The Oregonian, 22 June 1913, page 8
Captain James Harvey McMillen, the Oregon pioneer of 1845, who passed away in Adamsville, O., on June 16, was one of the men whose stout courage, tireless energy and ready friendlyness laid the ground work of this state. He was of Scotch ancestry and was born in Attica, N. Y. May 10, 1823.
He learned the trade of millwright from his father and it served him most opportunely when he arrived at Oregon City October 25, with but 50 cents in his pocket. He found employment in Abernethy's mills on the island at the falls. In 1847 he built the bridge leading from the main street of the town over the basin owned by Dr. McLaughlin, which was used for a boom for logs. This bridge was a substantial structure and supported 850 feet of railray, constructed of 2x4 scantlings, and bars of iron, ½x2 inches thick. This was the first railroad in the state or west of the Rocky Mountains. He also built the first grist mill on Clatsop Plains. Previous to this time the settlers ground their wheat in their small coffee mills.
Captain McMillen was president of the North Pacific History Company and it was due to his steadfastness and liberality that the work of publishing the history was completed in 1889.
During the earlier period he was at work on a boat at the mouth of Skipanon Creek and was one of a party that broke up a liquor seller's shop at Astoria. This dispenser of drinks was exciting the Indians greatly. A 140 mile pull in a canoe up the Columbia and Willamette Rivers to Oregon City was also performed by him in order to cast a vote for Abernethy, the temperence candidate for Governor. At the outbreak of the Cayuse war, consequent upon the massacre of Marcus Whitman, permission was granted him to quit work on the mill and go as a member of the party of 46 soldiers to occupy The Dalles. On this trip a severe snowstorm was encountered. Captain McMillen, like many others in those early days, often knew the pangs of hunger.
McMillen served as Councilman in his ward on the East Side for four years. Young McMillen was quite a favorite with both Governor Abernethy and Dr. McLoughlin. During the Indian uprising he was dispatch bearer between Governor Abernethy at Oregon City and The Dalles Mission, being intrusted with information of the greatest importance. Mr. McMillen, after serving three months as a volunteer at The Dalles, where he assisted in building the fortifications, was sent to Oregon City to erect a mill which was to supply the troops with flour.
At one time Dr. McLoughlin intrusted to Mr. McMillen's care a flatboat load of women and children who were being brought to Oregon City from the scene of Indian hostilities. The doctor also sent to McMillen a barrel of apples to be distributed among those half-starved people.
During the Cayuse Indian War a young man in McMillen's company was mistaken by a sentry for an Indian and killed. His name was Alexander McDonald. This occured at a camp on the east side of the Deschutes. It was McMillen who prepared the corpse for burial, and with others of the company dug a grave with their tin dinner plates. They piled brush upon the spot to keep Indians from disturbing the body.
When McMillen was 83 years old on Memorial day of that year he sat resting in Lone Mountain Cemetery in California. An old man sat down near him to rest. They became interested in each other's experiences of the early days, and before they parted it was made clear to both that Alexander McDonald, who McMillen had helped bury, was the old man's nephew, and after those long years McMillen was at last able to carry out his promise to the dying man to "give a message to his people should he ever be able to locate them."
Captain McMillen's first wife was Miss Margaret Wise, a native of New York and a relative of the late Jessie D. Walling, a member of the well-known Walling family, who settled near Salem in 1846. She died within a year after their marriage. In October, 1851, he married Miss Tirzah Barton, a beautiful girl, who had shortly before arrived from Ohio with her parents, Captain and Mrs. Edward Barton, who settled on Tualatin Plains. The young bride took up a donation claim which in after years she exchanged for the property now known as McMillen's Addition to Portland. Captain McMillen and his wife welcomed the rich and poor alike at their Crosby street home in this city, where they lived for many years. They gave liberally to schools, churches and charity. The first church services ever held in the district north of Sullivan's Gulch were held in the McMillen home and conducted by the Rev. George H. Atkinson. The minister was ferried across the river in a small skiff by the young sons of Captain McMillen. Mrs. McMillen gave the land for the first schoolhouse in that part of the village. Church services were held in this building when completed and the daughter, June, the author, who is affectionately called "Oregon's Own" by the old families, played the simple hymns on a small organ belonging to the late Mrs. J. K. Laing, which was carried to the building by two neighbors every Sunday morning.
Captain McMillen acted in the capacity of school clerk and director for 12 years. He served as Councilman of his ward for four years.
He greatly prized a gold medal which was presented to him for his bravery in the early Indian wars. He was the father of nine children, three of whom are living, the Rt. Rev. H. McMillen, Ivy Glover, Stacey and June McMillen Ordway. Mrs. McMillen died at the old home in 1903 in this city.
The following is Captain McMillen's daughter's tribute to pioneers of Oregon:
OUR HONORED PIONEERS
By June McMillen Ordway.
Tho' tempest tossed they came, like strong new ships full freighted
With hope of men, with women's sobs and tears.
No storm could chill their strong, brave hearts,
Nor e'ev their courage dim
Through all the many untold trying years.
Long miles ahead they saw the stately daylight fading;
Each morn new light shown in their weary eyes.
For this new West they'd left their loved,
Hope's mirage led them on—
They heard the call that bade them wake and rise.
How many of our loved have found their last safe haven;
Like broken spars adrift and nearing shore.
God calls them home so fast in ever gaining numbers.
After the storm the calm—
A new world's glories; theirs for evermore.
The Oregonian, 23 Jun 1903, page 14
The funeral of Mrs. Tirzah Barton McMillen, wife of Captain J. H. McMillen, who died Sunday morning, after a lingering illness, will be held from the family residence, 285 Crosby street, tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock. Lone Fir cemetery will be the place of interment.
Mrs. McMillen was a woman of refinement and of wide acquaintance among all classes. The announcement of her death in yesterday's Oregonian was received with sorrow. Many yesterday expressed their sympathy to her bereaved husband, Captain J. H. McMillen, and her daughters, Mrs. June McMillen Ordway, Right [sic] McMillen, and Mrs. Iva Glover.
The Oregonian, 24 Jun 1903, page 6
Mrs. J. H. McMillen, whose funeral will take place today from the home in this city whose hospitalities she has dispensed with a generous hand for more than a third of a century, was one of the women who, coming to the Oregon country in her early youth, bore her full part in the incidents of its pioneer history and development. She had a bouyant nature, and though repeatedly visited by severe affliction in the loss of her children, was noted among her large circle of friends and acquaintances for her cheerful, helpful disposition. During her later years she accepted the philosphy of spiritualism and found in its cheerful assumptions a consolation that she diffused to many in weekly meetings at her home for a number of years. She will be missed by a much wider circle than that composed of her immediate family and more intimate friends.
The Oregonian, 31 Oct 1903, page 7
The inventory and appraisement of the estate of Tirzah McMillen, deceased, was filed in the County Court yesterday, showing property valued at $19,500.