Biography of Matthew Patton

MATTHEW PATTON. – This well-known and now venerable pioneer was born in Monongahela county, Virginia, November 15, 1805. As a child he moved with his parents to Highland county, Ohio, and four years later to Brown county, remaining until he was sixteen years old. Being naturally mechanical, he was sought and gladly received as an apprentice to a cabinet business by a certain Mr. Eli Collins, and at the end of four years of diligent application mastered the trade. Being young and ambitious, he turned his face to the far West, as Ohio, Indiana and Illinois were then called. After five years of labor and saving, he established a cabinet business at La Fayette, Indiana. In that city he wedded the daughter of Joshua and Ellen Grimes of Adams county, Ohio, on the 15th of April, 1830.

Owing to the scarcity of money, and the limited demand for the products of his skill, he was obliged to take produce from the farmers as pay in exchange for his goods; and, having a large surplus of manufactured stuff, he determined to build a flatboat, load her with furniture, and embark for New Orleans. After encountering many dangers and hardships, he accomplished the trip, exchanging his load for merchandise; and, returning, he established himself as a merchant at Frankfort, Indiana. He removed subsequently to Newtown, and thence to the locality where he laid out and founded the town of Pattonsburg, Missouri, which he made his home until 1847, building during that time a saw and grist mill.

Learning, however, of the vast resources of Oregon, and having had much trouble with the Mormons, or Latter-day Saints, as they are more frequently designated, he gathered together his resources, and with his wife and five children embarked in a prairie schooner for the land of the setting sun, starting with seventy head of cattle, three hundred sheep and three horses. After a long and tedious journey across the desert wilderness, a description of which would fill a volume, he arrived at The Dalles. We confine ourselves to but one incident of the journey, which we commend especially to the Pullman sleepers of to-day: There being no practicable way to Portland at that time, the tall pine trees were felled; and, after several weeks of hard labor, a rude flatboat was constructed and launched, and the families of himself and Thomas Carter, and the dissected wagons, placed aboard. Manned by inexperienced men, this life preserver was headed down stream, the more rugged of the men being intrusted with driving the animals down by land. The boat, nearing the Cascade fall, was landed; and the women and children were put ashore ad conducted around the precipitous rocks and rugged streams by the men seven miles to the Lower Cascades. Indians were hired to take their chances with the boat over the dangerous rapids, the descent of which was made without accident, then deemed miraculous. The Indians were paid four shirts, two bars of soap, a butcher knife and a looking glass.

After much hardship they reached the south bank of the Columbia at a point opposite Vancouver, and continued the journey into the Willamette valley. After making satisfactory investigations, Mr. Patton selected a location for his home in the beautiful Chehalem valley. Shortly afterwards, when the gold fever struck Oregon, he left for the new El Dorado. After six weeks of mining he began the journey homeward on the bark Undine, which a drunken captain ran into Shoalwater Bay instead of the mouth of the Columbia. Mr. Patton was obliged to make the journey to his home as best he could from that point, performing much of it on foot; but nevertheless he brought to his cabin five thousand dollars in gold dust. He invested his means in town property and land, one tract being near Oswego, from which was taken the first iron ore worked in Oregon.

Mr. Patton is now living at Albina with his second wife, to whom he was married July 16, 1868. He is eighty-three years old, and refers to his longevity to his exemplary and temperate habits, and his strict avoidance of all tobacco or ardent spirits. He has ever been a man whose word is strictly conscientious, who over-reaches no one, and takes no advantage of another’s necessity. He is therefore highly respected and indeed beloved by all who know him. His donations to his children and grandchildren, and to charitable objects, have been munificent; yet he has reserved a sufficiency of this world’s goods to maintain him during the remainder of his natural life.



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

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