WPA Historical Records
Benton Co., Oregon
Mark Phinney
 

INTERVIEWS -- M
 
 

Mrs. Mina M. McCONNEL 
Mrs. Sarah (W.S.) McFADDEN
Mrs. Victoria RICHARDSON MANN
Mrs. Molly TAYLOR MARKS
George MERCER and Miss Bertha MERCER
Bruce MILLER
The ROBINSON and MOTLEY FAMILIES
REMINISCENCES OF THE MULKEYS
 

 

Mrs. Mina M. McCONNEL

1939

Mrs. McCONNEL was interviewed at her home at 745 North Ninth Street, Corvallis, Oregon. The interview follows.
 

"My father, Joseph YATES, came from Arkansas in 1852. He was only eighteen and paid his way by working for the captain of the train with which he came. When he got to Portland he slept the first night on the bank of the river and paid for his first breakfast by working on one of the river steamers. He walked all the way to Brownsville where he supposed a brother was living.

"Mother's name was Martha Jane ROBNETT. She was the daughter of William ROBINETT who took a donation land claim at Crawfordsville in Linn County. So far as I know, he was not related to the Robnett who had a claim just west of Corvallis. Grandfather Robnett had a large family, twelve children I think. Mother drove an ox team much of the way across the plains. Indians frightened them sometimes but did no serious damage.

"My parents were married in 1855 and settled on a farm about two miles east of Corvallis in Linn County. Their children were William E., Calvin W., Walter E., J. Fred and myself. Calvin and Walter were farmers. William and Fred were lawyers.

"I went to the Orleans school in Linn County and Lilly M. GROVES was teacher. Miss GROVES is now living in Corvallis. Then I came to Corvallis, to the old college. I did not graduate but my brothers, William and Fred took degrees.

"In 1910 1 was married to James H. McCONNEL who was in partnership with his brother on a farm hear Shedd, Oregon. We never had any children.

"Although my husband did not have a college education he was a progressive farmer and always took advantage of all the experts at the Agricultural College had to offer. McCONNEL Brothers had the first pure bred Jersey herd in that part of the county. They also specialized in Shropshire sheep and Berkshire swine.

"As a girl and a woman I used to attend the Oakville Church, the parent church of the United Presbyterian denomination. My parents said many of my relatives are buried there. My husband was a faithful supporter of the church. Whenever there was questions of some unusual contribution, he would say: 'We do not belong to any lodges or clubs to take money. We can afford it and the church is worth all it may cost."'

 

 

Mrs. Sarah (W.S.) McFADDEN

Mrs. Sarah McFADDEN, widow of Judge W. S. McFADDEN, was interviewed at the McFADDEN home at 624 N. Ninth St., Corvallis. Her testimony can be depended upon. She said:

"William, S. McFADDEN was raised and educated in western Pennsylvania. In May, 1873, in response to Greely's advice, 'Go west, young man' he came to Benton County, Oregon. Just before migrating he married Mary LANE, but his wife remained at her old home until he should make preparation for her. She followed him in September of the same. year.

"Although Mr. McFADDEN had a legal education and hung out his shingle at once, clients were scarce and he was forced to eke out an existence by accepting any employment which offered. People of Corvallis received him with the true western hospitality. He remembered with especial gratitude Judge STRAHAN, who was practicing law in Corvallis about that time, and who threw many bits of legal work in his way. It was in part through this friend that he was retained to go to Crescent City, California; to defend Dora CUSHMAN, accused of murderous assault. The favorable outcome of this case, which he records in his characteristic matter in his "Reminisces" seems to have had much to do with shaping his later life, for he gained fame as a criminal lawyer and was much sought after to defend murder cases.

"The children of William and Mary McFADDEN who lived to maturity were Julian, Hugh and Burke. Julian is owner and manager of the Julian Hotel in Corvallis. He was elected State Senator representing Polk and Benton Counties in 1932.

"Mary McFADDEN died in 1887, and in 1889 Mr. McFADDEN married Sarah LANE, a sister of Mary. The children of the second marriage were Brian, Helen, Julia, Curran, Grattan and Murius. The names of the children reflect the classical element in the judge's education.

"Judge McFADDEN had as a partner for several years, Ed BRYSON, son of Judge BRYSON. After BRYSON's death, Arthur CLARKE, a young lawyer from the east became his partner. Judge McFADDEN's title was not one of courtesy, but was based upon his election as County Judge in 1878. The judge's chief method of defense was ridicule, which he used to employ with great recklessness."

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Victoria RICHARDSON MANN
 

Mrs. MANN was interviewed at the home of her son, Jonas, who at present lives a mile and a half west of Philomath on the Alsea Road. Mrs. MANN is mentally alert and competent but has little information of the early times.

"My father, Clayton RICHARDSON, came from Missouri in 1848 when he was twelve years old. His father was Aaron RICHARDSON, and there were ten children in the family. Those I remember besides my father are Hiram, Chan, Gray, Thomas, Aaron, Missouri and Rebecca. Grandfather had a donation land claim three miles north of Monroe.

"My mother, Sarah Elizabeth, was the daughter of Thomas CHILDERS and Nancy HINTON CHILDERS. The other children in the family were Henry, Victoria and Emmaline. They came west in the same train with the RICHARDSONS. Mother was seven at the time. There was some trouble with the Indians crossing the plains but there were no deaths in the party. The greatest difficulty they had was in the death of many of their cattle.

"My parents were married in 1858. Their children were Marion, Zerilda, Thomas, myself, Laura, Aaron, Sidney, Sarah, Henry, Tolbert, Charles, Jesse, Mary, Emery and Laura.

"I attended school first at Fir Grove, a few miles west of Eugene in Lane County; then at McFarland and Irish Bend schools in Benton County. Of my teachers I remember Jennie TAYLOR at the McFarland school and one of the DUNN sisters at Irish Bend. I did not get much schooling. The last school I attended was at Alsea, where Mr. McFARLAND taught.

"My people did not approve of dancing but we had singing schools and play parties for good times."

 

 

 

Mrs. Molly TAYLOR MARKS

June 1938
 

Mrs. MARKS was interviewed at the old MARKS homestead, about six miles north of Summit on Fern Ridge. Both her parents and her husband's parents were pioneers. Her memory of early events in her own life is good, and she has much information that has been handed down from her elders. She is a widow, and lives at the old home with a son.

"My husband, George Delmar MARKS, was born in Ohio in 1861. After the death of her husband grandmother MARKS traveled in a wagon to Missouri, and in 1865 she joined a train for Oregon. The trip was made without any serious mishap and the family settled at first near Forest Grove. The mother was not able to keep all her children with her and my husband lived for a time with Doctor SAYLOR, and after the doctor's death, with a family named JACKS. Later he lived in Portland with a Mr. JEFFRIES who was sheriff of Multnomah County. Mrs. JEFFRIES was a daughter of Amos KING who gave his name to Kings Heights in Portland, and who was a brother of Isaac, Sol and Nahum KING of Kings Valley. Knocking about as he did my husband received only a grade school education.

"My husband came to Kings Valley in 1879, when he was about eighteen years old. All the places near the river were taken and Grandmother MARKS homesteaded the place just east of this. When my husband was twenty-one, he homesteaded this place. The other members of the family was an older boy, James MARKS, who is now living at the Deaconess' hospital in Salem, OR.

"I was born in Peedee. My father was Anderson TAYLOR who crossed the plains in 1850 at the age of fourteen. Father's uncle, John JOHNSON, who had crossed the plains four times, was captain of the train. He had a place already located near Peedee for grandfather, James TAYLOR,. When they settled there the country was undeveloped and mail and groceries had to be brought from Oregon City. Grandfather TRYLOR was the first County Judge of Polk County. He had been a lawyer in Michigan, but turned his attention to cattle raising in Oregon. In the first years there seemed to be little business for lawyers, perhaps because there was little money to pay the fees.

"The TAYLOR children were Phoebe, (Mrs. JOHNSON), Esther (GILLIAM), John, James, and my father, Anderson. Both Phoebe and Esther had been school teachers in Michigan. Esther married a relative of Colonel GILLIAM, prominent early settler of Polk County. My cousins, Mellie and Mary GILLIAM, each served for a time as School Superintendent of Walla Walla County, Washington. Teaching seems to run in the family, as I taught school before I was married and each of my three daughters has been a school ma'am.

"Father was educated in the country schools and in Dallas. I am not sure whether he attended the Dallas Academy or not. Then he farmed and raised stock at Peedee. He served as Justice of the Peace for some years but never held any other elective office.

"My mother, Cornelia ZUMWALT, was born in Salem in 1849. The ZUMWALTS had come to Oregon by way of the Meeks Cut-off and had almost starved before getting through. They settled on the Luckiamute River in Polk county. Grandfather ZUMWALT was one of the first commissioners of Polk County. He was a brick mason in addition to being a farmer and this added income made him quite prosperous. There were few or no brick buildings at first but grandfather was much in demand for building chimneys.

"Grandfather ZUMWALT'S name was John and his wife was Lucinda. Their children were Mary, John, Isaac , Tom, and Cornelia, my mother. Aunt Mary married a ZUMWALT, but he was no relation to her. My mother was educated in the country schools and then taught school herself.

"My parents were married in 1864 when mother was just a girl of fifteen. Girls married young in those days, for there was no choice for an education, and no other career open to them. Some of mother's girl friends were married as young as thirteen.

"My brothers and sisters were Lola, James, Dick, Phil and Lillie. None of them ever had any children.

"My first schooling was in the country schools. The only teacher I ever had at Peedee was Nick TARTAR who afterwards taught mathematics at O.S.C. He taught several years at Peedee. I attended also the Montgomery school in southern Polk county. Here my teachers were Miss LAUGHREY, Mill ALLPHIN and Miss HANNAN. The ALPHINS had a place on the Willamette River in the southern part of Polk County where Allphin's Ferry was located. I also lived with relatives and attended grade school in Walla Walla for two years. Then I attended the Academy in Dallas when Prof. George DAWES and Prof. KEITH were there.

"After taking two summer sessions at the Monmouth Normal School I was given a certificate and taught school in Polk County. My last school was here at Fern Ridge, where I met my husband and gave up teaching.

"We were married in 1895 and have lived here all the time until my husband's death. I am still here. Our children are Reta (CHAMBERS), Thelma (CLARK), George and Clara (VanLOAN). All the girls were school teachers and Mrs. CLARK who is the mother of two girls, is still teaching. George is on the old farm here with me."

 

 

George MERCER and Miss Bertha MERCER

May 4, 1938
 

George MERCER and his sister, Miss Bertha MERCER were interviewed at their farm home about one-half mile west of the Beaver Creek schoolhouse. The gave the following information.

"Our father, George MERCER, came from Ohio to the Bellfountain community in 1853, and took a donation land claim about two miles west of Bellfountain in the hills. He did very little farming there. He taught the first school at Bellfountain in a schoolhouse by the park. There had been earlier schools in the Lloyd schoolhouse not far from Bellfountain. Father worked in a store in Corvallis and was postmaster there for a time in an early day.

"In some way he had gained a knowledge of surveying and worked for the Federal Government, surveying much of the western part of the county and what is now Lincoln County. He was county surveyor of Benton County in 1858-67, 1873, 1876, 1880-82 and 1893- 98. Surveying for the county was only a part time job and he made little money at that. He had no office in the Courthouse. He farmed for a time in the Lake Labish country in Marion County. This was about 1874. Soon after that he came to this place where we have lived every since. Father was a Mason and an Odd Fellow and a member of the Presbyterian Church. Though not a lawyer he often gave counsel to his neighbors who thus avoided the payment fee.

"The children were Albert, Laura, Lester, Walter, myself and Bertha, my sister here. Albert lives in Canada, Laura is in Lakeview, Walter is in Portland, and Lester is living in Arkansas. We two are left on the old farm. I was born in 1872 and went to school first to Grace HANNA in old South School in Corvallis. That was when we were living just south of the bridge in South Corvallis. Among the teachers at Beaver Creek, after we moved her, were Mr. HOWARD, Joe BRYAN and George BETHERS.

"We have been gone from the farm for only about eight years since we moved here. I worked about Philomath and owned some property there. For two years I worked in the Philomath post office while James WATKINS was postmaster.

"For about twenty years, beginning about 1874 father kept a sort of a diary in which he recorded from time to time items about the weather, crop and farming conditions, etc. Entries in this were quite irregular, but you are welcome to copy it if it is of any value."

(Note: This diary is included at the end of this book.)

 

 

 

Bruce MILLER

May, 1938
 

Mr. Bruce MILLER was interviewed at the ancestral home in the eastern part of Kings Valley. Here he lives alone on the old homestead caring for a flock of sheep and goats which feed on the hill part of the farm. Mr. MILLER's mind is keen and his recollection of early times is good.

"My father was John S. MILLER. He was born in Missouri in 1831 and settled in northern Benton County near Wells where he took a homestead in the early fifties. Father's father was Isaac MILLER and I believe his grandmother's name was Mary. Grandfather MILLER was a German and spoke the German language as long as he lived. I do not think he could speak English. Grandmother was of English descent. They did not take up land.

"Father's sister, Martha, is buried with her husband, Sam RICE, in the Kings Valley Cemetery. Father had another sister whose name I have forgotten. His brothers, Sam and Henry, went to the Pendleton country in eastern Oregon where they lived until their deaths.

"I never knew much of my uncles and their doings but I have heard that there was sometimes trouble with the Indians in that part of the country. One time my uncles and some neighbors started toward Portland with a four- horse team. They were pursued by Indians and one of the men shouted to cut the horses loose and ride to safety. Only one trace was cut and the other unhooked on the horse my Uncle Sam mounted. All dashed away at full speed and before many jumps the heavy iron "cockeye" on the end of the flying trace hit Sam in the back of the head. He though he had been hit by a bullet and yelled, 'Go on boys' Give them H---. They've got me.' In spite of the supposed "wound" all finally --outdistanced the Indians and escaped but their houses and all their possessions were burned.

"The Indians in Benton County never gave any real trouble but they were sometimes insolent and overbearing when they found a woman alone. There were no large bands of them here but groups of twenty-five to forty traveled about over the valley. One day soon after my parents were married father went to Albany and was gone almost all day. That day a band of Indians came and pitched camp in the dooryard. They crowded into the small cabin, sitting on the bed or whatever else they could find, and asked for food. Mother thought she had to feed them and cooked and cooked until she was ready to drop. When father came home toward evening he hustled them out in short-order. All that was needed was someone to put on a bold front.

"My mother's name was Vienna ROGERS. Her father, John ROGERS, came with his family on the same train with my father and took the adjoining claim. Besides mother there were one brother and three sisters. The names of two sisters I cannot recall. One married a man named CULP and the other a man named MOORE. The third sister, Esther Ann, married Jim HERRON. This HERRON was not related to the pioneer family of that name who settled near Monroe. He was a successful school teacher and taught all over our part of the county. The school terms were short, some times only two or three months, and when a teacher had finished his term in one district he might get another almost at once in an adjoining district. Because of this teachers moved about more instead of teaching year after year in the same place.

"The train had no serious trouble on the way, except that I have heard them tell of one man in the party who had vowed he would kill the first Indian he saw. He kept his word and killed a friendly Indian, and when a party of Indians came to the camp and demanded the guilty person he was turned over to them for punishment. The leaders of the train were unwilling to expose the women and children to danger to protect a wanton murderer.

"The folks were hard up in the new country at first, but they never really suffered want and soon began to prosper. The settlements were already established and it was possible to find work and to buy necessities. Farming had already started and it was possible to get grain for seeding.

"The country about Wells looks today about as it did when I was a boy. There was never any young growth of fir and oak there as there was in the hills further west and as you see here in Kings Valley. There were a good many bears in the hills in the early days and father used to trap them. He was a blacksmith and made his own traps. The traps were larger and heavier than are commonly used for bears today. They did not have toothed jaws but were so designed as to catch a bear high up on his leg instead of catching just by the foot.

"One place father used to find many bear was on Coffin Butte west of Wells. One day when he approached his trap on the butte he saw that he had caught something, but when he came nearer he found it was a squaw. A party of Indians had been picking strawberries and one of them had blundered into the trap. Since there were no teeth on the jaws of the trap the only injury was a badly bruised leg. Father freed the woman, gave her first aid and took her to the family teepee.

"There was a large timber wolf in the country so fierce that it killed all the dogs put on its trail. Father succeeded in catching this wolf. He was unusually large with a heavy dark mane. The skin was given to Dr. HILL and I understand it finally became a part of the Hill collection in the Horner Musem at Oregon State College.

"I do not remember in what year my parents were married. I was born in 1870. Then my father had a series of misfortunes and finally lost his home. First a fire destroyed their home and all their possessions except the clothes on their backs while the family were out picking wild strawberries. The strawberries were much larger and more plentiful then than now. The next year after the fire and epidemic killed all his horses but one. He mortgaged his place to get a fresh start and was unable to pay out. When I was ten years old he came to Kings Valley and bought what had been the VanBEBBER donation land claim.

"I went to school three years at the old Gingles schoolhouse, east of Wells. In my day this was a large frame building used for all community gatherings. Various churches used to hold meetings there, particularly the Methodists, Evangelicals and Baptists. Later the neighborhood became less united and the Evangelicals built a church at Wells and the Baptists built at North Palestine. When I was older I used to play for dances in the Gingles schoolhouse. In the old square dances twelve sets used to dance at one time, so the room must have been 20' by 40' or larger.

"My first teacher at Gingles schoolhouse was a Mr. SAUNDERS. He later killed a man in Albany in a disagreement over a woman. He was a member of the Masonic order and while he was in jail someone smuggled him a saw with which he made his escape. He was later caught but at this trail he was acquitted. Another teacher at Gingles was Lon WILLIAMSON. Kings Valley was a tough school. Among my teachers there were Jack STINES, Jenny LILLY, Bud ALCORN and John HARTER.

"In 1895 I married Dolly ELKINS. After her death I married Nettie ROSS in 1908. By this second marriage I have one son, Carl MILLER, who is an expert saw-filer employed by a C.C.C. camp in Linn County.

"Father died in 1906 and mother in 1910. I have lived all my life here and made my living with an occasional bit of work at logging. This farm used to produce good crops of wheat but the yields kept getting poorer and I stopped trying to raise wheat twelve years ago. My sisters own the farm and a tenant works the tilled lands. I am giving all my attention to sheep which I pasture in the hills.

"This country is not as good as it used to be. When father first came to Oregon he helped in the building of Fort Hoskins and became acquainted with conditions in Kings Valley. Timothy and wild cheat grew all over the hills higher than a man's head. Wild hay could be harvested any place. If a man wanted to look over the country he had to go on horseback in order to see out over the grass. The cheat bore a heavy crop of seed and on this forage cattle on the range grew fat without additional feeding. Then rust killed the timothy and smut destroyed the cheat. The land is run down and the wild grasses that grow now do not make the best pasture.

"The seasons have changed since I was a boy. We used to do all our farming in February. But now there is always too much rain and we cannot put in our crops until later. We have more frost in fall and spring than in the old days.

"I have always been a Republican and supported Republican ideas and candidates. I don't like the way things are going now. I think we need a change."

 

 

The ROBINSON and MOTLEY FAMILIES
as told to Mrs. MORRIS by R. C. MOTLEY
 

Way back in the early part of the nineteenth century, May 22, 1805, to be exact, Obediah C. MOTLEY was born in Spottsylvania Courthouse, Virginia. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed, as it was then called, to the United States Navy, where he went to school until he was twenty-one. Here he was educated and trained as a navigator. He served with the navy for several years and then took charge of merchant ships. His son, Rudolph, has in his possessions a consular receipt issued in 1838 clearing Capt. MOTLEY from the U.S.A. port of New Orleans to the port of Galveston, Republic of Texas.

About twelve years before the birth of Captain MOTLEY, on Christmas Day, 1793, John ROBINSON was born in Buncombe County, N.C. As was usual in those days every man was a crack shot with a rifle, and young John was taught all the lore of the woods, the game, and the trail, and the habits of the Indians. John was exceptionally adept at frontier work and soon became a recognized scout. When the Territory of Illinois was organized he was sent by the Government to help the settlers and to guard them. In 1815 he returned to South Carolina where he had left his sweetheart, Margaret WILSON, and in spite of the remonstrances of her people who could not bear to have their daughter go to the unknown frontier country, that was alive with danger of every description, they were married on Tuesday, October 3, 1815. Taking a little bedding, a frying pan, and the ever present rife, they mounted their horses and started west to Illinois. They were compelled to shoot game in order to eat, as they could carry no provisions with them. We can imagine what hardships were endured before they reached their destination.

Just a year later the oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was born, October 1, 1816. They had three other daughters, Mary L., born March 12, 1819, who lived only until Nov. 11, 1821; Harriet, born July 23, 1822 and Miriam, born May 21, 1824.

Obediah MOTLEY, when they started the idea that they could run boats up the Mississippi River to the new settlements, was given charge of one of them to try and sail as far up the river as he could get. Before he started on the unknown adventure he decided to buy the boat he was to command. He succeeded in reaching Illinois, we do not know at just what place. He sold his boat and decided to settle in that country. He made the acquaintance of John ROBINSON soon after arriving, met the daughter, Elizabeth, and the rest is soon told. He started in Hennepin during the building of the Hennepin Canal, so it is presumed that was the town, although the young couple were married in Peru, January 18, 1835. Miss Elizabeth was teaching in Hennepin when they became acquainted, though possibly her home was in Peru.

Capt. MOTLEY remained in the mercantile business for several years until the western fever consumed both him and his father-in-law, Mr. ROBINSON. At the beginning of the Black Hawk War in 183_, John ROBINSON was appointed Captain of the Illinois Volunteers under General WHITESIDES. Mrs. MOTLEY and her oldest child, Clementine, together with her mother and her sister, Miriam, were forted up at Fort Dearborn where Chicago now stands. Capt. ROBINSON lost the sight of one eye at the Battle of Bad Axe (a creek). General WHITESIDES let the Indians lead him into an ambush and the white soldiers were entirely surrounded by the Indians. Captain ROBINSON told his men to scatter and fight the Indians in the Indian way, each man for himself. He got down behind a tree just as an Indian jumped out from the opposite side and discharged his gun at Capt. ROBINSON, saying "swap." Capt. ROBINSON jumped behind the tree and the Indian's bullet missed him but struck the bark off the tree and the splinter bark struck the captain's eye, destroying the sight. Captain ROBINSON, a large, powerful man, grabbed the Indian and killed him with his knife. The knife was made out of a file. The knife was in the possession of the family for years, but finally disappeared.

Early in 1846 the two men and their families decided to start west for Oregon. A company was organized with Capt. ROBINSON as captain of the train. I will repeat in Mr. MOTLEY's own words the account of the crossing as he remembers hearing it told to him.

"The three things that impressed me most in my mother's description of crossing the plains were, first, the Indians collecting toll; second, the Indians trying to trade for, and then to steal my sister Margaret; and third, a scalp and war dance near Green River, Wyoming.

"Somewhere near the head of the Platte River a large bank of Indians, Sioux, I think, met the train and directed them to halt in a circle, a renegade white man acting as an interpreter. The Indians spread four buffalo robes on the ground and told the immigrants they must pay a toll for crossing their country or territory. It was, I think, a quart of flour, a pint of sugar for each person in the train, and a certain amount of tobacco, bullets, and powder for each yoke of oxen. The flour was placed on one robe, the sugar on another, tea and coffee on a third, and the powder and bullets on the fourth.

"Near Green River one day an Indian rode along the line of wagons. Mother had washed sister Margaret's hair and told her to hold her head out of the side of the wagon in the sun to let her hair dry. Margaret had a beautiful head of hair. The Indian rode up and looked at sister a long time, then wheeled his horse and galloped away, presently returning with a fine large beaded and embroidered buffalo robe. He thrust the robe into the wagon, and by signs made mother know he wanted to exchange it for Margaret. Mother pushed the robe out of the wagon. The Siwash pushed the robe back and grabbed sister by the hair and one arm. Mother grabbed her by the feet and each pulled. Of course Margaret screamed. It was very dusty and none of the men who were driving the oxen noticed for some time anything amiss. Finally David CLAYPOOL (who by the way is my wife's grandfather) saw the situation. He came back popping his ox-whip and laid it on the Indian and his horse, good and hard. The Indian let go and fled. That night the Indians came and set up camp near the emigrant encampment, fixed the ground, and held a scalp and war dance.

"Grandfather, who was captain of the train, had the wagons form in the usual circle, kept the stock all inside, and told every anther man to stand on guard, as he believed the Indians would attack, as it was a bright moonlight night. The Indians danced and occasionally a chief or a warrior would harangue them. Then they would wave their scalps and the dance would wax more fast and furious until daylight. An Indian messenger came in from the east, all at once the dancing ceased, and the Indians hastily left. The next afternoon a detachment of soldiers from Fort Hall met the emigrants and it was supposed that the messenger bringing word of the approach of the soldiers was what kept the Indians from attacking the train. Among the scalps on the poles were several with light hair.

"The train crossed the Snake River at the mouth of the Boise River. A young man, for $2.50, took a bed cord tied to him across the river. He swam and by the cord pulled a cable across. They caulked the cracks of the wagon boxes and ferried the bedding, food, women and children in the boxes by holding to the cable. The oxen swam and pulled the running gear of the wagons across. The young man who took the cable was William ELLIOT. He afterwards came to Oregon and took a claim near us in Benton County, north of town about four miles. He died years ago and some of his grandchildren live on the old ELLIOT place yet.

"The ROBINSON and MOTLEY families first settled near Astoria on the Clatsop Plains, which is now known as Gearhart Park. The Flathead (?) Indians were in control of most of the surrounding country, and in order to fish and hunt they had to buy the privilege from these Indians. Whenever they caught any salmon an Indian came home with them, cut the heart out of the fish, and burned it. No one was allowed to have a fish unless they could be sure the heart was burned. If the heart of the salmon was not burned the spirit of the fish would go back to the ocean where it had lived and tell the other fish how it was caught, and the next year there would be no fishing.

"While the Indians seemed friendly enough, the settlers had to be very careful not to interfere with any of the Indian rites or customs. On one occasion Mr. ROBINSON saw a procession of Indians filing along to the Indian burial grounds. The favorite wife of the chief was dead and they were taking the body for burial. Behind the procession two Indian girls were crying bitterly. Mrs. MOTLEY, who could speak the Indian jargon by this time, (it might have been Mrs. ROBINSON) asked what was the matter. She found out that the two girls were to be buried alive to act as servants for the chief's wife in the next world. The women wanted to interfere, but were told by Sol SMITH, a squaw man who had been with the Indians for years, that it would be impossible. They could not interfere with royalty. That was one of their funeral rites, sacred to them, and were there interference, the Whites in the whole settlement would be massacred. So better judgement prevailed and the girls were left to their fate.

"Farming was not Capt. MOTLEY's calling and when gold was discovered in California in '49, the ocean again called him. With Robert MCEWIN as a partner he built a schooner and made three trips to California before they sold the boat. In the meantime negotiations had been made to sell their homesteads, and in 1850 they both sold to Philip GEARHART. The two families then came to Benton County, where Captain ROBINSON procured a donation land claim just west of William KNOTT'S place, the MOTLEYs settling just beyond.

"In THE HISTORY OF BENTON COUNTY by Fagan, he speaks of a Methodist church being organized in September, 1848, by Rev. Leander BELIEU, on the donation claim of Mr. MOTLEY, about three and one half miles from town. Either this class and camp-meeting was held on ground (that was) afterwards Mr. MOTLEY's claim and so became known as that spot, or the date was later, as Mr. MOTLEY did not come to Benton County until two years later.

"When the districts were legally organized, Mr. MOTLEY's daughter, Clementine, taught the first legally organized school in the county. This was in district No. 1, which schoolhouse was on the north side of John ROBINSON's donation land claim. Mr. KNOTT and Haman LEWIS were the first directors and had been instrumental in its organization. There had been other schools in the county but all were kept up by private subscription. Any one who wished could start a school, many of them being taught by people who knew almost nothing about teaching. Elisha VINEYARD taught this little school when Miss MOTLEY resigned.

"In those days every bit of clothing was woven and spun by the women at home. In the evenings the boys were put to work picking the wool which later was taken to a little carding mill on Oak Creek. The wool was then dyed with alder bark, which makes a dark brown, or with dogwood which makes a bright yellow.

"All 'bought provisions' - mostly sugar and coffee, about everything else was grown or shot, - had to come from Oregon City. They carried beans, wheat, dried apples, bacon and a little wool to the markets and returned with their store supplies. What extra room they had in their wagons was filled with freight for the neighbors or some of the stores.

"In 1851 or 52 a brother of Mr. ROBINSON, Beriah, came from the east and settled here. In speaking of the town of Corvallis Mr. MOTLEY said: "The first hotel built in Corvallis was erected just south of Wilhelm's garage on Second Street. It was a two-story affair with a long porch or veranda along its entire length. It was built and owned by a blacksmith named BRIGGS. His shop was on the opposite side of the street. Mrs. BRIGGS ran the hotel. A man by the name of Philip GEORGE killed his partner during a quarrel in front of the blacksmith shop. Mrs. BRIGGS was the only witness to the killing.

"Colonel KINDLE and a man by the name of RILEY had a saloon on the corner where HECKART has his planing mill (Second and Jefferson). Peter KONGLER had a blacksmith shop just north of the saloon. The AVERY store at the east end of the McCREADY lumber yard was washed away during the flood of 1861. The second hotel was the Eagle House, built and owned by John MURRAY. He was burned to death when the hotel burned in 1877. Hamen LEWIS has a packing house on the river bank just east of the Heckart building.

"The scaffold or gibbet on which Philip GEORGE was hung stood for years at the end of Second Street, about where the car tracks cross the lumber yard.

"The two persons who impressed me most as a child were Elder FISHER who used to visit my grandfather and Lieutenant SHERIDAN. Lt. SHERIDAN stuck in my memory, perhaps, on account of the candy he gave me, or maybe the memory of his bright blue uniform with its brass buttons. He came to see my sister, Margaret, but father would have none of him. He had no use for a squaw man.

"From the first settlement of Oregon until 1850 times were hard - very little money. Nearly all kinds of business were carried on by barter. Wages for a good man for a day of twelve to fourteen hours were fifty cents. Times got better after the gold discovery of 1849 in California, but were not good until the discovery of gold in eastern Oregon in 1860 and 1861. Then wages advanced to $25.00 per month of 26 days, or $1.50 per day in harvest. This meant a day from six in the morning until six at night with one hour off for noon.

"All had to work from the smallest six year old up. As an urchin my work during daylight hours was to carry water in two small pails or camp kettles from the spring at the foot of the hill to the house, a distance of about two hundred yards, enough for the housework during the day, after which I had to keep the wild pigeons out of the grain. There used to be countless thousands of them in this country but I believe they are now extinct. I was also expected to keep the geese out of the garden and during berry season to pick enough berries for the table. Then of an evening I had to shell corn or peel apples to dry, cut squash for drying, or stem tobacco for making twists. The latter work I cordially hated as the smell and fine dust used to hurt me until I learned to use it.

"The pioneers were a hospitable people. The stranger was always invited to eat if near a meal time, or if near nightfall was requested to put up his horse and stay all night.

"Clothing was scarce and hard to get. Until I was sixteen I was clad in the made-over cast-offs of my older brothers. For an overcoat I cut a hole in the center of a blanket and stuck my head through the hole. A great many of the men had that kind of overcoat. They were called 'sarappes'. They were of all colors known and of a busy day the main street of Corvallis looked quite gay. To watch the ladies passing in their present day bright dresses brings back to memory the days of the 'sarappe.'

"The first travelling correspondent I ever read the pieces of was a man named J. Ross BROWN. His pieces were published in Harper's Monthly. He had good descriptive powers. He traveled all over Oregon and California describing the country, its resources, and the various people he came in contact with. He told of the abundance of game and of the easy-going habits of lots of the men. He gave as a final summary of them that from Humboldt Bay in California, on the south, to British Columbia on the north, as being a "paradise for men and dogs, but hard on women and horses," and I think he was about right.

"I have known men who lived in a small log cabin with large families to keep from six to thirty lop-eared hounds. John KESSEE, a near neighbor, used to keep about twelve dogs and each day he cooked a small wash tub full of fried cakes to feed them. The average value he placed on each hound was about one hundred dollars, and he often sold them for that figure. I used to look on it as a great pleasure to sneak out of bed, climb out the window and down the logs to the ground, and go hunting with John and his hounds, fox or coon hunting. We often got drenched by the wet brush or by falling into the creeks. At the end of the chase we usually repaired to John's cabin and had a feast of beans, bacon, hot but heavy sour dough bread, and strong black coffee. For some reason I never felt very good the next day."

John ROBINSON died September 15, 1876, and his wife passed away September 25, 1878. They are both buried in the old Locke Cemetery north of Corvallis. Mr. MOTLEY died February 15, 1858, but Mrs. MOTLEY lived to be eighty-seven, dying Sept. 29, 1903. The MOTLEYs had eight children: Clementine (Mrs. Alex H. McEWEN), Margaret (Mrs. Charles LOGSDEN), John, Cephas, Obediah, Mary (Mrs. ERFORT), Henderson, Rudolph and Harriet.

 

 

 

 

 

REMINISCENCES OF THE MULKEYS
AND OTHER EARLY SETTLERS OF BENTON COUNTY

by Maude Cauthorn KEADY
arranged by Mrs. MORRIS
 

"I often asked my mother to write the stories she told us while sitting around the fireplace in the evening; stories of her childhood and of the early days in Oregon on the Johnson MULKEY donation land claim. She never found time nor inclination to put these stories, or rather experiences on paper, and I realize now that I should have started preserving these stories while she lived and I had her wonderful memory to help me.

"My mother, Martha Madeline MULKEY, was born in Missouri in 1846. Early in the spring, when she was about a year old, they started for Oregon. She was the youngest child, having five sisters and two brothers. There were two older half brothers in the party besides father, mother, and an old negro named 'Aim.' The only event of the trip that my mother used to tell was a story of herself. One time the oxen were stuck in the mud and before Aim had time to speak to the oxen mother called out, "Get up Boz." Boz moved, and she always told that her first words got the wagon out of the mudhole.

"At Oregon City it was thought best for grandmother MULKEY to stop here, as the weather was so uncertain. The rest were rushed to the home, a rude cabin that grandfather MULKEY had built the year before, when he located his claim (1846). When grandmother was able to travel and come to the log cabin she was very much distressed at the condition of the baby (my mother), who had been in the care of the old negro slave and the two older girls, who were just children themselves. When we compare the food available at that time with what is thought essential to the welfare of the child today, one wonders how they survived and thrived as they did. However, in those days the women had an intimate knowledge of most of the vegetation, knowing which herbs were of use in illness, or had medicinal properties, and those that made good food - knowledge that was put to good use. Grandmother Mulkey soon had cows, chickens, and a good garden. If there was a scarcity of milk it was not put on the first table, but saved for the children who had to wait for the second table.

"In those days women were their own doctors to a great extent, not only for their own families but often for their neighbors as well. They made their remedies from the wild herbs and roots that they gathered and dried themselves. Often some of the settlers died from the lack of proper food and diet. Mother told of one case of a child (OSBORN), who arrived from the trip across the plains with a very bad case of "scald head," no doubt brought on by the lack of proper nourishment on the way. The child's mother was very much worried and tried everything she knew of, or had been told, with no relief. Grandmother made a salve of Jimson weed, which she gave to the mother and told her to apply it to the outer edges only. The child's scalp gradually healed, much to the relief of both mother and child.

"A rather amusing incident happened one time, when a man cook who was exceedingly tall was taken violently ill and was delirious most of the time. Mrs. Jim STEWART, who lived north of town, was sent for, and among other things she did for him was to put a mustard plaster on the soles of his feet, to draw the blood (and fever) away from his brain. The patient very peevishly inquired, "Who ever heard of drawing a fever six feet?"

"Grandmother MULKEY was married twice. Her first husband was Chat ROBERTS. They lived in Kentucky or Tennessee. They had two boys, Chat and Jim. After a visit to kinfolk in Missouri, the family started back home, when Mr. Roberts became very ill. As the sons were very small grandmother had to drive the team as well as care for her delirious husband. During a normal spell, which lasted only a few minutes, she was told to ask for Masons when she arrived at the next town. They were taken to the Mason home where he was nursed through a long spell of typhoid fever. When they were finally able to travel on to their home in Kentucky their family there had been very much worried on account of their long absence. Of course they prepared a big dinner in honor of the travelers, and as a result Mr. Roberts had a relapse and died. (Some members of the family say it was Tennessee in place of Kentucky, that was the home of the Roberts. - Winifred D. Morris)

"The two boys were about grown when they came to Oregon. Chat Roberts married Rachel ROBINETT and moved to Nevada and they were lost track of as far as our family was concerned. They had two boys, one named Pete, on their last visit to Corvallis when I was just a little girl. Jim Roberts drifted "east of the mountains" and was lost to the family.

"Grandmother had fourteen children in all. There were three that were born in Oregon and lived, besides the one that was stillborn at Oregon City when they first arrived. There was another child that did not live, but I do not know where it came in the family line. Twelve children lived to be grown. Aunt Lizzie was the first to pass away. She was supposed to have TB, which started from an enlarged gland in her neck.

"There may be many references to "Old Aim" in these sketches, so I must tell of her. "Old Aim" ( I never knew her other name ), was a slave in the MULKEY family. She was an old woman when my mother first remembered her. She was very ugly, having a crooked back, and could be very ferocious and cross, or appearing so at least. She belonged to grandfather MULKEY'S mother and at the time of great grandmother's death was the nurse of Aledin, grandfather's youngest brother, who was an invalid of about fifteen. Before her death great grandmother arranged for Aledin to live with grandfather and Old Aim was to care for him, and at Aledin's death was to become the slave of grandfather. Aledin contracted pneumonia and lived only a few months after his mother's death. This gave Aim to grandfather sooner than had been expected and some of the brothers and sisters were dissatisfied. It was finally arranged that Aim would stay a while with the different families. Aim did not like this and she always acted in such a way that they were always glad to have her go back to "Miss Susan", as Aim always called grandmother. As this arrangement was not satisfactory at all it was decided to sell her. Here again she had her own way. Aim acted so mean and showed her deformity at its worst. She would not open her mouth and acted so like a fiend that no one would bid on her. Finally, to stop the wrangle, grandfather gave the estate something for her and she remained with him.

"When he decided to move to Oregon, in 1847, the question of slavery was already being discussed, and some of the states were free; so it was thought best to leave Aim in Missouri, at least until it was known whether Oregon was to be a free or slave state. When the start was made, Aim was not to be found. Nor had she bade them goodby. It was supposed that she was so sad or overcome with emotion that she could not watch them leave. Not so, she had already started to Oregon on foot. At the fourth camp, much to the delight of grandmother and the children, Aim appeared at the campfire, and was helping with supper when grandfather came to eat. There was nothing to do at this late hour but take her along. Her faithfulness to grandmother and the children was wonderful. She had left her own children to follow Miss Susan and the babies.

"She used to whip her own children until grandfather would be compelled to interfere, but she never struck one of grandmothers, and seldom told on them. However, she did boss them around and made them behave. She would bake bread in the Dutch oven in the fireplace, and if the children could get hold of it they would peel all the crust off the bread and eat it before the bread had time to cool. To keep them from ruining the bread, Aim would hide it from them and sit and laugh while they hunted for it. Sometimes she had piled sacks of wool around the oven in which the bread was cooling and then sat on the sacks.

"One could write many amusing stories of Old Aim. She had a sense of humor and also of ridicule. She amused herself by ridiculing those she disliked, who were many. When the family, or grandmother and the older girls returned from shopping, Aim was always on hand with the other stay-at-homes to inspect the purchases. One time grandmother had bought a lot of crocks from a pottery in Oregon city, mostly milk crocks. One was crooked. Aim said it like Chris' bonnet, meaning a Miss TRAPP'S new bonnet that had attracted some attention and much comment. The crock was often spoken of afterward as the Chris bonnet crock. If anyone asked which was the milk for dinner they were told that it was in Chris's bonnet.

"One time, when a new baby arrived in the WITHAM home - there were fifteen children there in all - Aim was sent over to wash and help with the work. Mrs. WITHAM sent word, "Don't send that nigger here, she scared my young'uns." Aim did not want to go in the first place and laughed when grandmother scolded her.

"After the family moved to town she used to go out and wash sometimes, and would give grandmother or Aunt Fannie the money to buy her a handkerchief for her head, or tobacco, or something she wanted. She never entered a store in her life. She would sit by the fire and card wool in the evenings. If there was a knock at the door, unless it was a very close friend, Aim had disappeared from the room before the guests had entered. She lived to be a very old woman, and died in Corvallis shortly before my mother's marriage in 1874, or shortly after. She was one of the three slaves in Benton County in the free state of Oregon.

"Aim worked in the garden a great deal, especially with the tomatoes. She always had tomatoes, planting the seed in the house and then transplanting when great big plants. Nothing made her more irritable than to disregard her tomato patch. When my mother was a good sized girl she had a pet lamb, sometimes more than one, that would always get her into trouble. They would get into the tomato patch and always be found out. When Aim scolded it could not be denied, as they smelled of the tomatoes and had green from the vines on their wool. Often the older sisters, or rather "Aunties", would be very indignant when showing their callers or beau into the front room, to find a lamb sleeping on the lounge or the best chair.

"There are a number of stories of grandmother's children. Aunt Lizzie was a school teacher. A short time before she died one of the WITHAM boys said he was a pupil of her school and the best teaching he ever had he got from Lizzie MULKEY. She died in the early seventies and is buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery. From what I have heard of her she was a very quiet, mild child. The only thing of any independent nature told of her was that when she was about grown grandmother and the girls bought bonnets for themselves at the store, but decided they could make good enough ones for the younger children. When her bonnet was made she did not seem to care for it and when they asked her why she said, "Because it was not bought." This amused Aunt "Sude" and she often loaned Aunt Lizzie her store bonnet, an even wore the homemade one at times herself. Among my dearest possessions is a Scott's Complete Works that belonged to Aunt Lizzie.

"Grandfather named his two oldest daughters, America and Missouri. After that grandmother rebelled and named the girls herself. Aunt America hated her name and demanded that we children call her "Auntie", as she was the oldest aunt. She did not like Aeric, as the family and friends called her, any better. I am fully convinced she hated to visit Corvallis in her later years, because people knew her name. I have always been glad that grandmother would allow grandfather to call my mother Oregon, as he wanted to do.

"Aunt America was a true Victorian type. She spent all her life, some seventy-odd years, being shocked at things people did, and thing she had to see and hear. At one time Aunt and two of the others had gone for wild berries to a distant part of the farm. They had gathered the berries when they noticed cattle coming from every direction; wild cattle that they did not know were in that part of the range. The girls knew enough not to run, but walked as fast as they could toward a deserted cabin. They managed to reach it and get inside, but the cattle surrounded the place, pawing the ground, and making a great disturbance. At last, after long time, a man came by on horseback with a dog following along. Some of the others wanted to call to him for help, but Auntie would not allow it. She said they did not know him and nice girls did not call on strangers for help. The man saw the cattle acting strangely and drew near, riding slowly, but for some reason did not enter the cabin. The cattle took after the dog, and when they were out of sight over the hill the girls came out and went home. Years after, mother was reminded of this by some young woman telling of crossing a bridge in Portland, when a stranger came hurrying up and said a mad bull was being driven across the bridge. One of the girls started to run, when her sister said "Don't run; it looks so." The mad bull in that case tuned out to be a badly frightened yearling calf.

"At some time, all the fathers of early families must have had and decided on certain rules of conduct, because it became the rule that no young girl could go walking, riding, or driving with a young man without being in the company of others or taking a little sister along. As there were always little sisters they received many a ride, but what a nuisance they must have been, stuck behind them on the horse, or crowded in between on the narrow buggy seat, or tagging at ones heels when they walked. Small brothers either would not go, or if they were made to do so, made everyone so uncomfortable and behaved so badly that they were not allowed to go any more.

"One time before Auntie and Uncle ODENEAL were married or even engaged, he came to take her driving. As usual, the little sister went along. They turned into a long narrow lane. A bull was walking along the road ahead of them, and when they would whip up the horse the bull would run, when they slowed, he slowed too. This was a very shocking affair for a young lady to have to encounter, and to make it worse, the little sister told of it when they arrived home. When we think how foolish and unnecessary some of the customs were long ago, it is some comfort to the mothers of today who are shocked and worried over the knowledge and manners of our young people, to know that perhaps sixty years from now it will all seem so ordinary that it was foolish for mothers to be worried.

"Auntie was such a good housekeeper and liked new and pretty things. Mrs. George HELM told me that, as a child, she spent much time at the MULKEY home. They always knew when Bent ODENEAL and John PORTER were coming, because Aeric made them scour the old pewter ware with brickdust until it shone. After Auntie was married, she worked so very hard keeping her house immaculate that she nearly wore herself to death, so whenever possible they boarded.

"The sons of grandfather's brother, Tom, who died on the plains, often came from near Oregon City where the family was located, and stayed for months. They went to school with their cousins all winter at times. Grandfather always wanted to help his kinfolk, though some times he was not thanked for it. He was very strong for education, sending the older children to school at considerable expense of money, and what was needed more, their time and services. He built a schoolhouse on his place and hired a teacher, inviting the neighbors to send their children free of charge. He sent Uncle Marion to Yale before there was a railroad. Uncle did not come home for vacations, but stayed in Boston, where he married before returning to Portland to practice law.

"One year grandfather hired a Mr. FISHER, whom mother spoke of as a fine old man, a South Methodist preacher, to teach the children at home. I think this was after the row at school that mother was more or less to blame for. This row that made such a disturbance in the whole neighborhood sounds funny now. At that time, however, it was quite serious. There had been a district school established and Mr. Emery ALLEN, a northerner, was teacher. Most of the children were from southern families such as the JOHNSONS, HORNINGS, and MULKEYS. The WITHAMS were northerners. I do not know about the DIXONS OR TRAPPS, or if any of them were attending school at that time, when feelings ran high between northerner and southerner. Mr. ALLEN forbid them to yell for Jeff DAVIS on the school ground, but allowed the children to yell all they liked for Abe LINCOLN. One day enthusiasm ran high for Abe LINCOLN. There had been lots of cheering, so mother did not wait until she was off the school grounds before she began yelling for Jeff DAVIS. One of the younger HORNING boys followed her lead. The next day Mr. ALLEN called them up and threatened to whip them, but finally let them go without whipping. However, the school board, who consisted of Uncle Charlie JOHNSON, Mr. HORNING, and someone else, discharged Mr. ALLEN and paid him off in Greenbacks, which were at a considerable discount at that time. Mr. ALLEN was right in his contention of not allowing the children to yell for Mr. DAVIS, though perhaps he should not have gone so far in his punishment as he at first contemplated. Abraham LINCOLN was the president of the United States, and should have been so recognized.

"My mother must have been a rebel, more or less, all her life. From things she has told me, and as I look back, she was always more or less independent in her thoughts and actions. When she attended the old St. Marys school in Portland, where so many Corvallis girls were educated, she was always asked why she did not conform to the rules. One time she took suddenly ill at early morning mass, which at that time all pupils alike were required to attend. She left hastily without making the required gesture or salutation. The sister asked her why she left in such a manner and she said she was too sick to take the time to bow. Another time there was some sort of public examination, during which wreaths of flowers were placed on the heads of the girls passing the examinations. Mother passed alright but when the bishop, who was a very short man, came to place the wreath oh her head, she refused to bend the knee or kneel, as some of the church girls did. She held her head as high as she could. He could not reach high enough to crown mother, so one of the sisters had to take the wreath and place it on her head. This she did in no gentle manner, much to the amusement of Aunt Mary MULKEY who was in the audience. At the reception, held afterward, mother carried her wreath on her arm while the other girls still wore theirs on their heads.

"Aunt Missouri was called 'Sude' by the family. She was very kindhearted. On grandfathers place there was an Indian burying ground and even after the family had been there many years the Indians would came there to bury their dead. They decorated the graves with all sorts of things, new tin-ware being the most popular. When they found that some of the whites would take the pans home with them, they punched holes in the pans before putting them on the graves. One place beside Oak Creek was used for years by the Indians as a camping ground on their trips between the coast and other reservations.

"Some of the peaceful Indians were not required to stay on the reservation, but were allowed to wander about. As the game was driven away by the settling of the land these Indians became poor and often hungry. One fall, when the rains came on early a small band came to the old camping ground and camped. They were always short of food and game was scarce. Old "Lazyman's" wife was not at all well and in a delicate condition. Aunt Sude often went to the camp to do what she could for the sick woman. While there she noticed a small boy who was not popular and was always abused or teased by the other children. One day she took him to the house with her, gave him food and clothing and kept him all day by the fire. He came every day after that and would cry when the Indians came for him at night, knowing he would be mistreated until he could get back to the house. When grandfather came back home and investigated conditions at the camp, he insisted that the Indians should be sent to the reservation and cared for. In fact, he made them leave the camp ground. He allowed the little Indian boy to remain at his house. He called him John. How his heart must have rejoiced while he watched the tribe moving away and knew he did not have to go. He lived with the family until he was grown. He helped around the place, finally becoming a horse-breaker. After grandfather's death and the family moved to town, and did not need him longer, he disappeared probably going "east of the mountains," which was the acme of a horse breakers life. Johnson PORTER said he was a right good Indian. I have always wondered why the Indians mistreated him. Was it because he had no people, or was he stolen from another tribe? We never knew as he was not more than seven when he came to our people. There were other children, mostly boys, who were under grandfather's care from time to time. Two half-breed brothers, Henry and Frank COOPER, lived on the Mulkey farm until they were grown. Their father died on Puget Sound and asked him to care for them. They had the Church of England prayer book, and had been well taught. They drifted back to the Sound in time and were lost tract of.

"My grandmother's closest friend was Grandma AVERY, as I was taught to call her. Their children were almost like brothers and sisters. Grandmother AVERY was a little dark-eyed thing whose hair refused to turn gray. She had very beautiful hair and perhaps that was the reason she refused to put on a cap when married, as was the custom of the time. Grandmother MULKEY always wore a cap, but grandmother AVERY never would wear one.

"In the early days the soil of Oregon was so fertile that everything grew with little attention. there were no pests to speak of and very little cultivation needed. I have been told that all one had to do to grow wheat was to plow, or scratch over the ground a little as they spoke of it and throw on the wheat seed. It grew so tall a man could hide in it easily. Then came the question of what to do with all the straw. There was so much pasture and feed that the straw was not needed and was in the way of the fall plowing. In my memory there were great piles of straw left after the thrashing. In the evenings I have seen the sky all around Corvallis red from the burning of the strawstacks. Now the farmer knows better and the straw is saved or turned back to the soil.

"Mr. Wallis NASH wrote a book on Oregon after his first years here, which brought forth a great deal of comment. He though the Oregon farmer would see the day when he would know he had abused the soil by planting wheat, wheat and nothing else, and wasting the straw. The old time farmers scoffed at Mr. NASH, but there came a time when wheat was almost a total failure. Land that had produced thirty bushels to the acre fell to eight or less.

"The women were the gardeners and carefully brought seed across the plains for future use and beauty. They traded seeds with each other. One time Mrs. TRAPP was telling of her Sweet William bed. She had been away from home for a few days and on her return found the Sweet Williams in bloom. At first she thought some one had spread a red blanket in the yard. I have often wondered if the old-fashioned rose - supposed to bloom every month - and the old mission rose that was brought to the coast by the first of the very early settlers in California were not identical. (The balance of this narrative was some of Mrs. KEADY's own reminiscences of early Corvallis and is put with another set of papers. W.D.M.)

 


Return to Historical Records Index

 
Return to Benton County GenWeb Page