A bit of information about the Ismert Family, who were late-19th century Curry County Pioneers. This is an account by Lena Ismert Spence. It was written in about 1965. The text is unabridged, transcribed mistakes and all.
On to Oregon with Aunt Lena in 1887
"I am trying to give you an idea of what travel meant to a 10 year old girl in 1887. After a good deal of work by my parents and the older children, we were ready to travel. Father and Ed, my second oldest brother remained in our home in Lone Pine Creek to look after the stock and we hoped to sell it. On Aug. 1, 1887 we started out on the long trip to Oregon. The first night we camped at the foot of Steamboat Mt., so Anna and I at once planned to walk there while Mother and the older ones were busy getting the camp ready. As we started out George our oldest brother yelled at us, "Hey where are you kids going?" We answered "To Steamboat Mt." He said it was 20 miles away, and for our information said the air was so clear was the reason it looked so close. We were in Wyoming. Even at our ages, she was 7 years old, we knew we couldn't walk 20 miles there and back. So we never got closer to it as we moved on early the next morning. (I must mention here our 2 wagons and 5 horses was well equiped. We had a large tent and 3 mattresses, a light weight stove had an oven where Mother could bake her good biscuits any camp night). The next day we were to camp temporarily at noon and the ranch was called Dirty Womans Ranch. However a number of campers were there, they came from Texas. 2 families they had a number of children some our age. and of course I hadnt seen such a lot of people before, and as one of the women passed I asked brother George in a loud whisper if she was the dirty woman the ranch was named for; and George hissed shut your D---- mouth that's one of the campers. Of course George was boss next to Mother. And later I found out that they said they were on their way to Washington and they would like us to join them; they had 2 wagons each. One contained Mr. & Mrs. Stout and children the oldest girl, George 17, Ella 14, Nora 10 and Mattie 6. Other family Mr. & Mrs. Morris married daughter and her husband, girl 12 Eva, Sidney 10 girl Freddy 7 and Lane the only boy was 4. One girl May 14. It wasn't long before we were pals. There was one in each family my age and one for Anna. Later another family joined. A man nearly deaf, his wife deaf and dumb and 2 children normal. A boy my age and a girl of 5. Still later 2 batchelors Tommy and Charlie Lee. Many miles us kids (from all the families) rode in their nice wagons. Charleys was the wagon that had the least in it, so he usually had a load of little girls. The horses were such nice ones so fat and well taken care of, but they were bound for Washington too. So we would lose them all when we had to leave them to get to Oregon, but in the meantime things happened some tragic and some funny, first I will tell you of our experience at Soda Springs, Idaho, the bubbling water was free and I drank all I could hold, and George had an Indian trying to sell him some buckskin gloves. George knew enough not to buy at first price so the Indian (by the way they were my first Indians) seen George wasn't going to take his price of $1.50 so he put them in Georges pocket and took Georges price for them, the very last minute. That was an education for me. Shortly after that we came to the Snake River we had to ferry it several times, but we stopped at the falls (Shoshone Falls) and climbed down a long ladder or it perhaps was several ladders and at the bottom we could stand under the water. It was a thrill for me to see the water going over us and we didn't get wet. On one of our crossings on the Snake River, George found out if he could just get over the top, it was very steep, he could get to a road that would take us to Oregon a much shorter way but even with the help of the other teams they couldnÕt get to the top. So the others left us to repack our wagons and said to come into camp when we could. The ferry was small so they went ahead. We had no trouble only after we got across we remembered our 2 year old horse that was left behind. To late she missed the wagons after we were almost across she had a heavy saddle on her back and a bridle, but dashed right in the deep water. And us kids were crying. The ferryman said she will make it if she doesn't get her feet caught in the stirrups. He told us crying kids to pray she don't get caught. I don't know if our prayers had anything to do with it, but Dolly got across and the seat of the saddle wasn't even wet. We were so proud of Dolly for being such a good swimmer. But the worst thing that happened when we got to a hot springs it was 40 or more feet across and the little sheppard dog we had with us, always when he could get to water he would wade right in. The hot water burned his feet and he jumped in as far as he could, he was dead when he was gotten out. Then there was great crying by Anna and I, but I guess if I hadnt been crying so hard I would have seen even the big boys crying. Soon after I think we had to go our way. I never was sure just when we parted from Stouts, Morrises and Charley and Tommy Lee. I can remember one night we camped alone at Chalk Cliffs I think it must have been in Idaho. And there was one coyote started to howl on top of the cliff, and Otto was a good imitator he answered it and soon it sounded as if there were hundreds of coyotes on the top. I was so scared I was afraid to go to bed that night. Next day we were joined by the Parson family--Mr. & Mrs. one grown daughter Jessie, 4 boys. 3 my age and younger they were bound for California and were not long with us when our roads parted as we were bound for Oregon and soon had to cross the coast range. When reached George pointed out the ocean and when I was to dense to make it out he said look at the white caps, of course I took him for what it meant to me and when we finally came to it. No white caps just dirty water. I was very disappointed. On our way over the mountains we seen long trains of toiling horses and mules pulling a long row of heavy wagons loaded with groceries and goods for the people of Cresent City, Smith River and some parts of Oregon. It came by rail to the road that led to the coast. (In later years I figured that out). At the time it was a mystery. We had to get off the road to let them pass. Out of Smith River we came to where a huge tree blocked the road that held us up so the boys had a chance to help clear the road. As the road crew had no cross cut saw large enough with them to saw, so they took the bows off the big wagon and after the road was dug out we passed the wagon under the tree. So we got to Ashland late and camped in an apple orchard. I never had seen so many apples before, and the kind owner gave us permission to take all we wanted from the wind falls. The ground was covered with fallen apples. Next night we camped at McVeys you know where that was. Otto had just had his birthday at Ashland. Had a hard time getting across the Chetco River. Two wagons and 5 horses on a little ferry boat. I think they swam the horses. The rest of the way was hard going especially for Mother. She had to ride Pussy a little bay mare and I felt the sorriest for the horse, for she helped pull the light wagon all the way from Colorado. We camped at Ben Adams place while George and Henry took our belongings by pack horses. Of course Mr. Lawrence loaned us a couple of pack horses. I don't remember how many trips they made before we left our two wagons at the Ben Adams place and I never saw them again. The rest of the way I walked; of course that never hurt me, but I hated to see my sister Mollie having to walk, and Mother got tired of riding so walked a good deal of the way to Pistol River. I was glad to get into a house for a time at least. Then was the trip to Sundown. We camped in Elias Lawrences cabin for a few weeks or more, as the fine mansion of our own was being fixed up, fire place built and tables and bed bunks. Mother had a feather bed and slept with Anna. The 3 boys in a wide bunk, and Mollies and my bed over the boys, quite cozy. I rather liked it only when Henry and George got playful and raised us up with their feet till we touched the roof. Of course Mollie got up as soon as she was called, but I didn't so I got all the rough treatment and was so stubborn they just had to roll me off the bed. We lived there till we moved to the Frank Miller place. Only the first year we partly moved to a Theron Crook cabin so we could go to school the whole term. Peter Costellee was teacher. Father and Ed came from Colo. and George went back there in 1889. Then we got the Frank Miller place I was 11 year old then and I never seen George again for over 40 years. So that is all I can think of hope you can read it so it makes sense."
Effie Parsons shares memories: Rotary guest of Bill Oleson recalls growing up
by Jay Stoler; Port Orford News; 1/6/99
"The Port Orford Rotary held their fifth meeting of the month at the Port and Starboard restaurant on December 31, 1998. Over 50 Rotarians and significant others gathered for a lunch of fried chicken prepared by the Port and Starboard kitchen staff. The speaker for the day was Effie Parsons. She was the guest of Rotarian, Bill Oleson. Effie has quite a large family that has lived here for generations and are pioneers of the area. She has written a cookbook about growing up with her family. The cookbook has 35 pages of introduction and only about a hundred copies were printed, mainly for family members. Effie recalled things like not having electricity, having to cross the river on a home made bridge, her brothers, fishing for Salmon without a license, going to high school when there were only four teachers and the principal was the basketball coach. She also recalled former Mayor Gilber Gable, cooking on a wood stove, visiting Anne Hughes at the Hughes House, doing laundry by hand in the river. She remembered backing Pat Masterson's book, being married for 57 years, her mother, Docia Sweet and her deep feelings for Port Orford.Effie was warmly received by the Rotarians and guests."
Five generations of family
Port Orford News; 1/6/99
Together in one place at the same time!
[Image] (write to Port Orford News for copy of picture)
And they are all smiling, kinda. Meet, from the left; Courtney Wing, new mother, Paula Wing, new grandmother, Emily Rae Wing, new baby, Paulette Foote, great grandmother and owner of Port and Starboard restaurant, and Lena Jenson, great-great grandmother.
A While Ago...
by Jane Cramer; Port Orford News; 1/20/99
"A while ago Betty Allen mentioned her family had lived in "Widowville" when they first came to Port Orford in the mid-1930's. My ears perked up on hearing that and I pictured Widowville as being somewhere out of town, maybe around Denmark or Langlois. Imagine my surprise when she told me Widowville was near today's Senior Center! According to Lucile Douglas, three houses on the south side of 16th Street between Jackson and Oregon Streets were residences of widowed ladies so the area became known as Widowville. In those days, Jackson Street was not the same as it is now. Before it was built up by the county it was narrower and lower; in some places the road went through cuts that made the ground on both sides of the road higher than the road itself. Lucile remembers that Jackson did continue through to the Coastal Highway, which is now Port Orford Loop Road. A little past Widowville was the area known as Ingleville because a family named Ingles lived there. They lived in the house now owned by Nick Marsh on 19t Street just east of Jackson Street. Betty remembers going with her friends over a road that was just two ruts through the brush. They called this the Valentine Trail because it went to the house of a family named Valentine. She and her friends also went the end of Hamlet road to swim in the lake. There was a beach there and the water was so clear they could see pebbles on the bottom of the lake. When I hear people describe what it was like to live in Port Orford while they were growing up, I always feel deprived and wish I had been able to enjoy those good times. I'm so glad they're willing to share their memories of "a while ago" with me."
A While Ago...
by Jane Cramer; Port Orford News; 2/3/99
"A while ago I met four very interesting people who recounted their memories of a wonderful year in Port Orford. Marian Olson Wilson was seven years old when her family arrived in Port Orford in 1932. She has vivid memories of the family's Pierce Arrow autombobile negotiating muddy roads withoug guardrails in the mountains during the eleven day trip from Indiana to Oregon. She and her brothers, Dale, Dick and Gene Olson returned to Port Orford to visit in early 1997 after an absence of 65 years. Arvid Olson and his partner, Julius Yuhasz, were contractors who bid on government jobs around the country during the depression. When they were awarded a bid they traveled with their families to the job sites to work. Their contract in Port Orford was to build the Coast Guard boathouse in Nellie's Cove. While Mr. Olson and Mr. Yuhasz worked on the boathouse, the children enjoyed all the activities open to children living in Port Orford during the depression. The family lived in the house that is now The Holly House. Across Jackson Street was Babel's barbership, which aslo served as post office. Gene remembers playing with Nadine Babel (now McWilliams) and her brother. Marian remembered that the walk to the grade school, whihc was located where the school ball field is now, seemed to be awfully long. At school there were lots of fun things to do such as running races, playing horseshoes, baseball and basketball. The boys remembered sailing on Garrison Lake, picking berries, hiking, walking on the beach, fishing and climbing Humbug Mountain. They said they were never, ever bored. Some of their chores were chopping wood and going to the dock with 25 cents to buy a large salmon for supper. When they were told to take Mr. Olson's lunch to the job site they would hike up Coast Guard Hill and then down into Nellie's Cove, where they stated to play on the beach or fish while their father worked. Often they sat in the form boxes that were used in making the cement weir and the piers for the boathouse. Sometimes Mr. Olson would send Gene on an arrand. When Gene returned he was nearly always pleasantly surprised to find a fish on his line. It took him many years to figure out that his father had put the fisth on his hook while he was gone. It was refreshing to hear te story of one family's experiences during the depression. They're so happy they were able to visit Port Orford again and I'm so pleased they decided to share their stories of "a while ago" with me."