Spores, James M

From Lane Co Oregon


One of the largest family gatherings which came to Oregon in 1847 was that gotten together by Jacob C. Spores, the founder of an honored name and a large farming and ferrying interest in Lane County. His son, James M., to perpetuate whose memory this sketch is written, and whose death on his farm near Springfield, February 22, 1900, caused widespread regret, was born while his parents were living in Winnebago county, Ill., May 19, 1835. In 1846 the family removed to Missouri, and in the spring of 1847 carried out the object which had inspired their emigration, the making of a home among the crude but promising conditions of the northwest. Jacob C. Spores reared a large family, some of whom married young and had children of their own, all living around the old folks, or on nearby farms. These helped to swell the number of the party with western aspirations, and all lent a helping hand in the extensive preparations required for the overland jaunt. Many horses and cattle accompanied the expedition, and in due time, and with the usual number of unpleasant occurrences, the west was reached, holding out to the industrious and resourceful pioneers varied and giant possibilities.

The grandfather settled on a farm near Coburg, and the town afterward springing up on a portion of his land, he was the very first thus to identify his fortunes with the now prosperous locality. At that time a man by the name of Eugene Skinner occupied the townsite of Eugene. Jacob C. Spores set about making himself comfortable in his new surroundings, and on his section of land erected a log cabin near where the bridge has since been built. He regarded the river from the standpoint of utility, and, knowing that many must pass and repass before much had been accomplished in the way of upbuilding the neighborhood, he started a ferry across, which was as useful as it was novel and enterprising. He was the architect and builder of the ferry-boat, making it out of rough timber, a strong but unwieldly structure, calculated to weather the stress and storms of a long and varied career. The boat was not erected too soon, for during 1848-9 hundreds of miners passed that way on their way to California, and all were glad to avail themselves of the easy transportation, thus swelling the receipts from this pioneer water-craft, and giving the ferryman a good start in life. With the advent of the bridge the boatman's occupation disappeared, and something of the pathetic surrounds the thought of the modern innovation, for many years had passed since the cumbersome craft first glided over the water, and many memories had been stored up in the mind of the ferryman. It was necessarily a part of his life, and as such was hard to part with. He continued to make his home on the old place for the remainder of his life, both himself and wife living to an advanced age.

While James M. Spores was driving an ox-team across the plains for his father he dreamed many dreams, and fortunately was able to realize more than does the average dreamer in this world of chance. A turning point in his life was his marriage, March 27, 1853, with Mary C. Thomas, member of one of the pioneer families of Oregon, and a native of Calhoun county, Mich., where she was born in 1832. Her parents, Jonathan and Jeanette (Simons) Thomas, were born in New York state, moved soon after to Michigan, and from there went to Illinois in 1836. In Winnebago county the father took up government land, and, in the spring of 1852, crossed the plains with seven yoke of oxen, three cows and a mare, his family at that time consisting of his wife and five children, of whom Mrs. Spores is the oldest. Powers, Louisa Spores, the second daughter, married Frank Powers ; Samuel lives near Coburg; Almira married John H. Milliron, and lives on the McKenzie place, and John lives on the home place near Coburg. The family were nine months in accomplishing the journey to Oregon, and their trip was characterized by all of the horror and dread of that great cholera year. At the end of the trip Mr. Thomas found that he had just two oxen and the mare with which to start life in the west, all of the other stock having died on the way. The following spring he took up a claim of three hundred and twenty acres near Coburg, and here the remainder of his life was spent, his death occurring in 1876, at the age of seventy-seven years.

Shortly after his marriage Mr. J. M. Spores moved near the farm now occupied by his widow, and worked in the sawmill for a time, afterward returning to his father's farm and assisting him with the ferry-boat. In June, 1857, he located on the farm where his last days were spent, and which at the time consisted of one hundred and sixty acres. Practical and progressive, he utilized the most advanced ideas in further improving his farm, additional land being required as his interests increased in variety and extent, and in time he accumulated nearly one thousand acres. The farm is unrivalled for location, being, five miles northeast of Springfield, on the McKenzie River, and in the Mohawk valley. Mr. Spores was sufficiently public-spirited to appreciate the duty of every able-bodied citizen from a political standpoint, and he gladly gave his services towards maintaining a high standard of excellence in county government. He was county commissioner for two terms, and served on the jury for sixteen years continuously. From early manhood he gave his moral and financial support to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he was fraternally connected with the United Workmen. Since his death, his widow has continued to reside on the home place, and, assisted by her sons, expects to carry out the plans so well laid by her popular and highly respected husband. A large family was born to Mr. and Mrs. Spores, the oldest daughter, Arminda being the wife of Thomas Jenkins, and living on the home place ; John married Emma Drury, and lives near his wife's mother; George married Josie Clark; Mary S. is the wife of George Smith, of Coburg; Samuel lives in eastern Oregon; Irene is the wife of John Reneger, of this vicinity ; Frank married Belle Barrett, and lives near his mother; Charles is engaged in mining at Nome, Alaska ; Daniel married Kate Drury, and Leila lives in Portland. Mr. Spores was a man of leading characteristics, and he not only succeeded from a financial standpoint, but made many and true friends, leaving to those bearing his name the heritage of a nobly-lived and well-directed life.

Transcriber's additional notes:


[edit] Census 1860, July 25

Lane Co, OR; Mohawk Pct, p 286

James M. Spores, 25, IL, farmer, $1900 real estate, $1000 pers.

Mary E, 29, MI, housewife

Amanda, 5, OR

John H, 3, OR

[edit] Census 1870, August 31

Lane Co, Or; Mohawk Twp, p 538, Eugene PO

Mattison Spores, 35, IL, farmer, $6000 / $2200

Mary C, 38, MI, keeps house

Arminda, 14, Or, att. school

John H, 12, Or, att. school

Geo W, 10, OR, att. school

Flora, 8, OR, att school

Samuel, 6, OR

Irene E, 4, OR

James F, 2, Or

Charles M, 5/12, OR

[edit] Census 1880, June 8

Lane Co, OR; Mohawk Twp, p 205

J. M. Spores, 45, IL, ??, KY, farmer

M. C, wife, 47, MI, NY, NY, keeping house

M. A., dau, 24, OR, IL, MI, (mamed, crippled or bedridden)

Jno. H, son, 21, OR, IL, MI, farm laborer

G. W, son, 19, OR, IL, MI, farm laborer, partial paralysis

Mary F, dau, 18, OR, IL, MI

Saml A, son, 16, OR, IL, MI, att. school

Irene E, dau, 14, OR, IL, MI, att. school

Jas F, son, 12, OR, IL, MI, att. school

Charles M, son, 10, OR, IL, MI, att. school

Danl, son, 8, OR, IL, MI, att. school

Leila, dau, 6, OR, IL, MI, att. school

[edit] Census 1900

Lane Co, OR; Mohawk, p 175

Mary C. Spores, 67, IL, IL, IL, Wd

Arminda, dau, 44, OR, IL, IL, single

Irene E, dau, 34, OR, IL, IL, school teacher, single

Leila, dau, 26, OR, IL, IL, launderer, single

["Portrait & Biographical Record of the Willamette Valley Oregon." Chapman Publishing Company, 1903. p. 1125.]

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