Biography of Samuel Kinney

SAMUEL KINNEY. – Samuel Kinney, a brother of Robert C. Kinney, was one of the founders of our early society in Oregon, and a man of unusual force and of marked worth. He was born in 1810 in the State of Illinois. He was brought up on a farm, acquiring nerve and muscle and an intrepid spirit, and gained the education of the times in his native district. He was early married to Miss Ann Maria Porter, who was also a native of Illinois, where she was born in 1814. Soon after his marriage, about 1832, he removed to Iowa, locating at Bloomington, now Muscatine, a city founded by his brother Robert. Here he was engaged for a time in teaming, and also with his brother in operating Vanetta & Deshler’s sawmill.

His wife’s health being poor, however, and being himself possessed of an enterprising and adventurous spirit, he determined to find a new home in Oregon, and in 1847 made the trip across the plains. Little difficulty was experiences on the journey; and there was no trouble from the Indians except that near the Umatilla the Cayuses were found to be impudent, among other things making request to buy some of the girls, and even threatening to steal them. One saucy fellow went so far as to ride up and seize the eldest daughter in order to drag her from her horse, and appropriate her. Mr. Kinney, however, was on the spot instantly, and with his whip-stalk knocked the Indian from his horse into the dust. The emigrants – the train was now divided off from forty to five wagons – were much alarmed on account of the incident, and made every preparation for a fight. But the Cayuses in general took no umbrage at the unfortunate result of the Benedict’s endeavor, and no trouble followed.

Upon reaching Oregon, the first winter was spent at Oregon City, and next season a Donation claim was selected at West Chehalem; and there, in a quiet and beautiful valley, the new home was made, and the remainder of our pioneer’s life was spent. He gave early attention to cattle-raising, when the Spanish stock was still the prevailing type; and some considerable portion of the evening’s stories around the fireplace consisted of accounts of being chased by ferocious animals, or even whole bands, of this sort of cattle. Women and children did not cross the fields alone; and men preferred to be on horseback.

The house was located on the main Indian trail from the camps of the Calapooias to the trading-post; and the savages often used to come back drunk, making night hideous with their yells, and frightening the children. The manner of an early election in the precinct is also memorable as illustrating the quaint ways of the people. It was at the election of delegate, when General Lane and Judge Pratt were candidates. The voters of the precinct were assembled; and when all were ready those for Lane were stood off in one row, and those for Pratt in another; the men in the two rows were counted, and the result recorded and the returns set up. Mr. Kinney used also to go occasionally to the post and bring back, among other purchases, a coil of trail rope tobacco tied around the pommel of his saddle, that being also something distinctive of early days, as only in that form was the weed known in the territory.

While not accumulative nor ambitious of great wealth, Mr. Kinney always had ample means, and lived in comfort and gave his children good advantages. Although no politician, he was a firm Democrat, and was active in disseminating his views. He had a family of eight children: Mary, the wife of Mr. John Brisbain, of Yamhill county; William (deceased); Rebecca Ann (deceased); Andrew Christie (deceased); John La Fayette, living on a part of the old homestead at West Chehalem; Lyman, of Astoria, part owner in the Clatsop Mills Lumber and Box Manufactory, an establishment of such magnitude as to disburse about forty-two thousand dollars per month; Sarah Elizabeth, the wife of Mr. Frank H. Laighton of the Seaside; and Ora E., – Mrs. James Rogers of West Chehalem.

Mr. Kinney died in 1875, a man much esteemed and thoroughly trusted of large ability, and great fidelity to duty. Mrs. Kinney, who is still active and well preserved, with mind and memory unimpaired, lives at Astoria, in the elegant home of her son Lyman.



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

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