|Tabitha Moffatt Brown|
May 1, 1780|
|Died||May 4, 1858
|Spouse(s)||Reverend Clark Brown|
Tabitha Moffatt Brown (May 1, 1780 – May 4, 1858) was an American pioneer emigrant who traveled the Oregon Trail to the Oregon Country. There she assisted in the founding of Tualatin Academy, which would grow to become Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Brown was honored in 1987 by the Oregon Legislature as the "Mother of Oregon."
Born on May 1, 1780, in Brimfield, Massachusetts, Tabitha was the daughter of Lois Haynes Moffatt and Dr. Joseph Moffatt. She married the Reverend Clark Brown (1771–1817) on December 1, 1799. The pair raised three boys and one girl together until the reverend died in 1817. He was a Congregational minister, and later became an Episcopalian minister. The oldest son was Orus, followed by Manthano, John Mattacks, and finally Pherne. John died at age six. Prior to John and Clark’s deaths, the family lived in various locales, including Charles County, Maryland, where Clark is buried. Later the family moved to Missouri to follow Tabitha’s brother-in-law Captain John Brown, a sea captain. Prior to this and during this time she supported the family by teaching.
The trip began in April 1846. On the trip to Oregon, the family, except for Orus, chose to take the Applegate Trail when they were told it was a shortcut. The guide later left after being paid. This added to the journey and delayed their arrival in the Willamette Valley. As winter set in, the family had still not reached the valley and they sent Pherne’s husband Mr. Pringle to seek help from the settlers of the valley. On his way to Oregon City, Pringle ran into Orus, who was on his way to help with supplies. The two then returned and brought the rest of the family to the settlements on December 25, 1846.
Once in Oregon, Tabitha traveled between Oregon City and her daughter’s home in Salem, and eventually settled in Forest Grove. In Oregon Country her first job was sewing gloves to sell. Later she helped found an orphanage with Harvey L. Clark. Then with Clark and the Rev. George H. Atkinson, they founded Tualatin Academy, that would grow to become Pacific University in Forest Grove. Brown died in Salem while living with her daughter on May 4, 1858. She is buried in Salem at the Pioneer Cemetery. There is a tree dedicated in her memory at Champoeg State Park. A World War II Liberty Ship built in 1942 was named in her honor.
- Salem Online History
- Library of Congress
- Ward, Jean M. "Tabitha Moffat Brown (1780–1858)". The Oregon Encyclopedia.