Find A Record
  Contact Information
  Resource Links
Eoff Cemetery ~ John Leonard Eoff ~ part of the Marion County Pioneer Cemeteries of Oregon
Print Friendly Version
Eoff, John Leonard
LAST: Eoff FIRST: John MID: Leonard
BORN: 2 Jul 1812 DIED: 1 Feb 1899 BURIED: 
BIRTH PLACE:  Pulaski Co., Kentucky
DEATH PLACE: Marion Co., Oregon
MARRIAGE – John L. Eoff m Polly Roughton [Routen] 31 Jan 1833 in Monroe Co., Indiana
1850 OR TERRITORY CENSUS - John L. Eoff, age 37, occupation farmer, b. Kentucky, is enumerated with Polly, age 35, b. Kentucky, along with James, age 5, b. Iowa, George, age 2, b. Oregon, and Alvina, age 10 months, b. Oregon. Also enumerated with the family is Peter Harpool, age 8, b. Illinois.
1860 OR CENSUS - J. L. Oaf [sic], age 48, farmer, b. Kentucky, is enumerated with P. [Mary “Polly”], age 46, b. Kentucky, along with Jas., age 14, b. Iowa, G., male, age 11, b. Oregon, E., female, age 10, b. Oregon, John, age 7, b. Oregon, and L. A., female, age 4, b. Oregon.
1880 OR CENSUS - J. Leonard Eoff, age 67, occupation farmer, b. Kentucky, is enumerated with wife Mary, age 64, b. Kentucky, along with Fleming Eoff, identified as brother [of J. Leonard], age 62, occupation farm laborer, b. Kentucky.
BIOGRAPHICAL (Source - Daily Oregon Journal 15 Jan 1923, Interview of George W. Eoff, by Fred Lockley):
“My father, John Leonard Eoff, was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky, July 2, 1812,” said Mr. Eoff. “His father, John Eoff, was born in Virginia in 1777. My grandfather, with his folks, went to Kentucky in 1780, where he lived all his life. My father was a good wrestler and could hold his own in the sports of that day. When he was twenty he fell in love with Mary Routen [Roughton] and as her people opposed the marriage the young people eloped on two good Kentucky saddle horses, heading north until they reached Indiana. This was in 1833. Neither was of age, but they found someone who would tie the knot; so they were married. They lived for a couple of years in Indiana and then moved in 1835 to Illinois, and in the spring of 1841 they moved to Davis county and in 1847 they pulled out across the plains for Oregon.
George Eoff [brother of John L.] married Nancy English in 1841. In 1845 Captain English, her uncle, had moved to Oregon, settling on Howell Prairie, near Salem. It was the good reports her sent back to his relatives that caused my father to come to Oregon. My father took up a section of land on Howell Prairie and I still own half of our old home place. I was born on that old place September 12, 1848. I am the only one of a big family of children now living. In 1871 I trailed a band of sheep across the mountains to Morrow county. In 1873 I took another band to Rhea Creek, not far from Heppner. I stayed there four years.
I was married in 1867 to Nannie Robinson. Two of my boys are still on deck and I have five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Four generations of Eoffs have been born on the old home place on Howell Prairie. My oldest sister, Cynthia Ann, married Herman Geer, son of Joseph C. Geer, who had ten children. When Herman was ten years old they moved from Ohio farther West, settling near Galesburg, Illinois. Seven years later the family came across the plains to Oregon. This was 1847. Herman and my sister had four children; only two of whom grew up. My nephew, Theodore Geer, became governor of Oregon, the first native son of Oregon to be elected governor. His sister Theodosia married Joe Janes. She lives in California. When I was a baby, back in 1849, father used to do his trading at Oregon City. But within a few years a settlement sprang up here at Salem, so he traded here. In the last 75 years I have seen Salem get to be a tolerably good town, and it is growing all the time.

“Eoff, John L., File #1938. Testate. Died o/a 1 Feb 1899 in Marion Co., OR. Will dated 1 Feb 1892. Executor: James King, 7 Mar 1900. Heirs: Cynthia Ann Trenchell, dtr, 70, Oakland, CA; George W. Eoff, son, 51, Marion Co.; James Fleming Eoff, dec’d son, Marion Co.; George Oscar Eoff, grandson, 30, Marion Co., OR; grandchildren, children of James Fleming Eoff, dec’d son of John L. Eoff: Bertha Woodall, 28, State of Washinton; Orson L. Eoff, 25; Henry Eoff; 22, Georgia Miles, 21; Irene Eoff, 19; Cecial Eoff, 17; Celina Eoff, 15; Wanita Eoff, 13; Grace Eoff, 10; Millie Eoff, 11 [all of Marion Co.].”
It is extremely interesting to note the general course of westward immigration. Most of the early settlers in Missouri came from either Kentucky or Tennessee and the ancestors of these largely from Virginia or the Carolinas. The Ohioans came from Pennsylvania and New York, a few from the New England States, while southern Illinois and Indiana in their early settlement were recruited from Kentucky. My grandfather on my mother's side, John Leonard Eoff, typifies in his career the average Southerner of the last century who was dominated by the human instinct to continue to the westward. He was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky, July 2, 1812. His father, John Eoff, was born near Wheeling, Virginia, in 1777. He was brought to Point Lick, Kentucky, by his parents in 1780, and in 1801 moved to Pulaski County, where he lived until his death, January 24, 1867, aged ninety years.
That part of Kentucky where he chose to spend his life is one of the poorest regions to be found in Uncle Sam's domain, no matter where you might search, if you except a Western desert. Of course at that time much of the beautiful and fertile hill land, now known as Blue Grass section, was unoccupied, but it afforded little attraction to the first adventurers west of the Blue Ridge and Cumberland ranges, since they were mountaineers and cared little for homes where deer were not easily found and bear could not be had by the mere setting of traps.
It was in a country such as this that my grandfather was born and in which he remained until he was twenty years of age. Hundreds of times when a child I have sat by his fireside and listened to his narration of boyhood experiences – how until he was grown he never owned a pair of "store shoes" to be worn except on Sundays, and how his only daytime raiment, until he was big enough to go "sparking," was a tow shirt made by his mother. By dint of hard work, early and late, the stingy soil was persuaded to yield sufficient corn for "dodgers," which supplied the family with bread, and meat was derived from the slaying of deer, bear and wild hogs. Tame hogs were not known, and if they had been there was nothing to feed them on. The "razorbacks" could live on the "mast" which fell in liberal quantities from the abounding oaks, chestnuts and hickory trees.
Amid these surroundings my grandfather lived and grew to manhood without the advantages of even a district school. There were no schools in that part of Kentucky in those days, either public or private. With his four brothers he hoed corn and tobacco, made rails and took an active part in the simple neighborhood gatherings, husking-bees and singing schools. Even then the Kentucky girls were beautiful to look upon, and the young man who could carry off the laurels at the wrestling bouts was likely to be the "catch" in the community – and in the contest for this distinction my grandfather was near the head of the race.
He would probably have remained a resident of his native State during the whole of his long life if it had not been for the attraction of a neighbor's daughter, Mary Ann Routen, who, with the aid of Cupid, carried him off his feet at the age of twenty years. While in that state of mind there could be no peace or happiness or rest or delay, especially the latter, until the two souls with but a single thought should be merged into two hearts that beat as one. But an obstacle at once arose, and, as some philosopher has remarked, the main objection one has to an obstacle is that it is always in the way. The girl's parents were opposed to the marriage, as parents are prone to be at times; but this interposition, like many another of its kind, proved to be no barrier at all. Neither of them was of age and the laws of Kentucky sternly forbade the marriage of mere children. Other young people before them, meeting with the same absurd hindrance to the realization of love's young dream, had found balm through a trip to Indiana, which had a code of matrimonial laws with whose terms compliance was easy.
So, one dark night in January 1833, my grandfather's brother George, five years his senior, appeared at the home of neighbor Routen soon after bedtime with a good Kentucky saddle horse, equipped with a side-saddle, and, as luck would have it, Miss Mary Ann was at the front gate suitably garbed for a long journey. Without any unnecessary commotion the two were soon galloping across the woods; and, as strange things so often happen in groups, they had not gone more than a mile when they came across my grandfather at the forks of the road, astride a four year-old charger, apparently in a listening attitude. Seeing things had turned out that way, the three of them rode toward the North Star as rapidly as their steeds could travel and within a few days crossed the Ohio River into Indiana. Here circumstances were favorable to a matrimonial alliance and John Leonard Eoff was married to Mary Ann Routen. And they lived together ever afterwards happily, until my grandmother died in 1890 at the age of seventy-six. My grandfather passed away in January 1899, at the age of eighty-six years and six months.
My grandparents lived the first two years of their married life in Indiana, moved to McCoupin County, Illinois, in 1835, and in March 1841, moved to Burlington, Iowa, crossing the Mississippi River at that point, as I have heard my grandfather describe hundreds of times, on the first day of March on the ice with his team and wagon. Here he worked at teaming for two years, after which, in 1843, he removed to Davis County, near the Missouri line, and acquired a piece of land. By this time there were five children in the family and the making of a home as well as a living on the wild prairie was a task which, with the limited means at hand in those days, was calculated to bring dismay to the stoutest hearts. But my grandfather was an unusually industrious man, and by persistent application and the strictest economy on the part of the family he had within three years a little farm in cultivation and a comfortable log house plentifully furnished with the real necessaries of life.
But, when absent at church one Sunday in the spring of 1846, his house caught fire and before the arrival of the nearest neighbor everything was consumed. Nothing was left but a pile of smouldering ashes of all his personal effects. He had only his team, his land and his family.
It was at this time that the talk about the Oregon country was spreading everywhere and this disaster left my grandfather in the mood to "move on." Devoting the remainder of the year to the preparation for another westward journey, in the spring of 1847 he joined the great caravan which assembled at Independence, Missouri, and arrived in Oregon in October of that year. In Iowa, he had been a near neighbor of Captain L. N. English, who had come to Oregon in 1845 and had located on the beautiful Howell's prairie, in Marion County, where he erected a grist- and sawmill – among the first in the territory of Oregon. In January 1841, George Eoff, brother of my grandfather, had married Nancy English, a niece of Captain English, and they were a part of the company of which my grandparents were members. Knowing they were en route, Captain English met them at the western foot of the Cascade Mountains with fresh provisions and piloted them to his home. Uncle George Eoff secured a section of land in the fall of 1848, situated on the first upland slope south of Howell's prairie in the Waldo Hills, while my grandfather at the same time bought the squatter's right to a section of land which comprised the extreme southern end of that prairie. To this he afterward added a quarter section and here he lived until his death. It was his home for more than fifty-one years.
J. L. Eoff, for a half century a prominent resident of Marion County, in the southern portion of Howell Prairie, passed away at the family home, near Macleay, at an early hour yesterday morning, after an illness lasting for several years, caused by paralysis, aged 86 years, 6 months, and 29 days.
John Leonard Eoff was born in Pulaski County, Kentucky, July 2, 1812. He was married on February 1, 1833, to Miss Mary Ann Routan, and together the young couple left their home and friends, and crossing over into Indiana, settled there. Here, however, they remained but one year, when they removed to Illinois, and, in 1841, they removed to Iowa, crossing the Mississippi River on the ice, on March 1st of that year, and locating at Burlington. After remaining here a few years, the spirit of roving again seized the family, and Mr. Eoff selected a location in Davis County of that state. Here they remained until 1847, when the fame of Oregon had penetrated the wilds of Iowa, and the hardy pioneer, with his family and brother, started across the plains for the Pacific Coast, arriving here that summer, and, selecting a donation land claim in the southern portion of Howell Prairie, he located on it in 1848, and has remained there after since – a term of over half a century – dying on the place which he, himself, selected in the then wilderness and brought into the highest state of cultivation.
Ten children were born to the hardy pioneer family, but two of whom, however, survive their parents – a daughter, Mrs. Cynthia Ann Geer, of Oakland, California, mother of Gov. T.T. Geer, and a son, Geo. W. Eoff, who lives on the old homestead, and has for the past eight years looked after the wants and needs of his aged parents. The helpmate of Mr. Eoff, the grandmother of Oregon’s governor, died in January of 1890. In addition to the son and daughter mentioned above, he leaves fifteen grandchildren, one of whom is Oregon’s governor, eight great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild – Eugene Geer Downing, only grandson of the governor, at present a pupil in one of Salem’s kindergartens.
Mr. Eoff was an earnest and enthusiastic member of the Christian church, having been a church member for over sixty years.
The immediate cause of death was paralysis. Several years ago Mr. Eoff suffered a stroke, and he gradually grew weaker and weaker until, after suffering another attack ten days ago, he sank rapidly, dying yesterday morning.
The family is a long-lived one, a brother of the deceased having died in 1890, at the age of 83, while the father of Mr. Eoff died in the old Kentucky homestead a number of years ago at the age of 90 years. He was buried on the old homestead in that state, and, when Governor Geer was at the old family farm a few years ago, he visited the grave.
The deceased pioneer was a quiet, unassuming man, a good citizen, and a hard worker. He never sought public office and, while widely known and respected, could not be induced to enter the arena of politics and public life for his own benefit. At the time he arrived in Oregon and located on his donation land claim, the restless spirit, which characterized his younger years, appeared to have vanished and he settled down to the quiet life of an industrious Oregon farmer, respected and honored by all with whom he came in contact.
The funeral will be held at the farm home of the family, at 2 o’clock this afternoon; interment will be had in the Eoff Cemetery, on the farm now owned by Governor Geer, where the wife and three of the deceased pioneer’s children lie buried.
Oregon Statesman 2 Feb 1899 4:4
John L. Eoff
July 2, 1812
Feb. 1, 1899
Saucy Survey & Photographs
Indiana Marriages to 1850
1850 OR TERRITORY CENSUS (Marion Co., FA #251)
1860 OR CENSUS (Marion Co., Howell Prairie, FA #2787)
1880 OR CENSUS (Marion Co., Howell Prairie, ED 87, pg 143A)
Marion County Oregon Probate Records, Vol. I, pg 77
Fifty Years in Oregon
OS 2 Feb 1899 4:4

Home |  Find a Record |  Directions |  Contact Information
History |  Sources |  Resource Links
Marion County Cemeteries Home Page |  Polk County Cemeteries Home Page |  Copyright/Terms of Use