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Biography of Hon. James Willis Nesmith

HON. JAMES WILLIS NESMITH. – Oregon has given a few men to the nation; and the luster of their memory still shines in the galaxy of her heroes. Colonel Baker, one of the most brilliant men ever at Washington, District of Columbia, has coupled with his title that of senator from Oregon. Yet he was in no sense an Oregon-made man, but rather made use of Oregon to elevate him to a seat which it was impossible for him to attain from Illinois. With Colonel Nesmith, however, the case was the reverse. He was as truly an Oregon man as one of his age could be, not only coming to our state with the first immigration, but gaining largely here his education, principles and manners. As a commanding historical figure, it will be proper here to notice the circumstances of his life, his political career, and his mental and moral characteristics. We do not often find distinguished ability without finding also antecedent capacity in the ancestry. The family to which our senator belonged is remotely of Scotch Presbyterian blood, but as early as 1690 removed to the north of Ireland, becoming thereafter of the Scotch-Irish race, who have made themselves famous on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1718 the family removed to America; and William Morrison Nesmith, the father of our subject, connected himself by marriage, about 1814, to Miss Harriet Willis, of a distinguished old family of New Jersey, her father owning the site of Elizabethtown in that state. The young couple, however, made their home in Maine; and their third child and only son, James Willis,...

Biography of Sidney Walter Moss

SIDNEY WALTER MOSS. – Mr. Moss is a venerable and noticeable character among the pioneers, not only for his long residence in Oregon, but for the esteem in which he has ever been held by the people. He has, in an eminent degree, that quality for which the early Oregonians have been remarkable, – liberality. He was born in Paris, Kentucky, March 17,1810. His father, Moses Moss, was a Baptist minister; and his mother, Katherine Buckford Moss, was a woman of great force and elevation of character. The young man learned the trade of stone-cutting, and in 1828 left Kentucky for Ohio. He found an abundance of work in the Buckeye state, but in 1837 went on to Indiana, working at Madison and on the Madison & Indianapolis Railway. At the state capital he erected two bank buildings. In 1839 he was back in Kentucky working on lock three on the Licking river canal. In 1841 he was at Fort Smith in full charge of the stone-cutting department in work then under construction. But a desire for the wild West there overtook him; and he joined the company of Doctor White for Oregon. That was the first genuine immigration; and the particulars are given elsewhere. At Waiilatpu Mr. Moss met Doctor Whitman, and remembers his inquiries about the Ashburton treaty, and in what shape Oregon would be left, and believes that the Doctor’s trip undertaken the October following with A.L. Lovejoy was for political reasons. Reaching Oregon City, our skilled stone-cutter found the country a wilderness; and there was no work to do except chopping wood. The remuneration for...

Biography of Hon. Zenas Ferry Moody

HON. Z.F. MOODY. – Zenas Ferry Moody, ex-Governor of the State of Oregon, was born on the 27th of May, 1832, in Granby, Massachusetts. His father was Major Thomas H. Moody. His mother was Hannah M. Ferry, an aunt of ex-Senator T.W. Ferry, of Michigan, formerly vice-president of the United States. Governor Moody comes of good old New England Revolutionary stock, his grandfather, Gideon Moody, having borne arms as a soldier during the Revolutionary war. He has proved himself worthy of his lineage; and the principles which he imbibed on New England soil have been the guide of his whole subsequent life. The sturdy virtues of that stock are too well known to require comment; they have become historical. The public men of New England have led the van in every reform, and have taken a most prominent part in molding all of that history of which the American people are most proud. New England ideas have been infused throughout the whole of our national life; and we have come to expect from men of New England ancestry those sturdy qualities which have contributed so largely to our happiness and prosperity as a people. Mr. Moody’s childhood was spent in Granby. January, 1848, he removed to Chicopee, Massachusetts, where he remained the ensuing three years. On the 14th of March, 1851, he sailed from New York to Oregon by way of the Isthumus with a company, among whom was Honorable Samuel R. Thurston, the first delegate to Congress from the territory of Oregon. He came direct to Oregon City, then the principal town of Oregon, landing there on the...

Biography of Rev. Jesse Moreland

REV. JESSE MORELAND. – But few, if any, stand higher socially, morally or in the estimation of their neighbors and friends than the grand man whose name calls forth this brief pen-and-ink sketch. We do not attempt to give the likeness of the man drawn from opinion. Our purpose is to sketch what he is in a few selected facts from his life. With this intention, what we have essayed to give to the public will furnish an instance of the influence of piety and industry, united with sound common-sense, in giving a noble character a distinguished position and eminent usefulness. His name is a synonym for all that is true and honorable in a man. The early settlers of Oregon, as well as others of more recent date, honor the name of Jesse Moreland for his liberality, hospitality, and absolute and uncorruptible integrity. His clear and discriminating mind, impartial judgement, strong, practical good sense, and a profound and instinctive sense of right and wrong, patience in investigation, and a sincere, earnest desire to reach just and correct conclusions, lead to the inevitable conviction that, had he sought position in public life, he would have been pre-eminently a christian statesman; and a christian statesman is the glory of his country. We find him like many of America’s noblemen, – rising from a humble origin, without artificial aid, and with many hindrances to success, by the force of his own worth, form the retired position of a farmer’s son to be named among men as one whom God delights to own and bless; and one who shall stand before kings...

Biography of Captain Z. C. Norton

CAPTAIN Z.C. NORTON. – Of the early pioneers to Oregon who were natives of the Pine Tree state, the subject of this sketch occupied a prominent place during his life. He was born in Farmington, Maine, December 29, 1808, and when fourteen years of age was sent to sea by his father for the purpose of learning navigation, and gaining possible promotion to the captaincy of a vessel. His patron was an old friend of his parents, and was the commander of the vessel in which our subject began his travels on the briny deep. By close attention to the duties of his calling, he rapidly rose in the estimation of shipowners, and on the arrival of his majority was given the command of a vessel. In 1833 he was married to Miss Caroline Norton, and took his bride on board of his vessel; and for ten years its cabin was their home. during that time he was in the European and West India trade, and by his energetic management and business tact accumulated sums sufficient to purchase an interest at different times in various vessels. In 1847 he built the brig Sequin, and in her made several trips to the West Indies and to South American ports. While in the latter trade there occurred the circumstances which brought about his coming to the Pacific coast, and his subsequent settlement in Oregon. In 1848 the Sequin was loaded at Bath with lumber, which the captain hoped to dispose of in Rio de Janeiro; but on arriving there the market was found so dull that he weighed anchor and left...

Biography of Dr. Alden H. Steele

DR. ALDEN H. STEELE. – “Olympia will always be a place for pleasant homes,” says one of her citizens well qualified to render an opinion, – the gentleman whose name appears above. The wide streets, magnificent shade-trees and comfortable residences of the capital of Washington Territory, together with her delightful climate, an extensive view of water and mountains, fully justify the remark; and no place could have a more pleasant recommendation. The Doctor has also examined the facilities of the place for a naval station, and finds that the location is most desirable from the following particulars: Safe anchorage and good harbor; ease of defense; abundance of coal, iron and ship timber; opportunity for a fresh-water dock and basin at small cost at Priest’s Point; ease of communication; and advantage of tide. Doctor Steele, whose presence as a resident contributes much towards the pleasantness of Olympia, is a native of New York State, having been born in 1823 at Oswego, where his father had long been a successful merchant. At the age of twenty our subject graduated from the medical department of the University of New York, and also from the office of Doctor James R. Woods, the distinguished professor of surgery. The first practice of the young physician was at Oswego, new York; but in 1849, in company with the mounted riflemen under Lieutenant-Colonel Loring, he crossed the plains to Oregon and stopped at Vancouver, where he practiced his profession four years. In 1854 he was united in marriage to Miss Hannah H. Blackler, of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Her grandfather was a captain in the war of the Revolution,...

Biography of Alonzo L. Richardson

Thirty-eight years have passed since Alonzo L. Richardson came to Idaho, then a sparsely populated territory of the extreme northwest, its splendid resources undeveloped, its advancement a development of the future. For many years he has been closely identified with the work of progress, and is now filling the position of clerk of the United States court in Boise. A native of Missouri, Mr. Richardson was born in Franklin County that state, on The 19th of December 1841, and is a representative of one of the old families of Virginia. His ancestors located there in 1750, and there occurred the birth of Daniel Richardson, the great grand father of our subject. He removed from the Old Dominion to Kentucky and subsequently to Missouri, being a pioneer of those states. The father of our subject also bore the name of Daniel Richardson and was a native of Kentucky. He married Dorcas Caldwell, a native of Missouri, and in 1843 started with his family to cross the plains to Oregon, being in the second emigration to that far distant territory. Gold had not then been discovered in California, and the tide of emigration had not set toward the Pacific coast. The hardships and dangers of such an undertaking were many, and to add to the difficulties the father was taken ill and died at Fort Hall, Idaho, then a Hudson Bay station, when only thirty years of age. Mrs. Richardson continued on her way to her destination, and some time after her arrival in Oregon City she married Sidney W. Moss, now one of the oldest living pioneers of that place....

Biography of Ephraim W. Baughman

Few men are more widely known in the northwest than Captain E. W. Baughman, of Lewiston, who for forty-eight years has sailed on the rivers in this section of the country. His circle of friends is indeed extensive, and his genial manner and social disposition win him the regard of all. He was born in Fulton County, Illinois, May 18, 1835, and is of German lineage, his ancestors having long been residents of Pennsylvania, however. His father, John Baughman, was born in that state and married Miss Jane Murphy, a lady of German descent. In an early day they removed to Illinois, settling in the west before the Black Hawk war. The father secured a farm in Fulton County and there reared his family of nine children, four of whom are yet living. He departed this life in the eightieth year of his age, and his wife passed away when about the same age Captain Baughman, their fifth child, was reared in the state of his nativity until his sixteenth year, and then crossed the plains with ox teams to California, in 1850. The party with which he traveled took with them a year’s provisions, but found they had more than they needed, and on reaching California they sold their surplus supply of flour, bacon, beans and sugar for two dollars per pound. The Captain engaged at placer mining at Hangtown and on the south fork of the American river, and after spending a brief time in the mines he went on a sailing vessel to Portland, Oregon, paying fifty-five dollars for the passage. The voyage lasted for a...

Biography of William H. Sebastian

Among the pioneers who came to northern Idaho in an early day to secure homes and open up this region to civilization is William H. Sebastian, now an enterprising farmer of Camas prairie. He located on the prairie in 1871, fought for the protection of the settlers in the Nez Perces Indian war, and has ever labored for the advancement and upbuilding of the section. He was born in Missouri, December 31, 185 1, but has practically spent his entire life in the northwest. His father, Daniel Smith Sebastian, was born in Missouri, November 21, 1819, and was there reared to manhood and married, and in 1852, with his wife and three children, made a safe journey across the plains to Oregon. He located in Clackamas County, where he secured a government donation-claim of six hundred and forty acres. At the time of the gold excitement, however, he went to Elk City, Idaho, in 1861, and engaged in mining there for some time, after which he returned to his family. In 1871 he took up his abode on Camas prairie, on land on Three Mile creek, and there resided until 1875, when he sold out. He died in March 1896, at the age of seventy-seven years. When the Nez Perces Indians went on the warpath he was among the volunteers who aided in defending the settlers and their homes. He was twice married, his first wife dying in 1853. By their union there were four children, and three by the second marriage. The second wife died in July 1896. William H. Sebastian was only four months old when his...

Biography of John L. Curtis

JOHN L. CURTIS. – As one of the early and sturdy pioneers who assisted in opening these regions for the occupancy of his fellows that were to follow from the eastern states, and who has wrought with energy and assiduity in their development since, manifesting an ability and wealth of resources that have enabled him to grapple with the different problems that confront the frontiersman, and to overcome in these undertakings the subject of this sketch is deserving of a representation in any work that essays to chronicle the leading and prominent citizens of the county of Union. Mr. Curtis was born in the east in the year 1827, and had the misfortune to have his father removed from him by death. His uncle was appointed his guardian and at the tender age of twelve years, our subject entered upon the realities of life for himself, his first occupation being to act as a silver-plater for the famous firm of Rogers Brothers. Six years he continued with this company and then came west to Jackson county, Missouri, where he was favored with an opportunity to attend the Chapel Hill College, a privilege which he was not slow to take hold of and improve to the best advantage. Following his retirement from the college he acted as salesman in Independence for a time and then in 1850 came to Sacramento, California. For a time after arriving there, he was occupied in packing supplies to meet the incoming emigrant trains, and then came to this section in the year of the great freeze. He first went on to the Florence diggings...
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