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Elnora Maxwell (1870-1970)

"The Oregonian" 21 Mar 1966, section 2, page 2, by Ray Moe

When Mrs. Elnora Scoville of Elk City had a birthday party recently, it was not an ordinary thing. Mrs. Scoville has been around a long time and has been at this business of living for more years than most people will ever be able to remember. She is 96 and still going strong.

You see, Mrs. Scoville was born in 1870, Feb. 16, to be exact, when President U.S. Grant was in the White House, and if you really want to stir up American history, you might consider that Mrs. Scoville's father, William Maxwell, was born in 1823 when James Monroe, fifth president of the nation, was exercising his right as chief executive and formulating the Monroe Doctrine.

Mrs. Scoville's parents first came West in 1850 to do a bit of mining at Placerville, Calif., and later moved to Oregon in 1865 where they settled at Pleasant Home, a community a short distance east of Portland. The "new" house that Mrs. Scoville's father built in 1873 still stands in that locality.

While Mr. Maxwell was a resident of the town of Orient, he gave some land to the school district, where a schoolhouse was built. Within the past few years, Mrs. Scoville gave a deed to the school district so it could purchase additional land and build a new school.

Mrs. Scoville was born at Fairview, east of Portland, and was reared in that community where her father had a large dairy ranch. From this family home she entered the Oregon Normal school in 1888 where she attended for two years, graduating with the class of 1889. She is now the oldest living graduate of the school. It was then known as "Old Christian College."

After being graduated by the normal school, she taught for one year at the Orient school, riding a white pony 8 miles each day to and from the school. It was during this time that she met and married Seymour W. Scoville who had a store at Cottrell and later owned stores at Orient and Gresham.

Mrs. Scoville said it took two days to get supplies from Portland during that time and that most stock was purchased from the Meier & Frank store which was located on Front Street in Portland.

In 1906, Mr. and Mrs. Scoville sold the store at Gresham and moved to a ranch at the then thriving community of Elk City, a small town in Lincoln County. During the time they were on the ranch they raised nine children, the youngest son, Pete, now owning the property. Another son, Jack, and his wife Ella own a large ranch nearby and also operate the country store at Elk City.

One of Mrs. Scoville's younger sisters, Mrs. Louise Nelson, now lives in Oceanlake, but before retiring to a rest home on the coast, she was a teacher in the Gresham school system for more than 60 years. She was recently queen of the oldtime celebration at Gresham. She does considerable needle work, plays the piano and leads the singing at the home where she resides, and conducts a large correspondence with former students. She does all this at the tender age of 93.

Getting back to the original idea of this story, the birthday for Mrs. Scoville was attended by six of her eight children who are still living. They are C. J. Scoville, Portland; B. H. Scoville, Elk City; Mrs. C. W. Phinney, Portland; Pete and Ed Scoville, both of Coos Bay; and Mrs. Sam Brown, Tacoma. Unable to attend Ellis Scoville of Brownsville, and Dick Scoville of Reno.

Mrs. Scoville has 17 grandchildren; 35 great-grandchildren (3 more on the way, according to usually reliable sources); one great-great-grandchild. She said she learned to read when she was six years old and has been a reader of the Oregonian for the past 90 years.

[ Also see the rest of the Maxwell family ]