Spores, Jacob C

From Lane Co Oregon


All credit and honor is due to the worthy pioneer settlers who planted the seeds of civilization in the northwest, braving not only hardships and difficulties but dangers in establishing their homes upon the Pacific coast at a period when this region was much more thickly inhabited by Indians than by representatives of the white race. Among the pioneers were Jacob C. and Nancy (Orndorf) Spores, who arrived in Oregon in 1847. The former was born in Onondaga county, New York, July 23, 1795, and the latter in Logan county, Kentucky, in 1812. Mr. Spores was a son of Jacob Spores, a native of Germany, who when very young emigrated to America, settling on the Mohawk river. He lived to the remarkable old age of one hundred and fifteen years. In the veins of Mrs. Nancy Spores flowed the blood of German, Welsh and Scotch ancestry. Jacob Spores, Sr., followed the occupation of farming and to that pursuit his son Jacob C. Spores turned his attention. He had been educated in the public schools and from New York state he removed to Ohio, when the latter state was practically an unbroken wilderness. Subsequently he became a resident of Illinois, settling on the present site of the city of Bloomington, where he remained until he came to Oregon in 1847. He arrived in this state in September of that year and took up his abode about a mile south of where the city of Coburg now stands. As the party traveled westward they had no trouble with the Indians, for a Flathead Indian acted as their guide. Mr. Spores was captain of the train and the Indian was the interpreter for the company. Mr. Spores was well qualified to direct the party, for he had previously had some military experience, being a veteran of the War of 1812. He served under General Scott and participated in the battles of Lundys Lane, Sacket Harbor and other engagements until honorably discharged at the close of the war.

At length the journey to the northwest was accomplished in safety and Mr. Spores secured a donation claim of six hundred and forty acres, which he at once began to cultivate and improve. As the years passed he added to this until he was the owner of two thousand acres, largely devoted to stock-raising, chiefly cattle and horses. The unsettled country offered an excellent open range for the stock and the business was carried on successfully for a long period of years. With the work of general improvement Mr. Spores was also connected. He built the first ferry across the Mackenzie river and operated the line for many years, this being known as Spores Ferry.

Mr. Spores was married twice. On the 11th of August, 1816, he wedded Eliza Hand, of the state of New York, and to them were born the following named: Cornelia, born April 1, 1819; Eliza, October 1, 1821; Catharine, June 9, 1824; John and Esther, twins, September 1, 1826; Electa Ann, July 25, 1828; Jacob, May 17, 1831; Nancy, April 5, 1833; James Madison, May 19, 1835; and Martha J., November 20, 1836. Of these only one is now living, Nancy, who is the widow of William Griffith and makes her home in Dexter. The mother of these children having passed away Mr. Spores afterward wedded Mrs. Nancy (Orndorf) Trimmer, a daughter of Frederic and Mary Orndorf, the former of German and Scotch descent. Her parents were pioneers of Kentucky, whence they removed to Illinois, where both died. Her father was prominent in political affairs, as were his sons in Illinois. One of the sons, William, became a Presbyterian minister. Mrs. Spores was born in Kentucky and accompanied her parents on their removal to Illinois in early life. By her first marriage she had three children: Caturia, Malinda and William Frederic. The two daughters died In infancy but the son lived to manhood and married, although he has now passed away. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Spores were born four children. Lewis, born November 2, 1843, is now deceased. Henry, born February 6, 1846, is mentioned elsewhere in this work. Mary E., born November 17, 1848, probably the first white child born in Lane County, is the wife of William Bogard and lives near Coburg. Arminda, born April 25, 1851, was the youngest.

Mr. Spores held membership with the Masonic fraternity when in New York, being one of the first to join that order in the Empire state. His wife was a member of the Presbyterian church. He died in December, 1890, at the age of ninety-five and a half years, while Mrs. Spores passed away in March, 1891, aged seventy-nine and a half years. They were, indeed, worthy pioneer people of Oregon, widely known in the state and deserving of much credit for the part which they took in its early development.

Transcriber's additional notes:


[edit] Oregon Donation Land Claim # 1325

Jacob C. Spores, Lane Co, b 1795 Montgomery Co, NY; settled claim March 10, 1849, married Nancy June 29, 1842 in McClean Co, IL; affidavits by Wm. N. Griffith and Jacob Spores. 321.76 acres, Range 17S, Twp 3W, section 3.

[edit] Census 1840

McLean Co, IL, p 251

Jacob Spaur

1 m 20-30

1 m 30-40

3 f -5

1 f 5-10

1 f 10-15

1 f 20-30

[edit] Census 1850, Sept. 15

Linn Co, OR; p 65

Jacob C. Spores, 55, NY, farmer

Nancy, 38, KY

Jacob, 19, IL

Madison, 16, IL

Martha T, 14, IL

Wm. S, 13, IL

Louis, 7, IL

Henry, 5, IL

Mary E, 2, Or. Terr.

Matilda, 7, IL

Wm. Trimmer, 14, KY

[edit] Census 1860, August 1

Lane Co, OR; Williams Pct, p 282, Willamette Fork PO

Jacob C. Spores, 66, NY, farmer, $9000 / $4000

Nancy, 47, KY

Lewis, 16, IL, att. school

Henry, 14, IL, att. school

Mary E, 11, OR, att. school

A, 9, OR, att. school

[edit] Census 1870, July 25

Lane Co, OR; Willamette Twp, p 503

Jacob Spores, 75, NY, ferryman, $14,100 / $3000

Nancy, 57, KY, keeps house, $4800 real estate

Arminda, 18, OR

Wm. Trimmer, 33, IL, works on farm, $100 pers

[edit] Census 1880, June 1

Lane Co, OR; Willamette, p 201

J. C. Spores, 84, NY, NY, NY, farmer

Nancy, wife, 67, KY, MD, MD

A. W. Williams, s in l, 35, MD, NY, ??, farmer

Arminda, wife, 29, OR, NY, KY, housekeeper

Tessa A, gr dau, 7, OR, MD, OR

Millie T, gr dau, 1, OR, MD, OR

Hiram Herriott, 65, PA, PA, PA, farm laborer

[Gaston, Joseph. "The Centennial History of Oregon, 1811 - 1912." Vol. 4. Chicago, S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1912. p. 1000.]


This veteran and pioneer of Oregon was born in Montgomery county, New York, July 23, 1795, and arrived in Oregon September 5, 1847, coming that fall to Lane county, being the first settler in the portion of the county which we have denominated the McKenzie River Settlements, and where he still resides. At an early day Uncle Jake Spores and her ferry was known far and wide, while it is said of him that he had a peculiar faculty of carrying on satisfactory negotiations with the Indians in the neighborhood. Age is now naturally telling upon the good old man, but we see in him the remnants of a robust constitution and magnificent physique. He has been twice married; in the first instance to Miss Eliza Hand, August 11, 1816, and secondly to Mrs. Nancy Trimmer, June 20, 1842, by whom he has had a large family. A view of Mr. Spores' residence will be found in this work.

["Illustrated History of Lane County, Oregon." Portland, Oregon: A. G. Walling, publisher, 1884. pg. 481.]


Family of James Madison Spores, son of Jacob Spores who both arrived in Oregon on Sept. 5, 1847 (near the future Coburg). James married Mary Catherine Thomas, a pioneer of 1852 and established a home in the lower Mohawk Valley. Photo Courtesy Lane County Historian.

Jacob C. Spores was one of Lane County's first settlers, having arrived on September 5, 1847, taking up his donation land claim of 640 acres near the present town of Coburg on the McKenzie River. The only other white residents of the future Lane County were the Eugene Skinner family living six or seven miles away at the west end of Skinner's Butte and Elijah Bristow and a couple of his neighbors at Pleasant Hill who were awaiting the arrival of their families in the year to come. It is said that Spores was not aware of the presence of Skinner and it was by chance that they met for the first time during the following year (1848).

The Spores party consisted of his wife Nancy Orndorf Trimmer and their children: Eliza, Esther, Nancy, Martha Jane, James Madison, Lewis and Henry; also a son of Nancy by a previous marriage - William Frederic Trimmer. Jacob was captain of his wagon train, which had a successful journey across the plains via the Oregon Trail and the Barlow toll Road. They had no trouble with the Indians en route, for a Flathead Indian acted as guide and interpreter for the company.

Jacob Collyar Spores was born in Montgomery County, New York, in 1795 and fought in the defense of his state against the British in the war of 1812. In 1816 he married Eliza Hand.

The couple lived near the main wagon route to the west in New York State and Jacob was inspired to join the pioneers who were moving westward to conquer a new continent. Stopping briefly in Ohio, then a virgin wilderness, the family journeyed on to Winnebago County, Ill. Here his wife Eliza died in 1838, and in 1842 Jacob married a widow, Nancy Orndorf Trimmer, and three years later the family moved to St. Louis, Mo., where he organized a wagon train.

Because of his military and wartime experiences, Jacob was considered qualified to serve as captain of the wagon train. Upon arrival in Oregon and staking out his claim, with the help of his eldest son, James Madison Spores, he erected a log cabin near the site of the present Armitage bridge and Coburg. Regarding the river from the standpoint of utility, Jacob planned and operated the first ferry across the McKenzie and operated it for years.*

The origin of the names of two of Lane County's valleys-Mohawk and Camp Creek-is an interesting chapter in the early Spores history.

A band of Indians rode down Into the valley of Coburg one night and stole a herd of Jacob's horses, then disappeared eastward over the mountains. As soon as Jacob discovered the loss of his horses, he and a posse set out in pursuit. It was while trailing the Indians down out of the mountains, that the settlers discovered below them a beautiful valley, before this time unknown. Because of its similarity to the Mohawk, he had known as a boy, Jacob named it the Mohawk Valley.

Further pursuing the stolen horses, Jacob and the posse finally overtook the Indians, who were camped on a creek, and recovered the horses. To this day the area is known as Camp Creek, deriving its name from the Indian encampment.

Son, James Madison Spores, helped his father build the first family cabin, break the sod, herd the stock and operate the ferry. Neighbors of the Spores family were Jonathan and Jeanette Thomas, who had been their adjoining neighbors in Illinois and who came west in 1852. In that same year James Madison Spores and the Thomas' daughter, Mary Catherine, were married.

In 1857 James moved to a farm in the lower Mohawk Valley where he spent the rest of his life. The house is still standing and the couple has 48 living descendants (Nov. 1959). The farm, five miles northeast of Springfield on the McKenzie and Mohawk rivers, was unrivaled for location. The soil produced excellent crops of hops, grain and hay, while a large area was devoted to raising cattle and horses. James was so successful that he accumulated additional land until he owned and operated over a thousand acres.

Interested in good government for Lane County, James served as a county commissioner for several terms. He served on the jury continuously for 16 years.

A sister of James, daughter of Jacob, Mrs. Martha Jane Spores Mulligan, did much toward the founding of the county seat in Eugene City, after the creation of Lane County by the Territorial Legislature in January of 1851. Charnel and his wife donated 40 acres of their donation land claim to the county along with a like amount by Eugene Skinner. The present park blocks of the Courthouse Square are a memorial to the Mulligans, who gave the land for that purpose. Charnelton Street is named for Charnel Mulligan.

The home of Jacob Spores is still standing just across the present Armitage Bridge near Coburg. Behind it is Spores Butte, around which the new freeway cuts before crossing the McKenzie on two one-way concrete bridges. As a feature of the Oregon Centennial of statehood this year a large wooden marker was put up at the site of the old Spores Ferry.

After 102 years the James Madison Spores home on the Mohawk River is still kept in the spores name, Manlee A. Spores - one of Lane County 'Century Farms.' The large barn, still standing, was constructed in 1880 and served as a hub of community square dances and parties.

The pioneers recalled years later the barn warming celebration at the completion of the barn when the dancing and celebrating lasted three days and nights.

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