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Pioneer of 1842

James Taylor


James Taylor was born August 15, 1813 on the Orkney Islands in Scotland. He was an employee of Hudson Bay Company when he first came to the island in 1832. His first job was managing the dairy for Hudson Bay. After a time he was sent to Sauvie Island to manage the Hudson Bay dairy there. When he heard of the gold strike in California he resigned and went south to make his fortune. Like so many others he came home as poor as when he left.

1840      Settler arrives in Oregon

On his DLC papers James states that he arrived in Oregon in January of 1842.

1853 Settler marries Widow Spence

James married Arabella (McKenzie) Spence, widow of John Clarke Spence. John and Arabella were part of the group of people from the Red River Migration of 1841. Many of these people were Metis. The remarkable history of this group of people was covered by John Jackson in his book Children of the Fur Trade : Forgotten Metis of the Pacific Northwest, Mountain Press Publishing Co, Inc.

John Spence lost his life in California during the gold rush. John and Arabella were the parents of seven children; Amelia (Spence) Redsull, James Spence, Jesse Spence, Mary Spence, John Spence, Logan Spence, Sophia (Spence) Preston

1853 Filed Intention for Citizenship

James filed on October 18, 1853 in Hillsboro OR. He was awarded his citizenship in Portland, OR on May 3, 1858 (DLC #1977).

1853      Claim settled

James settled his claim on January 1, 1854. Signing for him were Thomas Redsull, Malcom McKay and Mathew White (DLC #1977).

The legal description of his land was T2N, R1W, Section 6, 7 and consisting of almost 154 acres. James eventually bought other land until he had over 600 acres


1854       Birth of Son

Edwin J. was born to James and Arabella on May 20. He remained on the island and ran the family farm with his brother George. Edwin was interviewed by Lockley and that interview is in Columbia River Valley, pg. 1052-1053.

1856       Birth of Son

George was born during this year.

1857       Birth of Daughter

Mary was born during this year. She was the first postmaster on the island. She held the job for 25 years (Columbia River Valley, pg 1053).

1860 Birth of Daughter

Emma was born during this year. She remained on the family farm.

1860 Census Multnomah County

        # 700  Taylor, James   47, Arabella 45, Spence, James 27, Spence, John 17, Spence, Logan 14, Taylor, Edwin 6, Taylor, George 4, Spence, Sophia 9, Taylor, Mary 3, Taylor, Emma  6/12


1858       Marriage of Step Daughter

John Tate (RR) married Margaret Spence of Sauvie Island on March 26. They were married by Alexander McQuinn, J.P. Witnesses were Logan Spence and Mrs. Taylor (Pg 83 of the original Marriage records of Multnomah County, pg 13 of the Multnomah County, OR Marriages 1855-1873 published by the GFO)

At the time of her step-father’s death, Margaret was deceased and her family was living in Manitoba, Canada.

1869       Marriage of Step Daughter

Jeremiah Preston married Sophia Spence on March 4. They were married at the house of her step-father, James Taylor (pg 60 of GFO book, Multnomah County, OR Marriages, 1855-)

1870       Census Multnomah County, OR

Taylor, James  59, Arabella  52, Taylor, Edwin 17, Taylor, George 14, Emma 10,   


1880    Census Multnomah County, OR

Taylor, James  69,  Arabella 62, Taylor, Edwin 27,  Taylor, George  24, Taylor, Mary  23, Taylor, Emma 20.

 1880 Census, Fulton, Mult, Co, OR, NAF T9-1083, page 218D

Preston, Jeremiah age 50 Farmer, Sophia  35, Josephine 09, Minnie 07, George 3months

1880    Death of Settler’s wife

Arabella passed away at the age of 76. She is buried next to her husband in the family cemetery on their farm.

 Death of Settler

James passed away on March 29 at the age of 86. He is buried on the farm next to his wife in the family cemetery.


In his will, which was made Feb 20, 1896 and probated on April 23, 1900 the following heirs were mentioned:

    Sophia Preston, step-daughter, of Sauvie Island

    Edwin J. Taylor, son, of Sauvie Island

    George A. Taylor, son, of Sauvie Island

    Mary J. Taylor, daughter, of Sauvie Island

    Jessie McEwan, step-daughter, of Astoria, Oregon

    Amelia Redsull, step-daughter, of Belview, Idaho

    Margaret Alice Tait, grand-daughter, of Canada

    Lillian (Tait) McDougal, grand-daughter, of Canada

    Arabella Tait, grand-daughter, of Canada

    James Spence, step-son, residence unknown


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