Pengra, Charlotte Emily

From Lane Co Oregon


[edit] History

Charlotte Emily Stearns was born in 1827. Charlotte Pengra (Mrs. Bynon J. Pengra) and her sister Velina Williams wrote of their travels in 1853. They started the trip together, but somewhere in the beginning one party went ahead and the parties crossed separately.

Velina's work was printed in the Forty-seventh Annual Reunion of the Oregon Pioneer Association on pages 175 -240, but her words are quoted in many compilations of women's dairies.


[edit] Early Life

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley Oregon, Illustrated." Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago, 1903. pages 1293-1294.

In manner, character and attainment, Mrs. Charlotte E. Pengra represents a family of distinguished ancestry, around whom tradition clings persistently and fondly, and in whose make-up there is a justifiable and inspiring pride. This pioneer of 1853, whose home in Springfield is the center of culture and social prominence in the town, was born of Rev. John and Aseneth (Campbell) Stearns, natives respectively of New Hampshire and Vermont. The paternal grandfather, Ebenezer Stearns, was also born in New Hampshire, and during the Revolutionary he was captured by the Tories, in return for his devotion to the Colonial cause. He lived until July 1, 1823, and represented the fifth generation of his family in America, the emigrating forefather having been one Isaac Stearns, who came from Nayland Parish, Suffolk county, England, in the ship, Arabella, in 1630, locating at Watertown, near Mount Auburn, Mass. Fellow-passengers with him in the sailing vessel were such well known historical personages as Governor Winthrop and Richard Saltonstall. He was the progenitor of an American family as old as any in the state of New Hampshire, and which is represented in many states of the union. While his father was stacking his musket on the battlefield of the war of 1776, young John Stearns (born April 26, 1778) was taken by his mother to Vermont on horseback, and there spent the early part of his life. Soon after his marriage in 1830 he was converted and called to the Baptist ministry, his first charge being in Vermont and later was pastor of the Elizabethtown church, Elizabethtown, N.Y., where he preached the gospel for nine years. In 1817 he was transferred to Sardina, Brown county, Ohio, and traveled several years as state missionary. Sorrow came to him after his removal to Illinois, through the death of his wife at the age of sixty-six years, in 1850. With the help of David E., his oldest son, also Rev. M.N., Rev. S.E., and Avery O., an attorney, he outfitted with ox and horse teams for crossing the plains, and after arriving at the Rogue river country, settled on a claim near Phoenix, where his death occurred at the age of ninety-three years, in 1871. That he was a man of remarkable vitality and great will power may be imagined, when it is known that he preached almost continuously up to the time of his final illness, and at the age of eighty was able to occupy a pulpit at Eugene. Of his twelve children, eleven attained maturity, seven of them being sons, only two of who are living, Mrs. Pengra being the eleventh child.

[edit] 1840s

Mrs. Pengra was educated in the common schools of New York and Ohio, and in 1841 entered Hampton Falls Academy, of which her older brother was the preceptor. After an academical training of two years she then engaged in educational work, studying at the same time. Moving to Illinois in 1848, in 1849 she was married to B.J. Pengra, in Winnebago county, Ill. Mr. Pengra was born in Genessee county, N. Y. February 14, 1823, and after his father's death removed with his mother to Eric county, Pa., remaining there until after her death.

[edit] 1850s

From Illinois he crossed the plains in 1853 locating on a claim seven miles east of Springfield, Ore., where he farmed and raised stock for several years.

In her journal of 1853 she writes:

"After crossing we followed up a Cree(k) a short distance and waited till after dinner then we hitched and went on fifteen miles to watter the afternoon was very hot, and the roads intolerably dusty which made it very hard on the teams…It was after dark before we reached the (Malheur) River, found a great many teams here waiting for a leader to start out on the new route or Cut-off."

Another piece, this one the last:

"...We again took up our line of march for a seventeen mile drive and Bynon said he would be teamster though he had not set up any till about time for starting. He drove several when he was obliged to lay down. I then took my turn and drove until I was quite outdone and at last I called upon Win who was teamster the rest of the day. Bynon is very sick. We have packed him and bandaged him thoroughly he is relieved of much of his pain but is very weak. Sis is still feeble and I am all used up. dark times for we folks."' [End of Diary] August 28, 1853

A man of broad education and journalistic ability, he established the first Republican newspaper in the State of Oregon at Eugene in 1860, and which was known as the Oregon State Journal. He was a presidential elector at the time of Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 and served as surveyor-general during the administration of the martyred president. In 1866 Mr. Pengra moved to the site of Springfield. He was one of the pioneer developers of the town, opening flour and saw-mills, and purchasing surrounding farm-lands on a large scale.

[edit] 1900s

After a number of years of successful operating he bought a large stock ranch where he remained several years, and died at the home of his son near Coburg, Ore., September 18, 1903, at the age of eighty years. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Pengra, of whom Stella M. is the wife of George W. Larson [sic; should be Larison], of Reading, Cal.; Avery W. died in infancy; Ella V. is the widow of James Walker of Hazeldale, Lane county, Ore.; W.J. and G.B., twins, the former living near Coburg, Ore., and the latter died at the age of ten years; Bell, the wife of S.T. Black, a farmer of Grass Valley, Sherman county, eastern Oregon; and Anna, the wife of Rev. C.M. Hill, pastor or the Baptist Church at Oakland, Cal. Mrs. Pengra has contributed to local papers and is a woman of superior culture and refinement. She is prominent in the Baptist Church, is a teacher of the bible class in the Sunday school, and has always given generously to church and charitable organizations. She is living on the old family homestead, in Springfield, which has been the family home since 1866.

Submitted by: Chris Havnar, <>

[edit] Tombstone

On a marble pillar about a foot and a half tall were written these words:

Son of B.J. & C.E.


"Suffer little children -[to]- come unto me,

and for -[forbid]- them not, for of -[such]- is the

Kingdom of Heaven"

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