Biography of Rev. Jesse Moreland

REV. JESSE MORELAND. – But few, if any, stand higher socially, morally or in the estimation of their neighbors and friends than the grand man whose name calls forth this brief pen-and-ink sketch. We do not attempt to give the likeness of the man drawn from opinion. Our purpose is to sketch what he is in a few selected facts from his life. With this intention, what we have essayed to give to the public will furnish an instance of the influence of piety and industry, united with sound common-sense, in giving a noble character a distinguished position and eminent usefulness. His name is a synonym for all that is true and honorable in a man.

The early settlers of Oregon, as well as others of more recent date, honor the name of Jesse Moreland for his liberality, hospitality, and absolute and uncorruptible integrity. His clear and discriminating mind, impartial judgement, strong, practical good sense, and a profound and instinctive sense of right and wrong, patience in investigation, and a sincere, earnest desire to reach just and correct conclusions, lead to the inevitable conviction that, had he sought position in public life, he would have been pre-eminently a christian statesman; and a christian statesman is the glory of his country.

We find him like many of America’s noblemen, – rising from a humble origin, without artificial aid, and with many hindrances to success, by the force of his own worth, form the retired position of a farmer’s son to be named among men as one whom God delights to own and bless; and one who shall stand before kings shall not stand among mean men.

Jesse Moreland is a native of North Carolina, and was born January 1, 1802. In his childhood his parents removed from North Carolina, stopping in Kentucky several years, but ultimately settling in Tennessee. There he lived during his youth and early manhood, following the severe habits and duties incident to the farm-life of a pioneer in a new and rough country. Inured by his labors, and nerved by the bracing air of that new and unsettled state, he grew up to more than usual height, the embodiment of health, with a perfect physique and an iron constitution, apparently able to endure, any amount of toil, and the most protracted fatigue.

He is a fitting representative of a self-made man, – a pioneer of the pioneers in Kentucky, Tennessee and our own Oregon. In 1825 he married Miss Susan Robertson; and to them were born nine children. Five of the number were taken away by death. The four children remaining, Mrs. M.M. Owens, Mrs. F.W. Robinson, William Moreland and J.C. Moreland, are all residents of Portland.

In 1848, in view of the baleful influence of slavery, Mr. Moreland moved to Illinois with his family. There, in a free atmosphere, he spent four years at the end of which he started westward for Oregon. After six months of weary journeying amid the perils and dangers incident to crossing the plains with ox-teams, they reached the land they sought. Toil worn, and well nigh destitute, he with a brave heart began a home in the wilds of Oregon. Taking a Donation claim in the southern part of Clackamas County, he resided there until the death of his wife in 1859. After her death the farm was given up; and for a time he engaged in the mercantile business at Needy.

He married Mrs. Avarilla Waldo in 1863; and for many years his home was in Salem. In 1883, desiring to be near his children, he removed to Portland; where in contentment and peace he now lives with his aged companion.

He united with the Methodist-Episcopal church in early life, and ever since has been a most devoted Christian. In 1820 he was licensed to preach; and, while he never entered the itinerant work, as opportunity offered, or duty called, he was in his place to do the Master’s will. In all circumstances his exalted views of what a true christian life means has led him onward and upward towards the perfect life. What a testimony to the truth of man’s spiritual destiny is his life! It is the Kingdom of Heaven within the soul, giving peace and rest under all trials and seeming ills. His commanding appearance, fine presence, courtly dignity, and at the same time his gentle, unassuming, winning manner attract all hearts to him; and, as you look into his kindly face, you realize that you can trust him with unfaltering faith.

I count it among the felicities of my life, that I am permitted to know him and enjoy his friendship. Wherever he is placed he is an unswerving friend; and his friendship is a true, his reputation as spotless, as a child. The crowning glory of his character is, after all, best exhibited at home. All know the sweetness of his face. One is reminded of the remark of Sidney Smith, speaking of a college friend: “He seems to have the ten commandments written there.” He is a devoted husband and father, a kind and generous neighbor.

No suffering household, no orphan child, no broken-hearted wife or mother, ever calls upon him in vain. Their wants are his wants, their suffering in vain. Their wants are his wants, their suffering his suffering. In sunshine and in rain, in sickness and in health, by tender and sympathizing counsel, and by active and efficient effort, he ministers to their relief; and we can truthfully say of him: “When the eye saw me, then it blessed me; where the ear heard me, it gave witness to me; for I delivered the poor that cried, the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me; and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.” Like the Master in whose footsteps he loves to tread, his chief joy is to do good. Among his circle of intimate friends, his name is spoken in terms of the most affectionate homage, and with a spontaneous overflow of love and honor. It is the example of such men, the impress of such lives, that brings the future life so near to poor humanity that the actual life fades before the light of immortality, as tapers pale before the sun.

This brief and imperfect sketch of Jesse Moreland, my life-long friend, is the outspoken sentiment of one who had been aided and encouraged by his unselfish christian life, by his unassuming dignity, greatness of heart and graciousness, which prove in what a rare degree a perfect life is possible in the actual life of one whose life is hid with Christ in God.



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

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