Scott, Felix

From Lane Co Oregon

Scott, Felix (1788-1858)

It is known that Virginia-born Felix Scott went to the California gold fields in 1848 and then to Missouri in 1849 to get livestock for his Oregon “ranch.” In 1854 his herds numbered 76 cows, 53 young cattle, 37 horses, two stallions, and 18 hogs (Corning 1956:217-218, 1958:218-219; Stahl:n.d).

Captain Felix Scott abandoned an earlier claim in Pleasant Hill to move to a site on the McKenzie River in 1849. Here he dug an extensive mill race and established a sawmill in 1851-1852 on the south bank of the river. He hired Stevens to build a double log house for his family (Surveyor General’s Office 1855; Walling 1884:451,454). Scott’s son, Felix Scott, Jr., later blazed the wagon road that was the forerunner of the present-day McKenzie River Highway (Corning 1956:217-218).

He participated in the Rogue River Indian Wars and was killed by the Modoc Indians in 1858.


[edit] Other information

Captain Felix Scott, Sr. (1786-1858)

The following biographical information was provided by Ray Burgess, a fifth great grandson of Felix Scott, Sr. and is based on the work of Nancy Daniels Hughes. He and Eugene F. Skinner, Elijah Bristow, and William Dodson were the first settlers in the county and were known as "The Four Horsemen of Lane County."

"The Hayden Bridge Victorian Home was the residence of Felix Scott, Jr. who built what is now the McKenzie Highway (with his own funds as I understand)."

[edit] On to Oregon

Felix Scott was one of the youngest of the eight children of Capt. David and Judith (Cunningham) Scott. He was born December 13, 1786, according to the family Bible record in Monongalia County, Virginia (now West Virginia), near the present town of Morgantown, West Virginia. He married Ann (Nancy) Dent about 1808 in Monongalia County. She was a daughter of Col. John and Margaret (Evans) Dent and was born May 3, 1789, in Monongalia County.

The family lived in Monongalia County for eight years, and their six eldest children were born there. During these years Felix became a lawyer, and served as a member of the Virginia State legislature in 1811 and 1812. Sometime before 1814 he laid out the townsite of Granville. His election to the Virginia State legislature at the age of 25 was the beginning of his long career in frontier politics.

In 1816 Felix Scott led a group of pioneering families from Monongalia County to St. Charles County, Missouri Territory. Abraham Comegys was in this group. Several years later, the twin daughters of Felix Scott married two of Abraham Comegys' sons.

These pioneers no doubt traveled overland the short distance west to the banks of the Ohio River. Here they built flatboats, a rustic type of houseboat, which they steered some 1,500 miles down the sometimes-treacherous Ohio River to its junction with the Mississippi River at present day Cairo, Illinois. From there they traveled overland by wagon the remaining 100 miles north to St. Charles County, Missouri Territory. St. Charles County in 1816 was a very sparsely settled frontier with a few English and several French families living there. Part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, in 1812 it became a part of the Territory of Missouri. It is bordered in part by the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and its land is described as "rolling and sometimes broken with one-third of the county composed of prairies that have a good but not deep soil."

Felix bought a plantation in Cuivre Township where he farmed and raised livestock. The 1840 census records that he owned two black male slaves. His wife, Ann (Dent) Scott, died shortly after the birth of her seventh child. In 1819, three years after the family came to Missouri. The infant also died.

Felix Scott married his second wife, Ellen Castlio, April 5, 1821, in St. Charles County. Ellen was born September 13, 1805, in Tennessee. They were the parents of fifteen children.

Quoting from the chapter on St. Charles County in "History of Northeast Missouri" under the heading "Great Men of Pioneer Days:"

"Felix Scott was one of the early politicians of the county and somewhat a character. Though a man of culture, he fell in with the manners and customs of the country and the spirit of the times, and was not adverse to a fist fight. Being challenged to fight a duel, such was his courage and contempt for his antagonist that he quietly stood with his gun in his hand presented without offering to fire, and after his opponent had fired at him, coolly laid his gun aside and gave the fellow a most unmerciful beating with his fists. He served a number of terms in the lower house and also the senate (of Missouri) and was made president pro tem of that body in the absence of the lieutenant-governor.

The "History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri" by William Bryan and Robert Rose tells the same facts somewhat differently.

"He was educated for a lawyer, and represented St. Charles county in the Legislature several times, and also in the State Senate, and was Justice of the Peace in Dog Prairie (Cuivre township) for many years. He was a great fighter, but never got whipped. His son-in-law once challenged him to fight a duel, and Scott accepted the challenge. They were to fight with double-barreled shot-guns, and Scott was not to fire until after his son-in-law had fired, and then, instead of shooting him, he laid his gun down, and gave him a good pounding with his fists."

Felix Scott and his family lived in St. Charles County, Missouri, for 29 years. In the spring of 1845 when he was 56 years old, he and his wife, Ellen, and eight of their nine children crossed the plains to California. Nancy, 21, remained in Missouri. Five sons and three daughters came with them--Ellen, 20; Harriet, 19; Juliet, 18; Felix Jr., 15; Marion, 14; Nimrod, 7; Harrison, 5; and Rodney, 3. Felix Scott was the elected captain of their wagon train that included about 15 wagons pulled by teams of oxen and 50 people. After six months of travel, the emigrants arrived at Sutter's Fort in the Sacramento Valley in the late fall. The Scott family remained there until the following spring. John Sutter, an emigrant from Switzerland, particularly welcomed Americans to this settlement he had built on a large tract of land granted to him by the Mexican government. The discovery of gold in his mill-race in 1848 triggered the 1849 California Gold Rush. Harriet Scott died while the family was at Sutter's Fort. She was twenty years old.

In the spring of 1846 having sold their wagons, the Scotts and other families who had come with them from Missouri followed the Indian trail north through California to Oregon Territory. They brought saddle horses, pack horses, and cattle with them. The Scotts went to the home of Joseph Watts near Amity, Yamhill County. Here Ellen Scott married John E. Lyle November 3, 1846.

While his family remained in the Watts house, Felix Scott joined three other men--Elijah Bristow, William Dodson, and Eugene Skinner--on a trip to locate land claims. These four men rode horseback up the Willamette Valley south from the settlement near Dallas in Polk County, and in 1846 they were the first white settlers to stake land claims in Lane County. Felix staked his claim next to that of Elijah Bristow on Pleasant Hill but abandoned it the next year for one opposite where the Mohawk River empties into the McKenzie River in the Willamette Forks area. He filed Oregon Donation Land Claim #1270 on this land. This claim for 640 acres was granted. This was in accordance to the Donation Land Law of the United States which granted 640 acres of public land free to a man and his wife who settled on their claim in Oregon before 1850 and recorded it before December 1, 1853.

In 1847 the Scotts settled on their claim in Lane County. It was fertile land between the Willamette and Mckenzie Rivers on which they raised stock. Felix built a sawmill and engaged in lumbering for about two years. That same year he wrote a letter to a friend in Missouri that was reprinted In the July 25, 1934, pageant edition of the "Eugene News" (Eugene, Oregon) under the headline, "Felix Scott Letter More Eloquent Than History On Pioneers." The article says, "More than any formal history, the following letter which he wrote to a friend in Missouri tells of the isolation, the political entanglements and the Indian difficulties arising out of unfulfilled promises." It was written near Mt. Hood September 26, 1847, to James P. McDearmon of Jefferson City, Missouri.

Respected Friend:

At the base of this monument of eternal snows I address you a few lines.

Having heard of my friend, Mr. Cernigia (Comegys), being on the road, I set out to meet him with team and supplies knowing that the tug of this journey was at the Cascade mountains. Having met him on the Columbia in fine spirits and good health with his teams in good plight, we proceeded on and met at this place our old friend, Mr. Clendi, on his return to the states having come from the states this season and intends taking his Christmas dinner at home, St. Charles. If he succeeds, it will surpass any travelling hitherto performed and the next thing to the electric telegraph.

My former letter to you gave my journeyings through and views of California and Oregon. This summer had been unusually warm and the dry weather setting in very early made short crops of spring wheat, but the wheat sown in good order in the fall produced a fine harvest. Although the emigration is double any previous year. I think there will be a sufficiency of breadstuff. We are much disappointed and chagrined at the neglect we have met in congress. The hive here is one universal hum and threatens to swarm, but I hope they will bear another season, or 'til forbearance ceases to be a virtue. The first law of nature is self-preservation and it is equally so with communities as well as with individuals. Our situation as at present organized cannot long be endured. The Indians whose lands we have violently taken possession of have become restless and impatient. We have told them that the 'Boston ____ ' would come and pay them for their lands. They with great patience have waited from year to year till their patience has become exhausted. They tell us that much from us is all 'cultus wawa' (bad talk) and are occasionally making reprisals on the frontier settlers. Then again we have some who will not submit to our little code of laws and we do not wish to use any very exemplary measures. Besides we are living in an uncertain condition as to our homes.

You know the inducements held out to the emigrants. Different presidents have recommended liberal donations, both houses of congress have passed bills of the same nature, we have had the unofficial pledges of the whole government. Many grave members of congress have assured their constituents that congress would make the donations. You know too that the Oregon question was interwoven in the last presidential election contest. Yet both political parties have failed to carry out their assurances, the apology was that it interfered with the treaty then pending. Pray who made the treaty? The Emigrants of Oregon Made It. We have done what the government was afraid to do, lest they would stir the ire of the lion and now the treaty being settled, the Mexican war is in the way. By Mr. Calhoun's amendments I see that it's to be another Missouri question. It's to be made a part of the presidential contest, and we are to be made the victims of it. We don't want slavery here, none of us ever expected slavery here, and why force it on us against our wishes? On the subject of donations, I wish to God those members of congress who oppose the bill would have to cross these mountains as poorly outfitted as the emigrants generally are. They would learn by hardships and privations to feel for others, and I think it would qualify Mr. Calhoun's eloquence to a little more moral honesty. They may introduce bills, commit and recommend and lay on the table, but the land we will have, peaceably if we can, _____ if we must. Nothing but Linn's bill with Crittenden's amendment will satisfy the people. They might put up with something less, but the land we will have. This is no bombastic threat. We are bound by every ligament of our hearts to our country, but we are also bound to our wives and little ones. We thank our friends in congress for their perseverance and we pray them to continue to fight with us to the brink of the ditch.

I remain your friend and humble servant.

Felix Scott

In 1848 gold was discovered at Sutter's Fort. Felix and two of his sons, Felix Jr. and Marion, and his son-in-law, John Lyle, joined other men from the area in the rush to California. They mined successfully for a year before returning to Oregon.

Felix Scott was appointed Sub-Agent for Indian Affairs for southwestern Oregon on April 10, 1848, to deal with the Klamath and Rogue River Indians who were troublesome at this time. He urged that a company of men be formed for reasons of defense. When he was told that there were no funds available for that purpose, he organized a company on his own account serving as its captain and giving protection to parties of settlers coming to Oregon by way of the route that led south around Mt. Hood.

William Stevens built a double log cabin for the Scott family on their claim in 1849. Here Felix Scott lived until his death nine years later. He represented Lane County in the Oregon Territorial Legislature several times.

[edit] Violent Death of Captain Scott

In 1858 when he was 72 years old, Felix Scott took a boat to the Isthmus of Panama, crossed the isthmus, took another boat east to the mouth of the Mississippi River and then went up the Mississippi to Kentucky. Here he purchased fine cattle and horses. He hired two men to help him drive them to Oregon across the plains. He and his two helpers were murdered and the stock stolen by Indians near Goose Lake, Lake County, Oregon, when they were almost home. The circumstances of his death are described in the article copied below from the "Oregon Statesman" dated January 25, 1859:

"We mentioned not long since, that Captain Felix Scott, late of this county, had in all probability been murdered by the Indians when on his way from the States to Oregon by way of the Southern Oregon or Applegate route. His son, who has lately returned from a tour of inquiry, gives us the following information. Rumor had reached Yreka, based upon Indian assertions, that a party consisting of three men had been murdered by the Indians in the vicinity of Goose lake, and their stock, comprising six horses and six head of neat cattle, with a considerable amount of money, was taken by the murderers."

"Upon reception of this report at Yreka, the son of Captain Scott immediately set out for the scene of the reported disaster; and progressed as far as Honey Lake, but found it impossible to proceed farther in consequence of the severity of the weather, and the accumulation of snow in the mountains. He had learned however, from Mr. Crawford, an old settler on French Prairie, that on his way to Oregon, when he left Humboldt river, Capt. Scott (whom he had seen frequently on the plains) was but three days travel in the rear; and that they had tended traveling together through the remainder of the journey. But Mr. Crawford, having gone some distance on the Applegate route, found it so little used as to have become difficult to follow, and returned and took the road by Noble's Pass. The presumption is that Capt. Scott, seeing the appearance of late travel on the road proposed to be taken, pursued it, and from his previous knowledge of the country, was able to find the Pass in the mountains, and finally reached Goose Lake, where the tragedy occurred."

[edit] The Will of Felix Scott

Felix Scott's Will is dated January 19, 1858. (#84 p. 157 Book of Wills, Lane County, Oregon) It was not probated until 17 years later on July 10, 1875. Rodney Scott, saying that he believed his father was dead, petitioned the Lane County Court to probate it at that time. The will is copied below with punctuation added.

I, Felix Scott, born in Monongalia County, Virginia, and removed to St. Charles County, Missouri, and from thence to Lane County, Oregon Territory, do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament. Having made advances of property to my sons, George Scott, Presley Scott, Felix Scott, and Marion Scott: also to my daughters, Lindian Comegys, Lucinda Comegys, Hermacintha Keithly, Ann or Nancy Argent, Ellen Lyle, and Juliet Spencer; I do hereby dispose of my property; real, personal, and mixed, in the following way. To wit:

I will and bequeath to my wife, Ellen Scott, all my household and kitchen furniture, beds and bedding, my buggy and buggy horse and harness, and as many cows as she may want for her own use during her lifetime; also her choice of either my house on my claim or in the vicinity of Eugene City, a residence during her life.

I will and bequeath to my son, Nimrod Scott, three hundred and twenty acres of land being that which the government donated to me; also a Strip Of land I purchased of Wilmer Comegys.

I will and bequeath to my son, Rodney Scott, three hundred and twenty acres I purchased of Felix Scott, Jr.

I will and bequeath to Nimrod Scott and Rodney Scott all my other property to be divided equally subject to the following legacies. To wit: One thousand dollars as a permanent fund during the life of my son, Harrison, the interest to be paid yearly for his support.

To my daughter, Jane Linn Scott, ten acres of ground being the same I purchased of Christian.

I appoint my sons, Felix, Marion, and Nimrod, my executors.

I will that there be no other administration of this will, only the recording, as I owe no debts. I think it unwise to have a sale of the personal property: my sons, if they cannot divide themselves, can get their neighbors.

In testimony I have hereunto set my hand this 19th day of January 1858.

(Illegible signature) /s/ Felix Scott

J. L. Brumm

S. A. Caldwell

Horace Woodcock

A. S. Patterson

Related Families Who Came to Oregon

Two families--the Comegys and Scotts--came to Oregon Territory from Missouri across the Oregon Trail. These two families were doubly related as Felix Scott's daughter, Lucinda, married Abraham Comegys son, Benjamin. Lyndian Scott, twin of Lucinda, married Jonathan Comegys, Benjamin's brother. The Scotts who came to Oregon were all the children and grandchildren of Felix Scott by his two wives.

Abraham Comegys and Felix Scott were neighbors in Monongalia County, West Virginia, for about ten years. In 1816 they brought their families by flatboat down the Ohio River to Cuivre Township of St. Charles County, Missouri. Here they purchased adjoining plantations. Abraham Comegys died in St. Charles County, Missouri, in 1826. His wife, Ann, had died before him. The Comegys who came to Oregon were the children, grandchildren, and one great-grandchild of Abraham and Ann Comegys.

Lucinda (Scott) Comegys and her twin sister, Lyndian, were born August 22, 1809, in Monongalia County, Virginia (now West Virginia). They were seven years old when the family moved westward to St. Charles County, Missouri, in a wagon train led by their father. Abraham Comegys and his family were also in this train. Lucinda Scott married Benjamin Comegys, March 20, 1828, in St. Charles County, Missouri, about a year after her twin sister, Lyndian, married Johathan Comegys, Benjamin's brother. Benjamin and Lucinda Comegys lived on a plantation in Coivre Township, St. Charles Co., Missouri, close by the plantations of Felix Scott, Lucinda's father, and Abraham Comegys, Benjamin's father. Here their three sons were born. Benjamin Comegys died July 9, 1844, in St. Charles County, Missouri In 1851, seven years after her husband's death, Lucinda and two of her sons, Wilmer, 22, and Nimrod, 8, came across the Oregon Trail to Oregon Territory to join their many Scott and Comegys relatives living in Lane, Polk, and Yamhill Counties. Her third son, Presley, came to Oregon with his uncle, Jonathan Comegys, in 1850 and settled on his land claim in Lane County. Lucinda Comegys arrived in Oregon on August 29, 1851, and settled on Oregon Donation Land Claim #1183 in Lane County on September 20, 1851. Lucinda (Scott) Comegys died in Oregon in 1862.

Jacob Comegys, son of Abraham Comegys, came to Oregon with his family in 1847. They settled in Yamhill County, Oregon, where Jacob and his son, Abraham, had adjoining land claims. Jonathan Comegys' wife, Lyndian, the daughter of Felix Scott, died in St. Charles County, Missouri, in 1846. In 1850 he came to Oregon with three of his sons and settled on his land claim in Yamhill County next to that of his brother, Jacob. Jonathan Comegys died in 1852, and his son, William, took over his land claim. In 1854 three more of Jonathan's children and one grandchild started for Oregon. His daughter, Cynthia (Comegys) Spencer died on the Oregon Trail.

Benjamin Comegys died in St. Charles County, Missouri, in 1843. His widow, Lucinda, the daughter of Felix Scott, came to Oregon in 1851 with her three sons. They settled on their land claims in Lane County near Lucinda's father, Felix Scott.

Two sons of Thomas and Hannah (Comegys) Smyth came to Oregon, Hannah was the daughter of Abraham Comegys.

Hynson Smyth came to Oregon in 1850 with his uncle, Jonathan Comegys, and settled on his land claim in Lane County.

George Smyth, Margarette, his wife, their three children came to Oregon in 1853 and settled on their land claim in Lane County.

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