FAMILY DONATION LAND CLAIM: Henry and Elizabeth Matheny Hewitt DLC

The winter of 1843-44 was spent in a one-room cabin on the Tualatin plains near present-day Hillsboro near Elizabeth’s parents’ family. The Hewitts’ cabin had been built for them by Henry’s brother, Adam Hewitt, who had come to Oregon the previous year. It was a dismal, rainy winter that had the family wondering why they had ever left Missouri. That fall the Hewitts settled on 640 acres, the site of present-day Unionvale, Yamhill County, Oregon, just north of Daniel and Mary Matheny’s claim. Joseph McLoughlin, halfbreed son of Dr. John McLoughlin of the Hudson Bay Company, had built a small one-room log house on the place and had planted from seed about one hundred apple trees that were just beginning to bear fruit. The Hewitts gave McLoughlin a yoke of oxen and four hundred dollars for his squatter’s rights, and they moved onto the property. There were five or six fenced acres. There were large fir and oak trees covering one fourth of the land, the balance being prairie. Here Elizabeth reared her daughter and many sons with nightly readings from the scriptures by the fireside. [Henry] was gone during the winter of 1862 to gold fields, probably in Idaho.” During this time his family wintered in Salem. Another time, in 1874, the family wintered in Amity during Henry’s absence while looking for gold, according to the memoirs of his son Jasper Hewitt. ” “In 1864 Henry was elected a commissioner of Yamhill County.[Lang’s History of Willamette Valley, p.895] The 1865 personal property tax list shows Henry and Elizabeth to have been quite prosperous. That year they either owned or produced 30 tons of hay, no tobacco, 500 bushels of apples, 40 hogs, 10 horses, 28 cattle, 100 pounds of wool, 40 bushels of potatoes, 40 sheep, 3 bushels of corn, 200 pounds of butter, 1,200 bushels of wheat, 1,000 bushels of oats. 170 acres of their 640 were under cultivation. In the fall of 1875, leaving some of their sons to farm the Yamhill County land, the Hewitts purchased the Salem ferry from Elizabeth’s brother, Jasper Matheny. The purchase included eighty acres on the west bank of the Willamette River opposite Salem and four lots on the Salem side where State Street ends at the river. The family lived alternately on the east and west sides of the river, finally building a new home on the west side. In 1883 the Hewitts sold the ferry and the Salem city lots to a Mr. Foster, receiving as payment $6,000 and 240 acres on Mt.Scott in Clackamas County near Portland. This land was sold to Harvey W. Scott in 1888 for $15,000 in cash. This land was where Lincoln Park Memorial Cemetery now lies and extended just over the top of the mountain. In the fall of 1883, the family moved back to their original farm after selling their 80 acres in Polk County (next to the Salem ferry) for $2,000. The original price the Hewitts had paid for the ferry and the 80 acres had been $9,000; so they had realized quite a profit ($14,000).

Their sons, Adam, Isaiah, and James Andrew, lived on the Hewitt DLC until after Henry and Elizabeth died in 1899. Isaiah sold his portion at his parents’ death. James Andrew farmed a portion of it until he sold to Adam.

–From; contributed by Don Rivara.

Jean Kerr [James Andrew Hewitt] at the Hewitt DLC monument, he helped to build the pedestal for.

The Henry and Elizabeth Matheny Hewitt Donation Land Claim Monument

The first Reunions were held at Henry and Elizabeth Hewitt’s home (referred to as “the old home place” in the minutes) from 1919 through 1922, in 1924; and then again in 1928 and 1929 after the house was gone.

To the left down Alderman Road is an oak tree. Nailed on this tree is a survey marker showing this to have been the northwest corner of the Hewitt DLC.

Henry and Elizabeth’s house was by where the DLC monument is. It was destroyed in the early 1920’s. The first Reunion was held at their house in 1919.
“The old Hewitt house was about a half mile north of the intersection of Grand Island Junction and Dayton-Salem Highway. But it was pretty much gone so I don’t really remember it.
Another family house was straight across the road.” –Jean Kerr [Henry and Elizabeth Matheny Hewitt>James Andrew Hewitt>Sylva Hewitt Kerr> Jean Kerr]


Look north of the monument to the grove of oak trees on the left to see where Adam Hewitt lived. The Reunions of 1925-1927, and 1930 were held there, in what was referred to as Adam’s Grove.

After his parents, Henry and Elizabeth Matheny Hewitt, died in 1899, Adam (b. 4/2/1849) settled in the northern portion of their Donation Land Claim. His brother, James Andrew, farmed the southern portion of the Hewitt Donation Land Claim. Adam married one of the Pittman girls, who had attended the Hewitt school on his parents’ land. Later, Adam bought out James Andrew’s portion of the land.

His house was built in the grove of oak trees.
“Adam Hewitt’s house was across the road from the schoolhouse on the highway going towards Dayton a mile north of the intersection of Grand Island Junction and the Salem highway.

Adam raised dairy cows and skunks. He sold the skunks hides and knew how to neutralize their odor.”
Uncle Adam- saw him a few times. Small man, good-natured, hardworking.
His son Otis made a living training and racing racehorses.
Uncle Adam learned how to deodorize skunks, raise them to market size and skin them and sell the hides. Raised a few cows, selling some cream.
Just once, only a few minutes, probably five years old.
He was the only one of the 9 Hewitt boys that turned out to be a farmer. He was a little bit older than Dr. Lorin Hewitt.

Jean Kerr at the monument he helped to build a pedestal for.
[James Andrew Hewitt>Sylva Hewitt Kerr>Jean Kerr]

THE MONUMENT is located on Wallace Road close to  Maud Williamson park, where we hold the Reunions, and other family sites. It is near where Henry and Elizabeth built their house. Establishing the monument was first discussed at the 1925 Reunion and completed at the 1933 Reunion.  The pedestal was added in about 1949.

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