INTERVIEWS -- K
This letter written by Stephen and Maria KING from "Luckiamute Valley, Oregon, April 1, 1846" was taken from a typed copy. The field worker who made a record of the letter, sent with it the following memorandum in description of it: In connection with the death of Sol KING, a pioneer, a letter written by the late widow of Sol KING in 1846, and recently published in an eastern paper, contains many notes of interest to those who delight in things reminiscent.
The memorandum seemed at first to be in error in calling Maria KING the wife of Solomon KING, when the letter itself, without explicitly saying so, indicates that in 1846 she was the wife of Stephen KING. Also at that time, as biographical data show, Solomon KING was only 13 years old. However, Stephen KING died in 1854. Sol's marriage is referred to in one account as being to Anna Maria ALLEN, in another being Maria KING. By 1855, when the year's interval would have made it seemly for her to marry again, and women being scarce she might have married her husband's brother, who would have been twenty two. All this would be in confirmation of the field worker's memorandum that she was "Sol" KING's widow.
Interviews with descendants of the KING family (Mrs. Inez KING HERRING, 29 N. Knott St., Portland, Oregon and Miss Bertha KING, Crawfordsville, Oregon) made these speculations no longer necessary. They are retained because of their interest. Stephen KING's widow become the wife of Sol KING. Sol had been aggressively courting a neighbor's daughter, but one day the girl's mother showed in his presence so violent an exhibition of temper that he began to think "like mother, like daughter." He turned then to his brother's widow, who was ten years his senior. Though, partly because of his greater youth, he showed some later predilections for romance, the couple remained together until Maria's death in 1905. Sol KING died in 1913.
Sol and Stephen KING were sons of Nahum KING, who in 1846 settled the valley of that name in Benton County. Stephen had 640 acres upon which he later erected a grist mill. He died in 1854. Sol stayed on the old homestead until 1872, when he moved to Corvallis to run a livery stable. He was elected sheriff of Benton County in 1876, and was re-elected five times.
Through a son-in-law, William Bailey KIGER, it was first printed in an Eastern newspaper. The typed copy that provided the bit for this mimeographed bulletin was received from Miss Ethel PRICE, 704 S. E. 29th Ave., Portland, Oregon. The letter is recorded as written.
Luckiamute Valley, Oregon April 1, 1846
Dear Mother, Brothers and Sisters: After travelling six months we arrived at Lynnton on the Willamette, November the 1st. We had beautiful weather all the way, no rain of any account. We got along finely until we came to Fort Boisien with 3 or 4 miles of Lynnton when along came a man by the name of MEIKS, who said he could take us a new route across the Cascades mountains to the Willamette river in 20 days, so a large company of a hundred and fifty or two hundred wagons left the old road to follow the new road and traveled for 2 months over sand, rock, hills and anything else but good roads. Two thirds of the immigrants ran out of provisions and had to live on beef, but as it happened we had a plenty of flour and bacon to last us through. But worse than all this, sickness and death attended us the rest of the way. I wrote to you at Fort Larim that the whooping Cough and measles went through our camp, and after we took the new route a slow, lingering fever prevailed. Out of Chamber L. NORTON'S, John's and our family, none escaped except Solomon and myself. But listen to the deaths: Sally CHAMBERS, John KING and his wife, their little daughter, Electa and their babe, a son 9 months old, and Dulancy C. NORTON's sister are gone. Mr. A. FULLER lost his wife and daughter, Tabitha. Eight of our two families have gone to their long home. Stephen was taken with the fever at Fort Boisen; he- had not been well since we left Ohio, but was not taken worse. He was sick for three months, we did not expect him to live for a long time, was afraid he had consumption, but he is now well and hearty, getting fatter every day, and he weighs as much as he did when he came over the mountains, and as for myself I was never heartier in my life since I left Missouri. I have not had even one sick day. The rest of our party are getting well and hardy now, I believe.
Those that went the old road got through six weeks before us, with no sickness at all. Upwards of fifty died on the new route.
The Indians did not disturb us any, except stealing our horses. We have made our claim on the Luckiamute, a western branch of the Willamette, not a day's ride from the ocean and 100 miles south of the Columbia river. It is a beautiful country as far as I have seen. Every person eighteen years old holds a section by making improvements and living on it five years. They sow wheat here from October till June, and the best wheat I ever saw and plenty of it at 75 cents and $1.00 per bushel; potatoes 25 cents, peas $1.00 per bushel; corn 50 cents, beef 6 cents and 8 cents, pork 10 cents, sugar 12 1/2 cents, molasses 50 cents, tea 75 cents, sheeting from 16 to 25 cents, calico from 10 cents to 50 cents, and salt is 1 cent a pound, and other things accordingly. Mills are plenty, no trouble about getting grinding. The water is all soft as it is in Massachusetts. Soda springs are common and fresh water springs without number. It is now the 1st of April and not a particle of snow has fallen in the valley, neither have I seen a bit of ice a half inch thick this winter but it rains nearly all winter but this does not hinder them from plowing and sowing wheat. We have the most frost in the spring. They don't make garden until the last of April or the lst of May, but it comes good when it does come. There are thousands of strawberries, gooseberries, whortle- berries, currants and other wild fruits but no nuts except for filberts and a few chestnuts. The timber is principally fir and oak.
You perhaps wish to know how I like the country. I like it well. It is an easy place to make a living. You can raise as many cattle as you please and not cost you a cent, for the grass is green the whole year round. Wheat is raised without trouble and will fetch anything, the same as cash. A wagon from $100 to $150, $100 for a yoke of oxen, $50 for a cow. And work will fetch anything you want at from $1.00 to $1.50 a day, a dollar a hundred for making rails, and so on. And although I was much apposed to coming as anyone could be, if I were back there and know what I know now, I should be perfectly willing to come.
The land you get is sufficient to pay for your trouble and if you were here and John and Warren each of them and yourself had a claim, I should like to live here. We have all got claims joining. What winter states will do for us I cannot tell. You know more about that than I do. The Indians appear to be friendly, like to have the Bostons come, as they call them. You think it is a long road and so it is, but the worst is over when you get started. Be sure and have plenty of flour, that is the main object; start with at least 175 or 200 pounds, and 75 pounds of bacon to the person, fetch no more, beds than you want to use, start with clothing a plenty to last you one year after you get here if you have nothing to buy with, after that you will raise a plenty to buy with, start with at least four or five yoke of cattle to the wagon, young cattle four or five years old are the best, fetch what coffee, sugar and such things you like, if you should be sick you need them. I write to you as if I expect you to come. I need not do that as I know of, although I wish you were here.
I can't help but believe you would be suited not that I will do my dear mother any good to see her children well fixed to get a living. That is if Congress ever does anything for Oregon. It is not like any other new country - a farm to pay for - it is already paid for when you get here. You don't know how I want to see you, and if I am never to see you let me hear from you as often as possible. I want to know how you are all getting along and what you are doing. Give my love and respects to all.
We have had two weddings in our family. Roland CHAMBERS and Lovisa KING and Amos KING to Melinda FULLER. Young men have to pay five dollars a year if they don't live on their claim. The people all look hale and hearty here. We are all looking for Moses MOON and Herman HALLOCK this fall.
Write the first opportunity and every one. It has been so long since I have heard from you.
From your affectionate children Stephen and Mariah KING.
Miss Kline was seen at her residence (the old Kline home) at Eighth and Harrison Streets. She declined to be interviewed formally but in an informal chat she gave much valuable information. This follows:
"My father was a Polish Jew and mother was a Russian Jew. They came to Corvallis about 1864. Mother could not read or write, but she was anxious that her children should have and education. Almost the first thing she noticed in Corvallis was the schoolhouse, and when father suggested it might be better to go on to Monroe she answered, "I am going to stay here and send my children to school."
"Father was a tailor. He had a sewing machine (the first that ever came to Corvallis) and a few bolts of goods. He would sell the goods or make them up into suits. He announced that if a woman bought goods for trousers for her men folks he would cut the garments out. The shop was on Second Avenue and for four years we lived in a shack in the rear. On one side was a saloon with a dance hall over it. Here the miners coming from the south with their bags of gold dust would stop for such entertainment as the place afforded. We never felt sure when we went to bed at night that we would not be dead by violence before morning. Father's business prospered and after four years he built a house on North Second Street.
"I got my schooling in the public schools of Corvallis and in the old Corvallis College. For finishing I was sent for a year or two to the Sister's School in Portland. Among other things I was taught music and needlework. French was taught to those who wanted it (Mrs. KLINE showed examples of her work that show a high degree of skill and much painstaking care.)
"When father first came to this country he got a job in New York City. In a short time a strike was called and he went out with the others. After a time he found out the wives of the older men in tire factory were secretly carrying work home which their men did and received pay while others were on strike. The young men were being made the goats. Father would never strike again. He always told his children 'If you are not satisfied with your job, quit it; but while you hold your job give honest service.'
"Fattier allowed his children to go to Sunday School at one of the churches. He was willing for them to be left to make their own choice of religion when they grew older. When we won testaments for certain work in Sunday School he made us take them back, but afterwards said that action was narrow--minded and hasty.
"Father had all his life the Copy of Shakespeare and an English translation of Les Miserables from which he learned the language. He always persevered until he found the best word to express the idea he had.
"The world is getting too lax, - lax in marriage relations, lax in ideas of personal responsibility, in social honesty. Men do not keep their business commitments. Some accuse me of being hard with debtors. I am not hard but I do try to teach them to pay according to agreement."
Mrs. KYLE was interviewed at her farm hone near Alpine. Her address is Route 1, Monroe, Oregon. She said:
"My father was Joseph H. EDWARDS and his parents were James and Mary EDWARDS. They came from Ohio and were part of the United Brethren Missionary Train which was led by Rev. T. J. CONNOR and Rev. Jeremiah KENOYER. Grandmother's brother, B. N. LONGSWORTH, came with them. I know little about them except what is written in the diary. Grandfather and my great uncle took donations land claims in the Alsea Valley. After a few years grandfather left the Alsea Valley and bought the REEVES claim northeast of Bellfountain, where he spent most of the remaining years of his life. His sons were Isaac, William Lewis, Joseph, and Frank. I am not sure of the order of their birth. The girls in the family were Cordelia, Alice and Lucinda. Cordelia married Jackson GALLAGHER, a United Brethren preacher who went to eastern Oregon
"Uncle Basil LONGSWORTH married and later moved to Marion County near Jefferson. He had two children, Grant and Elva. I remember as a child we used to visit them, but when the older folks died we lost track of one another. I understand that all the living members of the family have moved away from Jefferson.
"I wish I knew more about the early days of my people, but when I might have learned I didn't appreciate the importance of such things. I shall be very glad to see my great uncle's diary published and preserved."
(Editor's note-: The diary was not included among the papers at the Oregon State Library.)