An Interview with
Sarah Jane (Ellis) Ervin,
Daughter of Calista Howell
Mrs. Ervin was interviewed in the Evergreen Community. She speaks intelligently of early times but her own recollections do not extend beyond 1875. She said:
"My father was Thomas Ellis. He came with his brother Asbury and E. Redenour to Benton County in 1852 and took a donation land claim in the Alsea Valley. These three are said to have been the first settlers in that valley. After coming west father finished his education at Salem and taught school in Benton County. He was also a local Methodist preacher.
"My mother was Calista Howell, she was about twenty-five years old when, in 1862, she came with her brothers, William and George, to Oregon. Her brother Stephen had come before and was waiting to welcome them. The Howells settled and lived for years near Bellfountain. Mother did housework for the E. Hartless and in different homes in Corvallis. While working in Corvallis she met my father and the two were married in 1864. My oldest brother was born in Alsea and then the folks moved to Linn County, I was born near Brownsville. After some years near Brownsville and Halsey father moved again to the Alsea Valley.
"I was born in 1868. The first schooling I had was at the Independent Schoolhouse. The teacher I remember best was John B. Homer. I do not remember the name of the other teachers. Much of my girlhood was spent in the Alsea Valley. The school terms were short there and I did not get much schooling.
"The Alsea Valley was wild and there were many wild animals there. I remember one time when my brother and I were driving in the cows the dogs roused some animal and treed it close to us. We did not see the beast and supposed it was a bear, as bears frequently approached the settlement. Father did not have a gun and brother left me to watch the tree while he went to find a neighbor with a gun. When some hunters came and shot the animal we were surprised to see that it was a cougar.
"Father followed farming all his life. About the time I was married, in 1887, he moved to Stevens County, Washington, and there passed the rest of his life. His children were Ira B., Francis A., myself, Effie (Mrs. Brenser), and Gertie (Mrs. Siler).
"My husband, Andrew Jackson Ervin, was brought to Benton County in 1863 when he was less than two years old. His father was James Ervin and his mother was Mary Ann Skipton, an aunt of Belle Skipton who became the wife of Prof. John B. Horner. Their children were Madison, my husband, and Maria (Mrs. Linck). The Ervins settled about three miles south of Philomath and my husband spent most of his whole life here, within a few miles of this place.
"We were married in 1887 and we have lived on this farm ever since except for a short venture in Eastern Washington, where my parents had moved. Our children were Walter, Pearl (Mrs. Sapp). Roy, Effie (Mrs. Lantz), Jesse and Frank.
"My people were all Methodists in a time when Methodists were more devout than now. I have always trusted God to take care of me and I am alive today because he answers prayer.
Submitted byElona Smith [25Dec01]
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