William R. Bishop

1826 - 1913

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

Presbyterian Minister after 1906



Hon. W. R. Bishop was born in Carroll county, Ind., and obtained his education in the public schools of Illinois and in Cherry Grove Seminary. In 1850 he started across the plains to California, traveling with mules and horses. He made his way to the mines and for a year was engaged in a search for the precious metal, after which he turned his attention to farming, which he followed in California until 1856, when he went by way of Portland to Linn County, Ore. There he secured a donation claim of one hundred and sixty acres and devoted his energies to its cultivation and improvement until 1879, when he removed to Portland, where he is living retired. In 1893 he represented Multnomah county in the state legislature. He served as secretary to Governor D. W. Ballard of Idaho, and was appointed by him superintendent of public instruction for that territory. He acted in the latter capacity from 1866 to 1868, when he resigned in order to return to Oregon. He has been an advocate of Republican principles since the Dred Scott decision, and upon the organization of the party he became a stalwart advocate of its principles and has never wavered in his allegiance to the party. Socially, he is connected with the Masonic fraternity; and he is an ordained minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In early manhood he married Elizabeth J. Adams, a native of Indiana. Her father started across the plains to California in 1846, accompanied by his wife and three children; but he died during the trip. His widow continued the journey and with her little family located in California, where Mrs. Bishop was living at the time of her marriage. She became the mother of three sons and four daughters. With the exception of one daughter all reached mature years, namely: C. P., of this review; Mary D., the wife of W. O. Stannard, of Portland; Jay A., of Salem; Mrs. Clara L. Starr, of Brownsville, Ore., Mrs. Effie Muir, who died in Portland in 1901; and Fred E. and Estella, both of Portland.
[Source: Portrait and Biographical Record, page 353]

"My father Rev. William R. Bishop, was a Cumberland Presbyterian minister," said Mr. [C.P.] Bishop, when I visited him recently at his home in Salem. "Father was born in Indiana in 1826. In 1850 he went to California, where he mined for a while, later teaching school and preaching. My mother's father, David Adams [this is incorrect in the article, it should be Thomas Adams], with his family, started for California in 1846. He died while crossing the plains. Mrs. Adams, my grandmother, was left a widow with three children, to continue the journey to California. One of these three children was my mother Elizabeth J. Adams, at that time but 8 years of age. Charles Claggett of Salem Jesse and Ben Irvine of Linn County, and Uncle Sammy Allen of Salem, all hailed from the same neighborhood in Missouri where my mother was born in 1838. My mother's brother David, who was 14 years old, got a job driving two yoke of oxen, breaking sod on one of the big California ranches. He went barefoot while doing the plowing, as he claimed he would rather go barefooted than wear shoes. As a matter of fact they were so desperately poor they had no money with which to buy shoes and the money he earned at plowing was spent for wheat, which they ground in a coffee mill to make bread. My grandmother married a man named Abner Bryon [this is incorrect in the article, it should be Abner Bryan]. When my mother was 15 she married my father at Mountain View, not far from San Jose, Cal. This was in 1853. I was their first child and was born in Contra Costa county, Cal., September 23, 1854. We moved to Oregon when I was two years old. I had four sisters and two brothers. My brother, F. E. Bishop lives at Portland, while my sister Clara L. Starr, lives at Brownsville. All the rest of the family have passed on.

"In 1856 my father took up 160 acres of rock and brush four miles east of Lebanon. In 1862, not having made much impression on it, he decided to sell it and he bought a farm on the Calipooia, eight miles above Brownsville. Father taught school, taught classes in singing, married couples, preached, and farmed on the side. He was a brilliant man but not a good business man. He almost knew the Bible by heart. He could recite Shakespeare by the hour, for he had a wonderful memory, but in those days a knowledge of Shakespeare didn't add to your bank balance; so we children worked early and late, while father taught singing schools at Lebanon, Brownsville and Crawfordsville.

"Father had seven brothers and two sisters, and none of the family nor their children, so far as I know, were merchants. The family, so far as I can trace it, has always gone in for farming, though there are a few carpenters, blacksmiths and other mechanics in our clan."
[Source: Oregon Daily Journal 14 May 1923, page 6]

"My father, William R. Bishop was born in Indiana in 1826 and went to California in 1850. My mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Jane Adams, went to California in 1846. There is a tradition in our family that two brothers came from England and settled in the South. My father's grandfather, a descendant of one of these brothers, was killed in the Revolutionary war. His only son, William Bishop, who was my grandfather, was born in Tennessee. Shortly after my grandfather's marriage he moved with his bride to Alabama. My grandfather had seven sons and two daughters. His two oldest sons were born in Alabama.

"My grandfather was a carpenter. Like many men in the South, he did not approve of slavery, so he moved to Indiana. In 1836 he moved from Indiana to McLean county, Illinois. He bought a farm near Bloomington. He died during the Civil War, at the age of 80. My grandmother was 85 when she died.

"My father, William R. Bishop, attended Cherry Grove seminary at what is now known as Danville, Ill. In 1850, when he was 24, and after he had been ordained a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian church, he started across the plains, with three other young men. They had six horses. They drove four. The two extra horses were used to relieve the regular teams. They made a quick trip. They arrived at Hangtown on the Fourth of July. My father attributed their quick and successful trip to the fact that they didn't travel on Sunday. By resting on Sundays the horses were fresh on Monday mornings and it also gave them a chance to do extra grazing on Sunday.

"My father worked in the mines at firs, and saved about $300. He became ill with typhoid, and by the time he had recovered, his savings were spent. He became a teacher in a country school in Santa Clara county, and preached on Sundays. He rented a farm, and to this farm, in Contra Costa county, he brought his bride immediately after their marriage at Mountain View, Cal., in 1853. My mother was born in Indiana. Her father David Adams, [this is incorrect in the article, it should be Thomas Adams], started with his family for California in 1846. He died while they were crossing the plains, leaving my grandmother with three children, the oldest, David L., 10 years old. Then came my mother, and Elam Brown Adams, the youngest. My uncle David settled in Southern California, where he raised oranges. He died at Los Angeles, leaving a wife and several children. My uncle Elam was a typical Westerner. He ran a pack train, drove stage, broke horses, rode the range and freighted. He died in Kingman, Ariz.

"Father was away a good time preaching, so I became the head of the family, so far as farm work was concerned. Father taught at Brownsville, Lebanon, Junction City, Harrisburg, Crawfordsville and elsewhere. We moved to Brownsville in 1872. Father taught there till 1879."
[Source: Oregon Daily Journal 24 April 1936 page 10]


Veteran Minister Dies at Home of Daughter; Funeral is Held Today.

Rev. W. R. Bishop

Funeral services for Rev. W. R. Bishop, who died yesterday morning at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W. O. Stanard, 341 East Eleventh street, were held this afternoon at the Hawthorne Park Presbyterian church, East Twelfth and East Taylor streets.

Rev. W. R. Bishop was born in Carroll county, Indiana, in 1826 and came to Oregon in 1856. He settled near Lebanon and lived there until 1861, when he went to farming near Brownsville. In 1879 he came to Portland and entered the employ of the Brownsville Woolen Mills company as bookkeeper. He was thus employed for 18 years. When D. W. Ballard of Idaho, appointed him superintendent of public instruction in the territory of Idaho. He also served for some time as private secretary to Governor Ballard of Idaho. Rev. Mr. Bishop then went to Boise, where he lived for two years. In 1893 he served as representative from Multnomah county in the Oregon legislature.

Rev. Mr. Bishop first came west in 1850, working in California as a miner in the early days. He also taught school and began preaching, having been ordained a Cumberland Presbyterian minister in Illinois. He was married in 1853 to Elizabeth J. Adams. Mrs. Bishop died in March last year. His ministry in Linn county, where he labored in the county churches and schoolhouses and served as the regular pastor at Brownsville, Junction City, Harrisburg and other places, was very large. He established Brownsville academy, a successful Presbyterian college for some years. Later he engaged in the clothing business in Portland.

The funeral services were attended by Rev. C. A. Wooley, of Eugene, who is the only survivor of the 15 ministers originally comprising the Oregon and Willamette presbyteries of 1865. Rev. Mr. Bishop was a member.

Rev. Mr. Bishop was a profound Biblical student, a powerful preacher in his prime, with a wide knowledge of languages and literature. Only a few years ago he renewed his studies in Greek, mastering the texts so as to conduct all his studies of the New Testament in the original Greek.

Rev. Mr. Bishop is survived by three sons and two daughters. They are Mrs. Stanard; Mrs. C. L. Starr of Brownsville; C. P Bishop, ex-mayor of Salem, Or., and J. A. Bishop of Salem.
[Source: The Oregon Daily Journal, (Portland, Oregon) 26 May 1913, page 9]


Rev. W. R. Bishop Succumbs at Home of Daughter in Portland

Rev. W. R. Bishop, father of Mrs. I. W. Starr of this city, who died in Portland Sunday at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W.O. Stanard, crossed the plains to California from Illinois in 1850. He was born in Carroll county, Indiana, in 1826. When he was 10 years old he moved with his parents to McLean County, Illinois, near Bloomington, where he attended school during his youth. Later he attended the Cherry Grove Seminary, near the present city of Danville, Illinois for three years.

Arriving in California after the toilsome and dangerous trip across the plains in 1850, he went to work as a miner. After a short time he began teaching school and preaching, having been ordained a Cumberland Presbyterian minister in Illinois. In 1853 he was married to Elizabeth J. Adams who died in March 1912.

Father Bishop, as he came to be known in his later years, came to Oregon in January 1856, and first settled a few miles east of Lebanon. He lived there until 1861, when he went on a farm near Brownsville, where he lived until 1879. In that year he came to Portland as bookkeeper for the Brownsville Woolen Mills Company, and continued in that capacity directly and indirectly for 18 years.

In 1866 Governor D. W. Ballard, of Idaho, appointed him Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Territory of Idaho, and he went to Boise and remained two years. He served as Representative from Multnomah County in the Oregon Legislature in the session of 1893.

He leaves three sons and two daughters: Ex-Mayor C. P. Bishop of Salem; J. A. Bishop of Salem; Fred E. Bishop of Portland; Mrs. I. W. Starr of Brownsville; Mrs. W. O. Stanard of Portland.

The funeral was held Tuesday from the Hawthorne Park Presbyterian Church of Portland; followed by interment in Lone Fir cemetery.
[Source: Brownsville Times 30 May 1913]

Ministerial Necrology
Name: Bishop, William R.
Occupation: H. R.
Presbytery: Portland
Place of Death: Portland, Ore.
Date: May 25, 1913
Age: 87
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1913, page 306]

Please Send Additions/Corrections to the Archives

Updated October 17, 2011