Biography of Miss Eva L. Burbank

MISS EVA L. BURBANK. – Miss Burbank, the only child of Honorable A.R. and Mary E. Burbank, whose memory is still cherished with regretful interest by the people of our state, was born in Monticello, Washington Territory, January 22, 1861, where her parents were at that time keeping the Monticello House. At the age of five and a half months she was christened (as an offering) in the Taylor Street Methodist Church, of Portland, by the Reverend T.H. Pearn. At the age of five years she began attendance upon school, and developed unusual quickness and ability of mind. In August, 1867, her home was transferred to Lafayette by the removal thither of her parents; and she received at this place still further educational advantages. In her tenth year she visited the Eastern states in company with her mother, and upon her return the following year entered the St. Helen’s Hall of Portland, Oregon, for the still further improvement of her natural ability, where she remained some three years. She was furnished all advantages for a thorough musical education; and her talent proved to be of such high character as to merit the encomium of her last musical instructor, Professor Hugh Gunn of California, that hers was the finest in Oregon.

Her bright and hopeful career was, however, cut short by the accident in August, 1880, which threw a gloom over the whole state. On the second day of that month she left her home for Portland, Oregon, to join an excursion party from East Portland to spend a few weeks’ recreation at Long Beach. She became the life of the company, and, upon their delightful trip down to Ilwaco and over on the weather shore, was constantly enlarging the circle of her friends. On August 15th, in the afternoon, a large company from this camp, together with others from Astoria, were enjoying bathing in the surf. She, in company with Mr. F.A. Graves of Astoria, was noticed to be one of the most enthusiastic of all the bathers. They were both, however, carried far out by a strong undertow; and the gentleman made the greatest exertions to keep her up and gain the beach, as she was unable to swim. Their loud calls for help were drowned by the roar of the breakers; but soon Mr. Joseph T. Chambreau, of Vancouver, Washington Territory, saw their perilous situation, and went to their rescue. He reached them as they were upon the point of drowning, and taking Miss Eva by the arm, was preparing to swim to the beach, but was almost immediately overpowered by an immense breaker that passed over and bore them under upon its return. All were overcome and separated; and it was only by the greatest efforts that the gentlemen reached shore. Miss Burbank was never seen again; and her body was never recovered although the beach was searched for months throughout its whole length. She was nineteen years, six months, and twenty-three days of age.

More than twenty pieces of beautiful poetry have been written and published with reference to her sad death. The following, from the pen of her music teacher, Miss M.P. Sedlak, merits a place here.

Gone in her youthful beauty,
Gone from our earth away,
Called from earth’s scenes of duty
On a beautiful Sabbath day.

Fair was the flower that blossomed
Amid our pilgrim band.
And prized the beauteous lily
Culled by the Savior’s hand.

Sad is the home that once was.
Lit by her sweet smile’s glow;
And hushed are the gentle accents
That soothed her loved one’s woe.

Yet, oh, beloved parents
And friends most fond and dear!
Remember in your sorrow,
Thy darling is still near.

And though she’s gone to heaven
To smooth your rugged way,
She, from her starry mansion,
Will watch o’er you for aye.


Biography, Women,

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

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