Central Oregon pioneer woman meets tragic demise
Eliza J. Savery was born in Mississippi on July 22, 1841. After her father's death in Iowa, Eliza and her mother, Massie Savery, came across the plains by wagon in 1852 and settled in Douglas County, Oregon Territory. While in Douglas County, she met Samuel Slayton and married him in Green Valley on July 1, 1858.
The family moved to Polk County, Oregon in 1863, after Samuel had tried farming in Southern Oregon and going to mines in California. By 1869, the Slayton's had decided to move to Central Oregon and settle along Ochoco Creek in the Crooked River Valley. They brought some livestock and homesteaded just east of present Prineville. Eliza gave birth to seven children, four of whom lived to maturity. When they came to the Crooked River Valley, there was only one building at what was known as Prine.
Eliza and Samuel lived at the site of their farm for many years and were among the most respected citizens in the area.
In October 1901, Samuel and Eliza had started to Eugene by wagon and while ascending a steep hill on the wagon road near Upper Soda in the Cascade Mountains, they met another wagon coming up the road. The narrow road required that one of the wagons back up to a site that would allow passing. Samuel was helping back the other wagon down the road when a tree fell along the road and spooked the horses of the Slayton wagon in which Eliza was sitting. The horses of the Slayton wagon backed up and the wagon fell over a steep grade carrying Eliza over with it. She fell about 100 feet down a perpendicular hill and received fatal injuries.
Her death occurred on Oct. 31, 1901. She was among the earliest women settlers in Central Oregon.
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