Biography of J. H. Settlemier

J.H. SETTLEMIER. – Mr. Settlemier was born on the 5th of February, 1840, in Jersey county, Illinois. In 1849 his parents, George and Elizabeth Settlemier, becoming imbued with the restless spirit that possessed all the pioneers of the Pacific coast, and, selling their home, turned their faces towards the setting sun. The family at that time consisted of eleven persons, father, mother, eight boys and one girl. They crossed the Missouri river at St. Joseph, and bade long farewell to civilization; for at that time there was not a settler’s house from the Missouri to the Sacramento, which was reached early in September of the same year. The mountain fever raged fearfully that year among the emigrants; and many died with none to wait upon them. The mother and one brother of our subject were laid to rest in California soil after having endured the privations and hardships of the American desert; and the father with the remainder of the family started for Oregon in December. Arriving in the Willamette valley, they settled on a land claim near Mount Angel, – where the aged father still resides, surmounted by four-score years and three, – and embarked in the farm and nursery business. It was there young Settlemier drank in the love of the latter branch of the business which was, in after life, to distinguish him as one of the foremost horticulturists of the valley.

In 1857, he with two of his brothers, William F. and Henry W., started a nursery in Linn county where the town of Tangent now stands. The venture proved unremunerative; and the place finally passed into the hands of H.W. Settlemier, who now conducts it as the Tangent Nursery.

Our subject was married in 1862 to Miss Eleanor E. Cochran. In 1863 they moved upon the homestead where he still resides and engaged in farming and the nursery business. In the latter line, the love of his life, he made a great success, and has reached the proud distinction of having the largest, best and most successful in the Pacific Northwest, – the Woodburn Nursery.

The Oregon & California Railroad was built across his farm in 1870; and he laid out the town of Woodburn, being named after the place of his birth, – Woodburn, Illinois. The Oregonian Railway System was built later, crossing the Oregon & California Road at right angles at this point.

In 1879 his wife died under very sad circumstances, which misfortune was followed by the loss of his farm and home through a defective title. Suit was brought against him by Sullivan and Green Davidson, through their attorneys, Hill, Durham and Thompson. The case was tried in the United States supreme court at Washington, where final judgement was rendered against Mr. Settlemier, who being thus defeated was compelled to lose the fruits of sixteen years of hard labor. He bought the farm over again, together with all its improvements, and was again married to Miss C.S. Gray of East Portland, who in ten days was stricken down with typhoid fever; and in twenty-one days more her soul winged its flight to the great beyond, thus filling to the brim the bitter cup of adversity that had been pressed to his lips by a fate as grim as death itself.

Thus hampered by death and the loss of his home, he struggled on with indomitable courage to the success that has at last crowned his efforts, where weaker spirits would have sunk under the load. Later on he was married again to Miss Mary C. Woodworth, who survives him to walk down the pathway of life as the shadows of time approach.

Mr. Settlemier feels proud of the success he has made in the nursery business, and is now enjoying the reward of his labors surrounded by his family of wife and children, six girls and two boys, upon his beautiful farm in the suburbs of Woodburn.



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

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