Biography of Capt. Pleasent Calvin Noland

CAPT. PLEASENT CALVIN NOLAND. – Captain Noland, one of the most substantial farmers of Lane County, and for nearly forty years a resident of Oregon, was born in Missouri in 1830. His ancestry extends to Ireland and Wales; and his grandfather, Leadstone Noland, was a soldier in the war of the Revolution. His father, Smallwood V. Noland, became a pioneer of Missouri, and a very conspicuous man in that region, and as commissioner of Jackson County was concerned in the removal of the Mormons, by whom he nearly lost his life. In 1846, entering the service of the United States army, Captain Noland, our subject, was sent to Indian Territory instead of Mexico, and in 1849 crossed the plains to the mines of California. Returning East in 1851, he drove the next year a team to Santa Fé, and in 1853 came to Oregon. The journey terminated in a manner as difficult and severe as that of 1845 in Meek’s cutoff; for at Matthews the immigrants were met by a man from the Willamette valley who was coming to meet his family and conduct the train by a new route to the latter place. This was to cross the Cascades by the middle fork of the Willamette River.

Nearing the mountains, eight men, including Captain Noland, went ahead with ten days’ rations intending to cross the chain of the Cascade Mountains into the Willamette valley, and procure provisions for the train, as supplies were already growing scant. After a week’s travel these scouts found themselves off the road; and when the supplies failed they killed and “jerked” a fat Cayuse pony. After crossing the Des Chutes, near the foot of the Three Sisters, and wandering up on their flanks without finding a trail, a division arose as to the direction to be pursued. As it was impossible to agree, three took a route northerly and five southerly.

The men shook hands all around as they separated, with much emotion, and gave messages for their friends, as one party or the other might never escape. It would be a bit a romance to follow the oils of these wanderers through those long mountains, and to note how the five in the party to which Noland belonged finally refused to journey longer together, two taking one direction and three another, parting as before with hand-shaking and solemn farewell messages. The day’s travel for Noland and his two companions after this last parting was difficult; and their minds were filled with apprehension. Climbing a great ridge, from which they expected to see the Willamette valley, they discovered only another long, blue range as high as that on which they stood; but, seeing a smoke in the cañon below, and supposing it to be Indians, they descended, and were not a little pleased though a little disappointed to find their companions of the morning.

In three days they came upon a deserted camp and a fresh deerskin. This latter served to cut up and roast, and furnished several good meals for hungry men. They pressed on to overtake whoever had gone before. Two days more and they were up with the men, who proved to be no other than the three members of the party who first divided. With torn clothes and bare feet, and limbs scratched and sore, they looked as sorry as the five; but the reunited companions made no secret of their joy at meeting, and fell into each other’s arms as the only way to express their emotion. They soon prepared a feast to celebrate their meeting. This consisted of a salmon that had been picked up on the bank of the stream, a lot of roasted snails from the woods, and boiled thistles, with a dessert of elder berries. The deer spoken of above proved to have been killed by some wild animal and left on the spot. After this they toiled on down the widening stream, eating snails and berries, and at length came upon a clearing on the banks of the Mackenzie river. This was the farm of Mrs. Davis; and at her home they dined as if in a dream, – reminding them of their dreams of feasting at some royal board while they were yet sleeping in the hard mountains. Going on to Springfield they reported the train of wagons still in the mountains; and a party went out to meet them, saving them from starvation.

The following spring Captain Noland bought a place a mile south of Cresswell, and there made his home, and amid all the comforts of the Oregon farm lives upon it to the present day.

During the Indian war of 1855-56 he was among the first to be on the ground, in Captain Buoy’s company. After his term of three months’ service was up, he returned home and raised a company of which he was commissioned Captain. He participated in the memorable fight in Southern Oregon; and it was his company that was attacked at night in the Cow creek country, which was having a little sport playing and wrestling. The incident related in which Captain Noland was to meet by appointment two others at a certain place, and failing to do so the two parties fired upon each other in the darkness, Noland’s shot knocking off the hammer of a white man’s gun, illustrates the hazards and humor of warfare with the Indians.

The Captain was married in 1857 to Miss Lena, daughter of Ellen Stewart, of Eugene. Two sons were born to them, George and James E., the former of whom graduated from the State University and studied law, and is now practicing at Astoria. Mrs. Noland dying in 1873, the Captain married Miss Melissa Davidson in 1879; and they now have a daughter, Neva.


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

Search Military Records - Fold3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top