Oregon Pioneer Biographies - Elizabeth Rice BYARS

Oregon Pioneer Biographies


Elizabeth Rice BYARS

Multnomah Park Cemetery Office, Portland, OR; File of Irijah Byars, written by the Oregon Pioneer Association, undated:

"MRS. ELIZABETH BYARS - Mrs. Elizabeth Byars is one of the worthy pioneer women of Oregon who has witnessed much of the growth and development of this section of the state, her memory forming a connecting link between the primitive past and the progresive present. A native of Indiana she was born in Boone County, not far from Indianapolis on the 24th of October, 1834. Her Father, Dr. Jefferson Huff, lived in that state until about 1836 when he removed with the family to Hartford, Iowa near Des Moines. In both Indiana and Iowa he engaged in the practice of medicine. While a resident of the latter state he heard glowing accounts of the Far West and concluded to investigate. In the meantime, his daughter Elizabeth, had been a pupil in the public schools of Indiana and Iowa. She was a young lady of 17 when her father started westward with his family consisting of his wife and nine children. In those early days, Mr. Huff was considered a wealthy man. He traveled in better style than most immigrants, taking with him three wagons with four yoke of oxen to each wagon and other valuable livestock. He hired to go with him to drive one of the teams a young man of the name of Irijah Byars, then 21 years of age. The trip was a hazardous one and sorrow attended them as a close companion for six of the nine children died on the way. The others were also ill with the exception of Mrs. Byars (Elizabeth Huff) who stood the trip remarkably well. In the company leaving Iowa there were 52 wagons, the occupants of which had their eyes set upon the West of a land of dreams and brilliant hopes but family after family dropped out enroute until only three remained when they arrived in Oregon. They had various encounters with the Indians but managed to pass on their way unmolested and finally reached the Dalles. Then they proceeded down the river to Portland and spent the first winter in Portland upon the sight of the of the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1905. The next spring they went to Washington, Clarke County, on the Lewis River where the father took up a donatin claim of 320 acres. They lived upon this claim for two years and were often compelled to leave because the Indians were upon the warpath. There was a mission at the Cascades and upon a 30 minute warning given by the government agent to move, the Huff family did so. The government, however, gave them the patent for the land which they had been obliged to leave because of the eminent danger in that locality. Later the father sold the claim.

In the meantime the friendship between the young man, Irijah Byars and the daughter of the household, Elizabeth Huff, developed into a strong attachment and they were married on the ninth of August, 1853. They immediately took up a claim near the father's property, though compelled to give it up on account of the Indian Massacre. Both families disposed of all their belongings and went to St. Johns, where Mr. Byars purchased 100 acres of land which was a part of the donation claim of James Johns. This was in 1860 or 1861. Since that time the property has all been sold with the exception of twelve acres bringing a good price as the land increased in value. The house which was built by Mr. Byars is still standing in St. Johns and is the oldest one in the town."

Submitted by Jackie Savage Marshall, July 8, 1999.

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Copyright © 1999 by Jackie Savage Marshall for ORGenWeb