The Souvenir of Western Women/Frances Fuller Victor

Frances Fuller Victor


A WOMAN of rare charm and ability was Frances Fuller Victor, who died in Portland, Oregon, December 14, 1902.

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Frances Fuller was born in the township of Rome, New York, May 23, 1826. Early in life she married Henry C. Victor, a naval engineer, who, in 1863, was ordered to California. At the close of the war husband and wife moved to Oregon, which state Mrs. Victor so loved that she devoted herself with enthusiasm to its fascinating history, and thus gained for herself the distinction of a most versatile figure in Pacific Coast literature. Faithful, precise, unprejudiced was Mrs. Victor, displaying in all her work historical genius, that genius which can "see the nobler meaning of events," even though the events be near at hand.

The first book written by Mrs. Victor on the history of Oregon was "The River of the West" (1870), a biography of the old trapper, Joseph L. Meek, This tale, full of merit, was introduced by a poem, entitled "Sunset at the Mouth of the Columbia."

"All Over Oregon and Washington" (1872) was the second work, touching on the Northwest. The preface to this closes with these words: "The beautiful and favored region of the Northwest Coast is about to assume a commercial importance which is sure to stimulate inquiry concerning the matters herein treated of. I trust enough is contained between the covers of this book to induce the very curious to come and see."

Mr. Victor was lost at sea in November, 1875, and during 1878-1890 Mrs. Victor lived in California, engaged in historical writing for Hubert Howe Bancroft.

In 1893 Mrs. Victor, authorized by the legislature, compiled a history of the early Oregon Indian wars, which was published the following year. Her contributions to the Overland Monthly and to the Oregon Historical Quarterly were of great value. Mrs. Victor's style of writing was graceful, and, by her pen, dull facts were made interesting. Laboring weeks and months at a time, she found in her work a pleasure that more than compensated for all the ills of life. She had ready wit and a keen sense of humor, and greatly enjoyed those writers possessed of this rare gift, especially Barrie and Ian MacLaren. Artistic in taste, deft with her needle and by nature charmingly domestic, she was withal a woman's woman.

There was much sorrow in Mrs. Victor's life, for, one by one, her dear ones passed into the world beyond, leaving her at the close entirely alone. The sister, Metta, was also a writer, and in the last days Mrs. Victor would often speak of "Singing Sybil" with exquisite tenderness and love. Hers was a spirit full of that cheerfulness which Thackeray describes as a pure heart, a loving, kind disposition, humility and charity, a generous appreciation of others, and a modest opinion of self.

All honor to Frances Fuller Victor! She loved Oregon, and Oregon will not forget her.

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