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WPA Historical Records
Benton Co., Oregon
Mark Phinney


Franklin SHELTON







Anna Charlotte REEVES STARR


Malinda Frances (Fannie) COYLE STARR

Silas Chambers STARR



Interview --Franklin SHELTON

September 1938

(Franklin SHELTON, bachelor, was interviewed at the home of his brother, Roe SHELTON, about one mile west of Bellfountain. His memory seemed not very good, but was re-enforced by that of his brother and by reference to some fragment of family record.)

My grandfather, Haman SHELTON, came from Missouri to Linn County, Oregon in 1847. The trip was made by ox team without any unusual difficulties. Grandfather got on fine with the Indians, both on the trip and after he reached Oregon. He took a donation land claim about five miles east of Scio in Linn County.

Grandmother had been Pricilla FITZGERALD. They had eight children who were Alfred, William, Harvey, Lee (my father), Haman, Mary (HUNT), Lucy (CURL), and Sally (GAINES). None of the children were married when they came west. Father was about twelve years old at the time. Times were rather hard for them at first, for the country was new and there was no trading place nearer than Oregon City. Grandfather had brought grain for planting and other seed, including apple seeds, and soon had a garden and orchard started.

My mother was Mary Ann FORGEY whose folks came to Oregon in 1862. I do not know much about mother's people. My parents were married in 1863. Their children were myself, Elva, Albert, Feirl, Artis, John, Roe, Clifford, Laura, Edith.

I was born in 1864. We went to school on grandfather's farm. The first school house was a log building but there was a frame school house when I started to school. Among my teachers were Emma HAMILTON, Belle BILYEU, and Riley PRUETT. I can not recall the others. (Roe SHELTON mentioned John FLOWER, Mr. CYRUS, and George SUTHERLIN, who taught at a later time.)

When I was a young fellow we did not have so much time for idle enjoyment as the youngsters do now. There was too much hard work to be done. We used to have to go about a great deal on foot, but later we had horses to ride. The big occasions were the Fourth of July and Christmas celebrations. Then there were dances and singing schools. I was never much of a dancer.

My folks mostly stayed in Linn County and farmed. My brother Roe and I came to this place about nine years ago. I was never married. I never went in for politics and never held office.


Interview -- John SKAGGS

June 1938

Mr. John SKAGGS, son of one of the early pioneers of the upper Marys River section of Benton County, was interviewed at the home of his daughter, Mrs. CADWALLADER, on the east fork of Marys River about four miles north of Summit. His memory seemed good, but gave details of the grandparents and dates somewhat differently from his sister, Mrs. Etna BARCHARD of Corvallis, who had been interviewed some time previously. Mrs. BARCHARD seems to be the more trustworthy.

My father came from Missouri to Amador County, California, in 1849 at the age of nineteen. His name was Joseph SKAGGS. He worked for some time at mining, partly for himself and partly for wages. He made some money but finished only about even. In 1859 he married my mother, Mary BENSELL. Mother's family were pioneers from Iowa. My parents' children were Adaline (Mrs. Wiley), Etna (Mrs. BARCHARD), Laura (Mrs. FOX), Charles, Royal, John, Arthur, Oren, Austin and Jesse. My parents came to Oregon in 1864, and Blodgett Valley in 1852, and this part later. There were two old bachelors, Irishmen and pals, who lived here then. They were Matthew KELLY and Joe WOOD. One was a trapper and the other had a farm. There was a family named SAVAGE. People used to say the Savages were here before the Indians. None of the SAVAGE family are left around here now.

Father built a large log cabin in which we lived until about 1876. Then he built the house in which my brothers, Arthur and Oren are now living. Father farmed and raised cattle. We were too far from market to raise wheat except for our own flour and for feed. There was a grist mill at Kings Valley but the road was very difficult. The chief cash income in early days was from making shaved shingles. These we traded at the stores for needed supplies so there was not much cash in the deal after all. A man could shave two or three thousand shingles in a day and a good river (?) could split more than one man could shave in a day. The shingles were shaved on both sides with a hand draw knife. The hand split and shaved shingles were better than the best sawed shingles for two reasons. The split shingles were not at all cross-grained, as happens to some extent with the best sawed shingles, and so did not weather away so fast. And the finest straightest timber was chosen because it split easier, and this made the best shingles.

We never had an easy time but there was enough to eat and no worry. The farm was partly on the river bottom and the brush was hard to clear away. At first there was much wild game,--bear, cougar, deer and a few elk. The cougars were pretty hard on young stock and we could not do much with sheep until after they were killed or driven away. Bobcats got all our chickens at first. We used to hunt cougars with dogs. A bunch of us would get together, each with his dogs, and would kill from one to three cougars in a day of hunting.

When the Yaquina railroad was being built we sold venison to the cook houses, usually getting about two or three dollars for a carcass. The hides were worth from 75 cents to two dollars, according to size. Mother would take the hides to FELGER's tannery on Marys River west of where Philomath now is, and then tanned them for half. Then she would make gloves for which there was a ready market at a dollar or a dollar and a half per pair. She sometimes made as much as two hundred dollars a year in this way.

All our schooling was at Summit. The first school house was a log building just across the railroad track from where the Grange hall now is. That was before the railroad was built. Then a frame building was put up about a mile further north. My first teacher was John WOOD, a one-armed man whose folks lived on Woods Creek, west of Philomath. There was Sarah RADER from Toledo, Florence PORTER and several others.

The enrollment averaged from sixteen to twenty-five. The teachers were usually good and kept the pupils in order without difficulty. The school house was equipped only with home made furniture and we had only about three month's school each year. About 1874 I lived for a time on Old Ella Creek near Toledo and went to school there. The school house in Toledo was about where the Courthouse now is.

Our chief social enjoyment when I was a young fellow was in the neighborhood dances. These were more orderly than the dances held today. If I wanted an extra good time I would take my gun and go hunting.

There was quite regular preaching in the school house. Bill DIXON and J.E. CONNOR, United Brethren preachers, used to preach here, and CROSSMAN and PLOWMAN (Sp.?), Evangelicals. When there was a revival meeting there might be several preachers present.

In 1891 I married Cerilda J. NORTON, daughter of Lucius NORTON of Kings Valley. Our children were Edith, Virgil, and Ivan. Ivan is in Texas. Virgil is a saw-mill engineer employed in this county. Edith, with whom I am living is married to Mr. CADWALLADER, a saw mill operator of this community. I have never held any public office, other than school director. The only social organization I ever joined was the grange, which was organized here in the 'eighties.

Interviews--Arthur SKAGGS

Mr. Arthur SKAGGS still lives on the old Skaggs homestead on the west fork of Marys River, about four miles north of Summit. The house was built by his father in 1876. (see, Building Form.) Arthur SKAGGS never married, but remained at home to care for his parents. He is especially interested in the history and mementos of the early days and is preserving numerous articles of early furniture. He added somewhat to the information received from his brother, but differed somewhat in details.

Father was born in Indiana and mother in Iowa three years later. (Note: names and dates on stones in Summit Cemetery are as follows; Joseph SKAGGS-1829-1916. Mary SKAGGS, 1841-1936) Father failed to make his fortune in the mines of California, but he found his wife there and came to Oregon in 1866. He took this place and worked hard to clear the brush. All the hills were open range and father ran cattle there. These hills were not natural prairie like the hills at Kings Valley, but a forest fire before the coming of the white men had killed practically all the timber. There were only enough scattering trees left to reseed the district.

Our first house was a fair-sized, one room log cabin with a kitchen lean-to. At first there were only three children but five more were born before father was able to build a bigger and better house.

This house was built about 1867. The furniture for the house was made by Fred TROXEL. The TROXEL brothers, Carter and Fred, were carpenters and wood workers who came to this country in the early 'sixties. They were both skilled workmen but Fred made more furniture than Carter. He had a place just above here and I have often seen him turning out furniture on a foot power lathe. He made his furniture of Maple which he cut and seasoned himself. He was very painstaking and put lots of work into the things he made. I have a set of the old chairs still, and after more than sixty years they are stronger and firmer than many new factory made chairs. And in spite of the time it took to make chairs as TROXEL made them, he sold a set of six for six dollars. My sister in Corvallis had the old spool bed that he made.

Among the teachers I remember a man named ELLIOT, whose head was so bald we children likened it to the globe in the school room. Another was Alice KITSON. He was later to C.C. BELL, who became a United Brethren preacher well known throughout the Willamette Valley. BELL used to come to see Miss KITSON while she taught here and the youngsters had fun watching the growth of the romance.--Other teachers were Madge DUNN, Fred MARS, Alice BARNHART and Nellie YANTIS.

Among the early preachers were "Skookum' ALLEN and KELLY, the blacksmith at Peedee. These men belonged to the Evangelical Church. Then Bill DIXON and KENOYER, United Brethren preachers, used to come out here, and there were others. There was a young preacher named BAUGHMAN who lived on the headwaters of the east fork on the way to Hoskins. A doctor named OWENS lived on the next farm to him.

I was never married and have lived here all my life, except that from 1893 to 1907 I worked on wheat farms in Sherman and Morrow counties. Then I came home to take care of the old folks. Father died in 1916 and mother in 1936. Recently my brother Oren and his wife have come here to make their home.



Interview -- Judd SMITH

May 23, 1938

Mr. SMITH was interviewed at his farm about eight miles south of Corvallis and about one and one-half miles from the Peoria Ferry. Mr. SMITH is a successful farmer and while his knowledge of the early times is limited, what he tells is dependable. He said:

"My father, Terry W.B.SMITH, came around the horn in 1850. With him came my grandfather, Jerry Myer(Jeremiah?) SMITH. Grandfather was a brother of Green Berry Smith who came to Benton County, I think, before 1850. Green Berry Smith (the two names are distinct, but many people today think his name was Greenberry) was at one time one of the largest landowners in Benton County. He owned a strip a mile wide and extending south from Corvallis to his original claim at Greenberry station, a distance of eight miles. Then he owned land in other parts of the county. He had more than nine thousand acres on Soap Creek in the north end of the county. It was he who owned and vacated the site of Tampico, the ghost town.

"Grandmother SMITH was dead and grandfather was old and stayed with my father. Father's first work was with JOHNSON and PERKINS, meat packers of Portland. (PERKINS was the man who built the Perkins Hotel) Father bought cattle for the firm and drove them to Portland. He traveled through the valley as far south as Eugene, and often carried four or five thousand dollars in gold in his saddle bags. In slack seasons, or when he was not on a buying trip father hauled wood for the firm. He brought the wood from the forest on what is now Fifteenth Street in Portland.

"About 1862 father and grandfather went to the Canyon Creek at what is now Canyonville and engaged in the cattle business. In 1866 father came here, bought out a squatter's right and homesteaded a part of this farm. His children were all born in a an old house about a quarter of a mile from this later house.

"My mother was Nancy McBEE, daughter of James McBEE, a pioneer of the Willamette Community. James McBEE came from Missouri in 1850. His children were John, William, George, Thomas, Joseph, David, James, Nancy, and Lizzie (LINEBARGER). James, the seventh son, was called "Doc".

"My parents' children were W.W., myself, Elmer H., Ed D., Ollie, and Addie. Ollie married J.R.Smith, founder of J.R.Smith and Sons, hardware company of Corvallis. The families were not related except by marriage. My brother Elmer was with this firm for a time. Alex SMITH, a nephew of mine, also has a hardware in Corvallis. My sister Addie married Chester AVERY, a grandson of Joseph C. AVERY, founder of Corvallis.

"I was born in 1868. I started school at the Central School in the Willamette Community, but father took me to Corvallis where I attended the south school. Mr. MILNEr, who was at one time County School Superintendent, taught there. He was a graduate of Notre Dame and the smartest man I ever saw. I have been told he was the first man to introduce high school subjects into the Corvallis public schools. He taught algebra and book-keeping. I had a year in the "prep" department of Corvallis College and then graduated from Holmes Business College in Portland. At one time I started to learn telegraphy under B.F.IRVINE who was agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Corvallis. Mr. IRVINE later won fame as a journalist in Oregon.

"I married Laura CAUTHORN of one of the pioneer families of Benton County. I cannot tell you much about them, but there are many other members of the CAUTHORN family in the county. Our children are Wilmer C., and Loren Judson. Wilmer took a medical course and followed it up with much further study. He is now orthopedic specialist with the State Accident Compensation of Oregon. Loren is a farmer on a nearby farm.



Interview -- Mrs. L.F. MOORE SMITH

August 13,1937

Mrs. SMITH, a woman in her eighties, was interviewed at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Sam. MOSES, in Philomath. Except for a slight deafness she is unusually sound in mind and body for a person of her age. She said:

My mother was Mary BERKLEY. Her father, Jesse BERKLEY, was a Baptist preacher, who came with his family to the Willamette Valley in 1846. Grandfather BERKLEY took a donation land claim near Providence in Linn County. He was the first settled preacher in the old log church at Providence, a church started by Joab POWELL. The names of my mother and her parents are engraved on the memorial monument erected at the site of the old church. The early days were hard for all but the BERKLEYS suffered no unusual hardships on the trail or after their arrival.

My father was Ira MOORE. He came across the plains with Grandfather BERKLEY and soon after married his daughter. I had three brothers, Judson, Robert, and Theodore. Mother died when I was seven and I was raised by an Uncle. My father later went to Canyon City in Central Oregon where he located a mine and was working it. He died there of pneumonia. We children received about $40.00 each from his estate. Long after that, just a few years ago, my daughter, Mrs. WOODWORTH, with her husband and some friends had occasion to be in Canyon City. My daughter hoped to find out more about her grandfather and visit his grave. The party were directed to an old timer named HALL. He seemed startled when asked about Ira MOORE, but admitted that he had been his partner. When he learned that he was talking to a granddaughter of his old partner he appeared to the point of collapse and pleaded that he was not well enough to show her grandfather's grave and the old mine. Daughter learned later that the old man passed a disturbed and sleepless night and the next day killed himself. Although there had never been any suspicion of a crookedness in settling my father's estate it seems now that his partner must have been dishonest and feared that an investigation was about to be made. Of course we never considered such a thing.

I was born in 1855. My first schooling was at a little school house near the Providence Church. Mr. WALKER was my first teacher. Then there was Mr. LEEVER whose, descendants still live in that community. Lutitia HANEY also taught there. Later I went to the McFarland Schoolhouse between Tangent and Albany. Here John McFARLAND was my teacher as long as I went to school. He later taught my oldest daughter. The schoolhouse was on a corner of the McFarland claim. John McFARLAND was a brother of L.C. (Columbus) McFARLAND, a preacher of the South Methodist Church, who founded the church about twelve miles south of Corvallis on Highway 99W. The present building of this congregation was named McFarland Chapel. It is still the only thriving church in the open country of Benton County.

The schoolhouses that I attended were both log buildings, with puncheon benches and home made desks. I can remember how the lizards used to scurry along the crevices between the logs on the inside of the buildings. We had a fireplace to heat the school. Sometimes a good sized log would be brought in, one end placed in the fireplace, and the log moved up as the end burned off.

Cougars were very common in that part of the country in an early day. Uncle always kept a great yellow dog who escorted us children to and from school to protect us from wild animals. Once uncle was riding a mare when a cougar killed the colt that was following. Deer were plentiful but I think they were never slaughtered to be sold.

In 1870 I married L.F. SMITH. We lived all out lives in or near Tangent. My husband farmed at first; then he had a store in Tangent. Mr. Albert BRYAN was his partner for a short time. Then for about eighteen years my husband carried mail on the Tangent route. He died just a few years ago. Our children were: Ida, Granville, Sarah, Delmar, Elizabeth, Anna, Addie, and Maud. Ida married Sam MOSES who for years had a general store in Philomath. Elizabeth was the wife of Judge WOODWORTH, formerly County Judge of Linn County.

My husand's parents were Michael and Mary SMITH, who started the journey across the plains not far from 1850. When they started Mary had insisted on bringing several pieces of dressed lumber which they had on hand, saying they would find use for them. She wrapped the boards in a piece of heavy homespun cloth and put them in the bottom of the wagon bed. On the way across the plains her husband Michael died and the boards were used to make a rough coffin and the homespun for a winding sheet.

After Mary SMITH came to Linn County she took a farm and worked to support her family. The neighbors were kind, but she was independent and wanted to do for herself. One neighbor, a German named Martin WERTZ (?) was especially thoughtful, offering to split wood and bring stuff from his garden. The lady always thanked him but declined the offer very positively. But he was not discouraged and after a week or so he would be back seeking to do another kindness.  When winter came he appeared one day with a wagon full of produce and proceeded to unload on her front porch a supply of flour, bacon, hams, potatoes, beans, etc., and drove away without giving her the chance to protest. Such neighborliness had its effect in the end and Martin WERTZ won the hand of Mary SMITH. He was 'Grandpap' to all my children and a finer man never lived.



Interview -- Mrs. Evanda SPRINGER STAHL

Mrs. STAHL was interviewed at her home in Bellfountain where she has been for several years past employed as a teacher in the public schools. Her information should be entirely dependable.

My father, Jonathan Greek SPRINGER, was born in Iowa in 1842. The name "Greek" is an old family name. I do not know its history but it has nothing to do with nationality. The SPRINGERS were of English and Scandinavian descent. Grandfather Barney D. SPRINGER was born in New Jersey and came from Iowa to Oregon in 1846. The train outfitted at Independence, Missouri. There was no trouble with Indians but many of the immigrants had laid in too small a supply of food to last through the trip. Grandfather had a surplus of flour and bacon and was able to help the others out. When the train reached The Dalles they took a boat for the remainder of the journey.

For a time grandfather ran the California House, a hotel in Portland. I do not know whether he bought or rented it. Then he took a donation land claim near New Grande Ronde in Yamhill County. When the Grande Ronde Indian Reservation was formed the Government bought his claim and grandfather moved to the vicinity of Amity, where he lived the remainder of his life. His children who lived to maturity were: George W., Barney H., Elizabeth (Mrs. SIMMS), Mary (Mrs. WALLING, Mrs. STROUP), Susan (Mrs. Robert MARTIN), Martin Van BUREN, Jonathan G. (my father), and Luceneth (Mrs. MAJOR). Susan's husband was a preacher of the South M.E.Church and preached at many places in the upper Willamette Valley.

Father attended old Corvallis College and taught school at Beaver Creek and other places in the county. Later he attended Philomath College where he met my mother, Cynthia WYATT. She was a daughter of William WYATT, a pioneer of 1847, and was born on the Wyatt donation land claim in 1857. Her sister, Eva, is still living on the old place.

Father and mother were members of the first class to be graduated from Philomath College in the early 'seventies, and they were married in 1878. At his graduation father was given a special certificate that he had received grades of 100% in every subject. His own mind was so quick that he did not have enough patience with those who were slower.

Father invented a machine for applying horse power but was not able to interest sufficient capital to have the device patented. Later the same thing was put on the market and father was never certain whether some one had appropriated his idea, or had discovered it independently.

I was born at Waldport, now in Lincoln County, where father for some years earned a living by washing gold from the black sand thrown up by the waves. From 1882 to 1890 my parents lived on the TRAPP place a few miles west of Corvallis. Then Grandfather WYATT gave them a farm about three miles northwest of Philomath, on Marys River, where they lived until the family were grown. I have a brother Claire who for years taught in the high schools of Oregon, but is now conducting a store in Eastern Oregon. My sister, Vera (Mrs. HARD), lives in California.

I attended school for a few months at Mt. Union where Jennie LILLY was teacher. Then my parents moved to the place on Marys River and there was no school house near. I was taught at home by my parents. When I was eleven I was enrolled in the preparatory department of the College of Philomath (not Philomath College). I was not graduated from this school.

In 1910 I married Charles STAHL who had been a school teacher. After our marriage we turned to farming. From 1915 to 1923, when my husband died we farmed in California. Since then I have been teaching school in Benton County. I have three sons, Claire, Myron and Arden.



Interview -- Mrs. Anna REEVES STARR


Mrs. STARR's parents were 'first settlers'. She is about 76 years old, of good health and clear mind.

My father, Thos. D. REEVES came to Benton County and took a claim near the present site of Bellfountain in the spring of 1845. He built a cabin and stayed through the winter of 1845-46.

My mother was Julia LLOYD. In 1862, when I was a small girl we moved to Waitsburg, Washington on account of my mothers health. As the change did not prove to be beneficial we started back, but mother died and was buried by the way. It was not possible to get lumber for a coffin so mother was buried, wrapped in a quilt. When some of us returned in later years we could not locate the grave.

In 1846 father set out an orchard with trees that are supposed to have been brought to the west by Henderson LUELLING. This was the first orchard in the county. This orchard thrived and bore fruit for a long time. One tree was the Reeves cherry tree, long the largest and oldest cherry tree in this part of the state. About two years ago, when the tree had ceased to bear it was cut down and this table was made from the wood. (A small work table with drop leaves and drawer) The first school house in this part was a log schoolhouse built about 1850 on my father's place. (This is evidently the schoolhouse commonly known as the Lloyd schoolhouse) Father gave the land for the cemetery in the county. The place was sold to Mr. EDWARDS and the cemetery, about a mile and a half east of Bellfountain, is commonly called the EDWARDS cemetery. Many of the pioneers are buried there.

I remember that Bill GIRD kept a state station on the FRANKLIN place, north of McFarland Church.

Cal LLOYD, my mother's brother first took the claim that is now known as the BUCKINGHAM Claim. It was a custom of the time and locality that a single man should give place to a man with a family. When the BUCKINGHAMS came Uncle Cal gave up his claim to them, selling his right for five dollars and a cheese. He then went to the Waitsburg country in Washington, where most of the LLOYDS went, sooner or later.



Interview -- Anna Charlotte REEVES STARR
July 29,1937

Letter to Claire Warner CHURCHILL-Field Supervisor

Portland, Oregon


Mother sent the questionnaire to me to fill out as I have all the family records in my possession.

Am unable to give much information as to Mother's early life or that of Grandfather REEVES. Grandfather was a very silent man. We know that he was born in Ohio and is part Irish, that he later went to Kentucky and from there to Oregon. Mother always thought he came on the Burnett train as he and Captain Burnett were good friends, but a great-aunt wrote me that she thought he was in the Gilmore train of 1843.

He first settled on the Tuality plains but the Mollala Indians were threatening so he left there and came to a place near Bellfountain in this county where he built a cabin and spent the winter of 1845. The first white man to live over the winter in this county. His cabin, to which he took his bride, Nancy LLOYD, whom he married in 1846 after he had ridden out to meet the train in which she crossed, had a dirt floor, a clay and stick fireplace, no windows and home made furniture. Her wedding gifts consisted of half a dutch oven given by her mother.

The cabin was located on what was the great Indian pathway that led from eastern Oregon to the Coast country.

One of the very early schools of the county was the Lloyd School. Mother went to this school although her older sister did not. The first cemetery of the county was established on Grandfather's place and he and several of his children are buried there. It is no longer in use but several of the old headstones mostly dated around 1852 are still standing.

Grandmother died of tuberculosis when Mother was two years old. Grandfather had taken her to Eastern Washington in hopes of benefiting her health but she grew worse and they had started to the return trip when she died and was buried at the side of the road they were traveling. We do not know where this is but were told many years later that a cemetery had been established there.

Mother, as soon as she was old enough, kept house for her father as her sisters had all married young and gone to homes of their own. She received very little schooling, for country schools at that time lasted only 3 or 4 months of the year and she was needed at home. When she became older and had to make her own way she went to work out for neighbor women.

The pleasures of that day were rather limited. Quilting bees for the women, spelling matches, community picnics in the summer and when the neighbors visited each other if they came from a little distance, the whole family came and spent from 3 days to a week. Country roads were so bad in the winter time that little traveling as possible was done. I never heard that Mother danced but Father did, most of the dances were square dances or polka or mazurkas. Strange as it may be, one of the times when the whole neighborhood came together and visited was funerals. All people came to pay their respects to the dead, especially if it was someone well known, everyone came and afterward visited for a time.

Mother took an active part in neighborhood affairs, as I recall. She was a member of the M.E. Church South although her mother's people were very strict Baptist. Grandfather Reeves took no part in church and not sure that he was a member of any church. Both my father and mother were very charitable people, they were accounted well-to-do and by hard work had accumulated and had built up a good farm. Both were always ready to lend a helping hand to a less fortunate and sometimes lazier neighbor, I don't know that either of them had much of a general attitude toward life other than work hard, be honest, mind your own business.

I think that this answers most of the questions asked, if not I will be glad to furnish other information that I can, if you so desire.


In addition: Anna Charlotte REEVES STARR
123 N. 6th St.
Klamath Falls, Oregon

born on farm in Benton Co. Oregon March 18,1860, the daughter of John and Nancy LLOYD. Married Edwin Neven STARR on March 23, 1879 near Waldport, Oregon. Children: Claude Ivan Starr, Grace Elizabeth Starr Cooper, Tracy MacWilliam STARR. All born near Bellfountain on the farm. Claude died, Grace is a housewife and Tracy a plumber.


Interview -- Mrs. Carrie THARP STARR

Mrs. STARR lives alone just north of the village of Bellfountain, on Route 1, from Monroe. Born in 1859, her memory is still good. She said:

My father, Benjamin THARP, was born in Ohio and my mother, Nancy WEST was born in Kentucky. My parents lived in Illinois but I was born in Kansas where my parents had gone to look for land. This was in 1849. They found Kansas not to their liking and returned to Illinois. They crossed the plains to Oregon in 1854. Father's brother, Nelson THARP, with his family, and Mother's brother, Joe WEST, came at the same time. They reached The Dalles in September and came to Portland by rail. They just drove the wagons on to open cars without disturbing the loads. I remember this particularly because I had a small black-and-white dog that we had brought all the way across the plains. This dog jumped off the moving train and of course we could not stop for him. I had a terrible time and father had to be very stern with me to keep me from a spell of hysteria.

The stock was driven down the river by Uncle Joe WEST. There was a road part way and only a trail the rest of the way. The folks stopped at French Prairie the first winter and then lived near Philomath for about a year. Then father took a homestead in what is now Lincoln County. Chitwood was afterward located on our farm. Elk City was our trading point. The country there was rather wild and backwoodsy. There was no school where I could attend and after some years father got a place near Lewisville in the northern part of Benton County, and spent the rest of his life in that section. My Uncle Nelson had a farm near by.

What little schooling I had was in a district school near Lewisville. In 1878 I was married to Asbury Pearne STARR and moved to the Bellfountain neighborhood where I have lived every since. There was no Bellfountain then except a new schoolhouse. This schoolhouse is still standing. It was moved to make room for a later building and was owned by the I.O.O.F. Lodge. It is still used for social occasions such as quilting parties.

At first we had to go to Monroe for mail and supplies. Some years later--I do not remember the date--a post office was established and the postmaster carried a small stock of groceries. The post office was called Dusty at first, but the people made so much objection the name was changed to Bellfountain. The mail was carried by horse conveyance from Corvallis.

We had church at Simpson's Chapel. The first chapel was built on the hill about midway between Bellfountain and Alpine. (The site is pointed out on the east side of the present highway at the highest point between the two villages) The hill was steep and the ox teams had a hard time in making the grade through the winter mud. The country was without established roads and the first settlers had nothing to guide them in choosing locations for public buildings that would be convenient in later years. When the Chapel was built in 1904 my husband and others though it should be on the site of the first building. We had worked so hard to support the work there and had enjoyed it so much it seemed like holy ground. But the Chapel was located at a more convenient place at Alpine.

I was married in the old Chapel. It was a double wedding. My brother Allen married my husband's sister, Emmeline. It was common in those days for young people to be married in church. We were married at the close of the morning service. My husband was a son of John Wesley STARR. There was a big colony of the STARRS, BELKNAPS and HAWLEYS, who were all more or less related by marriage. My husband's brother, Silas STARR is still living in Corvallis and can tell you more than I can. My husband and I had but two children who lived: Joy STARR HAWORTH and Philip Ray STARR.

My father's children were Sarah, Abbie, Eva, Allen, myself, Jennie, George, Philip, Charles, Frank, and Emma.




Interview -- Mrs. Florence B. BUCKINGHAM STARR

May 1939 

Mrs. STARR was interviewed at her home on North "L" Street in Philomath. She tells readily and dependably of the family doings since early days. She said:

My grandfather, Heman BUCKINGHAM, came to Oregon in 1846. The party was the first to come down the Cow Creek Canyon to Eugene. They did not stay in Eugene long, but went to Polk County, somewhere near the Stump ranch, where they stayed for about six months. Grandfather's wife (his second) died there. Grandfather stayed in Oregon City for a while and then was in California for a short time. About 1850 he moved to the Bellfountain district where he lived the rest of his life.

My grandfather's first wife was Laura KINNEY who died in the East at the birth of the first child. Then he married Bessie Jane HEMENWAY, who was my grandmother. Her children were George (my father), Lovina and two or three who died in infancy. After coming to Bellfountain he married Matilda STARR, sister to Silas Starr who is now living in Corvallis.

Grandfather BUCKINGHAM's children were Randolph, George, Lovina, Frank, Pauline, Augustus, Victor, Precious, Molly (Mary?), Deete, John, Edith, and Winifred. Lovina, my father's full sister, married Joseph GRAGG and her children are still living in the Bellfountain neighborhood. Precious married Dr. James PRUETT, who for years lived in Pendelton and practiced medicine for miles in every direction. Molly married a man named Ed WILLIAMS. Edith is Mrs. Ed RAYBORN of Portland and Winifred married Vern WOODCOCK, son of Bill WOODCOCK who had a store in Monroe.

My mother was Alice McCAIN. Grandfather McCAIN came from Kentucky. I do not know what year he came but he was not among the earliest comers. I was born in 1871. After me came Manley and Ruby. My sister is now Mrs. Harry WOODS and lives in California.

All my life has been spent in the county except for a short stay in California when I was a girl. I attended school at Bellfountain. Among my teachers were Minerva STARR, Heman GRAGG, Betty GRAGG, Maria STARR and Bert PETERSON.

Father's children were always regular in attendance at church services and Sunday School, but he did not object to our dancing. The biggest occasions in the early days were the camp meetings at the Bellfountain camp grounds. Here was a fine spring and grove. There is still a grove there but not the same trees. The big fir trees that were near the spring have fallen and most of the old oaks have been cut. The trees that furnished shade about the camp now were just saplings when I was a girl.

The camp-meetings were held by the United Brethren or by the Methodists. Sometimes both denominations would join in a meeting, and occasionally other denominations would have a part. Rev. I.D. DRIVER, the well known Methodist preacher of Oregon a generation or more ago, was a frequent visitor. He used to stay at Grandfather's. Henry BRISTOW taught singing school. When singing school or spelling school did not hold too late a party of young people would often arrange for a dance at one of the neighbors. There were always neighborhood affairs and well behaved.

My husband is George STARR, the son of James STARR and the grand-son of George M. STARR. When Grandfather STARR came to Oregon, James STARR was but two years old and he was left with his grandparents to raise. He married in Missouri and had a family when he came west for the first time in 1890. My husband was twenty-one years old then, and we were married the next year. We have spent our life on farms in Benton County. Our children are Emmett, Inez, Orpha, Amy, Cora, Manley, and Marion. Emmett lives at Siletz, in Lincoln County. The others are all nearer home. Orpha married Roy TODD, Amy married Ben CAMERON and Cora married Andy CAMERON.




Interview -- Malinda Frances (Fannie) COYLE STARR

Mrs. STARR is one of the oldest natives of the Monroe vicinity. Her memory is somewhat weak in the matter of dates, but picture of early times is convincing. She said:

My parents came to Benton County from Illinois in 1849. My father, William COYLE, was born in Kentucky. My mother was Mary Ann JONES. They came by ox team and were eight months on the way. There was lots of cholera and many deaths. The Indians harassed the train and tried to run off the stock, and one or two men were killed by the Indians.

My parents settled first near Portland. Then they took a donation land claim on Long Tom Creek just to the northeast of Monroe in 1852. There I was born that same year in a log cabin with a dirt floor. There was no saw mill near Monroe then, and all nails and hardware had to be bought in Oregon City. I had no brothers or sisters and had to play with the Indian children. There were many Indians about here then, and the children were much more agreeable playmates than the white children I knew. They were well behaved and obedient. When there was any sound of quarreling or of loud talking a mother would call from the door of a wigwam, and one word was enough to put an end to their disturbance. I learned to speak the Chinook jargon which the Indians used quicker and better than English.

My first school was at a log schoolhouse in Monroe about where the grade school now stands. We had only about three months school each summer at first. There was so much high water and mud in the winter that children could not get to school. The teachers were paid $30.00 a month and "boarded 'round". Among my teachers I remember Emily HUMPHREY and A.R. BUTOLPH. We were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling, and geography. Discipline was severe; some of the teachers used to give awful whippings. There was one girl who was very unruly and was sometimes whipped.

In 1869, when I was sixteen, I got married and my schooling stopped. My husband were Leander STARR whose father brought him to Benton County in 1846. His father, Samuel STARR, was the first sheriff of Benton County. We lived on a farm just north of Monroe. Our children were: Ida (Mrs. LARKIN), Ivan and Bert. Then my husband died and I have been alone for a good many years.

I learned to be busy as a girl. There was so much that had to be done then and no amusements to waste our time. We worked all day and at night we knitted or sewed. Nowadays young folks have to much time for amusement. They think they have a right to do as they please and so many of them go bad.

The Monroe Cemetery, which is about a half-mile north of town was given by Roland and Elizabeth HINTON in 1852. the first burials were made about the same time, but not all the graves were marked. The HINTONS were buried there and many others of the old-time families. The first storekeeper I remember in Monroe was Mr. BARNARD; the first doctor was Doctor McAFEE. The first Sunday school was organized by an Episcopal clergyman named Joe McCORMICK. He was Irish and was called, "Holy Joe".

I never heard of the place called Jenneyopolis. Bill GIRD had a stage station on the Territorial Road about twelve miles south of Corvallis. Here he sold whiskey to all who had the price and drank a lot himself.

Starrs Point post office was about a mile north and back on the hill. Then it was moved down to the road to the place now owned by a dairy company, where the old stage station is. Later it was moved down here by the mill and after a time the name was changed to Monroe.




Interview -- Silas Chambers STARR

Mr. STARR lives with his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Herschel L. MACK, at 213 North Twenty-first Street, Corvallis. He is active, energetic, interested in the present as well as the past, and converses intelligently on both. He spoke as follows:

My father, John Wesley STARR, came to Oregon from Iowa in 1848. He was born in Maryland. My mother, who was Eliza M. LUCAS, was also born in Maryland. I was born in June, 1850, in the Bellfountain community. My father had seventeen children, five by his first wife and twelve by my mother. The children by the first wife were: William Nelson STARR, Precious, whose husband, a Mr. SHEDD, held an important position with the Marshall-Field Company, Matilda Jane BUCKINGHAM, Emory STARR, and Milton Lees STARR.

My mother's children were: Levi, Jesse Belknap, Leroy Hamline, Eliza Ann (Mrs. BURLINGAME), myself, Asbury Perne (named for two Methodist bishops), Mary Emmeline (Mrs. THARP), Nancy (Mrs. BELKNAP), John Wesley, Phillip McWilliams, and Moses Fletcher. (Information here varies from records in possession of Mrs. HAWORTH, elsewhere reported).

I attended the Bellfountain school. The schoolhouse was first located at the park but was later moved to the present location. There were two other schools close to Bellfountain--the Lloyd's schoolhouse a little way north, and the Reeve's school about a mile to the northeast. Some of my teachers were, George MERCER, who was several times chosen as county surveyor, H.H. HOWARD, Mrs. WELSH, Elizabeth STARR, C.W. STARR, and William MARTIN, who was a member of the company of volunteers recruited in Benton County in 1864.

I also attended two winters at the Alpine School where William MARTIN, C.B. MANN, and A.C. NICHOLS were teachers. In addition to the regular subject we had classes at one time or another in Bookkeeping, Astronomy and Familiar Sciences.

In 1875 I married Mary BARNARD who came with her parents from Illinois in 1852 and settled in Linn County near Harrisburg. We had two children, Mrs. Ethel MACK, and Wayne who is farming the old home place. My daughter's husband served as County Superintendent and County Clerk for several terms and is now clerk of the Corvallis school system. I followed farming all my life until I got to old to work. I have seen great changes in the country. In the early days all the hills were bare of timber and covered with a heavy growth of grass. There was an occasional oak or fir which served as seed trees for the forest growth that sprung up. All the young timber grew up after the settling of the country stopped the periodic burning of grass and brush.

In the 'seventies I hauled a good deal of wheat to the warehouse at Booneville. Lots of grain was shipped from there and I have helped load the steamers many times. There was nothing at the place then but a warehouse and perhaps a dwelling.

There was not much in the way of amusement and social gathering in the early days at there is now. Dancing was not approved in the Belknap settlement. Sometimes we had singing schools or spelling matches, I do not remember the names of any of the singing teachers. Sometimes the neighbors would gather for an apple paring and make a great occasion of it.

Some of the early houses were built without nails. The logs would be fastened with wooden pegs. The roof would be held in place by a weight pole on each course of shakes. These poles would be tied down with withes twisted from hazel twigs. There was no glass for the windows and greased canvas was sometimes used.

I have been a member of the Methodist Church most of my life. I served as justice of the peace and was member of the school board, but never ran for any political office.



Interview -- Mrs. Sarah SCOTT STEWART

Sarah STEWART, widow, was interviewed at the home of W.T. SMALL, 426 N. Fourth St., Corvallis, where she is visiting. She said:

My father was Pryer SCOTT who came from Indiana to California about 1843. He returned to Indiana and came to Benton County in 1845. (note: Other sources indicate that Pryer Scott did not come to Benton County before 1846.)

My mother was Mary JONES. She married John SCOTT, brother of Pryer SCOTT, in Indiana and they crossed the plains in 1851. This train had to defend itself from an Indian attack. John SCOTT died from typhoid fever before reaching Oregon. In February, 1852, mother married Pryer SCOTT. Their children were Frank, Louisa, Jane, Pryer ("Dick"), Wilson, myself, Walter, Thomas, Edward and Ne. Thomas lives in Idaho and Edward in Kings Valley. There others are gone.

Father took a donation land claim southwest of Corvallis about where the golf links now are. Here established a stock ranch. At first he raised race horses which he was able to sell at a good profit by driving to California. He took the last bunch down in 1860. After that he devoted himself to general farming.

Father was not interested in politics and refused the urging of friends to run for sheriff. He fought in the Indian campaign in the Walla Walla country in 1855. In 1872 he rented the farm and took his family to Lake County where he backed my oldest brother in a homestead venture. We had a place in the level Chewahkin (spelling?) Valley, a valley about 19 miles long and hemmed in by mountains. There were deer and large numbers of antelope there at the time, and immense flocks of ducks and geese in season. Upland birds were scarce, but there was a bird called the "fool hen" that was common.

The Modoc War came on while we were there and we had trouble with the Indians. They lurked in the hills not far from our house and many times I heard their war whoops echoing back and forth. They grew bolder. About four miles from our place a woman and child were killed while the men folks were away. The people from three adjoining valleys came together to our house which had a protective stockade. The Indian attack was repulsed without loss to the whites. Four Indians were killed and buried on our ranch. My father and brothers joined the force which decisively defeated the Indians about twenty-five miles from our home.

I had no chance to go to school in Lake County, but in 1874 we came back to the valley. I got my first schooling at the age of twelve in the old South School in Corvallis. My teachers were Mrs. NELSON, Jimmie YANTIS, and Edgar MILNER. MILNER was a fine teacher. He would not accept an "I can't" from a pupil, but would insist "You try". When a pupil had honestly tried and failed then Mr. MILER was willing to give a hint.

Father saw that his family had amusement at home and my brothers never loafed in town in the evenings. We played cards and croquet. Sunday afternoons was a time of recreation. Father loved to dance and we had dances at our home on winter evenings. Since there not enough women for partners I began dancing when I was ten. But it was not the kind of dancing we see today. So much of the modern dancing is just like walking around the floor to music. There may be rhythm to it, but no grace.

In 1882 I married Lafe STEWART, son of James STEWART who came to Benton County in 1851. His uncle, John STEWART came in 1846. My husband farmed first on his fathers place north of town. Later we came to town and he worked as a millright in the sawmills here. Our children are Ernest, Noma(Mrs. WEST), and Clayton, who all live in Washington State. I spend much time with them, but still think of Corvallis as my home.

Most of folks' troubles are of their own causing. The troubles and griefs our children cause us are often made greater by our lack of understanding and sympathy.



Interview -- John SWICK

July 1938

(Only a sketchy interview could be had with Mr. SWICK who lives about a mile and a half northeast of Corvallis on the east side of the Willamette River.)

My father, Minor SWICK, came from Michigan in 1853 and settled at French Prairie in Marion County. With him were his father and three brothers, Tunis, Lyman, and Ben. When father came to Benton County the others remained at French Prairie. In Benton County my father married Cerinda STEWART, daughter of John and Mary STEWART. I have had five brothers and one sister but none of them except myself ever married. I have only one child, a daughter, and this branch of the Swick family dies with me.

My father and his brothers all went to the Prineville country in eastern Oregon in 1872, when they engaged in the cattle business. There were no good school there and I was allowed to come back here during the winter and attend school at the Agricultural College, which then had an elementary department. When I was twenty I returned to Benton County to stay.

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