Tales of Pioneers
Dr. and Mrs. J. McCully Crossed the Plains to Oregon in 1851.
Mrs. McCully Had Distinction of Being Second
White Woman in Jacksonville.
The distinction of being the second white woman in Jacksonville, with all the honors and difficulties the position implied, belonged to Mrs. Jane Mason McCully, wife of Dr. J. W. McCully and mother of Miss Issie McCully of this city. The chivalry and respect inevitably shown by frontiersmen to the first white women appearing around them has become almost proverbial and was usually well deserved. Even with this wealth of consideration to brighten her lot, who can properly appraise the sacrifices uncomplainingly made and hardships bravely met and endured by women of education and refinement, such as Mrs. McCully, in coming to the then-unformed western wilderness? A descendant as she was of a family from a part of Scotland famed for its fervent and religious teachings and observances, the free and easy atmosphere of a pioneer mining camp must in itself have been a severe shock. Mrs. McCully, however, appears to have always made the best of any situation in which she was placed and performed her full share in the upbuilding of the community. For a time with only one white friend of her own sex to rely upon for comfort and aid, she fearlessly faced the danger of famine, dread of hostile Indians, and the countless hardships which pioneer life entailed with unbroken resolution and a cheerfulness of spirit that was an inspiration to her companions.
For a short time after arriving in Oregon Mrs. McCully acted as instructor in a private school at Salem, and in later years opened a similar institution in Jacksonville. A pioneer paper published at the time devotes considerable space to a description of a school entertainment given by Mrs. McCully's pupils, and the names of Mrs. Beekman, Mrs. Kate Hoffman, Wm. Bybee and other well-known people appear in the list of pupils taking part.
Among many other accomplishments, Mrs. McCully was a poet of no mean ability and was the author of many poems of merit, among which is a song dedicated to and adopted by the Pioneer Society of Southern Oregon, of which organization she was a member.
The following brief biographical sketch of Dr. and Mrs. McCully is taken from old newspaper clippings and a copy of resolutions of respect adopted years ago by the pioneers' association and treasured as heirlooms by surviving members of the family:
"Dr. J. W. McCully was born in New Brunswick, May 22nd, 1821. In 1822 his parents moved to Ohio, where they remained until 1844. From that time till 1851 they resided in Iowa and then moved to Oregon. From 1852 to 1862, Dr. McCully was a resident of Jacksonville, Oregon. The succeeding five years he visited Idaho, Montana and St. Louis, at the latter place taking a course in a medical college. He also studied medicine and became a practitioner during his residence in Iowa. From 1868 to 1878 he was purser on the Willamette River steamers, and was a resident of Joseph since the year 1880. He was a member of the last Oregon territorial legislature, representing Jackson County in that body. Dr. McCully was honored by a large acquaintance throughout this state, and it is only a just tribute to his virtues to say that his death occasioned much sorrow. Among the Masonic fraternity, an order to which he gave much attention, he was honored with high positions and was universally esteemed. When a good man dies, the highest tribute that can be paid to his memory is the truth that his death was sincerely mourned by all who knew him. This can be said without exaggeration concerning the deceased.
"Jane Mason McCully was a brilliant example of high endeavors and brilliant accomplishments. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 31st, 1824, and was baptized in the old kirk in which Robert Burns, her favorite poet, lived [sic]. Leaving Scotland with her parents she landed in New York in the year 1831, remaining there but a short time and removing thence to Indiana in the same year. From Indiana the family went to Iowa in 1843, in which state she was married to John W. McCully in 1848. With her husband she crossed the plains in 1851, arriving at Salem, Oregon in the fall of that year. From Salem she came to Jackson County in 1852, where she resided until her death."
A resolution of condolence adopted by the Pioneer Society of Southern Oregon at the time of her death has the following to say of Mrs. McCully's character:
"In the death of Mrs. McCully we have lost a faithful member of our society, a genial and intelligent companion and friend, and the beloved ones an indulgent mother. May we try to emulate her virtues and cherish her memory. She was a woman loved and respected by all classes of the community and dearly loved and sincerely mourned by those who knew her best, and we feel that a delightful presence has been exchanged for a beautiful memory."
Jacksonville Post, July 17, 1920, page 1
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It is now ordered that Dr. John W. McCully be and is hereby appointed Justice of the Peace for the Precinct of Jacksonville to act as such until a Successor be elected and qualified and it is further ordered that Hiram Abbott be and is hereby appointed Justice of the Peace for the aforesaid Precinct to act as such until a Successor be elected and qualified as aforesaid, both of said Justices so appointed being present are duly sworn into office, the Bonds of said Justices having been severally approved by the Board.
Jackson County Commissioners' Journals, March 7, 1853
FIRE.--The Sentinel says the residence of Dr. McCully, at Jacksonville, was destroyed by fire on the 26th ult. The family had barely time to escape, and did not save even their clothing. Loss reported at $2,000.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 25, 1859, page 2
From the Unionist:
J. W. McCully, the accommodating pursuer on the Reliance, will this week go into the P.T. Co.'s office at this place and assist Mr. Church, so that gentleman will have an opportunity to rest awhile in July and August.
"State Items," Corvallis Gazette, June 12, 1869, page 2
Miss Mollie McCully's private school closed with appropriate exercises last Friday.
"Local Brevities," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 3, 1875, page 3
Miss Mollie McCully's school reopened with a fair attendance last Monday.
"Local Brevities," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 14, 1876, page 3
Miss Issie McCully has opened a variety store one door west of Ryan's brick.
"Local Brevities," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 19, 1876, page 3
Mrs. McCully will have a substantial stone sidewalk laid in front of her residence.
"Brief Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 19, 1877, page 3
Mrs. J. M. McCully will erect a substantial frame building in the west corner of her lot fronting on California Street.
"Brief Reference," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 20, 1879, page 3
Mrs. H. E. Chambers, the well-known dressmaker, will take possession of the building she recently purchased of Mrs. J. M. McCully in a few days. The lease of the ground for three years, with the privilege of two more, is included in the purchase price, $400.
"Brief Reference," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 13, 1881, page 3
Mrs. J. M. McCully of this place is finishing a ribbon quilt that will have over 2,500 pieces in it.
"Brief Reference," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 17, 1881, page 3
Dr. McCully, formerly of this place, has been reappointed deputy sheriff of Klickitat County, W.T.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 16, 1883, page 3
AN OLD PIONEER.--Relatives in this city yesterday received intelligence of the death of Dr. J. W. McCully at Joseph, Wallowa County, at the age of 61 years. Dr. McCully was well and favorably known all through this valley as purser on several of the steam boats in former times and a man who always had a jolly greeting for everybody. He was also a prominent Freemason and was the founder of the Masonic lodge at Joseph. He was a brother of David McCully, of this city, and several of his nephews and nieces reside here who are among our most esteemed citizens. His death takes another from among the band of old pioneers that nursed Oregon to its greatness.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 26, 1889, page 4
DR. J. W. McCULLY.--The Wallowa Chieftain pays the following tribute to the well-remembered pioneer whose death was mentioned in these columns a few days ago: "Dr. J. W. McCully was born in New Brunswick, May 22nd, 1821. In 1822 his parents moved to Ohio, where they remained until 1844. From that time until 1851 they resided in Iowa and then moved to Oregon. From 1852 to 1862 Dr. McCully was a resident of Jacksonville in this state. The succeeding five years he visited Idaho, Montana and St. Louis, at the latter place taking a course in a medical college. He also studied medicine and became a practitioner during his residence in Iowa. From 1868 to 1878 he was a purser on the Willamette River steamers, and has been a resident of Joseph since the year 1880. He was a member of the last Oregon territorial legislature, representing Jackson County in that body. Dr. McCully was honored by a large acquaintance throughout this state, and it is only a just tribute to his virtues to say that his death will occasion much sorrow. Among the Masonic fraternity, an order to which he gave much attention, he has been honored with high positions and was universally esteemed. When a good man dies, the highest tribute that can be paid to his memory is the truth that his death was sincerely mourned by all who knew him. This can be said without exaggeration concerning the deceased."
Oregon Statesman, Salem, January 30, 1889, page 4
J. Nunan has rented the McCully building on the corner of Third and California streets, and will fill it with sugar, salt, flour, etc., which he is receiving by the carload. His growing business demands more room.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 11, 1891, page 3
Death of J. W. Mason.
Mrs. J. M. McCully yesterday received a telegram announcing the death of her brother, Hon. J. W. Mason, who died at his home in Indiana that day. The cause of his death was not given, but he must have died rather suddenly, as a letter had been received from him but a short time since giving the information that he would attend the Midwinter Fair and also visit Jacksonville. Mr. Mason was one of the prominent lawyers and Democratic politicians of the city in which he lived, and had amassed a goodly share of the world's goods. He was highly respected by all who knew him.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 4, 1894, page 3
Mrs. JANE McCULLY of Jacksonville left Wednesday morning for San Diego, where she will spend the winter. Mrs. McCully is one of the very earliest settlers of the valley, her son, James, being the first white child born in Jackson County.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, November 9, 1894, page 3
Death of a Native Son.
Another of the persons whose names are linked with the early history of Jacksonville and the Rogue River Valley has passed away., James Cluggage McCully,. [whose] death took place Monday at Fort Klamath, was a representative of a family who were well known in the pioneer town of Southern Oregon. His father, Dr. James W. McCully, and mother, Jane Mason McCully, came to Jacksonville in June, 1852. Dr. McCully at once identified himself with the progress of the town and in 1856 built the two-story brick building on Oregon Street which is now owned by the Odd Fellows. He afterward went to the Willamette Valley, where he became prominent in operating steamboat lines, and died in Salem several years ago. Mrs. McCully was prominent in the social life and activities of this place from the early days to her death in June, 1899. Her life was commemorated by many acts of generosity and her charitable disposition.--Jacksonville Sentinel.
Capital Journal, Salem, August 31, 1903, page 4
When gold was discovered in California, we decided to come out to the coast, but it was the spring of 1851 before we were able to get under way. We started from New London, about 18 miles from Burlington, Ia. John L. Starkey and Dr. John McCully, a brother of David McCully, came with us. Dave and Asa McCully had left in '49 for California. They went back to Illinois, and in 1852 they came out to Oregon. We settled here where Woodburn now is located.
J. L. Johnson, quoted by Fred Lockley, "In Earlier Days," Oregon Daily Journal, Portland, September 9, 1914, page 6
McCULLY REUNION JULY 4 EXPECTED TO ATTRACT MANY
HARRISBURG, July 1.--(Special.)--The reunion of the McCully Club to be held here July 4 is expected to be attended by members from far and wide. The McCullys figured prominently in the early history of this section of the state.
In 1852 four of the McCully brothers settled on donation claims east of and adjoining Harrisburg, though at that time no town had ever been planned. Other settlers had come a little earlier, two or three about 1848, and taken land in the prairie and foothills to the east. In 1852, however, the valley was settling up rapidly, and the Harrisburg district was one of the few left where claims could be taken in a bunch.
The McCully brothers were of Scotch ancestry and were born in New Brunswick, Canada, coming to Iowa in 1844, settling in Henry County. David and Asa McCully, the two who went into the mercantile business in Harrisburg, sold fanning mills in Iowa. In 1849 they went to California to seek gold, returning in a year or two to Iowa.
Another brother, Dr. J. W. McCully, had come to Oregon about that time, and it may have been through his influence that the others decided to move to Oregon. At any rate they made the trip across the plains, four brothers, in 1852.
A. A. McCully took a claim east of Harrisburg, where G. Reiling now lives, and built a house on it. David took a claim south of that. W. H. and Samuel took claims to the north, one where R. C. Huston now lives and the other on the Maxson land. Dr. McCully made his home at Jacksonville. A year later Mary McCully Love, a sister, came to Oregon and her husband took a claim a mile east of town.
The McCullys were not farmers when they came to Oregon, and it was not long before David and Asa decided to start a store here. Asa McCully went back to Philadelphia to get a stock of goods. It was shipped around the Horn and up the Columbia and Willamette rivers as far as Corvallis and hauled from there to Harrisburg with teams. Whether or not they had operated a store a little earlier with such goods as they could get here, J. J. McCully, a son of Asa, is uncertain. He thinks the store started in 1853.
In order to get closer to the store, which was located near the river, Asa McCully bought a strip of land from W. A. Forgey, and built a house on it. It was located near the residence of Mrs. Balmont but was torn down when the O.E. built into the town.
In 1863 he moved to Salem and worked as president of the People's Transportation Company, which operated a line of steamboats on the river. Death came at an advanced age. A vicious animal kicked him so badly that he died a few hours later. He was buried in the Masonic cemetery in Salem.
Asa McCully had four children, three of them living. J. D. resides in Portland, A. L. McCully in Portland, and Alice McCrane at Beverly Hills, Cal. The fourth child, Linnie Crosman, is deceased.
David McCully lived at Harrisburg until 1858, when he moved to Salem. He, too, was president of the transportation company at one time. He was the father of five children. Estelle Gilbert lives at Salem, and F. D. McCully at Joseph, Ore. Three are dead, John, Mary Creighton and Alfred.
W. H. McCully farmed his claim and then moved to town. Later he went to Salem and worked with the steamboat company. He is buried in that city. He had three children, F. D., Emma Coshow and Elsie. The second named lives at Brownsville.
Samuel McCully lived on what is known as the Charley Maxson place, though [it was] his homestead, for several years. He then moved to Southern Oregon for a while, coming back to Harrisburg later to farm again. He had three children, Delilah, Asa and John Fletcher, all deceased. The latter worked in the McCully store and then with another store here for many years. He spent his life at Harrisburg and died here.
Mary McCully Love and her husband lived on their donation claim just east of town for many years. Both are buried in the Masonic cemetery here. She was the mother of six children, of whom two are living: Douglas Love and Alice Belmont, both residing at Harrisburg; Mary Louisa Maxson, Emma Frances Love, John D., Carrie Gertrude Lister.
Eugene Guard, July 1, 1932, page 5
ISSIE McCULLY FUNERAL RITES 1 P.M. TUESDAY
Services for Miss Issie McCully, 85, known to all as "Aunt Issie," will be held in the Conger-Morris chapel at 1 p.m. Tuesday, with the Rev. Lawrence Mitchelmore officiating. Interment will be in Jacksonville cemetery.
Her parents, the late Dr. John McCully, who practiced medicine for a time in Jacksonville, and her mother, Jane Mason McCully, who taught school in her home, known as the McCully home, came to Jacksonville in 1852. Miss McCully was born Dec. 16, 1859, and nearly her entire life had been spent in the "McCully home." For six years she was in Eugene, 1900 to 1906, while her nephew, George Merritt, was attending the University. Her brother, James Cluggage McCully, who was the first white boy born in Jacksonville, preceded her in death.
She was a life member and the oldest living past matron of the Jacksonville chapter of Eastern Star. She attended finishing school at the Willamette University, Salem, in the late '70s and had been a member of the Presbyterian Church since then.
She is survived by a nephew, George H. Merritt, Jacksonville.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 31, 1944, page 8
Last revised April 29, 2019