Elijah Bristow: The First White Settler in Lane County
Bristow settled within the present boundary lines of Lane County in June 1846 and was originally from Virginia.
He had started to migrate west from Virginia to Kentucky then onto Illinois early in his life, with a spirit for adventure which he inherited from his ancestors. He started to cross the plains in 1845 with his first venture to California where he was disappointed with the land so he traveled to Oregon the following spring in 1846. Accompanied by two other pioneers, Bristow started up the Willamette Valley to search for a suitable settlement location for a large and increasing family.
It describes the journey which they took where they travelled up the west side of the valley and after passing the Luckiamute River, where they did not find a "white man’s habitation", they headed south to the end of their journey. The scenery which they describe was “one of the most beautiful on the northwest coast of the Pacific”.
They arrived at a point between the Coast and Middle Forks of the Willamette river, which is now know as Pleasant Hill, and Bristow describes the panorama of mountain and vale stretching out in front of him like what he saw in his hometown of Virginia. This is where he exclaimed: “This is my claim! Here I will live, and when I die, here shall i be buried!”. They built a “claim cabin” which showed to all comers that a white man had settled upon the public domain.