Oregon Pioneer Biographies


"Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley - Oregon," Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago, 1903

The Honorable Lark Bilyeu

Now a leader of the Lane county bar and a general practitioner throughout the courts of the state, the Hon. Lark Bilyeu has attained the success which marks the members of this family since their residence in Oregon. He was born in Miller county, Mo., May 24, 1852, the son of Joseph Bilyeu, a native of Tennessee, and the descendant of an old southern family of French-Huguenot extraction. (For a more complete record of the life and character of the pioneer, refer to the life of the Hon. W.R. Bilyeu, which appears on another page of this work.) When Mr. Bilyeu was a child his parents removed to Putnam county, Mo., and after a short time there they outfitted for the trip across the plains, coming by horse-teams to Oregon in 1862. On their arrival the father first settled for a few years in Polk county, after which he located on a farm near Scio, Linn county, where Lark Bilyeu grew to the age of seventeen years, interspersing his home duties with an attendance of the public schools. When seventeen years old he entered Pacific University, devoting his time entirely to the classical course until his senior year, when he was paid the honor of being elected to the office of superintendent of public schools of Linn county. This position was ably maintained for one term, or a period of two years, during which time he was pursuing the study of law under the instruction of Judge Strahan. July 3, 1882, he established an office in Eugene and continued practice in both offices until Mr. Strahan was elected judge of the supreme court, since which he has maintained an office alone in Eugene.

In addition to the claims made upon Mr. Bilyeu’s time in the practice of his profession, he has found time and energy to engage in the cultivation of fruit, having put to prunes and cherries a field of thirty acres, besides which he owns a considerable timber land and a farm in the vicinity. Politically he is a Democrat, and with his keen, earnest, thoughtful mind he has proven of much benefit to his party as a representative in the state legislature, to which he has elected in 1884, and re-elected in 1886 and 1896. He was also instrumental in the passage of the bill for an appropriation of $30,000 for the erection of a hall for the University of Oregon, besides exerting much helpful influence toward the betterment of local affairs. He has also served as chairman of the Lane county Democratic central committee and has been a member of the state committee. He is now serving as councilman.

In Albany, Mr. Bilyeu was united in marriage with Margaret R. Irvine, a native of Linn county, and the daughter of Robert A. Irvine, an early settler of that county, where he engaged in farming and later served as sheriff of the county. One son, Coke, has blessed the union. In his fraternal affiliations Mr. Bilyeu is a member of Eugene Lodge No. 11, A.F. & A.M.; Eugene Chapter No. 10, Royal Arch Masons, and Ivanhoe Commandery, K.T., No. 2. He is also identified with the Knights of the Maccabees and the Royal Arcanum. He is a member of the Christian Church.

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