A brief biography by Liz Rapp
by Elmina Lane Kirkpatrick
It is likely many individuals were enticed to make the arduous journey to the Willamette Valley in Oregon Territory by glowing reports of those who had already traveled west. Forty–eight year old Peter Bilyeu (1802-1877), a former resident of Richwood in Miller County, Missouri had been to the Oregon Territory in 1850 and returned to Richwood to share news of the wonders of the Willamette Valley with them. “His glowing reports on the fertile land there was reason enough for others in Miller County to want to follow him. In the spring of 1852, returning to Richwoods Township, he led a wagon train of Miller countians to Oregon, arriving on Sept. 16, 1852.”, as noted in the Eldon, Missouri Advertiser published on October 26, 1972.
The following year even more Miller County residents followed the 1853 group and headed west. Mordecai Lane and his wife Celia Atkinson Lane left Miller County, Missouri with seven of their children. Many of the Lane “children” were adults who were accompanied by spouses and their children. They left Miller County in the spring of 1853, heading to Oregon Territory on the plains route and arrived 11 August 1853. The Lane family settled east of Scio and lived in or near Stayton, Sublimity, and Scio. Mordecai and Celia Lane staked their claim of 320.93 acres on 20 September 1853 in Sections 3 & 4, Township 9 South, Range 1 East of the Willamette Meridian. The land claim affidavit was signed by Wm. W Brooks, Mordecai’s son–in–law James Perry, and Peter Bilyeu (of the 1852 Miller County wagon train). Neither James Perry nor Mordecai Lane could sign their names, so their signatures are represented by an “X” on the official document.
Within the 1853 group from Miller County was twenty one year old Elmina Lane Kirkpatrick (1832-1906), the unmarried daughter of Mordecai and Celia Lane. Family stories say that along the way west an Indian Chief offered to give Mordecai 30 ponies for Elmina. Obviously, her father did not agree with the deal and Elmina safely arrived in Oregon Territory. Thirteen months later, in October 1854 she married David Kirkpatrick in Marion County. David had come to Marion County in 1852, originally from Virginia, but had taken a mining detour through Sutter County, California in 1850. Elmina and David Kirkpatrick had four children, three surviving into adulthood: Adda Eliza (1855-1931), Cyrus (1857-1858), David Jr. (1859-1927), and Rachel Olive (1862-1938).
Descendants of the Lane family say that life in Missouri had not afforded the girls in the family the luxury of an education that included the skills of reading and writing, but by their marks on the donation land claim documentation it is likely that the males of the family also lacked these skills. Elmina learned to read and write as an adult, possible along with her children. Daughter Olive (Ollie) became a teacher and “taught at a cabin schoolhouse on the Thomas Allphin place. Other pioneer children who went there were the McClains and the Meekers, both early settler’s children. Ollie Kirkpatrick was one of the early teachers there.” Elmina’s education likely helped her continue communication with her children once they were no longer living in the same household. Her son David Jr. moved along the west coast during his life, from Oregon to Washington, and finally to California. Daughter Rachel Olive became a doctor and lived and practiced with her husband in Sherman County, Oregon.
Elmina and David Kirkpatrick lived at the corner of Third and Baker in Albany. Tragically, David Bryant who had been in poor health for several years died at the age of 63 in 1887. After her husband’s death Elmina began living with her daughter Adda and Hubbard Bryant and their nine children on Main Street. The 1892 Albany City Directory lists the address as 4th Street, 5 East of Main; the 1905 Albany City Directory shows the Bryant family as having moved a brief distance directly east to 1433 Santiam Road. Both directories show Elmina Kirkpatrick boarding with the Hubbard Bryant family. Family memories show that Elmina and her son-in-law had a good relationship and that he enjoyed teasing her.
In a family history by Elmina’s granddaughter, Mary Bryant Hodge ”A Short History of the Families of Hubbard Bryant and Adda Eliza Bryant” we learn “Elmina had learned to smoke a pipe along with her husband David and continued the habit as long as she lived… One of my early memories is going with her, armed with basket and knives to gather dandelion greens. She was quite frail and never in my time did any work around the house.” Mary Bryant Hodge was born after Elmina began living with her family and was thirteen when her grandmother died in 1906. Her memories include “She was quite frail and never in my time did any work around the house. She had a tricycle which she used in going any distance. This machine had two larger wheels in back and a smaller one in front. She sat in a comfortable seat and pedaled, but it was very difficult for her to go far. It was my job to go along with her pushing over the hard places.”
Church records from 16 March 1891 for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church list Adda Kirkpatrick Bryant as one of the original 22 members. Mary Bryant Hodge’s book states Elmina “headed the group of women who made the Quilt of Names in 1892”; it was a common practice of churches at that time to create a founder’s quilt to memorialize the original church members and their efforts to create a new place of worship. Hubbard Bryant (a church trustee) purchased the quilt at auction and gave it as a gift to his wife, Adda. Around 1960 the quilt was owned by Elmina’s grandson’s wife, Daisy Bryant.
Elmina Lane Kirkpatrick died when 74 years old at the home she lived in with Adda and Hubbard Bryant and their children. She is memorialized with a gravestone she shares with her husband in Row 25 of Albany’s Riverside Cemetery.
Family members/descendants, Carmen Forquer, Gabriel Hug
Pioneers of Linn County Oregon Vol 3; W.P.A. Interviews by Leslie Loren Haskin; Linn-Benton Gen. Services, 1984
Judge Jenkins’ History of Miller County, Written, edited, illustrated, and published by Clyde Lee Jenkins, Tuscumbia, Missouri, 1971
Eldon Missouri Advertiser: by Clyde Lee Jenkins 1972
Assessment Rolls, 1854-1925. Oregon State Archives
Illustrated Historical Atlas Map Marion and Linn Counties Oregon, By Edgar Williams & Co 1878, reprint: Marion County Historical Society/Friends of Historic Albany [no date]
A Short History of the Families of Hubbard Bryant and Adda Eliza Bryant by Mary Bryant Hodge
BLM Plots for Land Claims: Mordecai Lane, Creed T. Biggers, James Perry, various Bilyeu families
Albany, Oregon City Directories 1892 and 1905