ohio, but he was an orphan and was cared for by an uncle. When he did not get on well with the aunt he ran away and shipped on a river boat. The crew turned a hogshead over him until he was safe away from pursuit. He made several voyages as a sailor to South America and other places."

"When some of the people from Ohio were coming west they told father if he would come along he might ride a certain black pony. He understood their generosity after the trip was started when he found he was expected to help drive the oxen. However, he was a boy of about twenty, and he had a great time on the trip in spite of work to do."

"Father settled first in Polk county. He did not take a claim there although many good ones were to be had. Land was cheap and did not seem to him worth the trouble. He helped locate others and when he wanted a farm for himself all the good land in that part was taken."

"Mother's parents were David LEWIS and Polly REDDEN; who came from Kentucky in 1845, seeking in Oregon a more healthful climate in which to rear their children. Grandfather LEWIS was captain of the train. He had no direct trouble with the Indians. When they were almost across the plains some of the younger men, tired of the monotony of travel, wanted to explore the country to the side of the trail and hunt buffalo. Father protested and said: 'There is danger from the Indians. If you go it must be at your own risk. I won't endanger the lives of the women and children by stopping to hunt for you if you fail to return.' The men persisted and were never heard of again, either on the trail or after they reached Oregon. Grandfather said the hardest thing he ever had to do was resist the pleadings of the men's families to stop and send out a rescue party. "

"The train was almost across the plains before they lost any cattle. Then an ox died, poisoned by forage, and they hitched a cow in his place. They had brought cows along and milked them all the way. Mother was a tiny girl when they came west, but remembers one incident most distinctly. The stage of the journey was a long way between watering places. The cattle became very thirsty and when they approached a stream they became unmanageable and stampeded at the scent of water. The oxen could not be stopped until they were breast deep in the stream. Mother had been asleep in the wagon and woke to find the water all about her. Her father waded in and rescued her."

"Grandfather LEWIS' children were: Elizabeth (BOONE), Martha (SMITH), Mary (my mother), John, William, Frank, Emma (POWELL), Eliza (MILLER), Henry, and Lena (GRAVES). The family settled on the Luckiamute River in Polk County. Grandfather planned to provide a church, a school, and a cemetery for the community, which he called Lewisville. (The station, Lewisburg, which is a little further south in Benton County, was named for Haman LEWIS who was of another family.) He laid out the grounds for the church and several people were buried in the proposed church yard. Before he had money to proceed with the church building the Christian (Campbellite) Church made its beginning at Monmouth, not far away. Grandfather LEWIS was a member of this denomination and very devout. He fell in line with the work at Monmouth. He did not care who built the church and school, or where it was, if his children had the benefit of them."

"My parents were married in 1855. Their children were Edgar, Marshall, Miles, Newton, Jasper, Ella May, Olive Jane, myself, Nora, and George. Father farmed in Polk County until 1874. Then he came to Benton County and took a homestead at the foot of Marys Peak, near the South Fork of Marys River. Here he passed the rest of his life."

"At the time of the Rogue River Indian War someone came through Polk County calling for volunteers. Much to the disgust of his father-in-law, for whom he was working, father left the thrashing machine and went to fight the Indians. The volunteers were guarding a line from Bohemia Mountains to the Coast to keep the Indians from breaking through and ranging further north. One day when father was on guard he was wounded by an arrow. Just as the arrow was fired he turned his head and the arrow, instead of piercing his head, glanced off his brow. The flesh was cut so it fell over his eye and had to be stitched in place. Grandfather always carried the scar."

"In 1890 I married William GREEN, whose, people came to Oregon later than mine. He was a butcher by trade but has followed farming since we were married. Our children are Ralph, Clarence, Willard, Mabel (CUMMINGS), Viva, Oliver, Cecil, Emmet and Lloyd. Mrs. CUMMINGS has for several years been postmaster at Philomath. So far as I know no other one of my family ever held any public office or engaged in politics. Ralph died in the military service during the World War."

"None of the older generation in our family was able to get much education. School terms were only three months long and the rates were $20.00 per pupil. Not all the children in a large family could go to school at once; the cost was too great. "

"My father had gotten a taste of the discipline of the sea, and he always required strict obedience of his children. Children who are disciplined at home are not apt to need discipline by force later."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Emma HORNING GROVES

Pioneer of 1850
 

Compiled from material in the possession of Mrs. R. M. PEFFER, 517 N. Second St., Corvallis, Oregon.

In 1849 my father's brother got the gold fever and went to California. In his letters home he gave such glowing accounts of the wonderful wealth in the mine, the fine country, and the wonderful climate, that my father wanted to go there. He sold out and prepared to go in the early spring, having written to his brother when he would start.

Grandfather owned 2,000 acres of land, a part of the tract on which Kansas City, Mo., now stands. Grandmother JOHNSON had had poor health for a number of years, and malaria was prevalent. Grandfather had heard that the California country was very healthy, and a short time before we were ready to start he decided that grandmother's health would be better for a change. He sold his part of the Johnson tract and prepared to accompany us.

In the early spring of 1850 we started west. Soon after we crossed the Kansas line cholera broke out in the train and we stayed in one camp for three or four weeks. Grandmother JOHNSON died and one daughter. They were buried on the plains. The Indians were not very troublesome that year; in fact I do not remember any trouble. The Government insisted that each train must have at least twenty wagons and not less than twenty able bodied men to protect it.

After going through the South Pass we reached Fort Hall, where the road forked, one going to California and the other to Oregon. They had met many coming back from California who told sad tales of how the oxen were dying on the road, the grass was short, the water scarce, and the roads almost impassable. Grandfather was discouraged, the loss of his wife and daughter had made him very blue, and with the reports of the conditions he decided he would go to Oregon. Mother was worried and she could not bear to think of his going on to Oregon alone with all those children, the eldest a girl of sixteen. Father came to the conclusion they had better stay together and he would go on to Oregon. If he had gone on to California in a few days he would have met his brother, who was coming to meet him with fresh teams, and our hardships would have been over.

When he came to this place there was a log cabin by Marys River belonging to J. C. AVERY, a log schoolhouse south of where RICKARD'S Garage now is, and a store owned by St. CLAIR and HARTLESS.

At that time a man and his wife could take a donation claim of 640 acres of land. As Grandmother JOHNSON was dead, grandfather could take but half a section, or 320 acres. A man who had taken a section west of town was tired of his claim and wanted to leave. Father and Grandfather bought him out and divided the claim between them, father taking the west half and grandfather the east half. His east line was east of where Cauthom Hall now is. So a great many of the buildings of the Oregon State College are on his land.

Father built a log cabin, one room and a loft. We slept in the loft. Mother had brought a high-post bed with a canopy and father made a trundle bed for us children. Mother cooked on the fireplace for a long time. I remember the first cook stove we had. It was similar to a box heater, with a drum in the stovepipe, and the oven was in that drum. Mother was gone one day and I was eldest at home. I decided to make some biscuits, and baked my first bread in the drum oven.

For a broom they got a good sized stick of willow as long as a broom, handle and all, shaved the stick down in very fine shavings to within five or six inches of the end until the handle was the size of a broomstick. Then the shavings were pulled down over the end and fastened securely with thongs. Some of the brooms were quite unwieldy and some were nice, according to the skill of the maker, but they did the work and lasted a long time.

When I was ten years old, father built our house.

Benton County built the first College. (Note: - This has not been verified.) The County owned the block between Fifth and Sixth Streets, with Monroe Street on the north and Madison Street on the south. The ground was low on the north, so the college was built more on the north side than in the center of the block. The building faced the east. They taught higher mathematics, Latin, and a number of higher branches. After a while the County found it could not afford the expense of the College, and sold to the South Methodists. The South Methodist Church now stands on the corner of the block.

The Presbyterian church just missed getting the college. When the college was put up for sale the Presbyterians sent in a sealed bid, but the Methodists were on the ground and put in their bid in person and secured the property.

Long before the war the Methodist Episcopal Church split over questions arising out of slavery. During the war a number of South Methodist people came to Oregon and settled around Marysville. The Methodist Episcopal people were not pleased. They took the position that the others had left the mother church and had formed the Southern Methodist, and they should stay and help fight for it, and not slip off out here. For a number of years this church did not flourish in membership. After they bought the buildings and grounds from the County the College managed to exist. Southern Methodists came here to school with their children. When the Agricultural College was decided on the Southern Methodists offered the building. The fact that an Agricultural College was controlled by a sectarian school caused a good deal of dissatisfaction, and there were murmurs that grew louder and louder. The State notified the Church that there was need for new buildings and to get busy and raise the money for them. The Southern Methodists knew they were in disfavor among the people and it would be impossible to raise the required amount. At their conference, they voted to turn the college over to the state. When the legislature met Benton County was notified to raise the money if they wanted to keep the college here. There was a building committee and a receiving committee to receive the building. They were given two years to complete the building. They had twenty acres of land. The lower campus was the first college farm. They built the Administration Building. The Southern Methodists held a conference and decided they had made a mistake and wanted to take their gift back. There were very warm arguments over it. The Board met in the College Chapel, the young men knew their views and in spite of the professor hissed the Board. That night the young rascals burned the Board in effigy. When it came to a vote, Dr. J. R. N. BELL'S vote was the vote that carried the measure and the Southern Methodists forever lost their hold on the Oregon Agricultural College.

The old schoolhouse where I went to school was on the east side of Fifth Street, across the street from the College. We took our lunch and would spend the noon hour playing in the College while it was being built.

My uncle, J. W. JOHNSON, and Marion MULKEY were the first representatives of Oregon at Yale College. After they graduated, J. W. JOHNSON taught in the College while the county was running the school. After teaching one or two years he asked for an advance in wages, asking $1,000. The county could not raise it and he went to McMinnville, then the Presbyterian (?) school. He taught there for years; afterward he was president of the University of Oregon and held the place for twenty years.

As every thing was brought around the horn the supply of groceries was always limited. Sugar was a luxury and very high in price. The story goes that a man was going to the store to buy some goods. He said, "After I buy the things we need if I have any money left I will buy some sugar." When he arrived at the store there was not a single thing left that he wanted - except sugar. One of our neighbors made buckskin clothes for her husband and boys. As there were a number of them it kept her pretty busy. They ground wheat in a coffee mill and made a course bread, and boiled wheat for a steady diet. Her husband and the hired man would not grind wheat so she boiled wheat for them. After they were gone to work she ground wheat for bread for herself and her children. That same woman was instrumental in organizing the first South Methodist church in Corvallis. I have heard her tell how the people came in their wagons and brought their baskets. The lunch consisted of deer meat and wild ducks and geese, with plenty of boiled wheat. They parched barley and made barley coffee. It was excellent, too.

The building used as a statehouse in 185- was a long two-story building. The partitions were thin and many secrets leaked through. At that time it had been decided that the University of Oregon would be located here. The brick was on the ground. The story is that our representative found that he could make a trade, send the University to Eugene, and keep the Statehouse here. He and his cronies were busy planning and forgot the flimsy partitions. Persons belonging to the other side were in the next room and heard all the plans. The next day they moved the capital back to Salem and the University went to Eugene and Marysville was out all round. Emory ALLEN bought the house in which the Legislature met, and his son, John, says he burned it up.


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