Harrison Rittenhouse Kincaid

Harrison Rittenhouse Kincaid (1836-1920) ─ Prominent in Journalism & Politics from 1860’s on

Kincaid Family Lot

Stalwart Republican and newspaper editor, Harrison Rittenhouse Kincaid was a prominent character in the world of journalism and politics in Oregon beginning in the 1860s.   Like other influential men of his time, Kincaid was shaped by his early pioneer experiences.

Harrison Rittenhouse Kincaid was born in 1836 in Madison County, Indiana to Thomas and Nancy Kincaid. At age 17, Harrison –along with his parents, five brothers and a sister –came West in 1853 onwhat was known as “The Lost Wagon Train.” A trip of unusual hardship, their wagon train took a new route over the Cascade Mountains and got stuck in the deep woods near present day Oakridge. A member of their party was found in a farmer’s field near Pleasant Hill, Oregon and guided rescuers with food, blankets and horses back to the stranded party.

In 1855 the Kincaid family took a Donation Land Act claim southeast of Eugene. Young Harrison spent his first five years splitting rails, building fences and hauling lumber for a cabin on the property. He also was employed by Isaac and Elias Briggs to dig the Mill Race in what is now present day Springfield.

Imbued with mining fever, Kincaid tried his luck in the gold camps near San Francisco around 1858 before returning to Eugene to make his mark in public affairs.

By 1860 Harrison had attended Columbia College. He was the printer for The People’s Pressin Eugene and earned a reputation as a judicious newspaper editor. Kincaid then started The Oregon State Journalnewspaper. The Eugene publication was also recognized as a leading framer of public opinion throughout the state.

Devoted to civic matters, Kincaid’s political career developed alongside his editorial work. From 1868 to 1879 Harrison was appointed clerk in the U.S. Senate. At the same time, he filed stories as the Washington D.C. correspondent for The Oregoniannewspaper. In 1905 Kincaid was electedOregon’s Secretary of State and served one term. Throughout his life, Kincaid was a Republican delegate in county, state and national conventions.

While at the national capital, Kincaid took many opportunities to tour various states. Visiting his home state of Indiana, he met Alberta Augusta Lockwood, whom he married in 1873 in Michigan. The couple returned to Eugene in 1881 and took up residence in the log cabin on the family’s homestead. In 1889 their only son Webster was born.

Later on, Webster Kincaid and his wife had several children, the oldest of which they named Harrison Rittenhouse Kincaid (1910-2001). Today visitors will notice the Kincaid Lot has two grave markers bearing the name “Harrison Rittenhouse Kincaid.” According to a family member, the two relatives were never confused due to the age difference, soneither used “Sr.” or “Jr.” in their name.

In 1920, at the age of 84, Harrison Kincaid died at Webster’s home in Portland. His obituary in the Eugene Daily Guard (now The Register-Guard) described Kincaid as “a man of splendid intelligence and sound ideas on all public questions with an unblemished character. He was well-known, highly respected and liked by all.”