Reuben Gant’s grave marker
Reuben Gant’s grave marker at Mount Union Cemetery in Philomath. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

Published as it appeared on Dec. 12, 1916, in the Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, Page E3, Columns 3-4.

The Passing of the Pioneers

PHILOMATH, Ore. — Reuben Gant, Oregon pioneer and long a resident of this city, died at his home in Philomath, December 6. Mr. Gant would have been 99 years old next May. Until a year ago he enjoyed robust health, but for the last several months has been confined to his bed. The funeral was held here Thursday from the United Brethren church.

Reuben Gant was born in Indiana and for more than half a century he has been a resident of the Willamette valley, living in Benton county the greater part of that time. He was the first man to bring a wheeled vehicle over the Cascade mountains, following a route and breaking a trail over what later became known as the Barlow road.

When a young man Reuben Gant taught school in Indiana; then he went to Missouri, following the same vocation. Parties were being organized there to go to the far west, and young Gant joined one of these in the early ‘50s. When they reached eastern Oregon they found further progress blocked by the Cascade barrier. The leader wanted to halt or take another route. Gant believed they could get over the range. He was offered the best cow in the outfit if he would successfully lead the way over the mountains. He did this, although they were obliged at one place to lower the wagons over a bluff by ropes. Gant, for some reason, did not get the cow, but he was satisfied by taking the daughter of the leader as his wife.

He and his bride came to the Willamette valley and settled upon a claim. He went to southern Oregon when gold was discovered in the Rogue River country. He served as a soldier through a part of the Rogue River Indian war.

After the Indian war he returned to the Willamette valley and has remained here continually. For almost 40 years he has been a continual resident of Benton county, near Philomath.