Biography of Hon. John Bird

HON. JOHN BIRD. – This venerable pioneer of our state comes from that stock of state-makers and town-builders who have ever been at the front. He was born in 1810 in Boone county, Kentucky, and lived there with his father until the year 1827, thereafter making Illinois his home until 1847. In the latter year he joined the train of Captain Sawyer, and set forth for Oregon, starting from Missouri about the 1st of May. Upon the trip nothing was more notable than the appearance of about one hundred Pawnee Indians, who laid a blanket on the ground for the emigrants as they passed to drop in a contribution of flour, and the shooting with arrows of two valuable horses by the same Indians. The toils, adventures and exertions, of vast interest and importance, were of the same character as of the early thousands who made the long journey.

Crossing the Cascade Mountains by the Barlow Road the 1st of October, Mr. Bird passed his first winter in our state at Linn City, opposite Oregon City, and indeed made this point his home until 1849. In that memorable year of gold he went to the California mines, but did not “strike it rich,” and after deliberation decided that the better place to make a fortune was in the rich valleys of Oregon. Returning therefore to our state he selected a location adjoining Lafayette, buying a place located before by Judge Skinner and Mr. Rice. He made this opulent farm his home up to the year 1864, since which time he has resided in Lafayette.

Having been a veteran of the Black Hawk war, Mr. Bird became a volunteer and valuable soldier in the service against our Indians in the war of 1855-56, being with Captain Ankeny in the campaign on the Yakima, and participating in a number of sharp engagements. He was present when Captain A.J. Hembree was killed, and also at The Dalles when the Indians stampeded the horses, leaving the command afoot. He carried his musket to the close of the war.

Besides conducting his farm, Mr. Bird has kept in the town a tin and stove store, and has been active in the public affairs of the city and county, having served four years as county treasurer. He has had a family of four children; James M. (deceased); Mary E. (deceased wife of J.C. Nelson); Amelia (deceased wife of J.L. Ferguson); and R.P. Bird, a merchant, who lives with his family at Lafayette.

His first wife having died in 1882, our subject was married secondly in 1884 to Mrs. H.B. Alderman, and with her makes his home in Lafayette. A friend of schools, and a supporter of churches, still hale and active, Mr. Bird is one of our “grand old gentlemen.”


History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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