Steven’s Farm and Ferry

An artist's rendering shows the Willamette Valley Temple planned to be built in Springfield.

Here is the history of the pioneer family of William M. Stevens. The Willamette Valley Temple will be built on land that the Steven’s family may well have owned. I would looking for artifacts. Stevens called his property Gamebird Village.

John Presco

Groundbreaking Announced for Willamette Valley Oregon Temple (—in-this-issue–

Stevens, William M.

[edit]REGISTER-GUARD, August 26, 2008

from [1]

Graves at hospital construction site a link to Springfield’s first settler.

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Archaeologists recovered the remains of four people from graves at the site of a new hospital built on part of the homestead of Lane County’s third settler of European ancestry.

The University of Oregon revealed the findings of the recovery effort at a press conference this afternoon.

Backhoe operator Erica French spotted what appeared to be a human bone last May during construction of the new Sacred Heart RiverBend Hospital.

“French’s actions in noticing the potential burial site and immediately stopping work at the location exemplify the kind of stewardship Heritage Programs encourages and expects from all Oregonians,” said Kuri Gill, coordinator of Oregon’s Historic Cemeteries Program.

The hospital’s owner, PeaceHealth Medical Group, enlisted the help of archaeologists to examine and recover the remains.

“The recovered remains include that of an adult male, two children younger than age 10, and an infant,” said Tom Connolly, director of research at the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

The remains have not been identified. They were found among 12 grave sites, some of them empty from when the graves were opened and the bodies moved to another cemetery.

“The remains recovered in May were apparently missed during the initial disinterment more than 100 years ago,” Connolly said.

The RiverBend site is located within the pioneering land claim of William M. Stevens, according to the researchers. In 1847, Stevens and his wife and 10 children traveled from Missouri to Oregon in a covered wagon and settled on a 640-acre land claim near the McKenzie River.

Only two other settlers lived in the area at the time — Eugene Skinner, the founder of Eugene, and Elijah Bristow of Pleasant Hill.

Stevens was likely the first settler in present day Springfield, Ore. He died in 1860 in a farm accident.

The researchers found he was not buried in the family plot, but by the mid-1880s, a dozen family members had been buried there.

The original homestead was divided amongst family members and resold by 1900. In 1901, the family removed eight burials and moved them to another cemetery. The remains found at the site in May are believed to be the other four family members.

Along with the human remains, archaeologists uncovered clothing and coffin hardware.

Stevens, William (1805-1860)

Born in North Carolina, he was a farmer and builder of log cabins and hand-hewn houses.

According to donation land claim records, the first settler to stake a claim in the Springfield locale was William M. Stevens, who filed on a 640-acre tract in 1848 (Genealogical Forum of Portland 1962).

In 1847, he journeyed over the Oregon Trail and the Barlow Road, arriving in December of that year. Together with his three eldest sons, Stevens commenced the erection of a dwelling. The felling of the trees and sawing of lumber was entirely done by these four pioneers, and by Christmas day, 1847, they had a roof to shelter the rest of the family; the house was built of logs, sixteen by eighteen feet in dimensions, its bed being what is known as a puncheon floor. On that auspicious anniversary they entered into full possession, and, humble though the home, it bade definance to the winter winds and rains, and lent a cheering impress to the solitary wilds around. Mr. Stevens and his family, however, did not permit time to hang heavily upon their hands; indeed there was plenty of work for them in occupations peculiar to the life of a frontiersman. In the fall of 1848 they broke forty acres of ground directly to the back of the homestead, using wooden plow with an iron share and six yoke of oxen attached thereto, which was sowed with wheat; in the spring of 1849 they planted corn and vegetables to fifteen acres, where they raised turnips that year¦(Walling 1884:451).

Walling (1884:451) claims that Stevens kept the Briggs Ferry on the South Fork of the Willamette with his brother-in-law, George H. Armitage in 1849. He lashed together two canoes to ferry passengers. Wagons and freight were taken in pieces, while stock was forced to swim to the opposite bank of the stream.


(Deceased) The subject of this sketch was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, June 27, 1805, where he grew to man’s estate and married Hixey V. Jones, with whom, in 1828, he moved to what was then known as Ray county, East Tennessee. Here his eldest son, Harrison Andrew, was born, January 1, 1829. In 1836 he transferred his location to Polk county, Missouri, and there resided until determining to cross the plains to the “ultima thule” of Oregon, for he had heard of the large donation claims being given there to men of families by the government. May 7, 1847, found Mr. Stevens crossing the Missouri line alone with his family, but falling in with other trains on the route, they together made the journey and endured the hardships attending such an expedition, eventually arriving at Barlow’s Gate, near the Cascade mountains, on the twenty-fifth of September. From that point he moved onto and rented a piece of land near Salem from Charley Matt, where a crop was raised, but being dissatisfied with the location, Mr. Stevens sought elsewhere for property more suited to his requirements. In the month of October he came to the dwelling of Jacob. C. Spores, accompanied by Mr. Ware, where they were ferried across the McKenzie river by Indians, their horses swimming the stream, and proceeding but a short distance found a tract of land that accorded with his taste, “located” it and then returned to Salem, brought his three eldest sons with him and commenced the erection of a house in December, 1847, the rest of his family joining him on Christmas Day of that year. This was the first house erected in what is known as the Forks of the Willamette, the timber used in its construction being the first cut by a white man in that vicinity. At first they had frequent visits from bands of Indians, who, beyond evincing an obtrusive curiosity, scarcely ever molested them, yet their presence was not re-assuring, and caused much anxiety to the female members of the family. In the fall of 1848 Mr. Stevens and his sons broke forty acres of ground directly back of the homestead with a wooden plow and iron share and six yoke of oxen, which was afterwards sown to wheat; in the spring of 1849, they planted corn and garden produce on fifteen acres of land, the balance of the six hundred and forty acres taken up affording pasturage for the sixteen yoke of oxen and seventy-five head of cattle Mr. Stevens had brought with him. The return of vegetables was enormous. Our subject now erected a cabin for Captain Felix Scott in the summer of 1849, the second dwelling in that section of the county, while during that year he conducted what was afterwards called Briggs’ Ferry on the South Fork of the Willamette. Further particulars of the life of this pioneer will be found in the special history of the settlement of the Forks of the Willamette. He resided on his farm, leading a useful life, but on May 251860, it was cut short by accident, the immediate cause being a horse, an animal the he looked upon with almost human affection. He left a large family, consisting of the following sons and daughters:

ASHLAND ORLANDO, the second son of the above pioneer was born in Ray county, Tennessee, August 22, 1830, and came to Oregon with his parents and now occupies the old homestead. He married Mary Margaret Steward, who came to Lane county in 1852, on August 15, 1855, she being a native of Missouri, and has a surviving family of three daughters, viz: Mary Elon, Marth Elizabeth, and Rowena Belle.

ALVIN BURT, the third child, was born in Tennessee, March 14, 1832, and is now a resident of California.

SARAH JANE, now Mrs. George H. Armitage, was born in Tennessee, October 4, 1833, and resides with her husband near Eugene city.

ISAAC E. was born in Tennessee, March 1, 1835, and is now a resident of Lane county.

MARY ANN was born in Hickory county, Missouri.

JAMES ANDERSON was born in Polk county, Missouri, January 26, 1839, and now resides on the farm adjoining the old homestead. He accompanied his parents to this State and county and, November 22, 1868, married Emily F. Greenwood, who was born November 23, 1848, and crossed the plains in 1852. Their family consists of Charles LennWelby and Maggie.

EMMALINE MATILDA, the third daughter of Mr. Stevens, was born in Polk county, Missouri March 16, 1841, and is now Mrs. Linville.

WILLIAM HENRY was born in Polk county, Missouri, March 7, 1843, and died on the farm adjoining the old homestead on the north, October 11, 1883.

CHARLES JEFFERSON was born in Polk county, Missouri, January 28, 1845, and died December 20, 1864.

MANDELY CAROLINE, the youngest child of the old pioneer, was born under the family roof-tree in Lane county, February 18, 1849, and died, February 5, 1854.

“Illustrated History of Lane County, Oregon.” Portland, Oregon: A. G. Walling, publisher, 1884. pg. 488.

The great-grandson of Welby Stevens, Steve Moore, owns the family Bible that William M. Stevens carried with him on the Oregon Trail from Missouri in 1847. Steve Moore also has the original land donation claims of the family, one signed by President Ulysses S. Grant, the other by President Rutherford B. Hayes. The 640-acre land claim of William M. Stevens, who died at age 55 in 1860 in a farming accident, stretched from the Willamette River to the McKenzie River in what is now Springfield. The family built a home on what is now Game Farm Road. Stevens’ wife gave birth in 1849 to their 11th child, a girl, after arriving in Oregon. She died shortly before her fifth birthday and was probably the first buried on the RiverBend site, he said. The last buried there, in 1879, was Hixey Stevens. Records provided by Musgrove Mortuary of Eugene and the Gillespie Butte cemetery have helped in tracking the family’s history, he said. A pair of coffin handles with a Masonic emblem found at the site probably came from the grave of Harrison Stevens, William M. Stevens’ son, who died in 1876, researchers said. The Eugene Masonic Lodge verified that he was a mason, along with a son and two brothers.

John C. Fremont and the Mormons: Alexander L. Baugh – YouTube

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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