The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Eber Emery's Travel Diary, 1858-59

The source of this transcription is a small, worn leather book, 3x4½ inches, containing an account of a trip in 1858 to "the States" from Ashland, Oregon. Though the flyleaf is inscribed "John K. Helman," that inscription is inked in a schoolboy scrawl different from the cramped penciled hand that records the daily entries in the book. Besides, John K. Helman was four years old in 1858.
The author of the diary is most likely Abel D. Helman's business partner Eber Emery, who is known to have traveled to his former home in Ashland, Ohio, in 1858, returning the following year.
Eber Emery (1819-1891), with his wife Sophia Hoover Emery, emigrated to Oregon in 1850, crossing the Isthmus by pack train. A millwright by trade, he located at the future site of Ashland and built the town's first mills, a flour mill in 1851 and a sawmill in 1851-52. He later built and operated the Ashland House hotel. Emery died in Gold Hill in 1891.

Ashland House hotel, circa 1880, J. W. Riggs
The Ashland House hotel, circa 1880.

Oct 7 '58
Left A. D. Helmans Or at about sun up for the States being in a wagon drawn by the team of R. B. Hargadine we arrived at Cottonwood Cal at noon where we took dinner started soon for Yreka at which place we arrived at 5. o' in the Eve fire [?] same Eve at Cotton[wood] [illegible] 6 & 7. o' lay around town on the Eve of 7th J. R. Helman came to town that night we went to hear the Alleghanians sing and we heard some good singing.

left Yreka in the stage at 4. o' A.M. cool riding 18 [miles] took
breakf[ast] good. we then went 18 miles farther in stages (through some splendid pine timbered country leaving Shasta Butte & Gates hill to the left) at the soda springs we took dinner. There we straddled mules and crossed the Sacramento river keeping down it and near the river we came in sight of Castle rocks towering high to the right of road arrived at dog creek at night. supper good distance 30 miles @ 2½ o'clock A.M. left dog creek went 4 miles crossed Sac river--country hilly got to first river houses at 7 AM 30 m[inutes] got a middling breakfast took stage for Shasta 18m got to Shasta City Nixons staid till 8½ o'clock meals good on the

took stage for Red Bluffs in Sac val dinner at Tehama roads very dusty left after [omission] am arrived at Oroville at dark suppers poor road over a hilly country from there to Marysville got to Marysville about M[idnight] mosquitoes bad left there at 7 am

arrived at Sac City at 12.00 country level roads dusty dinners good 2 PM got on the boat for San Francisco pleasant time coming down river arrived at Frisco 10 o'ck same night put up at the Tremont house on Montgomery St.

The next morning 13th crossed the bay to Oakland and San Antonio. there took stage to Alvarado 20 miles went up through the San
Jose valley beautiful country got to Alvarado 5½ AM. Stopped at Brooklyn house, fare good, staid on till the morning of 15 saw J Holmes

returned to Frisco nothing eves went to theater
at night

run all over the city to see the sights in the Evening the Steamer of G. Stephens arrived from Panama with 1400 passengers went to the wharf to see them land. then went to the theater and saw Uncle Toms Cabin played the best theatrical performance I ever saw

The 17 Sund
read a book called Rawson the Renegade, a tale of the early settling of Arkansas

done nothing saw nothing Stranger in the Evening Emerys came to the City

bought my tickets

got on board the Steamer about 8 o'clk in the morning started half Past ten. Sea rough today slept well

sea calm land in sight cool wind saw some whales

sea pretty rough hoisted sail in the evening passed a small sailing craft

was up at sun up land in sight whales some clouds around the horizon sea middling calm noon
clear except smoke [of a] ship in sight to our right, evening no land in sight sun set in cloud moon was bright & clear

24 Sunday.
morning up before sun up. a little cloudy. land in sight. sea middling calm. had the sick headache went to bed and slept it off very warm through the night

did not get up till after sun up. sea calm, no land in sight, weather warm

land in sight. Sun rose clear & bright sea not so calm as yesterday Breakfast Salmon Coffee Crackers & Potatoes saw a small shoal of Porpoise also some whales spouting 12 o'clock stopped at a small Spanish town (a few small houses built of cane and trellis) called Manzanillo where we took on some men and three Portuguese prisoners for burning a ship bound for San Francisco loaded with guano, left a[t] 1 o'clk land in sight all afternoon. sundown a middling cool breeze went to
bed early

sun up when I got up cool breeze from south East Ate no breakfast. land in sight. run into the Bay at Acapulco at 3 o'clock P.M. took on coal the natives came around in little boats
with fruit to sell. bought 4 Eggs & 6 Oranges for 25 cts. a man died on board while we were in port named Stevens from Missouri left port just at dark at 8. o' he was thrown overboard went to bed soon after

sun up land in sight and a little cloudy in the west came into the gulf of Tehuantepec about noon at which time the wind began to blow and the sea became quite rough about 8 o'clock a child died went to bed then

No land in sight vessel rocks a good deal sideways although the sea does not appear very rough a little cloudy but little wind. running a little south of East the child that died last night was buried in the sea at 8 o'clock. I saw it thrown over. the mate read a chapter in the Bible and the Lords Prayer 12. o' The sea more calm had a pretty good dinner the sea wind was pretty calm till night when the boat rocked a good deal went to bed about 8. o' no land in sight all day

sun up when I got up a little cloudy with a pleasant breeze Sea calm no land in sight sea remained calm all day.

31 Sunday.
was up about daylight wind blowing pretty hard sea pretty rough. 2 sailors had a fight this morning. ate no dinner but went to bed and slept till 3. o'clock, got up and found the sea as rough as ever Cloud in the north East and I think rain not far from the ship as I saw a rainbow it has been pretty cloudy all day sea became middling calm towards Evening

Nov 1st
last night was very cloudy & dark the steerage boys had a good deal of fun with a fellow they called the Marysville Dog lightning in the South last night very cloudy this morn and appears to be raining all around the ship saw a rainbow this morning rained a little about 8 o'clock about 9 the sun came out pretty hot. Land in sight all morning, ran to the right of a small Island called Monkey Island, in the evening became foggy.

went to bed early last night as I did not feel very well during the night we had a pretty high wind with rain and thunder & lightning running close to land this morning. course North of East. at 9. o'c we passed two small Ledges of rock one on the right & the other on the left of the ship land both main and Islands close on the left of the ship into port. arrived in port about 7. o' P.M. Showers of rain as we came in which made it so dark that there was but little to be seen. we lay then till 2½ o' on the

when the small steamer came along side of us and took us off to Panama, distant about 5 miles from where we anchored. we got to Panama about 4. o' so dark we could see nothing took the cars immediately for Aspinwall. when it came daylight we saw some fine sights the Chagres river was very muddy. Saw some beautiful sights on some of the Plantations arrived at Aspinwall at 8½ o' A.M. when we set down at the St Charles Hotel to eat breakfast but sadly disappointed by getting nothing fit to eat but bread & butter there after that I went out to see the sights around town and I found it [a] perfect dirty stinking hole I never was so sick of any place in my life as I was of it at noon I eat a pretty hearty dinner and then went aboard the boat the boat left at 1. o' a few rods from where she lay at the wharf lay an American man of war who as we passed her played some fine National Airs in honor of Mr McKitten one of the Members of Congress from Cal. in a short time the sea became quite rough which caused me to throw up my dinner and then I felt quite easy I soon went to bed & had a good nights sleep land in sight when I went to bed

did not get up very early when I got up the sea was pretty rough with head wind and continued so all day felt very well to-day no land in sight & very little else but water clouds & sky to be seen

went to bed early last night slept middling, rather warm--day light when I got up. wind and sea same as yesterday saw two or three rainbows just after sunup rather cloudy--Running almost due North nothing more of importance did I see to day. except it was a little showery

sun rose clear sea more calm 10. o' ship in sight in the West at about noon we passed about ½ mile west of a small Island where they get Guano it rises abruptly from the waters edge to (I suppose) about the height of 30 or 40 feet and then becomes level but about half an hour before we passed close to a small British Schooner--and off East at the distance of 30 or 40 miles is dimly to be seen the Island of St Domingo. the sea has been very calm to-day with a good cool breeze from the north. Sun set clear.

7 Sunday
slept very well all night about midnight passed the Island of Cuba. the sun rose from behind a few clouds, but in a few minutes it shone out brightly. Sea not quite so calm this morn no land in sight. a vessel to be seen due East. at 11 o'clock there was preaching in the Cabin I went back to hear the sermon but the boat running made so much noise that I could not get close enough to hear-- at 12. o' came in sight of land North of us. running directly toward it. the land proved to be some two islands passed them about 3. o' and in sight of the last named Island we came in sight of another & in fact we can see points of land all along the horizon Eastward the Island we have just passed is called Providence. Just as we passed the Northern point of the Island we passed two small schooners one an American named the Sam Small & the Other a British one the name I could not see it is now just sun down and it has set behind the clouds. there appeared to be a continuous chain of clouds around the horizon but none overhead Saw the new moon

last night went to bed at 7. o' and slept very soundly all night. was up this morning before daylight a quite cool breeze was blowing from a little East of North. Sun rose from behind clouds sea pretty calm but not so calm as yesterday. no land in sight. Some gambling last night. an American was dealing Monte and a jew was betting the Jew lost $3,000 it being all he had. the dealer then gave him $500 and the Jew has been in quite a Stew about it. the boys plague him a good deal no land in sight all day

went to bed at 7½. o' last night did not sleep very good. was up just at daylight in what is called the trade winds what makes the sea pretty rough. saw a small rainbow in the N.W. just after sunup. no land in sight. heavy clouds in the north. running North breeze from East. Showery since about ten o' till noon about 11. o' passed a small Schooner running South. so cold that I kept my overcoat on all day.

last night I went to bed at 7. o' and slept pretty well. we came into the Gulf stream this morning about 1. o' and it has been very rough ever since. the wind has been blowing hard from the North which makes it cold weather. but few on deck this morning had some rain. This morning towards evening it became more calm we passed two vessels in the afternoon one to the right and the other to the left.

Slept well last night. got up at daylight. sea pretty calm sails in sight. weather cold perfect Cape Hatteras last night No land in sight Sea was quite calm went to bed at 8. o' was in bed a short time when they said there was a light to be seen on shore. I got up went on deck saw the light. staid up about 2 hours went to bed again. when some remarked how smooth the sea was and how nice the boat run, in less than half an hour the wind was blowing very hard and the sea was the roughest it had been on the trip. I soon got up again but did not stay up long was very cold

Did not sleep well last night. this morn we are in sight of the Jersey shore, and I hear almost a thousand conjectures as to when we will get into New York the sea has become more calm and small sailing crafts can be seen in almost every direction. at 5½ o'clock we ran up to the pier and in a few minutes we (John & I) were off the boat and at Lovejoys hotel where we took supper & staid till this morn

when we took cars for Pittsburg arrived at Philadelphia at 12 PM
passing in N Jersey & Jersey City, Newark Elizabethtown Princeton Trenton (the Capital of NJ) and Camden. got on the Penn cars at 1. o'clock PM and started for Pittsb stopping at Harrisburg the Capitol about dark and at 3½ o'clock got to Pittsburg on the morn of

just up at the Washington Hotel on Penn St. Went to bed at 3. o'clock and slept very soundly till six This morn when I got up feeling much refreshed took a stroll down to the river but it was so cold that I soon returned to the Hotel. in about an hour started out again and in my rounds saw a good many women going to church and till now I thought that Cal was the greatest place in the world for ugly women but I think Pittsburg beats it bad, at 11. o' again returned to the Hotel, and in a few minutes after a band of Soldiers passed going over to Alleghany to assist in burying one of the Officers. in a few minutes went to dinner had roast Turkey. in the afternoon Emery came in the train They stays at the Scotts house on the river bank Saw nothing else of interest in the eve it tried to snow a little and the best place I can find is beside a good warm stove. I think this city ought to be called the city of smoke for of all the smoky places this is the [omission] I have seen

Journal of
The Trip from
Home to Oregon
via Cleveland New York
April 9th '59
started from home in buggy in company with my sister and my brothers little boy at Salem stopped at D. C. Myers about an hour and 8 clock P.M. arrived at my brothers rained nearly all night

10 Sun
about 11. o' went with John to D
Garous [?] staid about an hour returning in a short time it commenced raining and rained all day and nearly all night

Clear and the sun hot. 9. o' started to Alex's the waters high about noon clouded up

MS1127, Southern Oregon Historical Society

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    NEW PLANING MACHINE.--Mr. S. Emery, of Ashland, has just received and set up, at a cost of about $1,000, a splendid planing machine, with an attachment for "tonguing and grooving." It has all the late improvements and is a finely finished piece of machinery. It is capable of planing 34-inch lumber, and will at once be set at work on the flooring of the [woolen] factory.

Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 2, 1867, page 3

    FIRE AT ASHLAND.--We learn from Mr. Sammis, correspondent of the Alta, that on Saturday last, while the guests were at breakfast in Emery's hotel, the cry of fire was heard from the upper story of the building. Mr. Emery's son went up to see what the extent of the fire was, and entered the ball room where the entire canvas lining overhead had been burned, and that the fire dropping down had caught on the beds in the room. He immediately gave information of the state of affairs, when the company took buckets, tubs &c. of water, and soon put the fire out. It is considered almost a miracle that the building was saved, as the fire had made some considerable headway, and had burned through one of the board partitions.

Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 11, 1868, page 3

    ASHLAND HOTEL.--Mr. E. Emery is keeping the hotel at Ashland, and right well does he attend to patrons. Parties from town here will find it a pleasant drive to  Ashland, and take dinner with "mine host" Emery.Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 2, 1868, page 2

    BUSINESS CHANGES IN ASHLAND.--Messrs. Emery & Blake have dissolved their co-partnership in the cabinet business, and the latter gentleman has entered into partnership with J. R. Helman, in the carpenter business, under the name of Blake & Helman. They are prepared to do all kinds of building at the very lowest rates.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 23, 1868, page 3

    ENLARGING.--Mr. Eber Emery of Ashland has torn the roof off from this house and built it larger, so that he can accommodate the increasing patronage which he is receiving.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 15, 1868, page 3

    The subject of this sketch was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, in 1819. When nine years of age he accompanied his parents to Ohio, whither they removed, and before attaining his majority he learned the millwright's trade, to which he devoted himself for several years. In the spring of 1850 he started for California, where he arrived the following fall. He engaged in mining in Coloma County, assisting in damming the middle fork of the American River. He left Greenwood Valley in the spring of 1851, and came to Yreka, then known as Shasta, and ran one end of the pitman of an "Armstrong" saw mill, better known as a whipsaw, and sold lumber at $350 per thousand. From Yreka he came to the site where Ashland is now located, and in company with Jas. Emery, Jas. A. Cardwell and Dowd Hurley built a saw mill and sold lumber for $80 per thousand at the mill. The first lumber used in the construction of a building in Jacksonville was sawed at this mill by Mr. Emery. In 1854 he associated himself with A. D. Helman, J. B. Emery and ------ Morris and built the Ashland flouring mill. His wife, whose maiden name was Sophia Hoover, and to whom he was married in Ohio, in 1841, remained in that state until 1853, when she joined her husband in Ashland, and they added to their other business that of hotel keeping. They continued in business at that place for several years, when they sold out and removed to Eagle Point, and Mr. Emery built and owned the fine flouring mill at that place till last August, when he sold out and engaged in merchandising, which business he is now successfully conducting. It will be seen that Mr. Emery is a true representative of the American pioneer, a race who have done more to advance the best interests of this government than all the political hucksters and shoddy aristocrats that have followed in their track, from the first settlement of Plymouth [illegible]. In politics Mr. Emery is a Republican from principle, and though neither demonstrative nor ambitious of prominence, he is at all proper times ready to defend his political tenets and give a reason for the faith that is in him. He is a consistent member of the Christian Church, an honorable gentleman in his dealings with all whom he is brought in contact, and hence universally respected wherever known.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 4, 1879, page 2

    We acknowledge a pleasant call from Eber Emery of Brownsboro. His mountain residence during the heated spell proves delightful. His health was never as good as now.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 25, 1880, page 3

    J. A. Jonas, a newcomer, has located at Eagle Point, having purchased 50 acres of land from Eber Emery.
    Mrs. Eber Emery, of Eagle Point, made our office a pleasant call this week, and also took a receipt for the Sentinel, for '88.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 12, 1888, page 3

Death of Eber Emery.
    Eber Emery died about nine o'clock last Thursday evening at his home at Gold Hill. One hour and a half before he was well and hearty and engaged in making some improvements about the porch of his residence, when he was suddenly stricken with a fatal attack of heart disease and was conscious only a few minutes between the attack and death. His wife assisted him into the house and Dr. Colvig was immediately summoned.
    Mr. Emery was within four days of 72 years of age, a pioneer and an estimable and exemplary citizen. He came to this city in 1850 from Ashland, Ohio, and with James Cardwell, who was from Ashland, Ky., Clay's home town, christened this village. Mr. Emery and his pioneer partners built the first sawmill and grist mill ever constructed in Southern Oregon, both of which were in Ashland, the sawmill being erected in 1852 on the present Ashland woolen mill site, and the Ashland flouring mill at its present location in 1854.
    The funeral was in Central Point burying ground Saturday morning at 11 o'clock, Rev. Mr. Burnett of the Christian church conducting the services. A large congregation of people from all parts of the valley were present to pay their respects to the dead citizen.
Valley Record, Ashland, July 23, 1891, page 3

    Mrs. S. Emery has been appointed administratrix of the estate of E. Emery, deceased, and elsewhere gives notice to this effect.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 10, 1892, page 3

A Pioneer Visitor.
From Ashland Tidings.
    Mrs. E. Emery, of Gold Hill, has been visiting at the home of her son, H. S. Emery, in Ashland, during the past week, and renewing old-time acquaintanceships here. Mrs. Emery was the hostess of the first hotel in Ashland, which was conducted by her husband, the late Eber Emery, who opened the business here first near the site of the present Ashland Hotel nearly fifty years ago. Mr. and Mrs. Emery afterwards resided at Eagle Point for many years. For some time past she has made her home at Gold Hill and although in the 86th year of her age, Mrs. Emery is still remarkably vigorous, mentally and physically.
Medford Mail, May 12, 1905, page 1

    Eber Emery and Mrs. Sarah Ball had passed away during the week previous.
"Twenty-Five Years Ago in Ashland," Ashland Tidings, July 24, 1916, page 2

    Mrs. Sophia Emery of Gold Hill spent several days after attending the pioneers' reunion last week, visiting the family of her son in Ashland, H. S. Emery.
"Twenty-Five Years Ago in Ashland," Ashland Tidings, September 18, 1916, page 2

Grandma Emery Died Saturday
    Mrs. Sophia Emery, or Grandma Emery, as she is familiarly known to her intimate friends, died Saturday at the home of her adopted daughter, Mrs. James Davis, at Tolo. She was one of the early pioneers of Oregon, coming here in 1853. Her husband, Eber Emery, whose death occurred twenty years ago, was one of the men who gave Ashland its name. He also built the old Ashland House.
    Mrs. Emery had no children of her own, but adopted two, Mrs. James Davis and H. S. Emery. She was ninety-five years and two months old. The funeral service was held today at 3 o'clock at Central Point, where she was laid to rest by the side of her husband. She was the oldest living Rebekah in the state.
Ashland Tidings, May 4, 1914, page 5

Ashland Pioneer of 1850 Buried
    Mrs. Sophia Emery, or "Grandma Emery," as she was familiarly known to her intimate friends, died Monday, May 3, at the home of her adopted daughter, Mrs. James Davis, of Tolo, aged 94 years, one month and eighteen days. Interment was in Central Point Cemetery, where she was laid to rest by the side of her husband, who was buried there in 1891. The funeral services were conducted by the Rebekah lodge of Gold Hill, which lodge she was a member of at the time of her death. She was the oldest living Rebekah in the state, having joined in 1854.
    She was born in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, March 15, 1820. When a young woman she moved to Ashland County, Ohio. She was then Miss Sophia Hoover, and when in Ohio she met Eber Emery, to whom she was married in 1841. They emigrated to Oregon in 1850. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the life of this young couple, until they came to this state by way of the Isthmus of Panama, which route was then beginning to be used. They traveled overland by pack team. They were destined to become actively instrumental in the upbuilding of Southern Oregon.
    Mr. Emery, being a millwright as well as a first-class miller, located on the present site of Ashland, Ore., and commenced the erection of a flouring mill in 1851, and a sawmill in 1851 and 1852. He was possessed of considerable means and was counted among the influential citizens in this then decidedly new country. He gave to the settlement the name of Ashland from his home county in Ohio. At that time little was thought of the prosperous town which would afterwards occupy the present site of Ashland, and while many of the present facilities which are enjoyed by the residents were hoped for, they were so remote as to occupy the thoughts but for a moment.
    Mr. Emery afterwards erected the Ashland House, which has since been enlarged to a hostelry of no mean proportions, and it still stands and is a monument to the foresight of this plain couple, who were imbued with that spirit of adventure which has actuated so many of our American citizens.
    During the Indian wars companies of cavalry were wont to assemble around the old mill, and there train for service. [There was no U.S. Cavalry present in Southern Oregon during the Indian wars; these would have been companies of volunteer militia.]
    After spending several years in Oregon they went back east in 1858 and returned in 1859, and through their reports of the territory others were induced to visit the new land.
    Mr. Emery died in Gold Hill in 1891, which, when they moved there, was only a way station on the Southern Pacific.
    Mr. and Mrs. Emery had no children of their own, but reared several adopted children, among them being Mrs. Lulu Davis of Tolo and H. S. Emery of Ashland.
    They were both devout Christians, being members of the Christian church.
Ashland Tidings, May 11, 1914, page 1

    I have watched Ashland grow from one bachelor's cabin until now--from April fourteenth, 1853. The cabin was near the ford on the then-nameless creek just below where the ice plant stands--the home of A. D. Helman and Eber Emery. Mrs. Helman and Mrs. Emery were still in the States--as we called east of the Mississippi River.

Haseltine Hill Russell, "Mrs. Russell Tells of Church History," Ashland Tidings, November 12, 1914, page 4

Last revised August 18, 2022