One by one those sturdy old pioneers who crossed the plains with a plow ox team and endured privations almost equal to death itself, and by their untiring labors and horrendous efforts laid the foundation for this grand and glorious country, are passing into the land beyond from whence no traveler returns. The last to join this numberless multitude was George W. Bilyeu.
Mr. Bilyeu came to Oregon in 1852, crossing the broad plains with the regulation ox team. He settled with his family on a donation land claim a few miles from this city, and there spent the greater part of his life. Mr. and Mrs. Bilyeu [Hester Jane Reed] were hard-working people, and by diligence and good management accumulated a reasonable share of the worlds goods. Fifteen children were born to them, eleven of whom are living and have married and have families about them.
During the last few years Mr. Bilyeu has been in very poor health and it was necessary to keep a constant watch over him. The weight of his years was upon him, and his mind failed to such a degree that his children exerted every effort to make his declining years as comfortable as possible. About two weeks ago it was decided to place him under the care of the asylum at Salem, hoping that the treatment there would be beneficial to him. For a time he seemed to do well, but on last Friday, February 3, 1899 he grew suddenly worse and died in a few hours, at the advanced age of 79 years.
The remains were brought here Sunday, and the funeral services were held at the Baptist Church Monday, conducted by G. L. Sutherland, Mr. Bilyeu having requested Mr. Sutherland some time ago to conduct funerals services over his remains when death should end his earthly troubles. The remains were laid to rest in the Masonic Cemetery and were followed to their last home by a large concourse of sorrowing relatives and friends.
[Pictured below: Taken 1892. These were the Bilyeu brothers. George Bilyeu is front row left.]
Contributed by: Shelli Steedman