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Aaron Payne
Circuit Riding Oregon Preacher
By Charles Dailey - 2000 - Revision 7

Aaron Payne at a Glance:
Born: Somerset County, PA - 1789
Married: Mary Jane Murphy - 1815
Moved:To OH > IN > IL
Emigrated:The Oregon Trail - 1847
Settled: Yamhill, OR
Family:See list
Founded: Black Hawk Church
Died:Yamhill, OR - 1883
Buried:Yamhill-Carlton Cemetery

  Visit to Aaron Payne's grave. - 32 seconds


Aaron Payne - 6.4 K
Circuit riding
Aaron Payne
at age 86.
Aaron Payne entered this world at Quemahoning Twp., Somerset County, PA and the year was 1789. In time, Aaron, his family and his older brothers Christopher and Adam all moved to Ohio. Both Adam and Aaron became gospel preachers. Aaron was one of the first two settlers in Magnolia, Illinois.

Adam was a Christian Church elder, then gained notoriety as an independent, itinerant preacher. He preached (with the aid of an interpreter) to a number of Indian bands, converting many to Christianity. While in Illinois in 1832 to visit his brother Aaron, he was murdered and beheaded by marauding Indian warriors at the beginning of the Black Hawk War (other notable participants in this war were: Abraham Lincoln and Zachary Taylor). Saddened upon hearing of his brother's murder, Aaron enlisted in a company of volunteers and fought in the war. During his service he was hit by two bullets that lodged near his spine. He carried them for the rest of his life and eventually received a pension for his wounds.

For the complete story, see Chapter 16 of Memories of Shaubena by N. Matson and published in Chicago by D. B. Cooke & Co. in 1878.

In 1845, Aaron's son Caleb Joshua Payne joined a wagon train headed for the new land of Oregon. He signed on as a driver for one of Amos Harvey's wagons. Caleb was single at the time, but would eventually marry Malinda Toney, daughter of James and Patsy Toney. The 1850 census shows the newly married couple living with his father near Yamhill.

Amos Harvey is the subject of a separate profile.   There is a profile of Caleb Payne on the Oregon GenWeb site.

The Caleb Paynes settled at Deer Creek, just east of Sheridan in Yamhill County. The James Toney family shared a property line with the Paynes and Malinda's sister Melissa Turner and her husband Owen shared a property line with the Toneys. Malinda's brother William L. Toney shared a property line with the Paynes.

The traveler on Highway 18 can see the SW Caleb Payne Road loop two miles east of the Sheridan exit. Caleb Payne is buried at the Belleview Cemetery, also known as the Deer Creek Cemetery, near his old home.

In that same wagon train of 1845 was one of the Aaron Payne's daughters, Margaret Payne Scott and her husband James. They had married in 1837 and eventually had nine children. They settled on a DLC due east of Carlton and due north of Lafayette. They shared a property line with Calvin W. Ish and his wife, Cynthia Ann Payne Ish. Calvin and Cynthia had married in Illinois in 1844.

Aaron Payne
This tintype is from Bob
and Shirley Kuykendall's
family photo collection.
Thanks to Tom Fort.
There is a larger version
on this photo link.

It was two summers later -- 1847 -- that Aaron and Mary, with several of their children, made the long trek from Putnam County, Illinois to Oregon. Upon arriving, they organized 14 disciples into a congregation called the Black Hawk Church six miles northwest of McMinnville. The congegation included members of the McBride family. This group was the forerunner of the First Christian Church in McMinnville.

Aaron Payne settled on a Donation Land Claim west and south of present-day Yamhill. It was on present-day Old NW Moore's Valley Road. Mary had died the year following their arrival in Yamhill County. Since this was about nine years before the first cemetery was established, we believe she was buried on the family Donation Land Claim. (Other graves are there.) Aaron did not remarry.

Some historians believe Aaron came overland alone, Mary having died a year or two before. However, a note on his Donation Land Claim affirms that she died in January of 1848, leaving eight children. This death was about one month after the DLC was settled. The claim is affirmed by Dr. James McBride, neighbor Andrew R. Wright and Margaret Woods, sister of James McBride.

Payne served at least one term in the Oregon Legislature. He farmed for his livelihood and preached without renumeration. In 1849 he went to California to mine gold, leaving the farm in the care of his children.

The record of preaching in pioneer Oregon does not show that Aaron Payne traveled very much. It may well be that the musket balls lodged near his spine caused pain that curtailed his travels. When he was about 80, he retired from farming and preaching and boarded at the Charles and Eliza Kuykendall home at Yamhill until his death at age 94.

The testy Mr. Payne was an occasional contributor to the Pacific Christian Messenger published at Monmouth, Oregon. He had written something in 1877 that David Truman Stanley, the editor, did not agree with. In his response, Stanley was respectful, but did refer to Mr. Payne as father Payne.

Aaron Payne was conciliatory, but ended his article by saying,

I have been trying to get you some new subscribers, and hope to do so. So I'll cut it short by saying, call me Aaron Payne or Elder Payne. Call no man your father on earth.    Aaron Payne
Another bit of Mr. Payne's life can be seen in the following comments to the Pacific Christian Messenger in 1878:
As to myself, my eyesight is quite deficient: my greatest loss is I can't read the Bible, but this is in part made up by my kind friends reading to me; I will name Mr. T. C. Davis and family, and the family with whom I board.

A local newspaper printed this article about Payne's passing. Christian Church preachers of the era were frequently called "Uncle."

“Uncle Aaron Payne died Friday night May l8th, 1883. He was buried Sunday at 2:00 o’clock at North Yamhill Cemetery. It was his request to have no funeral, only prayers at the grave, which was done by Rev. H. C. Morgan. He was 98 years, 4 months and 19 days old. He was highly esteemed by all who knew him, a straight forward upright Christian gentleman. A large procession followed his remains to the grave.”

The article mistakenly adds four years to his life.

It is fitting that Aaron Payne, the mighty oak of a man, is buried under a mighty oak in the Yamhill-Carlton Pioneer Cemetery. The village of Yamhill can be seen from his grave site. On his simple, flat grave marker are the words:

Aaron Payne
Somerset County, Penn.
Dec. 30, 1789
North Yamhill, Ore.
May 19, 1883


Interestingly, the family of pioneer Green L. Rowland chose to bury their father next to Aaron Payne in 1910. Green was the brother of Levi Lindsay Rowland and a charter member of the Carlton Christian Church. He did much of the construction work on the building just as Aaron Payne had done the construction work on the body of believers.

Information about Aaron Payne is being assembled and checked by Richard E. Mitchell.

Charles Dailey, January 2000
Northwest College of the Bible

John (or Adam) Paine/Payne 
|      Adam Payne (1781-1832)
|      Christopher Payne (1786-1871) & Elizabeth (1792-1869)
|      Aaron Payne (1789-1883) & Mary Jane Murphy (-1848)
|      |      John A. Payne (-1880)
|      |      Jeremiah Payne (-1847) & Phoebe Maxwell 
|      |      Minerva Payne (-1847) & Linus Bacon Skeel (1811-1897)
|      |      Caleb Joshua Payne (1822-1858) & Malinda Toney (1829-1898)
|      |      William Payne 
|      |      Margaret Payne (1821-1880) & James Scott (c.1845-)
|      |      Joseph R. Payne (-1853)
|      |      Cynthia Ann Payne (-1851) & Calvin W. Ish
A list of descendants with great detail are on this link.

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