ALBERT HEMBREE – It is indeed very gratifying to be allowed to epitomize the
career of this esteemed pioneer, being, as he is, one of the earliest pilgrims who
ever crossed the dreary plains and rugged mountains toward the setting sun; and
since that early date he has been identified with the progress and development of
the great west, having ever done a worthy share where his lot has been cast. It
will be of interest to chronicle some of the more definite details of this life
and we note first that Mr. Hembree was born in Tennessee on April 23, 1833, being
the son of Joel J. and Sarah Hembree. While a child he came with his parents to
Dade county, Missouri, remaining there until the spring of 1843. In that spring
they joined the famous train of four hundred wagons led by Captain and Jesse Applegate,
and guided by the noted and beloved Dr. Whitman, which wound its way across the
plains to the latter’s home near Walla Walla. No roads were built and the work had
to be done as they progressed. And incident of the journey illustrates the nature
and courage of the man to whom, more than to any other single individual, we owe
the opening of this vast territory, Dr. Whitman. While crossing the Platte our subject’s
mother and some other women were in one wagon and the teams became tangled up. Dr.
Whitman saw the trouble which threatened death to the women and cried out, “Boys,
are you going to let those women drown?” He at once sprang into the water and swam
to the teams, straightened them out, and so saved the occupants of the wagon. The
train divided in Oregon, our subject’s parents going to Dr. Whitman’s home, near
Walla Walla, and thence to The Dalles and finally to Yam Hill county. There a donation
claim was located and the worthy pioneers settled to develop the country. The father
operated a store at Lafayette and later at McMinnville, where he died in 1867. The
mother died in 1854. The father started across the plains with nine children; one
died en route and one was born on the way. Our subject grew up on the farm and in
the store and acquired a good education and then went to teaching school. On December
28, 1854, he married Miss Mary, daughter of Calvin P. and Mary (Aladine) Pell. Mr.
and Mrs. Pell were married in Holmes county, Ohio, where Mrs. Hembree was born on
April 8, 1839. Mr. Pell moved to Missouri in 1840, and in 1852 came across the plains
with a large ox train direct to the Willamette valley. Mr. Pell had two brothers,
Gilbert and John, and their father, Nathaniel Pell, served in the Revolution. They
descended from English lords.
In 1856 Mr. Hembree removed to Lane county and went to farming and raising stock.
In 1886 he brought a band of stock to Harney county, settling on Poison creek. In
1891 he came to the Narrows and took a homestead and sold his cattle and engaged
in mercantile business. In 1899 the store was burned, entailing a great loss. Since
that time Mr. Hembree has been operating a hotel and livery stable and handling
his farm. He also owns the ranch on Poison creek. Mr. Hembree kept the postoffice
for six years at the Narrows.
To Mr. and Mrs. Hembree have been born nine children, as follows: Mrs. Mary A. Simmons;
Mrs. Annie L. Hamilton; Mrs. Emma D. Moomaw; Mrs. Minnie E. Wooley; Eugene F.; John
L.; of Portland; Guy L., a merchant at Silver Creek; Mrs. Rose E. McGrath; Loren
C. Mr. Hembree’s uncle, Abraham Hembree, was a captain in the Indian war of 1855-6.
Mr. Hembree and his estimable wife are worthy citizens of this county and have earned
and enjoy in generous measure the esteem, confidence, good will and admiration of
all who know them, being good people and worthy pioneers.
Transcribed from Pages 668-669 of Harney County Biographies from “An Illustrated
History of Baker, Grant, Malheur and Harney Counties with a brief outline of the
early history of the State of Oregon”, Published 1902 by Western Historical Publishing