Andrew Jackson Zumwalt(1832-1915) ─ Forbear of one of Lane Counties largest pioneer families
Next to the shady fence that leads to the Knight Library lies farmer and former legislator Andrew Jackson Zumwalt. He was the forbear of one of Lane County’s largest pioneer families.
Educated in a log school-house in Missouri, Zumwalt was an Oregon Pioneer whose life paints a portrait of a prosperous early settler. At age 18, Zumwalt came west in 1850 with his parents –Solomon and Nancy–and ten siblings. They were part of a party that consisted of 25 men, all armed, with 25 wagons total. As the oldest boy, Zumwalt drove one of the family’s two ox-drawn wagons across the continent in the year-long journey from Missouri to Oregon. “I regard this as the most remarkable position I ever held,” said Zumwalt once to a relative when reminiscing about his life.
Enduring numerous run-ins with Native American tribes along the way, the group arrived in The Dalles May of 1851. The women and children were transported to Portland in open boats down the Columbia River. However, Zumwal tand his younger brother waited until mid-summer to cross the Cascade Range, and eventually they met up with family.
In 1851, his father Solomon Zumwalt claimed Donation Land Grant property in Benton County. By 1852 Andrew Zumwalt himself took on a 160-acre homestead two miles west of Eugene. In 1859 Andrew purchased a 160-acre farm in the Irving neighborhood of north Eugene. Then in 1872 Andrew bought another 400-acre property where he raised stock, particularly shorthorn cattle. A successful farmer all his life, Zumwalt went on to acquire additional property in the Mohawk Valley and Oakesdale, Washington.
Politically, Andrew Zumwalt was a prominent Republican. He took an active part in the advancement of Abraham Lincoln’s principals.
“I served three years in the State Militia of Oregon during the Civil War. I voted for Abraham Lincoln twice and have been a Republican most of my life. However, I voted for Bryan three times and for Wilson once,” explained Zumwalt.
In later years, Zumwalt became an independent and held minor offices in the community including president of the Irving Grange. In 1855 he was elected Justice of the Peace. Then in 1880, he served in the Oregon House of Representatives.
Close to his heart was the Eugene Methodist Church, of which he was a charter member. As a teen Zumwalt was impressed by Father Wilbur, a Methodist preacher at a Sunday school picnic. “I had joined the South Methodist Church in Missouri in 1848. Since that time I have never been able to get away from Methodist preachers.”
Hearty and hale to the end, Zumwalt died following an acute attack of pneumonia. Family members remember the octogenarian as “getting more real pleasure out of life than many people half his age.” In his obituary, colleagues recalled Zumwalt as, “a man who endeavored to make himself a worthy and useful citizen to the state to which he came in early manhood.”