Biography of Mrs. C. B. Cary

MRS. C.B. CARY. – This refined woman and intelligent lady, one of our earliest pioneers, comes of one of the old Virginia families of English or Cavalier origin; whose members, in the early days of the Old Dominion, took and held an advanced social position. She was born at Richmond in 1815, and at the age of four moved to Kentucky with her father, William Taylor. In 1831 she was married to Miles S. Cary, one of the pioneer sons of Kentucky, with his full share of southern chivalrousness and western energy. In 1835 they moved to Missouri, and were prospered in their efforts to make a home and carry on business. In the winter of 1842, however, their attention was called to the advantages of Oregon by a neighbor of theirs, a certain Squire Vivian, a merchant, who, on a visit to St. Louis on business, had found a pamphlet on Oregon written by Doctor Whitman, and was so much impressed by the value and possibilities of that country as there described that he determined to go thither the coming summer.

The Carys, reading the document, also formed the same purpose. The Squire was unable to accomplish the design owing to the sickness of his wife; but the Cary’s collected their all into wagons and early in the spring of 1843, set out for the rendezvous on the Missouri. They also drove a considerable band of cattle, expecting to kill them for beef if necessary, or otherwise to drive them through, and thus to have the nucleus of a herd in the new home. For a time with A.J. Hembree, and afterwards with Jesse Applegate, they performed the long journey, experiencing nothing worse than fatigue, some excitement, some privation and some sickness, losing a little daughter, whom they buried at Fort Bridger. But there were no disasters. Their journey though the first performed with wagons, was in truth, one of the best conducted and most successful in the whole history of crossing the plains. Leaving their cattle to winter on the range at Walla Walla, they performed the remainder of the journey to the Willamette in boats, accompanying Jesse Applegate down the Columbia river, and witnessing the capsizing at the Cascades of the boat in which were his sons, one of whom escaped and one was drowned. An old man who was in the boat with them was also drowned.

Reaching Vancouver the 11th of November, they spent the rest of the year at Linnton; but, Mr. Cary finding employment with Doctor McLoughlin on the grist mill at Oregon City, they resided at this old capital of the state, until in 1844 they took up a Donation claim on the north Yamhill river. By the great gold excitement of 1848, Mr. Cary was drawn to the fields of California, and intended to make that state his home, but, owing to constant sickness in his family while they lived at Benicia, decided to return to Oregon. Once more reaching our fair state, he bought out a squatter at the present site of St. Joseph. Here was made the permanent Oregon home; and the family circle grew and extended as the years went by, but was sadly broken by the death of the father in 1858.

Mrs. Cary, however, remained at the old place, managing it with ability and cultivating it for many years. Sometime since however she disposed of it, and now makes her home at Lafayette. She is one of our most intelligent and delightful old ladies, full of reminiscences and kind feeling. She has had a family of twelve children, nine of whom are deceased. The two sons, J.J. and Wesley B. live near Lafayette; and a daughter, Mr. Ettie, resides at home.


Biography, Women,

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

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