Oregon Territory, Sunday, January 9, 1977 p.7---Capt. Shaw's Spirit Lingers--
Capt. William Shaw
Dec. 15, 1795
In Marion Co., Oregon
Jan. 20, 1888
92 yrs., 1 mo. & 5 days
A soldier of 1812 under Jackson
A rubbing of that gravestone has been hanging in my living room for more than two years. Without knowing anything about him, I began to feel he was a friend. Finally, curiosity prompted a visit to the library.
I found that Capt. Shaw was an early Oregon territory pioneer who played a vital part in settling the Willamette Valley. He was born in Wake Co., North Carolina, then moved to Tennessee while still a young child. His father and he joined Jackson in the war of 1812. His father died in that war, leaving young William, a lad not yet 17 years of age, leader of a family consisting of his mother and four young children. In 1814 he was with Jackson at Pensacola against the British and remained with Jackson at Mobile until the end of the war. He returned home more dead than alive from exposure. But he regained his health, and at the age of 22, moved his family to Missouri. There he married Sarah Gilliam on Oct. 11, 1822. Nine children were born to the Shaws in Missouri. Sarah Gilliam was the sister of Gen. Cornelius Gilliam, after whom Gilliam County in Oregon is named.
The wonders of the Oregon Territory began to be a popular topic of conversation in the East and Midwest. The lure was to prove overpowering to William Shaw. He is quoted: `Linn's (homesteading) bill in Congress was the first start that set me to thinking of coming here. Another inducement was to settly my family, a family of boys (who) were getting to be men. I was not able to settle them in Missouri. Land began to go up and it was hard to get. I thought by moving to a new country my boys could shift for themselves.' On May 10, 1844, the second large wagon train bound for the Willamette Valley left Capless Landing near Weston, Mo. Gen. Gilliam, Sarah's brother, was in command. M.T. Simmons was second in charge with Capt. Shaw as one of four captains, each in charge of approximately 25 wagons. It was this wagon train that brought the famous Sager family west. The Sagers were in Capt. Shaw's company.
Henry Sager died Aug. 22, just before they crossed the Green River at what is now Twin Falls, Idaho. His wife Naomi followed him in death 16 days later, leaving behind six children, one of them an infant born on the trail. Uncle Billie' and `Aunt Sallie', as they were fondly known, took the Sager children into their charge. They later delivered the children and their belongings to Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. They took their leave of the children with the understanding that they would take them back if the Whitmans were unable to keep them. When leaving Missouri, Capt. Shaw took a large flock of sheep with the idea of having mutton on the trail. He was scoffed at. But suprisingly, the sheep withstood the rigors of the trail better than expected, and when Shaw finally arrived in the Willamette Valley, he had somewhere between `a dozen and a score'. They were the first sheep in the valley.
The family had to spend their first winter in Oregon at the mission at The Dalles, because of illness. The following spring the Shaws went by raft down the Columbia to the Hudson's Bay Co., then on to Washougal to cut shingles and boards for that company. In the fall of 1845, approximately a year and a half after departing Capless Landing, they arrived in the valley of their destination. But illness struck again, T.C., the eldest son, arrived with what was probably typhoid fever. The Rev. Waller of the Methodist Mission took the whole family in for the winter, sharing home, food and meager medicines. After renting the Alanson Beers land claim in the Mission Bottom area for a year, the family finally realized their dream by taking up a land claim in the area of Howell Prairie and Waldo Hills.
When the Cayuse war broke out, William Shaw joined up to fight, going as a captain of a company with his three eldest sons serving under him. Unlike most men in the territory, Shaw was not lured south by the gold rush of `49, but his sons were. Little record of success was achieved, and they returned to settle in the valley. In 1850, Mr. Shaw was elected to the Territorial Legislature. He served one term. Sarah bore her husband eight sons, five died early in life, and a daughter. Some of their names are lost in time. Two sons, named Robert G. and William, are buried alongside their parents. They died at the ages of 18 and 21 respectively, just two months apart. The daughter, Mary, married a man named Sackett, and moved to Jackson county in Southern Oregon. Little is written of another son: Benjamin. Records show George W. became part owner of `Orbit', the first ship to sail the Puget Sound. Thomas, better known as T.C., became the most widely recognized. He served in public capacities for some time, first in Marion County as commissioner, sheriff and finally as Judge Shaw. In 1874 he joined the board of directors for the Oregon Statesman newspaper.
At first I sensed it, and now I know it. `Uncle Billie' was not only by (sic) friend, but a friend to all who claim Oregon as home. The author is Joyce Friesen, and Aumsville free-lance writer."
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