Biography of William Elliott

WILLIAM ELLIOTT. – This now venerable citizen of our state, whose form and character are familiar to many in Western Oregon, was born in Knox county, Indiana, September 14, 1815. Losing his mother by death when but a child of five years, he was received by an uncle, and remained in his family, removing with him to Missouri in 1820, and not leaving his kind relatives until he had attained his majority.

In 1836 he became a volunteer soldier under A.J. Morgan, of Fort Leavenworth, to prosecute the war in Florida, and in this service experienced many sharp encounters. After his return in 1838 to Missouri, he was married to Miss Nancy, the daughter of John Sconce, a pioneer of Missouri from Kentucky. She was born in Grason county, Kentucky, June 11, 1816.

Mr. Elliott then engaged in farming until 1846, when he was seized with the impulse that affected the most daring and impetuous of the Western people to make new homes and a grander state beyond the shining Rocky Mountains, and in 1846 joined the train of eighty wagons bound for the wonderland of Oregon. He had as companions in this company Messrs. J. Brown, William Parker, Benjamin Schrum, Z. Grippel, and many others well known in our state. Continuing with a detachment of some thirty of the wagons, Mr. Elliott and his family made a successful and speedy trip, not, however, without danger and hardship, arriving at Oregon City early in October, being of the second company of that year to pass the Barlow gate. The same season he went out to the Molalla, and with the oxen he had brought across the plains broke and seeded to wheat twelve acres of land. In the February following he entered the Donation claim still designated by his name in Clackamas county. This place he developed with the untiring patience of the early Oregon farmer, and lived upon it for a full quarter of a century. During all this time he was active and earnest in the development of public enterprises, building up christian institutions, and taking especial interest in common schools, being one of the first to subscribe money for building a proper house for school purposes and for paying the teacher. During the Cayuse war he was one of the party that engaged in the Abiqua war, and feels perfectly satisfied that, if the citizens had not acted promptly in that affair the Indians would have risen throughout the Willamette valley and massacred many innocent families, as the fighting men were mainly absent in the Cayuse country. He was also a volunteer under Colonel Kelley in the Yakima war.

In his farming operations, Mr. Elliott has ever been very successful and progressive, being one of the first to encourage the importation of Devon cattle and of improved breeds of sheep. He took an active part in forming the State Agricultural Society, and, when it was necessary to liquidate the indebtedness of the concern, stood as one of the thirty to furnish the means.

In 1872 they sold the old place and removed to Canemah. In 1888 Mrs. Elliott died, and Mr. Elliott at present makes his home with his eldest daughter, Mrs. Captain Apperson, of Oregon City. At this pleasant old town he spends the declining years of his life in looking back upon the great changes wrought by the labors of himself and his old comrades, and in looking forward to the still greater improvements yet to come.


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

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