Back When in Benton County

Part 9

John King's Family

by Chralotte L. Wirfs

John King, the first son of Nahum and Sarepta, was born in Madison County, Ohio, March 23, 1813.  he and his wife, Susan Cooper King, and their three children were in the party of Kings leaving Missouri in May 1845.  Four members of this family lost their lives on the same day in a rafting accident on the Columbia River near Cascade Locks.  The drowning occurred October 25, 1845.  It must have been a defeating blow to the exhausted and trail-weary travelers who were so close to their destination.

One child, Luther, age 5, survived the accident.  His sister, Electra, age 3, and his infant brother were drowned with their parents.  Later, Luther had a second brush with death, which earned him the name "Rattlesnake King", after barely surviving a deadly snakebite.

Nahum and Sarepta took their orphaned grandson into their household as they still had four children under the age of 17 living with them.  The 1850 census for Benton County shows Luther, age 10, living in the Nahum King household.  Nahum died in 1856 and teenaged Luther, "Little Lute", went to live with his Uncle Amos and Aunt Melinda King in Portland.  Amos N. King was officially appointed guardian of Luther March of 1857 by Multnomah County Judge of Probate, Anthony L. Davis.

In the 1870 census, Luther, 30, and his wife, Caroline Ladd King, 17, were living in Benton County.  He began application for a Donation Land Claim on Blakesly Creek east of Wren on August 9, 1877, but Eli Summers, Luther's uncle, proved up on the claim after Luther's application was cancelled, October 21, 1997.

At Age 32, Luther was sentenced to one year in the Oregon State Penitentiary, beginning April 22, 1873.  At that time he was listed as being a farmer from Benton County.  He served a little less that a year for a crime of "abduction".  Prison records provide one of the few physical descriptions of any member of the King family.  He was 5' 31/2 inches tall, fair complected with brown hair and hazel eyes.

Luther's second wife was Annie Laurie Bayes.  They had a son, Luttie Russel, born in Gardiner, Oregon on April 9, 1886.  Other children of Luther King were Charlie, Dellie, Electra, and Ettie.

Next:  Lucius C. and Hopestill Norton