Stevens, Welby

From Lane Co Oregon

Welby Stevens and his family owned a single story Bungalow up through the 1950s. Stevens was Mayor of Springfield in 1912 & 1913 and cast the deciding votes allowing Springfield to remain a "wet" town.


[edit] Centennial History of Oregon, 1811-1912

WELBY STEVENS. The present mayor of Springfield, Welby Stevens, is a representative of one of Lane county's first pioneer families and he still holds the title to a portion of the donation claim his grandfather Stevens filed on in this county sixty-five years ago. His life record began in 1872, on this old donation claim, which is located two miles north of Springfield, his parents being James A. and Emily F. (Greenwood) Stevens. The paternal grandparents were William M. and Hixey V. (Jones) Stevens, natives of Raleigh, North Carolina. They were married in North Carolina in 1828. but subsequently went to Tennessee, where Mrs. Stevens' parents had removed the year she was married. Later they located in Missouri, continuing to reside there until 1847 when they crossed the plains to Oregon with their ten children. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens were accompanied in their journey across the plains by the late Jacob Spores and his family, and upon their arrival in this state they all located at a small settlement in the vicinity of Salem. They reached this point in October. 1847, but very soon thereafter Mr. Spores came up the river and located on a claim north of what is now known as the Coburg bridge. It proved that this land was much more desirable than that on which he had previously settled and he communicated with Mr. Stevens, who left his family at the settlement and came on horseback to the Spores claim. He rode to the top of the butte overlooking the present site of the city of Springfield, and was so favorably impressed with the beauty of the valley as well as the soil. that he returned to Salem for his three eldest sons. He subsequently filed on a donation claim of six hundred and forty acres in the forks of the McKenzie and the Willamette rivers, and when he returned from Salem with his sons they immediately set about building a house, which was the first residence erected on this side of the river. It took Mr. Stevens and his sons the greater part of the winter to complete the house and fence three acres of ground, and they were not joined by the remainder of the family until in the "early spring. The family then numbered three daughters and seven sons, but early in 1849 occurred the birth of another daughter, Mandelia, who was one of the first white children to be born in Lane county. In order of birth the members of the family are as follows: Harrison, Ashley and Bee. all of whom are deceased; Isaac E., who is a resident of Eugene; James A., the father of our subject, who passed away on the 7th of March. 1904; William and Charles, who sre also deceased; Sarah J., the widow of the late George H. Armitage, of Eugene; Mary Ann. the widow of George W. Thompson, of San Francisco, California; Emeline, the wife of Green Linville, of Lake View, this state; and Mandelia, who died at the age of five years. The father, William M. Stevens, was accidentally killed on the 25th of May. 1860, while trying to catch a horse in the corral. He was survived for nearly twenty years by the mother, who died in September, 1879. In common with many of the pioneers in connection with the operation of his ranch. Mr. Stevens engaged in various other occupations that afforded immediate financial returns. During the famous gold strike in California in 1849, he operated a ferry at the foot of the butte near the present location of the Charles Rivett residence. It was rather a crude affair, being made from two canoes lashed together with rawhide. At the same time his two eldest sons operated a ferry on the McKenzie river, about the vicinity of the Coburg bridge. Their boat was made from boards cut by the old whip- saw method, and in order to span the river they were forced to make a rope of raw hide, for which purpose they used five hides. They encountered the- usual hardships and misfortunes experienced by all people who locate on the frontier and met with innumerable discouragements and backsets. Feed was very scarce the first year they lived here, so they turned their hogs out to feed on the Camas that grew in abundance over the ground where Springfield is now located. They had the misfortune to lose the entire herd, and always supposed them to have been the victims of the wolves and cougars. On the 22d of November, 1868, James A. Stevens, the father of our subject, was united in marriage to Miss Emily F. Greenwood, the eldest daughter of Harvy and Eveline Greenwood, who emigrated to Oregon in 1852, locating in Linn county. They were the parents of seven children, Mrs. Stevens being the second in order of birth. The others are as follows: J. L., who is a resident of Ashland, Oregon; Alice, the widow of John O. Bolch, of Coburg, Oregon; George, who makes his home in Wallowa county; Ira, who is night traffic manager of the Western Union Telegraph Company, of Portland; Addie, the wife of B. K. Riemenschneider of Springfield; and Frank, who lives in Enterprise, Oregon. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens had three children. Len L.. the eldest, who is now deceased, graduated from the University of Oregon, and then pursued a law course at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Following his admission to the bar he engaged in practice in partnership with George A. Dorris of Eugene, until his death on the 26th of October, 1910. Welby, the subject of this sketch is next in order of birth and the only daughter of the family, Maggie, married Mack L. Sommerville of Eugene, Oregon, and both are now deceased. The mother is still living and continues to make her home in Springfield. After completing his course in the public schools of Lane county, Welby Stevens continued his education in the University of Oregon, which he attended for four years. He subsequently returned to the home ranch, of which he assumed entire charge after his marriage at the age of twenty-six years. In 1902, he withdrew from farm work and coming to Springfield engaged in the hardware business for a year, but owing to the state of his father's health he disposed of his store at the end of that time and returned to the ranch. At that time it contained one hundred and fifty acres, all under cultivation, and for six years thereafter, Mr. Stevens gave his undivided attention to supervising and directing its operation. In 1909, he disposed of one hundred acres of this, but he still retains the title to the remaining fifty, this being the only portion of the old Stevens' donation claim still in possession of the family. He retired from agricultural pursuits in March, 1910, and removed to Springfield with his family. At Coburg, this county, on the 23d of November, 1898, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Stevens and Miss Ida E. Goodale, a daughter of J. C. and Ida E. (Pulver) Good- ale, natives of the state of New York. They came to Oregon in 1880, locating at Coburg, where the father owned and operated the largest sawmill and lumber plant in Lane county until 1900. Mrs. Stevens is the youngest of the four children born to her parents. In order of birth the others are as follows: James C. and Charles C., who are merchants at Woodburn; and William D.. who passed away on the 28th of October, 1911. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens are the parents of two children: Lawrence J., who was born on the 16th of January, 1902; and Helen E., whose birth occurred on January 19, 1904. They are both attending school. Mrs. Stevens, who was only a child when her parents located at Coburg, received her education in Lane county. Fraternally Mr. Stevens is a member of Eugene Lodge, No. 33, K. of P.; Springfield Camp, No. 247, W. O. W.; and the Knights and Ladies of Security, also of Springfield. He is a democrat in politics and has always taken an active interest in municipal affairs. While engaged in the hardware business in Springfield he represented his ward in the city council, and after his return in the fall of 1910 he was again elected to the same body. He was subsequently appointed by the council to fill out the unexpired term of the former mayor, W. M. Sutton, who had resigned, and at the next election in December, 1911, he was the successful candidate for the same office, his term expiring in two years. Mr. Stevens is very progressive in his ideas and has high standards of citizenship, while his integrity and loyalty to his duties are above question, all of which unite in making him a most able and efficient official in every sense of the word. As he has passed his entire life in this immediate vicinity he is widely known, as was his family before him, and has hosts of friends who hold him in the highest esteem and regard him as a most worthy representative of an honored pioneer family.

[edit] Eugene Daily Guard, August 17, 1911

Welby Stevens Now Mayor of Springfield

Guad Special Service.

Springfield, Or. Aug. 17- The city council has appointed W. Crson a member of the common council to fill the place of Welby Stevens who has been appointed as temporary Mayor to fill the unexpired term of Hon. W.M. Sutton who has resigned to go to Eastern Oregon where he will teach school.


The prosperity in Springfield regardless of the mill fire is characterized by the fact that six new houses have been erected in the new addition since the destruction of the mill. This is in the Douglas gardens.

[edit] Daily Eugene Guard, January 23, 1912

Daily Eugene Guard (1912), January 23 newspaper clip.

[edit] 1910 Census

Stevens, Welby, Male. Age 38. Head of household. Oregon, Missouri, Illinois. Occupation: Farmer.

Ida E. Female, Age 31. Wife. Michigan, New York, New York.

Lawrence, Male, Age 8. Son. Born in Oregon, Father born in Oregon, Mother born in Michigan.

Helen, Female, Age 6. Daughter. Born in Oregon, Father born in Oregon, Mother born in Michigan.

[edit] 1919, Lawyers' Reports Annotated By Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company


WELBY STEVENS, Exr., etc., of James A. Stevens, Deceased, Appt, v. ANNA CARROLL, Admx., etc., of M. L. Sommerville, Deceased, Respt.

RE ESTATE OF JAMES A. STEVENS, Deceased. (64 Or. 417, 129 Рас. 1044.) Will — remainder — vesting — death of remainderman.

A bequest of money to be derived from sale of real estate upon death of a life tenant vests upon death of testator, and will not lapse on the death of the legatee in the lifetime of the life tenant. For other cases, see Will», III. g, I, in Dig. 1-5% N.S. (February 18, 1913.)

APPEAL by the executor from an order of the Circuit Court for Lane County affirming an order of the County Court refusing to discharge him in a proceeding for the settlement of the final account of the estate of James A. Stevens, deceased, upon objections filed thereto by a legatee. Affirmed.

Statement by McBride, Ch. J.:

James A. Stevens died, leaving a will which contains, among others, the following provisions : "I hereby give, devise and bequeath unto my wife, Emily F. Stevens, all my real estate wheresoever situate to have, possess and use during the lifetime of said Emily F. Stevens, and after the death of said Emily F. Stevens, my said wife, I hereby direct, give and devise unto my son Lenn L. Stevens the 75-acre tract of land to become the absolute property of said Lenn L. Stevens upon the death of my said wife, Emily F. Stevens. ... I hereby give and bequeath unto my daughter Maggie Sommerville the sum of two thousand ($2,000) dollars to be paid upon the death of my said wife Emily F. Stevens and to be paid out of proceeds that may be derived from my home place consisting of about 150 acres in Lane county, Oregon, where I am now living. If my son Welby Stevens so desires he can pay said two thousand ($2,000) dollars out of his private, individual funds at or before the death of my said wife Emily F. Stevens instead of paying said sum out of proceeds

Note. — For discussion of the question whether a testamentary gift in the form of a direction to pay, to divide, or to convey is contingent on survival of the time of payment or conveyance, and for references to annotations on related questions, see annotation following this case, post, 1097. to be derived from my borne place. . . . I give, devise and bequeath unto my son Welby Stevens my home place consisting of about 150 acres in Lane county, Oregon, to become and be his property absolutely upon the death of my said wife Emily F. Stevens, and upon payment of said $2,000 as above."

Subsequent to the death of the testator, Maggie Sommerville died, and, later, her husband M. L. Sommerville died, both without issue. Emily Stevens, the wife of the testator, still survives. Welby Stevens, the executor of the will, filed his final account, and asked to be discharged. Anna Carroll, administratrix of the estate of M. L. Sommerville, resisted the application for a discharge, on the ground that the estate of M. L. Sommerville had a vested interest in the $2,000 bequeathed to Maggie, his wife, in her father's will, which, by the terms of said will, the executor was directed to pay, and that he should be required, for that purpose, to continue in his office until the death of Emily Stevens and the payment of the legacy. From an order of the county court refusing to discharge the executor, he appealed to the circuit court, which sustained the order of the county court; and from this decision the executor appeals to this court. Mr. George B. Dorrls, for appellant: A legacy of money, or other personal property, must be certain and identified particularly, during the life of the testator.

Noon's Estate, 49 Or. 293, 88 Рас. 673, 00 Рас. 673 ; Sterbuck v. Starbuck, 93 N. C. 185; 2 Woerner, Am. Law of Administration, 2d ed. § 444; Vincent v. Newhouse, 83 N. Y. 610.

If the legacy to Maggie Sommerville is not void, it became an equitable charge upon the land devised to Welby Stevens. 2 Woerner, Am. Law of Administration, 2d ed. § 491; Powers v. Powers, 28 Wie. 661; McCorn v. McCorn. 100 N. Y. 513; Frampton v. Blume. 12!) Mass. 155; Wertz's Appeal, 69 Pa. 173; Watson v. McLench, 57 Or. 452, 110 Рас. 482, 112 Рас. 416.

The acceptance of a devise, charged with the payment of a legacy, binds the devisee to carry the legacy into effect. 2 Woerner, Am. Law of Administration, 2d ed. § 491; Porter v. Jackson, 95 IncL 214. 48 Am. Rep. 704; Tigner v. McGehee, 60 Miss. 191; Lovejoy v. Raymond. 58 Vt. 503. 2 Atl. 157. When the payment of a legacy is mule a condition of the devise, its acceptance creates, in addition to the liability of the land devised, a personal liability to the legatee, which may be enforced without resorting to the land, the lien still remaining as security. 2 Woerner, Am. Law of Administration, 2d ed. § 491, p. 1198; Porter v. Jackson, 96 Ind. 210, 48 Am. Rep. 704.

Where there is no gift, but a direction to the executor or trustee to divide or pay at a future time, the vesting will not take place until that time. Re Hoadley, 101 Fed. 236.

The subject of the gift was not to come into existence until the prescribed contingency, the death of Emily F. Stevens. Vincent v. Newhouse, 83 N. Y. 511; Clark v. Cammann, 160 N. Y. 327, 54 N. E. 709; Delafield v. Shipman, 103 N. Y. 463, 9 N. E. 184. Messrs.

Woodcock & Smith and Potter & Bryson, for respondent: The legacy of Maggie Sommerville was a vested legacy, the time of payment being deferred, and, being vested, passed to her heirs and legal representatives at her death. Warren v. Hembree, 8 Or. 118; Johnson v. Baker, 7 N. C. (3 Murph.) 318, 9 Am. Dec. 605; Pond v. Allen, 15 R. I 172, 2 Atl. 302; American .Cannel Coal Co. v. Clemens, 132 Ind. 163, 31 N. E. 786; Fairly v. Kline, 3 N. J. L. 754, 4 Am. Dec. 414*; Cropley v. Cooper, 19 Wall. 167, 22 L. ed. 109; Birdsall v. Hewlett, 1 Paige, 32, 19 Am. Dec. 392; 18 Am. A Eng. Ene. Law, 2d ed. 749, 750; 19 Am. & Eng. Ene. Law, 2d ed. 1369; Goebel v. Wolf, 10 Am. St. Hep. 464, and notes, 113 N. Y. 405, 21 N. E. 388.

McBride, Ch. J., delivered the opinion of the court: It is conceded that if under the terms of the will, the bequest to Maggie Sommerville became a vested legacy upon the death of her father, the decree of the circuit court is correct. If the legacy did not become vested upon the death of the testator, then it has lapsed, and there is no reason why the executor should not be discharged. 1, 2. We are of the opinion that the legacy became vested upon the death of the testator. A legacy or interest created by devise should always be construed as vested rather than contingent. Winslow v. Rutherford, 59 Or. 124, 114 Рас. 930.

A vested estate is an estate where there is a person in being who would have an immediate right to the possession of the lands, upon the ceasing of some intermediate or precedent estate. See Words and Phrases, title "Vested Estate," and cases there cited. It seems clear that, upon the death of the testator, Maggie Sommerville had an immediate right to the legacy bequeathed to her, subject only to the termination of her mother's interest in the property. "Where real or personal estate is devised or bequeathed to a person, and though the vesting in right or interest, at first sight, appears to depend upon the attainment of a given age, or upon the arrival or occurrence of an event or time which is sure to happen or arrive, or, in the case of residuary bequest without any limitation over, upon marriage, yet if the attainment of such age or the arrival or occurrence of such event or time does not form part of the original description of the devisee or legatee, and the suspensive expressions are of such a nature that they may be construed to refer not to the vesting in right or interest, but to the vesting in possession or enjoyment, and it appears from the form of the limitation, when more closely considered, or from the intermediate disposition of the property, or from other passages, to be probable that it was only intended to delay the vesting in possession or enjoyment, in such case, the suspensive expressions will be referred to the vesting in possession or enjoyment, and the interest of the devisee or legatee will be actually vested in right before the age or period specified." Smith, Executory Interests, § 309. In Jackson v. Jackson, 1 Ves. Sr. 217, 27 Eng. Reprint, 992, a father bequeathed to his son ¿400, to be paid to him at the end of one year after the testator's death, and a further sum of £100, to be paid to him at the death of his mother. The son died before the mother. The court held that he took a vested interest in the £100, saying that the legacy was plainly vested, though the time of payment was postponed. See also Warren v. Hembree, 8 Or. 118; Wins- low v. Rutherford, supra, and cases there cited. Fairly v. Kline, 3 N. J. L. 754, 4 Am. Dec. 414, is in point upon this proposition, in which case a testator directed his lands to be sold after his wife's death, and the proceeds to be divided among hie children. One of the children died before the mother, and it was held that the legacy became vested, and that the husband of the child so dying became entitled to the legacy as the administrator of his wife. In that case, the court says : "It is certain that legacies charged upon land are subject to different rules from those charged upon the personal estate only. If a legacy charged upon personal estate only be given unconditionally, and dependent upon no future contingency, then, though the day of payment be postponed, as if it be to be paid when the legatee attains the age of twenty- one years, or marries, or other contingency happens, yet, if the legatee die before that day, his representatives shall take. It is a vested legacy. It cannot fall. But if such legacy be charged upon land in the hands of the heir, and that whether it be the hœres natus or the lucres factus, and the legatee died before the day of payment, it will not go to bis representatives, but will merge in the land for the benefit of the heirs. This is the general rule. But then there is an exception to this rule, as well settled at this day as the rule itself. It is this: That when the payment is postponed merely for the convenience and benefit of the estate and family, and not on account of considerations relative to the legatee himself, then, though the legatee die before the day of payment, yet the legacy shall not merge for the benefit of tlie heirs, but shall go to the representative.

It is a vested legacy." The same rule is announced in Cropley v. Cooper, 19 Wall. 167, 22 Ъ. ed. 109; Pond v. Allen, 15 R. I. 171, 2 Atl. 302. In the case at bar, as in those last citent the legacy is given absolutely. Its payment is postponed for no reason personal to or in the interest of the legatee, but solely for the benefit of the widow. For these reasons, we hold that the right to receive this legacy became vested in Maggie Sommerville upon the death of her father, and descended to her husband at her death, and that, upon his death, this right passed to his representatives. The decree of the circuit court is affirmed. Petition for rehearing denied March 25, 1913.

[edit] Obituary

Welby Stevens, 73, former Lane County assessor, died Wednesday morning at his home in Springfield, following illness of several months.

He was a native of Lane county, a member of a pioneer family of the area. He was born January 6, 1872, on the Stevens donation land claim, the son of James A. and Emily Stevens. His grandfather, William Stevens, came from Missouri to settle here in 1847, crossing the McKenzie river of Christmas day of that year. The original homesite was where teh state game farm is located and part of the original grant still remains in the family after 98 years.

Stevens was mong the early students of the University of Oregon. He was married in 1898 toIda Goodale of Coburg, who bore a son and daughter. She died in 1916. He was married a second time in 1927, to Mrs. Grace Roberts of Springfield, who survives.

Mr. Stevens was active in community affairs, serving as mayor of Springfield from 1912 until 1920. He was president of the Commercial State bank in Springfield from 1924 until its closure in 1932. He had held the office of assessor for 10 years, from 1935 until 1945.

He is survived by his wife; his daughter, Mrs. Larry F. Clemenson, two grandchildren, PFC Ida Mast in the women's army corps stationed at Midlands, Tex. and Lawrence Moore, seaman 2-c, at Bainbridge, Md.

Larry Clemenson passed away on August 4, 1983 at the age of 76. Grandson Lawrence married Dorothy E. Ward of Springfield who died August 16, 2002 and Larry passed away on June 6, 2006 at the age of 80, sixteen hours before his 81st birthday.

Funeral services will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at the Phil Bartholomew Mortuary in Springfield. Rev. Claude O'Brien of- [ended]

Mayors of Springfield
Albert S. Walker (1885-1886) • S.I. Lee (1887) • Albert S. Walker (1888) • Simon Tuttle (1888-1889) • T.O. Maxwell (1889) • Albert S. Walker (1889-1890) • Albert Wheeler (1890-1892) • L. Gilstrap (1892-1893) • Albert Wheeler (1893) • J H Van Schoich (1893-1894) • Albert Wheeler (1894-1895) • Eugene C Martin (1896-1899) • John B. Innis (1900-1902) • H.A. Skeels (1902-1903) • R.A. Jayne (1903-1907) • Mark M. Peery (1907-1909) • W.M. Sutton (1909-1911) • Welby Stevens (1911-1913) • Charles L. Scott (1913-1915) • Elmer E. Morrison (1915-20) • Charles F. Eggiman (1921-1924) • George G. Bushman (1925-1929) • Charles O. Wilson (1929) • Wilfrid P. Tyson (1930-1934) • Ernest H. Turner (1934-1935) • W.A. Taylor (few minutes, November 27, 1935) • Ed Waltman (1935-1936) • William H. Pollard (1936-1940) • Charles Chandler (1940-1945) • Claude T. Gerlach (1945-1949) • B.P. Larson (1949-1953) • Edward C. Harms, Jr. (1953-1961) • B.J. Rogers (1961-1965) • David L. Scofield (1965-1967) • John E. McCulley (1967-1970) • William MorrissetteMaureen MaineSid Leiken
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