First white woman resident of Lane County and who gave the new city the name of “Eugene” after her husband Eugene Skinner.
Died at her residence in this city, June 4th, 1881, Mary Packard. Mrs. Packard was born at Augusta, Oneida County, New York, Feb. 7, 1816. From thence she removed with her parents to the State of Illinois in the year 1835, where she was married to Eugene F. Skinner in November, 1839. In the spring of 1845 her husband joined a party of emigrants and with his family crossed the plains to California, where they remained until the following year, when they removed to Oregon and settled temporarily near what is now the town of Dallas in Polk County. The same year Mr. Skinner, in company with Capt. Felix Scott and Elijah Bristow came up the valley in search of locations for future homes. At that time there were no settlers within the limits of what is now Lane County. He selected his claim and built a cabin a short distance west of the butte that now bears his name and marked out the foundations of his claim, which included the lower part of the own plat of our city. In May, 1847, he removed his family to the cabin and became the first settler of Lane County and his wife the first white woman resident. Their nearest neighbor at the time, J.C. Avery, lived 35 miles away. Here deceased lived happily with her husband until his death. When the town was first layed out she was awarded the honor of giving a name to the place, and she christened the embryo town Eugene, her husband’s first name. In February, 1867, she was married to Capt. N.L. Packard, with who
she lived until her death. In character she was amiable to a fault, patient, anxious for the comfort of all about her, speaking no ill of anyone. Schooled in the dangers and hardships of pioneer life, that seemed to quicken the symptoms of a heart naturally gentle and charitable, she lived respected by all who knew her, beloved by her associates, she died regretted by the entire community. Oregon State Journal (Eugene) June 11, 1881, pg. 5, col. 2. University of Oregon Knight Library, Newspaper Collection.
CARD OF THANKS
We desire (through the columns of this paper) to return our heartfelt thanks to numerous friends for their many deeds of kindness during our dear mother’s last illness. to Rev’s Anderson, Geary and Condon, we extend our most sincere expressions of gratitude for their comforting words in this hour of deep affliction. We shall also remember very kindly the services of George W. Kinsey, and the beautiful floral offerings presented us by many lady friends for our mother’s casket. We remain gratefully. Capt. N.L. Packard, St. John Skinner, Mrs. A Van Houten, Mrs. Phoebe Kinsey.” Oregon State Journal (Eugene), June 11, 1881, pg 5, col. 3. University of Oregon Knight Library, Newspaper Collection.
Mary Skinner Packard, as well her late husband – founder of Eugene – Eugene F. Skinner, and her second husband Capt. N.L. Packard are buried at the Masonic Cemetery in south Eugene. Please note the cemetery burial list for other family members also buried there.