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Abbott Levi Todd
Circuit Riding Oregon Preacher
By Charles Dailey - Revision 3

Abbott Levi Todd at a Glance:
Born: Davis County, IN - 1820
Married: Angeline Tate - 1848
Emigrated:via Barlow Road - 1852
Settled: Lookingglass Valley
Preached:Douglas & Coos Counties
Died:Elkhead, OR - 1886
Buried:Elkhead, OR

Abbott Levi Todd
A. L. Todd
(Douglas County
Museum photo.)
A. L. Todd's schooling had been meager, but any story of the expansion of the gospel in Douglas County is incomplete without the incredible story of Abbott Levi James Todd. Our information is drawn largely from a document that circulates among Todd's descendants.

Jerry Rushford tells the story of A. L. Todd on this local link.

A. L. Todd married Angeline Tate before moving west. He had two daughters by two previous marriages. Each wife had died. He was a cousin of Mary Ellen Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln. He named his first daughter Mary Ellen.

A. L. Todd's schooling may have been meager, but he was well connected. His cousin was Elijah Goodwin, editor of the Christian Record in Indianapolis. Goodwin baptized Todd and guided him in home study until he was a very well read man. Early in life he learned the potter's trade, pursuing this for many years after coming to Oregon.

Angeline Todd
Angeline Todd

Abbott and Angeline made the five month trip to Oregon in 1852, seeing lots of loss and death, but not in their own family. Their son Elijah was born while crossing Oregon. They entered the Willamette Valley on the Barlow Road around Mt. Hood rather than going by boat on the Columbia.

They finally made it to Howells Prairie in Marion County. Wintering there with the family, Todd by himself made trips to Douglas County, and built a cabin on a Donation Land Claim at Tenmile. When he returned with his family the next Spring, they found a widow and her family had taken possession of the cabin. A. L. Todd simply took up another claim in Lookingglass Valley, about eight miles southwest of Roseburg.

By trade, A. L. Todd was a potter. Remnants of his pottery can still be seen on his old property.

When Todd settled at Lookingglass, his resources were limited so he could not even afford candles. He cut blazes in Pine trees on his 321 acre donation land claim and visited them regularly to collect the balls of pitch which formed at the base of each slashed tree. Todd burned these pitch deposits at night to light his small cabin and to enable him to study the Bible as he prepared the outlines for his sermons.

He started a church and school (1856), alternating as preacher and teacher. He was ordained (1855), married and buried and generally did what preachers were expected to do. After getting Lookingglass underway, he began preaching in Cole's Creek (1856), French Settlement, Camas Valley, Myrtle Creek, Canyonville and Cow Creek.

Link to Camas Valley story. Link to Myrtle Creek story.
In 1862 he focused on Coos County, preaching in North Bend, Empire City and organizing churches at Myrtle Point, Coquille City and Burton Prairie (Fairview). He was truly a circuit riding preacher with a 175 mile horseback trip three times each year. He organized churches in 1864 and later at Deer Creek (Roseburg), Green (three miles south of Roseburg), Pine Grove, Cox School, Roberts Creek, Oakland, Camas Swale, Calapooia and Fair Oaks (east of Sutherlin).

Link to Oakland, Oregon story.   Link to Coquille Church.
He ordained I. N. Muncy and E. A. Chase to the ministry and preached at Dillard, Roseburg, Wilbur, Yoncalla, Drain, Hebron, Cottage Grove,Pleasant Hill and Dixie.

Link to Pleasant Hill story.
Shoestring Church building
Church and building in
Shoestring Valley. This
structure was constructed
in the 1880s.

(Douglas County
Museum Photograph.)

Writing in the Pacific Church News of 1997, Spring issue, Dr. Jerry Rushfords writes:

The children of A. L. Todd always knew that their father’s “greatest desire in life was to win souls to Christ.” They could not remember any occasion when he had failed to fulfill a preaching appointment. “He never missed an appointment that it was possible for him to attend,” his daughter wrote with certainty.

His son echoed that statement and said that he “could not remember of father ever spending a single Sunday without preaching, if he was well enough to do it.” After Todd’s death in 1886, his children wrote down their memories of his constant travels to advance the cause of Christ.

Coming home one winter’s day in the late 1860s from a preaching tour in Coos County, Todd found the upper Coquille River swollen from recent rains. Despite the rapid current, Todd attempted to lord the dangerous river. Before he reached midstream, the current had swept the feet from under his horse and in an instant they were adrift in the icy stream.

Todd grabbed the horse by her tail and down the river they went, their heads sometimes above the water and sometimes under. The horse finally swam to shore with her exhausted companion still clutching her tail. They rested for awhile on the river bank, and then pushed on. The thoroughly soaked preacher was suffering severely from the cold, but they rode for 15 miles before they came to the next house.

At age 60 he stopped his circuit riding and turned to mining and farming. His productive gold mine as well as his property was lost to some dishonest business men and he moved to Elkhead (east of Rice Hill) to start over.

He planted a church and became a major shipper of quicksilver, but died in 1886 a poor man. He is buried there. But how can a man be poor that has blessed the lives of thousands with his pioneering spirit and relentless labors for the Lord?

The town of Elkhead is gone now. Little remains to mark its location except an unused Grange Hall and the sign "Elkhead" on a post in a residential front yard.

A. L. Todd is buried in Elkhead, the community that he loved. Don Dubois has provided a private photo of Todd's flat headstone and we have cleaned the photo electronically to the extent that we could.

A. O. Todd Marker

It was Todd's faithful, hardworking wife Angeline that made his travels for the Lord possible. She died in 1917 and is buried in the Fir Grove Cemetery in Cottage Grove after being a Christian 66 years.

Charles Dailey 1998
Northwest College of the Bible

Mr. Todd 
|  Abbot Levi James Todd* (1820-1886) & Louvina Gather (-1843)
|  |  Mary Ellen Todd (1843-1924) & John Pound Applegate (1839-1885)
|  Abbot Levi James Todd* (1820-1886) & Martha Gather 
|  |  Louvina Todd (1847-)
|  Abbot Levi James Todd* (1820-1886) & Angeline Loraine Tate (1832-1917)
|  |  Cynthia Ann Todd (1850-1917) & William Allen Williams 
|  |  |  John William Williams (1869-1939)
|  |  |  Nettie Ann Williams (1870-)
|  |  |  Clara Hester Williams (1871-1836) & Andrew Freeman Collver 
|  |  |  Susan Loraine Williams (1873-1938)
|  |  |  Walter Scott Williams (1876-1943)
|  |  Elijah Todd (1852-1860)
|  |  Aurelius Todd  & Maggie Fouts 
|  |  Levi J. Todd 
|  |  Nora E. Todd  & May 
|  |  Eva L. Todd  & Byers 
|  |  Mattie Todd  & Charles M. Brown 
|  |  |  Ella Brown  & Ed Mosier 
|  |  |  Josh Brown 
|  |  |  Vernie Brown  & Clarence R. Boyd 
|  |  John Owen Todd 
|  |  Thomas Todd 

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