Biography of John Tucker Scott

JOHN TUCKER SCOTT. – Perhaps there is no feature in which American life has become more noticeable than in the development of influential families. Without titles to distinguish those of distinguished ancestry, we nevertheless have many among our citizens whose surnames are patents of ability, if not of legal nobility. In the older communities of the Atlantic states, the Chases, Fields or Adamses illustrate this fact; and the younger West has examples quite as marked. Without instituting comparisons, and only intending those of unusual force or efficiency, we shall not miss the general verdict of the people of our state in naming the family of J.T. Scott as one of these. All the members of his family have been persons of marked capacity; and the journalistic field of the Northwest has been well-nigh dominated by some of its individuals. Mr. Scott was himself a very marked man, the very ideal of a Western pioneer. Born in Kentucky in 1809, he was, almost from the day of his birth, on the advance wave of Western immigration. As the name implies, his ancestry was Scotch, the original pioneer coming from Scotland about the year 1755, and ultimately settling in North Carolina. On the side of his mother the ancestry was from an old family of Pennsylvania; and the severity of those times will be indicated by the fact that in her infancy she lost both parents by the violence of Indians.

It was about 1798 that the family removed to Washington county, Kentucky, and became therefore among the first after the Revolutionary war to occupy for the American nation the western slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. The region was scarcely well under control of the Whites before a further removal was made in 1824 to the wilderness of Illinois, and a new home made in Tazewell county on the Illinois river. Remarkable as it may now seem, these first immigrants chose the timber lands by the side of the river, grubbing out fields for cultivation, while the immense prairies lay in their wanton luxuriance. Yet when we consider the value of fuel and the logs for building, and the incredible toughness of the prairie sod, which their slight plows and insufficient teams could not break, their selection will not seem unreasonable. There John Tucker Scott grew to manhood, developing a Herculean frame, and an ambition for work and progress which even his iron muscles could not support. There he made his own home, marrying Miss Anna Roloefson of Kentucky, herself a pioneer, and a woman of very superior intellect. There were ten children born to them on that Western farm, two of whom died and were buried there. The difficulties and hardships of early life in Illinois surpass anything ever experienced in Oregon, and, long before reaching middle life, Mr. Scott’s health was much impaired by excessive labor. He felt that he must make up for the lack of proper implements by his own greater exertions, and was accustomed even to handle saw logs by his own personal strength. He opened a farm and operated a sawmill.

In 1852, however, when the bulk of the labor of settlement was passed, he felt again that irresistible migratory impulse to go west even to the Pacific. In this way only was it possible for him to work out his superabundant mental and moral vigor, and to satisfy his ideality. The crossing of the plains was undertaken in that year when the cholera was abroad; and the wife and mother fell a victim to the scourge. Her death was an irreparable loss, and has never ceased to be mourned by her children. The hazards of a trip across the plains resembled rather those of a military expedition than the incidents of modern travel. The entire fortune of the family was in the outfit; and, when the last day’s drive was finished, animals, wagons, provisions, and the strength of the travelers themselves, were exhausted.

Beginning anew with good resolution, notwithstanding losses and trials, Mr. Scott made his first stoppage in Yamhill county, but a year later went to the Puget Sound country near Olympia. There he passed through the perils of the Indian war, repeating many of the experiences of the old Kentucky life. He saw plainly enough the great future of that region; but the development of it lingered a quarter of a century too late for him. In the meantime his large family was growing up; and he would not deprive them of educational advantages. Consequently, he removed to Washington county, Oregon, in 1859, in order to be near Pacific University. He occupied the old place of Joseph Gale, and the next year secured town property and remove to Forest Grove. At that beautiful village he remained until his death in September, 1880. The score of yeas spent there were quiet and happy, being passed very largely in intellectual recreations, in attendance upon, and deep interest in, the educational and literary and religious life of the place, and in the performance of neighborly offices. He had married Mrs. Ruth Eckler Stevenson; and her two sons and his own two children born of that union were given the best of educational advantages. Such business operations as he could conduct in a small town aside from the lines of traffic were carried on; and at the time of his death his fortune was sufficient for the necessities of his family.

In person he was tall, powerful and erect, with immense features bold, and strongly carved. He was ever a great thinker, and bore a brow deeply marked with the lines of intellectuality. Morally he was a man of earnest purpose and positive opinions. He possessed deep religious convictions and great courage, and was always ready for the furtherance of educational and religious enterprises. His feelings were invariably kindly and benevolent, and never in his life was he engaged in a brawl. His memory is a perpetual treasure to his family, and the life he lived of lasting value to the state.

His son, H.W. Scott, for twenty-five years, the leading journalist of the Northwest, has made the name a household word over the entire Northwest coast, and within the limits of his influence s no less familiarly known than Horace Greeley, whose old Tribune became his early political pabulum. He was the first graduate of Pacific University, receiving his degree in 1861; and he soon after began the study of law, and was one of the most active during the days of the war to conduct the enrollment of men as subject to military duty. He soon became editor of the Oregonian, and with the exception of a few years has continued with it, and is at present, not only its editor in-chief, but its controlling stockholder. As the great and controlling journal, it has been subjected to severe criticism, inspired partly by envy, and dictated partly by candid disagreement; yet its services have unquestionably been as invaluable as its management has been able and successful. As a steadfast and even passionate lover of the Union, and as a means of developing the Northwest, its services have been above all price. The appreciation by the public of our timber, mineral and agricultural wealth, and of our rivers and harbors, and the early opening of the whole country by railway lines, have been constant objects held in view; and this earnest aim, with its attendant exertions, so necessary to the state, explain very clearly subsidiary courses pursued by the Oregonian.

Mr. H.W. Scott is personally one of the few learned men in our state. In the midst of all his journalistic and business affairs, he has found time for patient and systematic study of classic as well as current literature and philosophy. It is his mental celerity and phenomenal memory which enable him to indulge the tastes of the student, and also to perform the work of a business man.

Mrs. Abagail S. Duniway is scarcely less known as the first editor of the New Northwest, a paper which she established for the purpose of carrying on the contest for woman’s suffrage in the Northwest. Mrs. Kate Coburn enjoys a like reputation as editor of the Evening Telegram. Mrs. M.F. Cook, wife of the early resident of Lafayette, and Mrs. S.M. Kelt of the same place, Mrs. H.L. McCord of East Portland, and Mrs. R.E. Latourette of Oregon City, and Charles of Portland, have taken responsible and honorable positions in society. John, a youth of great promise and ambition, died in 1860, leaving his father and brothers and sisters well nigh heartbroken. Mrs. M.A. Fearnside, a woman remarkable for the moral beauty of her character, is also deceased.



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

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1 thought on “Biography of John Tucker Scott”

  1. Robert Thomas Tucker

    My name is Robert Tucker And my descendants came from Scotland with the Scott family. The Info. on the Scott Family was great.
    Thanks Robert

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