It is indeed very gratifying to be allowed to epitomize the career of this esteemed pioneer, being, as he is, one of the earliest pilgrims who ever crossed the dreary plains and rugged mountains toward the setting sun; and since that early date he has been identified with the progress and development of the great west, having ever done a worthy share where his lot has been cast. It will be of interest to chronicle some of the more definite details of this life and we note first that Mr. Hembree was born in Tennessee on April 23, 1833, being the son of Joel J. and Sarah Hembree. While a child he came with his parents to Dade county, Missouri, remaining there until the spring of 1843. In that spring they joined the famous train of four hundred wagons led by Captain and Jesse Applegate, and guided by the noted and beloved Dr. Whitman, which wound its way across the plains to the latter’s home near Walla Walla. No roads were built and the work had to be done as they progressed. And incident of the journey illustrates the nature and courage of the man to whom, more than to any other single individual, we owe the opening of this vast territory, Dr. Whitman. While crossing the Platte our subject’s mother and some other women were in one wagon and the teams became tangled up. Dr. Whitman saw the trouble which threatened death to the women and cried out, “Boys, are you going to let those women drown?” He at once sprang into the water and swam to the teams, straightened them out, and so saved the occupants of the wagon. The train divided in Oregon, our subject’s parents going to Dr. Whitman’s home, near Walla Walla, and thence to The Dalles and finally to Yam Hill county. There a donation claim was located and the worthy pioneers settled to develop the country. The father operated a store at Lafayette and later at McMinnville, where he died in 1867. The mother died in 1854. The father started across the plains with nine children; one died en route and one was born on the way. Our subject grew up on the farm and in the store and acquired a good education and then went to teaching school. On December 28, 1854, he married Miss Mary, daughter of Calvin P. and Mary (Aladine) Pell. Mr. and Mrs. Pell were married in Holmes county, Ohio, where Mrs. Hembree was born on April 8, 1839. Mr. Pell moved to Missouri in 1840, and in 1852 came across the plains with a large ox train direct to the Willamette valley. Mr. Pell had two brothers, Gilbert and John, and their father, Nathaniel Pell, served in the Revolution. They descended from English lords.
In 1856 Mr. Hembree removed to Lane county and went to farming and raising stock. In 1886 he brought a band of stock to Harney county, settling on Poison creek. In 1891 he came to the Narrows and took a homestead and sold his cattle and engaged in mercantile business. In 1899 the store was burned, entailing a great loss. Since that time Mr. Hembree has been operating a hotel and livery stable and handling his farm. He also owns the ranch on Poison creek. Mr. Hembree kept the postoffice for six years at the Narrows.
To Mr. and Mrs. Hembree have been born nine children, as follows: Mrs. Mary A. Simmons; Mrs. Annie L. Hamilton; Mrs. Emma D. Moomaw; Mrs. Minnie E. Wooley; Eugene F.; John L.; of Portland; Guy L., a merchant at Silver Creek; Mrs. Rose E. McGrath; Loren C. Mr. Hembree’s uncle, Abraham Hembree, was a captain in the Indian war of 1855-6. Mr. Hembree and his estimable wife are worthy citizens of this county and have earned and enjoy in generous measure the esteem, confidence, good will and admiration of all who know them, being good people and worthy pioneers.