William Austin Starkweather

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William Austin Starkweather

Birthdate: (83)
Birthplace: Preston, New London, Connecticut, United States
Death: April 22, 1905 (83)
Oak Grove, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
Place of Burial: Clackamas, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Leonard Starkweather and Lydia Spicer Starkweather
Husband of Eliza Starkweather
Father of Lydia Jane Starkweather; John Hugh Starkweather; Eliza Ellen Whipple; William Lincoln Starkweather; Mary Marie Starkweather and 3 others
Brother of John Leander Starkweather; Marcia Averill Pendleton; Henry Howard Starkweather; Lydia Maria Starkweather; John Leonard Starkweather and 2 others

Managed by: Alice Zoe Marie Knapp
Last Updated:

About William Austin Starkweather

  William A. Starkweather, pioneer of 1850, died at his home near Concord station, Or., April 22.  He was born near Preston City, Conn., February 16,1 823.  At the age of 24 he moved to Ohio, where he spent three years working on a farm in the Summer time and teaching school in the Winter months.  In 1850 he journeyed to California on the overland route. After spending a few weeks in the mining districts he came to Oregon by water.  His first work in Oregon was teaching in a school district near Molalla.  In 1853 he was married to Eliza Gordon.  He served in the Territorial Legislative sessions of 1854 and 1856, was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1857, and a member of the State Legislative sessions of 1860, 1866, 1870 and 1878.  He was a State Senator in 1880 and 1882, and served as Register of the United States Land Office at Oregon City from 1881 until 1885.  Though past 83 years of age at the time of his death, he took an active interest in public affairs.
  He leaves a wife and four children, Mrs. Ella Whipple, of Canby, Or.; W. L. Starkweather, of Portland; N. G. Starkweather, of Milwaukie, and Mrs. Ida Derry, of Damascus, Or.

Source: May 7, 1905; Oregonian, p 36 "Passing of a Pioneer"



On the pages of Oregon's history the name of William A Starkweather is indelibly inscribed, and close investigation into his record serves but to heighten his fame and to impress one with the value and worth of his public service. He came to Oregon in 1850 and was largely connected with the work of formulating the policy of the state as a member of the territorial legislature, as a member of the state constitutional convention, and later as the representative of his district in both houses of the general assembly.

Descended from New England ancestry William A. Starkweather was born near Preston City, Connecticut, February 16, 1822. His youthful days were unmarked by events of special importance. At different times he has lived in various sections of the country and it was characteristic of him that he gained broad knowledge of the different localities in which he lived and from every experience in life learned the lesson that it contained. Starting westward, he remained for some time in the vicinity of Cumberland, Maryland, and in the central southern counties of Pennsylvania—Bedford and Somerset counties. He was about twenty-four years of age when he went to Ohio and spent three years as teacher in the schools of Lockland and Reading and in that vicinity—about ten miles from Cincinnati. The summer months were largely devoted to farm work and the winter seasons to school teaching. The discovery of gold in California, however, proved to him more enticing than the opportunities of Ohio and the Mississippi valley and in 1850 he traveled westward to the Pacific coast, making the long and arduous journey over the prairies of Indiana, Illinois and the district west of the Mississippi until he reached the arid plains and the mountains. Day after day he traveled slowly on until he reached his destination. He then spent about three months in unsuccessful mining and in the fall of 1850 made his way by water to Oregon. Taking up his abode in Clackamas county, he lived there during the greater part of the time until his life's labors were ended in death. His first work in this state was in teaching school in a district near Molalla.

He made arrangements for having a home of his own by his marriage in1853 to Miss Eliza Gordon. As the years passed various pursuits claimed his time and energies. He followed farming, and also engaged successfully in teaching school. His days were always filled with business duties but the careful management of his interests brought him a substantial measure of success as the years passed by. His fellow townsmen, also recognizing his worth and ability, called him to public office. He served in the territorial legislature during the sessions of 1854 and 1856 and in 1857 was chosen as one of the representatives of his district in the constitutional convention. There his practical judgment and his keen insight enabled him to look beyond the exigencies of the moment to the possibilities of the future and he labored not only for the present welfare of his state but also with the hope that the convention might give to Oregon a constitution which would serve as a safe foundation for its future prosperity, political integrity and progress. The ability and loyalty which he displayed in office made him again and again the choice of his fellow townsmen for positions of public trust. He was elected to the legislature of 1860, 1866, 1870 and 1878 but still further honors awaited him, for in 1880 he was chosen state senator. He had previously served as register of the United States land office at Oregon City from 1861 until 1865.

Though he had passed the eighty-third milestone on life's journey at the time of his death, he still took an active interest in public affairs. Unlike many men who reach an advanced age his thoughts were not retrospective. He continued to live actively in the present and not in the past and to the close of his days there was accorded to him the precious prize of keen mentality. He kept in touch with the onward march of progress and his broad experience as a legislator, and his deep interest in all that touched the welfare of the state, made his opinions practical, far-reaching and beneficial. His life was indeed a useful one and the public service of few Oregon men has extended over a longer period, while none has been more faultless in honor, fearless in conduct or stainless in reputation. In manner he was particularly free from ostentation or display. He believed that each individual should be judged by his true worth and he was ever content with conscientious duty well performed. He did not seek the plaudits of the multitude but in every act of his public life sought to so perform his labors that they should result not only for present but also for permanent good.

No history of Mr. Starkweather would be complete without mention of his wife, Mrs. Eliza Gordon Starkweather, who, still surviving him, is one of the honored pioneer women of the state. She was born near Vernon, Indiana, January 17, 1831, and in 1845 accompanied her father's family on their removal to Independence, Missouri, where they spent the winter. In the spring they resumed their westward travel and in the fall of 1846, after a long and wearisome journey across the plains, arrived in Oregon. Mrs. Starkweather was a daughter of Hugh Gordon, who took for his donation claim one of the since famous four corners of Molalla. Here on the 22d of September, 1853, his daughter Eliza gave her hand in marriage to William A. Starkweather. Though now nearly eighty years of age she is still hale and hearty and much of her time is spent in outdoor work, giving supervision to the interests of one of the largest poultry farms in the state, of which she is the owner.

Mrs. Starkweather is a sister of Harvey Gordon, who designed the seal for the state of Oregon and who was also the first state printer of Oregon. She has reared a family of five children and lost three children in childhood. Those who reached adult age are as follows: Ella is the wife of Gardner Whipple, of Canby, Oregon. W. L. Starkweather is connected with the mail service and lives at Concord, Oregon. H. G. Starkweather is a representative farmer living at Risley Station. Ida is the wife of George Derry, of Damascus, Oregon; and Victoria, who was a successful schoolteacher in this state for a number of years, died in 1890 at the age of twenty-four years. The mother, Mrs. Starkweather, has a wide acquaintance and all who know her are glad to call her friend. She ever shared in her husband's interests, was often his inspiration and always a faithful helpmate, and no history of this section of the state would be complete without extended mention of this worthy pioneer couple.

Source: Portland, Oregon, Its History and Builders, Volume 2. By Joseph Gaston, page 770-771

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William Austin Starkweather's Timeline

February 16, 1822
Preston, New London, Connecticut, United States
March 17, 1855
Age 33
Clackamas, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
November 23, 1856
Age 34
Clackamas, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
December 29, 1858
Age 36
Clackamas, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
November 17, 1860
Age 38
Molalla, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
March 9, 1864
Age 42
Clackamas, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
March 26, 1866
Age 44
Clackamas, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
June 20, 1868
Age 46
Clackamas, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
December 1870
Age 48
Clackamas, Clackamas, Oregon, United States
April 22, 1905
Age 83
Oak Grove, Clackamas, Oregon, United States