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Salem Pioneer Cemetery ~ Reuben Alonzo Gesner ~ part of the Marion County Pioneer Cemeteries of Oregon
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Reuben Alonzo Gesner
BORN: 17 May 1815 DIED: 24 Mar 1888 BURIED: 26 Mar 1888
BIRTH PLACE:  Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York
DEATH PLACE: Salem, Marion Co., Oregon
IOOF - R. A. Gesner, age 72 years, died in Salem, deceased was an old pioneer of Salem.
1870 OR CENSUS - R. A. Gesner, age 55, farmer born in New York, is enumerated with wife Mary, age 49, born in Kentucky, along with John , age 22, farmer b. Oregon, B. B., male, age 20, Vernon, male, age 18, Romelia, female, age 16, Sarah, age 14, Amelia, age 10, and Rebecca, age 5, all born in Oregon.
"Reuben Alonzo Gesner was one of the intrepid pioneers of 1845, coming to Oregon with his wife and two small children. He was born at Schenectady, New York, and married Mary E. Bailey, in Illinois. His father died and his mother married again and moved to Tennessee, where she also died, and the family were left in the hands of a half-sister, who mothered them. The family found themselves in Illinois, where they grew to maturity. 
Reuben A. and his wife, Mary Bailey, were married at Charleston, Illinois. The immigration of 1845 was especially large, owing to the news of what was called the "Donation Land Act" granting to each married couple 320 acres of land apiece, making 640 acres in all. Of those who braved the pioneer trail that year were the Herrons, Halls, Gesners and others. This train had very little trouble until they reached Fort Hall, and at Hot Springs they were met by Elijah White, who told them of a shorter route that would save them 200 miles and would take them right into the heart of the Willamette Valley, and that this pass over the mountains was much better than by way of The Dalles. This looked like a good proposition, and when Stephen H. L. Meek offered to guide them by the old fur trappers' road they decided to take the chance. In after years this route was known as Meek's Cut-Off. This was an unfortunate choice, for they became lost and wandered around in the desolate Malheur mountains and the desert country for several weeks. Many of the party died of mountain fever. They crossed and recrossed the Deschutes and John Day rivers. Many of their oxen died from lack of food and water. Finally they found themselves back on the road that led to The Dalles and Mr. Gesner drove his stock over what was afterward the Barlow road, while Mrs. Gesner, with her children and what few household effects they had left, were taken down the Columbia river on flat boats. 
While this party was wandering about the Malheur mountains one day, Dan Herron, while looking for his cattle, found a small nugget that some of the party thought was gold. No gold had yet been discovered in California or Oregon and with these ill-fated pioneers, the question of finding a way out of this desert country and to a place where they could find food and water was far more important than gold at this time. This nugget was kept as a souvenir, and after gold had been discovered elsewhere, there was quite an excitement about the gold that had been picked up on Meek's Cut-Off and many parties were lured to prospect through this part of the country. A mine called the "Blue Bucket" was located about where Mr. Herron found this first gold in Eastern Oregon. After the Gesner family arrived in Marion county they took up a fine donation land claim, six miles east of Salem, where they set about making a home in what was then the wilds of Oregon. 
This family did not find life very easy at first in the new country. The women even had to resort to making their dresses from the wagon sheets from their covered wagons. Shoes were home-made of cowhide. The men wore buck-skin clothing and all articles of wearing apparel were made in the home. Wheat was ordinarily sold at $1 per bushel but because of the large immigration of that year and so much grain needed for seeding and to feed the pioneers, the price rose to $5 per bushel. There was little money in the country and almost every necessity became legal tender, or was used in exchange instead of cash. Mr. Gesner was quite a musician and could play several musical instruments proficiently. Several of his children inherited this talent and were good musicians. To help in the education of the twelve children that in time came to their home, in after years, he built a residence in the town of Salem, where his children could live and attend Willamette University or Willamette Institute, as it was then called. Of these children there were: Alonzo, who married Rhoda Neal; Mary Elizabeth, unmarried, died aged sixteen; Harriet, married Samuel Rundlet; John, unmarried; Benjamin, married Fannie Buster; Dr. Vanison of Arlington, Oregon, married Anna Fields; Romelia, married James Munkers; Sarah M., married Rev. George E. Gerow; Amney V., married T. C. Davidson; Rebecca married Horton Haskell. (Names of two of the children not known by the writer.) 
Mr. Gesner was a republican as to politics and chose farming as his profession. His sons and daughters found places for themselves in the new country and became some of the best citizens. The son Alonzo, who crossed the plains with his father at the age of three years, attended Willamette University, where he grew to young manhood and followed the teaching profession for many years. He was surveyor for Marion county in 1872 and served for several terms in this capacity. Later he was employed by the government in surveying its lands. Mr. Alonzo Gesner, one of the sons, entered into partnership with General W. H. Odell and for many years was one of the owners of the Salem Statesman. He sold his interests in this newspaper after President Arthur appointed him Indian agent for the Warm Spring Indian Reservation. He was city surveyor for Salem many years and Captain of Company I, 2nd Regmt., O. N. G., for three years. He married Rhoda A. Neal, a daughter of one of the pioneers of 1844. The children of Alonzo, Jr., and wife Rhoda were Stella P., LeRoy L. and Rhoda M. Mr. Gesner was a republican and a member of A. F. and A. M. and A.O.U.W. lodges." 
From: Steeves, Sarah Hunt, BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE OF MARION COUNTY, OREGON, PIONEERS 1840 - 1860, Portland, Oregon, The Berncliff Press, 1927, pg 43-44.

See also: BRAZEN OVELANDERS by Donna M. Wojcik, pg. 421; GenMat: Vol. I #61
At his home on Piety Hill, Saturday; March 24, 1888, at 6 p.m., R. A. Gesner, aged about 72 years. The deceased was born in New York in 1815, and came to Oregon in 1845, settling in 1846 on the farm he now owns southeast of Salem. He was well known throughout this section of the valley. He leaves a wife and eight children, amongst them Alonzo Gesner, of Macleay; B. B. Gesner, of Turner; Dr. Van Gesner, of Prineville. The funeral will take place from the house on Summer street at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Monday). Friends of the family are invited.
Oregon Statesman, March , 1888.
Reuben Gesner 
Born in 
Schenectady, NY 
May 17, 1815 
Emigrated to Oregon in 1845 
March 24, 1888 

(on South face of Gesner monument) 
(photo available)
IOOF Register of Burials 
DAR pg 81 
1870 OR CENSUS (Marion Co., East Salem Pct., FA #456) 
Steeves, BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE, pp 43-44
OS ? Mar 1888
OS 4 Jan 1889 (Necrology)
LOT: 549 SPACE: 1 SW LONGITUDE: N 44° 55.209' LATITUDE: W 123° 02.876'

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