Back When in Benton County

Part 1

The Kings of Kings Valley

by Kenneth Munford

Kings Valley in northwest Benton County, Kings Boulevard in Corvallis, and Kings Heights in Portland take their names from members of the King family who came to Oregon by covered wagon in 1845.  There were 26 of them when they left St. Joseph, Missouri, on May 2: 7 men, 7 women, 6 boys, and 6 girls.  One man, two women, a baby boy and a young girl died on the way.

The others spent their first winter in Oregon on Gales Creek, near present Forest Grove.  During the winter the menfolk & older boys went hunting--not only for game, but also for land.  They felt sure that the U.S. Congress would grant them free land when the Willamette Valley became part of the United States.  Eventually their faith proved well-founded.  The provisional claims they staked out that winter and spring became donation land claims.

We do not have a record of the route the Kings took on their land-hunting trip.  If they followed the old Hudsons Bay Co. pack trail that skirted the western foot hills of the valley, they would have found settlers on the Yamhill River who would soon found the towns of Lafayette and Dayton.  The three Applegate brothers had settled two years before along Salt Creek.  Nathaniel Ford and his relatives had settled Rickreall the year before.

After crossing the Little Luckiamute, the hunters may have followed an alternate pack trail south up the Luckiamute.  After passing present Pedee, they came up over a rise and looked down into a pleasant little valley where no one had settled or claimed land.

Nahum, patriarch of the King clan, like other leaders in other times and places may have declared something like, "Boys, this is the place!"

Open grassland surrounded by dense forest along the meandering river looked good to them.  It had adequate water and fuel, rich soil, and abundant building materials.  It was well drained so that they would not suffer the floods they had experienced in Ohio and Missouri.

Next:  Nahum and Serepta Norton King