Oregon Pioneer Biographies





Joseph was born April 11, 1811, in Russell County Virginia to Martin Jesse Knifong, Jr. and Eve (Wolfe). Joseph moved with his family to Sullivan Co. Missouri, where he met and married Rhoda Ann Thurlo. Joseph and Rhoda Ann had three children:

John Martin Knifong---born April 6, 1846, Sullivan Co., MO

Pasca H. Knifong------born c1847 Sullivan Co., MO

Olive E. Knifong-------born 1851 Sullivan Co., MO

On the 20th of April 1852, Joseph along with the Hatcher family packed up and started for the gold fields of California. After several hard months on the trail and seeing many people die of cholera and smallpox, Rhoda Ann became ill in the Sierra Nevada mountains. They arrived in the Ione valley the 2nd of August 1852 where Rhoda Ann Knifong died. Joseph stayed in the area for a short time, and then leaving the children with the Hatcher family, Joseph proceeded to Oregon where he arrived on the 16th of November 1852. Joseph returned to California in 1853 to get his children. He returned with them to Oregon, where they settled in Polk Co. He married the widow Mrs. Mary White Feb. 19, 1854. They settled Donation land claim No. 3765 on Feb. 21, 1854. (This land claim is near the town of Willamina, OR.) On Feb. 24, 1877 Joseph and Mary donated some land in Polk Co., for a public burying ground. This property is the Willamina Cemetery.) Mary brought to the marriage a 4 year old daughter,

Elizabeth F. (White) Knifong--born 12 June 1849 in Missouri. Joseph and Mary had 9 more children. Tragically only one (Rhoda Ann) lived to majority. All of them dying before age 10, Elizabeth (White) died at 14. The children were:

Mary Knifong---b. 2 July 1854--d. 25 Aug. 1863.

Ella Knifong----b. Aug. 1856---d. Aug. 1863.

Rhoda Ann Knifong--b. Abt. 1857--d. 26 Jan. 1882 (Lived to marry James H. Hunt.)

James Knifong--b. Feb. 1858--d. 1 day

Stephan Knifong (twin)-b. Dec. 1859--d. Prob. at birth

Thomas Knifong (twin)-b. Dec. 1859--d. Prob. at birth

Clara Knifong---b. 19 June 1864---d. 18 May 1874

Leuella Knifong (twin)-b. Aug. 1864---d. Prob. at birth.

Leuvicy Knifong (twin)-b. Aug. 1864---d.Prob. at birth.

Joseph died, 5 May 1880. Mary died, 29 April 1897, both are buried along with their children in the Willamina cemetery, on the property they donated.

Rhoda Ann who was named for Joseph's first wife, married James Hunt 3 July 1881. In 1877 she signed as a witness to the deed for the cemetery. Rhoda is also buried in the Willamina cemetery, but I have no other information about her.

John Martin Knifong, married L. J. (Jane) Sheldon 10 Nov. 1867. They had one child:

Olive Knifong--b. Dec. 1869, Polk Co., Olive married a ______Blaisdell. No other information is available at this time. John and Jane divorced, and John moved to Tillamook Co., probably living with his sister Pasca and her family. John's sister lived near the William Butt family. One of William's daughters was Sarah "Sadie" Butt who John courted and wed on the 15th of Sept. 1880. John also became Sheriff of Tillamook Co., OR that same year. John and Sarah had five daughters:

Minnie Maud Knifong--b. 21 Sept. 1881--d. 1913.

Ella Knifong---b. 10 June 1883--d. 1972.

Hettie Pearl Knifong--b. 23 May 1886--d. 6 Feb. 1966.

Litta Sadie Knifong--b. 25 May 1890--d. 21 Sept. 1957.

Chatta Knifong--b. 11 Sept. 1892--d. ??

In 1895, John and his family lived in Waterloo, Oregon where John was working as a night watchman for the Waterloo Woolen Mill. John was described as a well-liked man, but nearly destitute. On the night of November 21, John was found lying injured with a fractured skull. He died about 15 hours later without regaining consciousness. It was thought that he had fallen from an upper level, 2 doctors called in said it looked as if he had been hit with something. The coroner's jury split on whether his death was accidental or not. This caused controversy in the area for some time but was never resolved. John is buried in the Klum Pioneer Cemetery near Waterloo.

Sarah and the girls moved back to Tillamook Co., to be near her family. She died just less than 4 years later on 4 May 1899, leaving 5 little girls to be farmed out to others to raise. Sarah is buried in the Nestucca Valley Cemetery beside her mother and father.

Pasca H. Knifong, Joseph's oldest daughter, married A. J. Martin at her father's home Jan. 26 1868. They moved to Washington territory for a time, but were in Tillamook Co., for the 1880 census. From there I have no information. They had 6 children at the time of the 1880 census:

Martha A. Martin--b. Abt. 1869.

J. Martin (Girl)----b. Abt. 1871.

O. S. Martin (Girl)--b. Abt. 1873.

R. C. Martin (Girl)--b. Abt. 1875.

Jennie J. Martin---b. Abt. 1878.

J. Martin (Boy)----b. Abt. Jan. 1880.

Olive Elizabeth Knifong, Joseph's youngest daughter, married Christopher J. Hussey at her fathers home Oct. 3, 1867. They had 2 daughters and 1 son:

Hettie Hussey--b. 27 Dec. 1868--d. 2 April, 1895.

Irvin Hussey--b. 27 Feb. 1881--d. 17 Dec. 1944

Bessie H. Hussey--b. 1886--d. 1932.

Both girls married and had children, Hettie married Joseph Marion Yocom, Dec. 22, 1886 they had 3 children that I am aware of. Bessie married Harry M. Kershaw, March 25, 1908. Mr. Kershaw was a very prominent man in Willamina, they had 1 son. I have no information about Irvin at this point. Christopher, Olive, Hettie, Irvin and Bessie are all buried in the Deer Creek cemetery, about 1 mile south of Bellevue, Oregon.

According to an interview Josephs daughter Olive Elizabeth Knifong Hussey gave to the Oregon Journal on Sept. 17, 1930, Joseph and Mary (called Polly Owen White by Olive) may have had several more children.


Richard C. (Dick) Smith Sept. 16, 1996.


Pedigree: Richard Smith- Vivian Strebe Smith- Hettie Knifong Strebe-John Martin Knifong- Joseph W. Knifong.

Crossing the Plains. From Moving on West by Ruby Knifong, Page 24

Yamhill Co. marriage records.

Ruth Stoller, Yamhill/Polk Co. historian

Polk Co., census 1860.

From headstones Willamina Cemetery

Polk Co., marriage records.

Polk Co., Marriage records and 1870 census.

Lebanon Express. Nov. 28, 1895/Dec. 5. 1895.

Polk Co., marriage records.

Polk Co., marriage records.

Yamhill Co., cemetery records.

Submitted by Richard Smith -, May 21, 1998.

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