"Tabitha Moffat was born on May 1, 1780, at Brimfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Dr. Joseph and Lois (Haynes) Moffat. She married the Reverend Clark Brown in 1799, and they had four children... In the spring of 1846, when she was sixty-six years old, Brown set out for Oregon Country with two of her adult children, their families, and Captain Brown."
The Mother of Oregon
Oreg. Hist. Soc. Research Lib., OrHi 53563
"Of the 158 names inscribed in the legislative chambers of the Oregon State Capitol, only six are women. One of those is Tabitha Moffat Brown, named by the 1987 Oregon legislature as The Mother of Oregon. The legislature proclaimed that she 'represents the distinctive pioneer heritage, and the charitable and compassionate nature, of Oregon's people.'"
Teacher and Patron of Education
"After her husband's death in 1817, Brown taught school before moving to Missouri, where her brother-in-law, Captain John Brown, lived."
After her move to Oregon, her love for education continued..
"In time, Brown became acquainted with and visited missionary families throughout Oregon, including the Reverend Harvey L. Clark and his wife Emeline, who had started a missionary school in 1841 for Indian and part-Indian youth. While staying at the Clark home in West Tualatin (later Forest Grove), Brown shared her dream of providing a school for the children and orphans of pioneers. With the assistance of Clark and the Reverend George H. Atkinson, she planned to open a meetinghouse 'to receive all the children, rich and poor.'
"In the spring of 1848, Brown founded the Oregon Orphans' Asylum and School at Tualatin Plains. A boarding house and a teacher from the East were soon added. In the first year, Brown had thirty student boarders of both sexes, ranging in age from four to twenty-one years old. Jane Kinney Smith, one of the early students, remembered the slight but capable 'Grandma' Tabitha Brown kindly managing household affairs.
"In 1849, the territorial government chartered the Orphan Asylum as Tualatin Academy. Five years later, in 1854, higher education classes had been added, and the charter was amended to read Tualatin Academy, which closed in 1915, and Pacific University."
A Heroine’s Letter
In 1846, Tabby wrote in a letter about a portion of her journey through the Umpqua and Calapooia Mountains. The letter can be seen at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliff College. The entire collection of Tabitha’s letters can be viewed online. Click here.