1850-66: Student, Husband, Soldier
Cyrus was one of the earliest graduates of Tualatin Academy, which was a high school attached to Pacific University. If he had stayed for college, he would have been in the same class as Pacific's first graduate, Harvey Scott. "My parents were very anxious I should be a college graduate and study for the ministry," he recalled. But rather than continuing on to college, Cyrus got married to a fellow student from the Academy, Lucy Maria Tanner. (She was usually called by her middle name, Maria.) They farmed in a nearby community just south of Forest Grove for a year or two, then took up a homestead in Umatilla County. Cyrus hoped to become a prosperous farmer. Sadly, he would not be successful either in his farming or his marriage.
By the time the Civil War broke out, Cyrus and his wife had returned to Forest Grove. On December 1, 1864, at the age of 25, Cyrus joined the Oregon Infantry Volunteers of the Union Army -- the first to enlist in Washington County. (See a portrait of him in uniform held by the Oregon Historical Society.) Within a year, he was posted to Fort Hall in Idaho Territory. As was common at the time, his wife accompanied him into the field. Their first and only child, Lucy Adela, would be born at the fort.
His primary duty was to guard the Oregon Trail, though he noted in a letter to his brother that "no one oustide has any idea how much writing it takes." He saw no action, but he was committed to the cause and in one letter he urged his brother to sound out new recruits in Washington County to join the Union Army. At the end of the war he left the army and returned to farming, this time in Yamhill County.