Alden Boyington Rowe

Alden Boyington Rowe

Alden B. Rowe (my great great grandfather) was many things in his lifetime: A Son, grandson, brother, husband, father, Union Army soldier, a farmer, and a prospector. He was also a grandfather, a woodsman, and a walker.

The title ‘walker’ is something I gave to him because the more I learn about him, the more amazed I am at how he could not sit still.  A trait that he seemed to have passed on to his great grandson, Alvin C. Rowe, my father.  🙂  Alden led his family from Somerset County across young America to the California Gold Fields very late in the Gold Rush Era.  No doubt, he was looking to strike it rich.  He never did.  And he never seemed to give up his day job, as during most of these years we see him listed in census records as a Woodsman.

When the Gold did not seem to pan out, then he and his brood moved on.  Records show him in Red Bluff, in the Northern Sacramento Valley, and in Ferndale on the California Coast in Eureka County. All together he spent a good ten years moving about Northern California before he moved up to  and finally settled down in Eugene, Lane County, Oregon.  It’s no wonder every photo I’ve ever seen of his wife, Vesta Victoria Willams protrays her as a fit woman.  I wonder how many miles she put on those feet following her man around as he followed his dream!!

While I am sure that Alden was not perfect, the more I know about him, what I see is a man on the move, looking and searching for that something that would bring his family up the ladder of success.  To some degree he was a spiritual man, for he was a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.  In fact, he was born only 130 miles away from and only three after the Seventh Dayer Prophet Ellen G. White. Ellen G. White was born November 26, 1827 in the village of Gorham, Maine.  Alden was was born in 1830 in Pleasant Ridge Plantation, Maine.  There is no doubt in my mind that as this young woman became who she was, that Miss White influenced firstly her fellow Mainiac’s (meaning, Mainiac: “One who is from Maine.”)

Alden was a Civil War soldier.  He fought on the Union side.  He was involved in a few battles.  There is a persistent story that runs through the family that he was shot in the leg and dug out the bullet with a pocket knife and a piece of wire.  Sounds gruesome at best, but in 1865, I am supposing one did what must be done.  Records, however, do not necessarily support this story.  Cousin Don Sales once told me that the thought perhaps, Alden was a bit of a story teller.  We may never know the truth. But, I have found that when stories such as these persist from one generation to another, there is always some shred of truth to them, and more often than not, they turn out to be completely true!

Right before going off to be a soldier, Alden married Vesta Victoria Williams. She was somewhat younger than he.  I was once told by a woman who claimed to be Rachel Williams’s descendant (Rachel was one of Vesta’s sisters) that the Williams family did not want Vesta to marry this “mountain man.” He wasn’t civilized enough. This is one story that I can hardly believe is true.  Vesta was born and raised up nearby, they were neighbors, and the Williams family was in the area before the Rowe family was.  This is just documented truth. (See the book: “Embden, Town of Yore.”)

Together they raised a brood of children. They built a home.  The Alden B. Rowe home still stands in Eugene, Oregon.  The home now is on the National Historic Places list.  He and Vesta worshiped together and stayed together until she died.  He never remarried, though he lived another 30 or so years.  He died at 97 years of age at the home of his daughter Emma (Rowe) Sales.  She’d been given custody of him somewhat earlier because as he became more frail he could not care for himself or his business affairs.  He and his wife, and two of his children and some grand children are buried in the cemetery on today’s Oregon State University grounds (next to the stadium) in Eugene, Oregon.  In the same cemetery not far away is a nephew, Nathan Rowe and his wife.

Below you will find a time line of Alden’s life.  With links to various documents to prove dates, places, etc.  This timeline, and page will be updated from time to time, as I continue to search and learn more about the man and his wife and their life; the times they shared as they started what became the Rowe legacy in Oregon.

Alden B. Rowe timeline:

Born April 27, 1830 at Pleasant Ridge Plantation, Somerset County, Maine. Son of George Rowe, Jr. & Olive (Bumpus) Doar.  Olive was the widow of Silas Doar, and is a descendant of the Pilgrims Richard Warren and Heugonaut Edward Bompasse. Richard Warren came over on the Mayflower.  Edward Bompasse came over on the second Pilgrim ship, The Anne.

October 19, 1863Married Vesta Victoria Williams .  There were 8 children from  this marriage:  Charlies Irving Rowe, Seth Almon Rowe, Hattie Ann Rowe, Ernest Everett Rowe, Alfred B. Rowe (my great grandfather), Emma Rowe, Eva Rowe, Lillian Vesta Rowe.

December 3, 1863mustered into the Union Army.
From his soldier’s card. Basically, it says he enlisted as Private in the 5th Battery, Maine Light Artillery for 3 years. At enlistment, he was 32, married with light complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, a farmer and stood 5 ft. 8 in. tall. He was born and resided in Pleasant Ridge Plantation, in Moscow,  Maine. He was mustered out and honorably discharged on July 6, 1865.
(source: Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine., Published 1861-1866 by Stevens and Sayward)

Another Document says: (Source: Xerox copy of original document.)
Feb 12, 1889
War Department, Adjutant General’s Office…

Respectfully returned to the Commission of Pensions. Alden B. Rowe, a private of Company E, 1 Regiment Maine Lt. Artillery Volunteers, was enrolled on the 3 day of December, 1863, in Augusta, Me for 3 years and is separated: on rolls Jan, Feb /64 to April 30/65 present, May & June/65 no on file. Muster out roll of company dated July 6/65 Augusta, ME shows him mustered with company at said date and place a private. Regtl Hospital records furnish no information. Regtl Returns Oct/64 not reported absent, sick, or otherwise May 65. June 65 Not reported absent, sick, or otherwise. Company (morning??) report shows him Nov 7/64 sent to Hospital. Battery Medical records not on file. (Regt???) in action Oct 19/64 at Cedar Creek, Va.

Records show no evidence of alleged wound or disease, and no further evidence of disability. By R.C. Drum, Adjutant General


Winchester, Va. (Opequan, VA), Sept. 19, 1864.

OCTOBER 19, 1864, Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia: Alden was shot in the leg and he dug the bullet out with his boot knife and a piece of bailing wire.

July 6, 1865~ Honorable Discharge as a Private from the Union Army.

1869Alden Rowe & Family, and Brother Calvin B. Rowe make their way west to join others who have gone before them in search of gold in California. Gold Rush History 

1885 Tehama County Directory ~ Rowe, Alden – laborer, res Washington nr Ash, Red Bluff, CA.  (special thanks to: Janie for finding the information)

From Homestead papers from Don Sales:
ROWE, Alden B. Age 71 address = Greenleaf, OR
Original #9368 15 Mar 1899
F.C. #5159 18 Apr 1901
Land description = Lots 5, 6, 11 Sec. 36 Twp. 16S R8W
house built and residence established = 14 October 1890
house = box house 16 x 24 ft. with ell 12x 16 ft.
woodshed, barn, hen-house, garden, 55 fruit trees, berry bushes, etc.
Total Value – $1,000.00

Died June 8, 1926 Eugene, Lane County, Oregon


Alden B. Rowe, 97, veteran of the civil war died yesterday at the home of
his daughter Mrs. E. L. Sales. 693 First Avenue west after a short illness.

Mr. Rowe was a member of the Adventist church. Funeral services will be
held a the Veatch Chapel at 2 p.m. today. Rev. Langberg Officiating.
Interment will be in the I.O.O.F. cemetery.

He is survived by four sons and three daughters namely as follows: Charles
of San Gabriel, Cal,: S. A. of Eugene; E.E. of Marshfield: Alfred D. of
Silverton; Mrs. Hattie A. Pensler and Mrs. Sales of Eugene; and Mrs. Lillian
Keith of Gardner.

(note, this particular obituary has mistakes: Alfred D. is Alfred B., Hattie Pensler, is Hattie Kensler)

Source: Eugene Morning Register, June 8, 1926. Page 2, Column 6.

Alden Rowe Buried – Funeral services for the late Alden B. Rowe, 97, civil
war veteran who died Monday, were held yesterday in the Veatch chapel,
interment taking place in the I.O.O.F. cemetery. Rev. T.L. Langeberg pastor
of the Adventist church officiated.

Source: Eugene Morning Register, June 9, 1926. Page 5, Column 5.

12 Responses to Alden Boyington Rowe

  1. Alys Mansfield says:

    My great, great grandfather also through Charles Irving. Love the history you shared! Thank you!

    • PeggyAnn says:

      You are very welcome, Alys. I am pretty sure I have more. I have some photos of Charles too, if you’d like to have copies. I can email them. Hugs Cousin!! 🙂

  2. Valeta Colvin says:

    Peggy, we are 2nd cousins. Your grandfather, Orvin Rowe, was my dad’s older brother. My dad is Walter Rowe. There is a picture posted as Walter which is really Albert & Myrtle. Albert was the oldest of all the children. That picture was taken at my dad,Walter’s funeral. I have enjoyed exploring your efforts in researching family history. Thank you for all your hard work. I don’t know if we met at your dad’s memorial or not. I was there.

  3. Tiera McMahon says:

    This is fascinating! Alden is my great great great grandfather. Charles is my grandfather, Addie is my great grandmother, Lillian my great great grandmother. I’m really just now learning all this history!

    • PeggyAnn says:

      HI there cousin!! Glad you liked what you found. If you have anything to add, you can let me know. Addie Bernhardt??? I met her. Used to write letters back and forth when I was a teenager. Should still have them somewhere around here. When/If I find them, maybe I will send them to you. Then you’ll have something in her own writing. Anyway, glad to hear from you, feel free to email anytime!!! xoxoxo, Peggy
      BTW, I only live about an hour and half away from you if you ever want to meet.

  4. Linda Marie( Keith) Nelson says:

    Thank you for all the information on my great grandfather.
    My father (Louis Harold Keith) gave me his mother’s (Lillian Vista Rowe) family bible. She did list births, marriages and deaths, but no other information in it. It is wonderful to have read your site. Would it be possible for me to get a copy of the picture of him?

  5. Hello my grandfather was Arthur Keith and his wife what is a daughter of your relative. My grandparents are from Northern Oregon near the coast for the most part. Anyway I appreciate your site and love the history. My younger sister has done a lot of research and she may be of help to you. Anyway thank you so much for your research!

  6. Chris Bernhardt says:

    Hi Peggy, I have some cool pictures to send you. My grandmother Addie Dell Keith Bernhardt. The bullet in the leg story made it to me as she stayed at the log home on Lake Creek. I never knew it was Greenleaf until I read your story. I’m recreating the family orchard and I will try to graft some from Alden’s trees.

    • PeggyAnn says:

      Oh my gosh!!!!! HELLO!!!!!! I’d love to meet you and talk. I really want to see those pics. You can reach me at
      I’m so excited. Thank you so much for writing me!!! BTW, I live in Oregon, about 70 miles or so south of Eugene. Hugs, Cuz!!! Peg

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