Biography of J. T. Hunsaker

J.T. HUNSAKER. – This pioneer of 1846, one of the most substantial and upright men of one state, who has borne his full share of the burden and heat of the day in building up Oregon, was even from the first upon the advanced wave of American civilization, having been born at Jonesboro, Illinois, in 1818, and having assisted in laying the foundations of that giant state of the old West. He began domestic life in 1837, marrying Miss Emily Collins of the same state, and devoting his energies to the development of a farm.

He was moved, however, by the attractions of the more distant West, and in 1846 joined the train of Captain Keith bound for the then almost fabulous Oregon. The company was found to be so large as to travel best in detachments; and the journey was safely performed across the mountains and deserts, and happily ended at Oregon City September 13th. Mr. Hunsaker located his first claim on the Molalla, and raised a crop in 1847, but soon abandoned this site for another at Scappoose, where, in addition to agriculture, he had the opportunity to engage in lumbering. In 1849 he sold the mill erected there, and resided a short time at Oregon City, but soon established a more permanent business in the lumber line at La Camas. His operations, there were terminated by a destructive fire, which consumed his lumber in the yard, and all but destroyed his mill. by the great loss thus entailed, – since there was no insurance in those early days of our state, – he was obliged to abandon milling. Returning to Oregon City, he purchased near that town the old McGruder place, and developed there one of those Willamette valley fruit farms which have become the envy and wonder of the immigrant and traveler. There he lived until 1881, taking an active part in all public enterprises, and rearing a large family of sons and daughters, who stand among those younger Oregonians that the state feels justly proud of. Their names will be recognized as of honorable and enterprising people, and may here be stated as follows: Horton (deceased), Josephine (deceased), Mary A., Araminta (deceased), Jacob, Sarah, Lycurgus, Katherine, Martha C., Alice, John and Emily. Of those still living, all are residents of the Pacific Northwest.

Mr. Hunsaker’s wife dying in 1873, he was married, secondly, in 1878, to Mrs. M.A. Campbell of Eugene, and some years since made a new home at Woodburn, Oregon, buying the Lander farm one mile south of that pleasant village, whose location at the junction of the Oregon & California and Willamette Valley Railroads insures for it a prosperous future.

There, upon one of the handsomest and most productive farms in the state, the old pioneer is passing the autumnal years of a busy and fruitful life, enjoying the results of his early industry, and having the full confidence and respect of his community, and indeed of the whole state. He is one of those men whom Oregon will always remember and be glad to honor.

Mary Collins, who became the wife of J.T. Hunsaker, was born near Louisville, Kentucky, October 3, 1820, and in 1836 emigrated with her father’s family to Illinois, and on the 7th of December of the next year was united in marriage to Mr. Hunsaker, coming with him to Oregon, as narrated above, and performing with great cheerfulness and devotion the duties that fell to the lot of the wife and mother in the early days of our state. It was the women even more than the men who made Oregon; and their names like those of the upright of old are to be kept in everlasting remembrance.



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

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