Tales of Pioneers
Dr. and Mrs. J. McCully Crossed the Plains to Oregon in 1851.
Mrs. McCully Had Distinction of Being Second
White Woman in Jacksonville.
The distinction of being the second white woman in Jacksonville, with all the honors and difficulties the position implied, belonged to Mrs. Jane Mason McCully, wife of Dr. J. W. McCully and mother of Miss Issie McCully of this city. The chivalry and respect inevitably shown by frontiersmen to the first white women appearing around them has become almost proverbial and was usually well deserved. Even with this wealth of consideration to brighten her lot, who can properly appraise the sacrifices uncomplainingly made and hardships bravely met and endured by women of education and refinement, such as Mrs. McCully, in coming to the then-unformed western wilderness? A descendant as she was of a family from a part of Scotland famed for its fervent and religious teachings and observances, the free and easy atmosphere of a pioneer mining camp must in itself have been a severe shock. Mrs. McCully, however, appears to have always made the best of any situation in which she was placed and performed her full share in the upbuilding of the community. For a time with only one white friend of her own sex to rely upon for comfort and aid, she fearlessly faced the danger of famine, dread of hostile Indians, and the countless hardships which pioneer life entailed with unbroken resolution and a cheerfulness of spirit that was an inspiration to her companions.
For a short time after arriving in Oregon Mrs. McCully acted as instructor in a private school at Salem, and in later years opened a similar institution in Jacksonville. A pioneer paper published at the time devotes considerable space to a description of a school entertainment given by Mrs. McCully's pupils, and the names of Mrs. Beekman, Mrs. Kate Hoffman, Wm. Bybee and other well-known people appear in the list of pupils taking part.
Among many other accomplishments, Mrs. McCully was a poet of no mean ability and was the author of many poems of merit, among which is a song dedicated to and adopted by the Pioneer Society of Southern Oregon, of which organization she was a member.
The following brief biographical sketch of Dr. and Mrs. McCully is taken from old newspaper clippings and a copy of resolutions of respect adopted years ago by the pioneers' association and treasured as heirlooms by surviving members of the family:
"Dr. J. W. McCully was born in New Brunswick, May 22nd, 1821. In 1822 his parents moved to Ohio, where they remained until 1844. From that time till 1851 they resided in Iowa and then moved to Oregon. From 1852 to 1862, Dr. McCully was a resident of Jacksonville, Oregon. The succeeding five years he visited Idaho, Montana and St. Louis, at the latter place taking a course in a medical college. He also studied medicine and became a practitioner during his residence in Iowa. From 1868 to 1878 he was purser on the Willamette River steamers, and was a resident of Joseph since the year 1880. He was a member of the last Oregon territorial legislature, representing Jackson County in that body. Dr. McCully was honored by a large acquaintance throughout this state, and it is only a just tribute to his virtues to say that his death occasioned much sorrow. Among the Masonic fraternity, an order to which he gave much attention, he was honored with high positions and was universally esteemed. When a good man dies, the highest tribute that can be paid to his memory is the truth that his death was sincerely mourned by all who knew him. This can be said without exaggeration concerning the deceased.
"Jane Mason McCully was a brilliant example of high endeavors and brilliant accomplishments. She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, March 31st, 1824, and was baptized in the old kirk in which Robert Burns, her favorite poet, lived [sic]. Leaving Scotland with her parents she landed in New York in the year 1831, remaining there but a short time and removing thence to Indiana in the same year. From Indiana the family went to Iowa in 1843, in which state she was married to John W. McCully in 1848. With her husband she crossed the plains in 1851, arriving at Salem, Oregon in the fall of that year. From Salem she came to Jackson County in 1852, where she resided until her death."
A resolution of condolence adopted by the Pioneer Society of Southern Oregon at the time of her death has the following to say of Mrs. McCully's character:
"In the death of Mrs. McCully we have lost a faithful member of our society, a genial and intelligent companion and friend, and the beloved ones an indulgent mother. May we try to emulate her virtues and cherish her memory. She was a woman loved and respected by all classes of the community and dearly loved and sincerely mourned by those who knew her best, and we feel that a delightful presence has been exchanged for a beautiful memory."
Jacksonville Post, July 17, 1920, page 1
Last revised July 3, 2011