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Wilson Tigard Letter - November 13, 1852
This is a letter written by Wilson and Mary Ann (Yoes) Tigard, who settled in Wshington County, Oregon, and gave their name to first the town of Tigardville, which later became Tigard. The letter was written to Mary Ann (Yoes) Tigard's maternal grandparents, Eli and Mary (Graham) Bloyed. They remained in West Fork, Washington County, Arkansas where the Tigards were married and had previously lived. The original letter is part of the Gertrude Fallin Cook papers in the manuscript collection of the University of Arkansas Library, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Oregon Territory Nov. the 13th 1852
To Eli and Mary Bloyed, Washington County, Ark.
Dear friends and relatives,
It is in and through the mercies of Almighty God that I am permitted to make an attempt to let you all know that we are all alive and enjoying the best of health at present and I do hope that these few bad written lines will find you all enjoying the same like blessings.
After a long and tedious journey of over six months we got to a little town called Milwaukie October the second and remained there about 1 month. During that time I spent 7 days looking around. Finally I found a place that pleased me very well with a little house on it and about 2 acres chopped off so I bought it and moved to it about the 6th of December. I promised 1 hundred dollars in work or money to be paid in ten months.
We are the best pleased you ever saw with the country although it is not as handsome a country where we stopped as it is further up the country. My place is situated 10 miles from Portland, and 10 miles from Oregon City and 7 miles west of Milwaukie.
I must now go back and tell some of our troubles, sufferings and misfortunes on the latter part of our trip for at least two thirds of the way was more like pleasure than trouble. After leaving Green River we had some of the worst mountains that ever wagons rolled over. It was the Bear River Mountains. Our cattle was then getting weak an I had lost as good a yoke of cattle as I had or nearly so, for I sold one for 30 dollars and it was stolen. The other I got only 100 pounds of flour for.
After we struck on to Bear River we fell in company with some of the companies that went up the Arkansas River. At that time there had been little or no sickness amongst them but their sufferings and losses on the latter part of the trip was equivalent to ours on the first part of the trip. We got along tolerable well until after we passed Fort Hall. Grass was very scarce nearly all the way down Snake River Our cattle began to give out and a great many died. My teams all died or give up except 3 steers and 1 cow.
Jackson lost all but one steer. James Gilbreath lost all his teams except 1 cow and 4 steers so we left 2 of our wagons and every other thing that we possibly could do without and went on in 1 wagon. Before we left our wagons Craig and his wife died. Craig died 4 days after his wife. It seemed as if everything was against us. It seemed as if nothing but ----- ----- would satisfy some of the company. Before Craig's death, David Harer had cut up several of his tyrannical scalops. Afterwards he was ten times worse if possible in as much he had several loose cattle running loose and knowing that we was short of teams he became very abrupt and insulting thinking that our circumstances would not admit of retaliating or leaving their company.
He didn't know that it was only on Craig's account that we stayed and poked along with that aggravating and insulting man and others that are dead whom I shall not mention. Things went on in this kind of style several days. David has been appointed of camp muster and became so overbearing that the boys was very much displeased with him as captain so we elected Craig. This David was much displeased at. In a short time our great and benevolent captain went the way of all the earth and I think that David thought the office had returned back to him but to his great surprise we elected John Winn captain. He never would pay any attention to any order given by Capt. Winn. When we came to the upper crossing of the Snake River half of us wanted to cross. David and all his folks opposed it teeth and toe nails. So we told them we would cross anyhow.
At this they became very much excited to see such poor men do as they pleased. David said the captain might cross his own stock but he couldn't cross Craig's stock and that it should not be separated from his. John Winn being a freeman told them he would cross if no one else went but his hands. So by the time we were ready they were ready to cross seeing we would not be scared out of it. We went on together a few days and they stopped to --------.
By this time our provisions was nearly out so we left them between the two crossings of Snake River. John Winn went with us. I was taken sick with the mountain fever and came very near dying. Our provisions give out and we had like to have starved to death. We were over five weeks without any bread. We had to kill our own cattle for beef poor as they were and eat them without bread or salt. Some chance times we got a pint of salt for 50 cts. This kind of living gave us all the dir and like to have killed part of us.
hen we to the Grand Rounds we found beef at 20 cts., flour at 50 cts. per pound, sugar siryp was 6 dollars per gallon. The next beef was 25 cts. and flour 75 cts. per pound. When we got to the Dals I flour was 20 ct., beef 20 ct., bacon 1 dollar per pound, pickled pork was 50 ct., molasses was 3 dollars per gallon. When we got to the Dals I was compelled to sell my cattle for 1 hundred dollars. We got to the Dall Oct. 12th.
The boats were so far behind had that we could not get away until the 18th and the very day the rains commenced. We landed at the Cascade Falls the 20th. About the 26th we landed at the mouth of the Sandy. I had found Baird there waiting for Craig's family with 2 yoke of cattle. I had to stay there 7 or 8 days to take care of John Skean for he had a spell similar to cholera. When I got to Milwaukie 20 miles from Sandy I had barely money enough to buy 2 days rations. Flour was 16 ct. per pound, beef 16 ct., potatoes 2 dollars, molasses from 75 ct. to dollar per gallon. At the docks potatoes was 6 dollars and everything else in proportion. When we got to the Dals we could scarcely walk we was so near starved and like all most hundreds of others had like to have killed ourselves by eating too much. When I got into the valley I went to work at nearly 2 dollars a day. Everything in the eating line is very high. We are living very hard but the people comfort us by saying they lived still harder.
I will now tell about the deaths in the company that I left. Huffmaster and wife and Manerva is dead. Uncle Enos is dead. James Harer and wife and child is dead. John Harer and wife and youngest child is dead. Craig and wife and child is dead. James Crawfords babe is dead. David Harer's child is dead and Samuel Harer has been at the point of death but was on the mend a few days ago at Oregon City. I think they have not got to Stanifers. They had only got to Oregon City about the 23 or 24 of October. Nelson's crippled girl got shot by pulling or moving a gun as she went to get in the wagon. Evan Harer's child died. Lum Bow lost another girl. Stephen Lewis child died. Nancy Graham and William Ingram child is both dead. Alroy Harer is delirious and an object to look at. Jacob Rushes wido and little girl is dead. There was a great many deaths in the Evan route company.
John Winn and John Gilbreath are gone up to Bairds. James Gilbreath and family and sister Emily went down the Columbia River about St. Helen. I have not heard from them since. James Bloyed is living with me. When he got in the valley he got in with a doctor for 1 year, 5 days afterward he was taken very sick and like to have died. They was all so ill that he left as soon as he could walk. He came to my house Oct. 18th looking like a corpse. He has not been able to do anything since worth mentioning until lately. James says he doesn't want any of his folks to move to Oregon till he gets back with money enough to buy him a farm. Then he says some of the prettiest girls may look out.
According to my judgement Oregon is a great country. The people clear more money on two acres of land than you can on ten. The country around Portland and Oregon City and the adjoining country is very heavy timbered. My claim has good land, good water, and good timber and in 10 miles of the principal markets of Oregon. For above the falls of the Willamette River navigation is no better than the Arkansas River. The range in the timber is not very good but up the river the range can't be excelled. The climate is mild and temperate with a heap of rain and we now have snow on the ground a foot deep for the first time this winter.
I want some of you to write as soon as you get this letter for if you do not I shall quit writing for I have not got answer to 1 or 5 or 6 letters. If you do, direct your letters to Oregon City P.O.
Gardens is still green, English peas are in bloom and we have plenty of lettuce yet. Pol says that if she was back and knew as much as she does that she would endure as much more as she has to get back to Oregon. She says tell the girls that John Wesley is as likely as ever. Please give our best respects to all inquiring friends and to the connection in general. N.B. Polly wants to know how many of the youngsters are married. So no more at present but remain your affectionate grandson and daughter till death.
W.M. Tigard and