The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Overland on the Oregon Trail with John L. Wigle.

Reminiscences of Crossing the Plains
and Early Settlement in Oregon.

(By J. L. Wigle)
    "How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood,
        When fond recollections present them to view,
    The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wildwood
        And all the dear fancies my infancy knew."
    Even after our heads are silvered by the passing of years and there are treasured in our minds memories fond, sweet, sad and dear, still our early memories are first. The youthful associates, the early home life, the very ground we romped over--all these are dear and have a sacred nearness to us which becomes nearer and dearer to us as we journey onward on the descending line to "the other shore." This truth we know, and in the knowledge of it the responsibilities resting upon us for the early training of youth, the necessity of inculcating in their minds right principles and pleasant thoughts of each other and very dear home attractions is forcibly impressed upon us. Many, oh, how many of the young who ought to be and might have been of the flowers of the land, but for some neglect of ours, some harshly spoken word, something that we have done or left undone in the morning of their youth! The minds of all ages will in memory turn to the home of their youth, and in memory those early days are lived over again and again.
    Home; we should hallow and speak of it with a sacredness second only to our eternal home. It is the circle of our joys and our sorrows; the dearest of all earth's places, and shall I call it the great regulator of our life on earth and the measurement of our enjoyments in the life beyond?
    On the divide between the Mississippi and the Illinois River in Adams County, Illinois, twenty-one miles east from Quincy and four miles northwest from Kingston, I locate my early childhood. That place is of all others first in my memory, and there the dear ties of infancy were formed. Of this place, from thence to Oregon and of succeeding years and events I am asked to write. Cherished memories, some of which causes the soul to vibrate with pleasure and some the tears of sorrow to flow. These though are treasures which mines of wealth cannot buy nor the passing of years deface.
    In the year eighteen hundred and forty-five Father and Mother visited Uncle Jacob Hunsaker, then living in Pike County, Illinois, taking me with them as they most always did. While at uncle Horton's his eldest child and I had our romps. Horton was about my own age, and in our plays we undertook to catch a squirrel that was on a log barn. I was to climb to the top of the barn and drive the squirrel down and he was to catch it. Greater game seekers than we have met with disappointments. In my climbing I fell from off the barn and striking on a rail my arm was dislocated at the elbow. I went to a spring nearby, washed the blood from my face and then to the house, letting the squirrel go scot free. I made no complaint of my arm till it was badly swollen. The joint was never set, and the result was a crooked arm through life. This was another reason for my being petted and kept from work for some years, which I could have done. I was then in my eighth year, and I do not remember seeing any of my uncle's family afterwards till I saw them in Oregon.
    Not long after this we made a visit to my Uncle Jacob Luce's, living near Oskaloosa, Iowa, stopping at Uncle Abram Hunsaker's, near West Point, Ia. I say we made a visit; it will be observed that I was one of the distinguished visitors on all occasions, and one to be especially noted too.
    This was quite a long trip; we were several days on the way, and on our return we went into and through and on the top of the famous Mormon temple at Nauvoo, Illinois, where Joseph Smith, the Mormon leader, was a short time before shot and killed by a mob who assembled there for that purpose. I cannot describe this magnificent building, but I well remember the artificial oxen carved from wood and made to look lifelike which were used for the foundation on which the brazen sea containing the so-called holy water rested. Uncle Jake Luce and family I had never seen before this visit, and we seen them no more till we visited them in Oregon. Campbell Bros., of the Eugene Guard, are grandchildren of theirs. Uncle Abram Hunsaker visited us one time after our move to Oregon. He, being a Mormon, soon after moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he became a full-fledged polygamist, both in faith and life.
    It was on a bright sunny day at Uncle John Wigle's where the resolution of moving to Oregon was formed. Uncle and family had talked of the move previous to this time, but no definite conclusion had been reached. Uncle was of feeble health, and he thought a change of climate might be beneficial to him.
    A recent letter from Oregon written by Uncle Jake Hunsaker giving a glowing account of the superior advantages of a home in Oregon, the climate, the great productiveness of the soil and the facilities for obtaining homes, being almost as free as the air we breathe, had much to do in bringing about this determination.
    With thoughtful persons there is always a reason for every great event in their lives, and this epoch in the life of my parents was not without a cause. Young as I then was, and to all appearance of no ambition, but to be at the top of an obstinate petted piece of peevishness I can yet see the, to me, unwritten and unspoken reasons for that very great move. Uncle Jake and family had emigrated to Oregon in 1864 and settled near Oregon City and were prosperous in their new home. Doubtless it was his wish that his sisters, my mother and Aunt Katy Wigle should follow him to Oregon that he could at least see them again and hence he wrote that letter. Father was very much taken with it and gave it to the Quincy Whig for publication. A copy of it was carried to Oregon and there shown to Uncle. He, on reading it, remarked, "I do not know which was the biggest fool, me for writing or you for having it published," at the same time throwing it into the fire.
    Another incentive doubtless with Mother and Aunt Katy was their only brother they could ever expect to live in visiting distance of lived in Oregon, and the realization of this hope depended on their moving to that country and to George Hunsaker and his brother Joseph [who] had gone to Oregon in 1850 and returned in 1851 and was preparing for a final move to Oregon. Land could be secured by sons and daughters just for the locating of and living on it, an advantage that could not be had in Illinois. But the one great reason was Guilford Barnard and his wife had already sold their home and made the necessary preparations for the journey. To think of their leaving and journeying to a country so distant was looked upon in that day as being a separation as lasting as life. All these influences together were too much for the love of present homes and their endearments.
    I had been attending school taught by brother A. J. Wigle in a little log school house on the northeast corner of Father's farm. This house--the holes between the logs filled with three-cornered chunks of cordwood dimensions and then daubed with mud, a huge sod chimney at one end, the flue built of lath-like sticks and then mudded over, a puncheon floor, hewn from the timber not far distant, seats of the same setup on legs and without any backs served to give our backs a shape in proportion to the comeliness of the benches, a long, low window at each side reaching full length of the house, a single broad board on pins at each window for writing desks, marking the reserved seats, various articles thrown on the logs overhead constituted the ceiling. This house, crude and uninviting as it was, I cannot write or speak of with disrespect. It was the best fruits of the combined efforts of Father and neighbors, the school room of my youth, the playground of my early associations. In sunshine and storm, in excessive heat and extreme cold, when health would permit it gave me shelter, and though our eyes were often smoked and we were destitute of the conveniences of the school room of today, I loved the log cabin and the playground surrounding it. This cabin was as dear as the fine brick buildings of later years are to the schoolboys attending them, and the yarn ball and the grapevine swing and jumping rope were used with as much gusto as your modern playthings. Our attainments have been improved upon, but we who were boys and girls of fifty years ago had our enjoyments unexcelled by any age, and we remember them as well as you will remember yours.
    At that cabin we had our spelling matches in which I delighted, our geographical singing schools at which I acquired my knowledge of geography, and our debating clubs. Rude? Yes, but it was used as better school houses are, and the associations formed there did I prize them, and do I remember them still? Looking in memory through the passing of nearly a half century, I would now esteem it a happy privilege to meet with any or all of my schoolmates of those days and put my arms about them as in the romps about that cabin. There would be no ill will treasured us as there sometimes was then.
Medford Enquirer, June 22, 1900, page 2

Reminiscences of Crossing the Plains
and Early Settlement in Oregon.
(By J. L. Wigle)
    To the dear old school house soon to be torn away and give place to a brick building more commodious and in harmony with a prosperous community, I was required to go next morning after that eventful Sunday, with the much unexpected word that we had determined on moving to Oregon and therefore the school was discontinued. It was a task I shall ever remember. Very few words were spoken on the ground that Monday morning. I think fully one-half of the school children had received the word and did not come. I should have been glad if none had come. I today regard this as the first great trial of my life. George Wigle and family, living five miles from us, wished to go in the company but were not able to defray the necessary expenses, consequently Uncle John and Father would have this to furnish if they went. George had lived an intemperate life and wasted his means. It would take his farm to satisfy his debts. It was finally determined that they would furnish their brother with an outfit and pay his traveling expenses, but not until after Uncle John had sold the farm and Father had succeeded in borrowing $1500 of a merchant in Liberty and then soon after he sold the farm for $1800, three hundred in excess of the money borrowed, but the three hundred was not to be paid until after we had reached Oregon.
    Other property was disposed of, a public sale was made and many articles went for a mere trifle. My slate I sold to a neighbor boy, Albert Lirely, and I venture that Albert, if living, does not remember that slate as I remember it, and the soft soap he gave in exchange for it.
    Funds being secured, there was no delay in making the needful arrangements. Oxen and cows were bought and underwent a daily training to the yoke. Wagons too, four in number, one being a light two-horse wagon. Two low chairs made by old Mr. Chandler were put in for seats. One of the wagons was given brother Abraham and family, Father having the other two for his plunder. Barnard had but the one wagon, which was drawn by two yoke of oxen. Uncle John's outfit was the same as Father's, one light two-horse wagon and two heavier ones. Uncle George was furnished with one wagon and three yoke of cattle. In all there were nine wagons, and in them were placed as little as it was thought safe to start on so long a journey with. A few feather beds, one to each wagon, were taken. There were very few things taken that could have been disposed with. The old hymn books and Father's Missouri Harmony were often used on the way. The family Bible, the only one I think Father ever owned, and which I have today and which had held within its leaves, through all these years, a clipping from a paper in the early months of 1848, selected by Father, some very interesting briefs concerning the recent massacre of Rev. Dr. Marcus Whitman and family, missionaries among the Indians in Oregon. Very interesting is this paper. One other book which is worthy of special mention Father had bought at auction in Quincy: Ancient History by Charles Rollins, and given to me the winter of 1850 just as I was convalescing from one of those very doubtful sick periods with which I was so often afflicted in Illinois. This book was boxed to be opened in Oregon, and today I respect and prize that present.
    It was known that hands would be wanted, hence applications were made by young men who wished to go to Oregon. From among these Father engaged with Ebenezer Crouch and James Nations to have the care of one wagon and team and Elisha Whitley to assist my brother, who was then eighteen years of age, with the other wagon and team. Each of these men were to assist by turns with the loose stock and give Father one month's work after reaching Oregon. Barnard arranged with an Irishman, on the same terms, and A. J. Wigle with R. A. Rainpy [sic]. Uncle John employed Eli Bemfield and Joseph Hunsaker to one team and Dennis, a raw Irishman, to assist his son and with Bradford Hunsaker to drive loose stock. Of all hands Brad was my favorite. I presume it was principally because we were so constantly together with the care of the loose stock. This comprised the outfit, Uncle George and his son Daniel having charge of the team furnished them. Two articles thought to be indispensable were provided and carried a few hundred miles and finding them to be of no use were thrown away. These were sheet iron cook stoves. Kegs and canteens for carrying water in desert places were not neglected. Some rubber life preservers, to be worn on the body in a way similar to the hunter's pouch when necessary to go into water thought to be dangerous, in cases of crossing stock over streams, it was thought prudent to have in store. These were found to be even less useful than the stoves, and I do not think that one of them ever reached Oregon. Skillets in which the cornpone had been so often baked, a supply of tin plates and other dishes capable of standing rough usage, the tin lanterns, tallow candles, and molds for making more, were taken. The candles wilted on the way, there being no cool cellars nor cold storage, but these were among the necessary articles for everyday use.
    The spring of 1827, on Easter Sunday, Grandfather Wigle and his family had reached that neighborhood. There he had lived till death called him away. His seven sons and three daughters, all except Fanny the youngest, were then the heads of families and present at their father's funeral. A more than common affectionate nature had in these years woven its ties in the several families. Now a separation is to take place, and Easter Sunday, April 11th, 1852, twenty-five years after the arrival there, was the time chosen for their departure. A strange coincidence in time, to say the least, in the separation of this large family, most all of whom were to see each other no more. Uncle George and his wife and five children, Father's and Mother's family, not married, were Peter, and the writer, Mary, Margaret, and Anna, Uncle John's and Katy's were William, Jacob and Mary, A. J. Wigle, his wife and son, Guilford Barnard, his wife and son and the hands made up the company, in all thirty-four persons. There were in the company five horses and one hundred head of cattle. A company of thirty-four persons leaving any neighborhood, even at this day, would create a sensation not commonly experienced. How much greater the sensation when brothers and sisters are parting from each other, children from their fathers and mothers from their children, to see each other no more in this life, is almost beyond the grasp of the imagination. Well, such was the parting. We were going to a country so far distant that a letter was three months on the way, and very uncertain of a safe carriage at that. We must hazard the dangers of the elements, dire disease and the merciless savage. The separation was like a burial, each parting with dear ones to meet no more. The probabilities of any member of the company ever returning were very much clouded. All were determined. Of the entire company I think there was but one whose choice would have been to abandon the trip, but one whom I ever heard of murmuring on the way or after reaching Oregon. And that one is a noble, true-hearted woman. It was oh, so sad to brush away the kindred ties! Only a few years later our nation was torn and bleeding with civil war, but the settlers in Oregon took no part in the strife. We had a country to tame and homes to make under the tomahawk of the red man. We speak of the pensioners in our land with pride; of his love for the flag under which we live and for his daring deeds in defense of it, but the pioneer men and women of California and Oregon can never be asked to take a secondary place in the honor and hearts of our countrymen. I am proud of my parents and older brothers and sisters daring to penetrate and live in the western wilds.
    Leaving the reader to imagine the partings, the long and fervent embrace of sisters and brothers so earnest, it looked as though they could not part; I follow my own steps. At the school house I went away without the formal goodbye, so in leaving the old home and the friends there assembled, I walked across the field to another road. I see in my memory the path and the rail fence and once more, after Father and Mother are gone, I look at the old home. I can in my mind picture it as it then was, even to the outdoor cellar where we sought refuge in time of storms, but as it is now, it is wholly strange to me. I had often went in this same path to this same road in going to school. I followed this road to its junction with the one on which the teams would come, and there fell in company with those driving the loose stock. Thus I avoided the parting some of my schoolmates had come to give me. These schoolmates, some of them, have with the banner of our country unfurled about them perished in defense of institutions we love, some with army camp life, and few, very few are living at the time I write this, and of these few I doubt if there is anyone who remembers that day as I remember it.
    I have been careful in giving the reasons, and those who read may judge if the reward was sufficient for the undertaking and its attending trials or if we were a small company of the great mass chosen of The Great Dispenser to populate and tame a country, a country destined to be the home of millions. At Benjamin Wigle's we fell in company with Uncle John's teams and here there were still more partings and at Liberty there were still more; in fact the first day's drive we were almost continually parting with someone. The Dunkard church, of which Father, Mother, sisters, brothers, uncle and aunts were members; these said to Father, "In going to Oregon you virtually deny the faith as you must necessarily bear arms for your protection against the Indians." A few went and camped with us the first night, and others followed us at a later hour. The first encampment was just a little west of Solomon Childers' house. I see now the clumps of hazel bush, the scattering oak and hickory saplings and the one partly decayed log on which some were seated and I hear the strains of the jew's harp, the talking, some gaily and others very, very solemn. Such is the memory of that night. I do not remember of our eating any dinner that day but I do remember that it was a late hour when we retired to rest and that there was not much sleeping done that night. Some I think were up all night. The day's drive was a short one, about ten or eleven miles. Next day some continued the journey with us to Quincy, where arrangements were made for crossing the Mississippi River, which could only be done by boating up the river seven miles. This had to be done in order to pass above the low bottom land on the west side of the river, which is nearly always overflowed in the springtime. The crossing of the Mississippi severed us from those dear ones who journeyed with us. The crossing was not completed till a late hour in the night, for the boat had to make a second trip to carry us and the stock over.
    Next morning it was found that though we had ferried a long distance were still too low down, not because of water, but the soft ground made so by the overflow and there being no prepared roadbed, the crossing of the bottom was accomplished with great difficulty. Two teams were hitched to one wagon and then returned to drag the remaining wagons through the mud. Here at the very start, almost at home's door, was one, if not the hardest, piece of road we had on our long journey. Our teams were not yet well trained, and coming so recently off the boat they were in a poor condition for heavy work. The drivers also were not accustomed to driving oxen, and their judgment in hitching together raw material of oxen and cows, eight to ten yoke to the wagon, was certainly faulty, for so great a number of animals following in the same track so stirred the mud that the hindmost oxen could scarcely follow, much less to be of service in drawing the wagon. To a great portion of our company, Illinois was their native home. Some of the hands, after a few years, made their return, but of the heads of families or their children none but my father has ever visited east of the Rocky Mountains. Viewing this fact in connection with the great stretch of uninhabited country over which we must pass one may form some idea of how great was the undertaking and how active our parents must have been in making the necessary arrangements in the very short time of a little more than one month. I can today scarcely see how it was done with the additional trouble of Mother's poor health. I know it was not my energy, for I very well remember that when sent on errands or in company with hands for stock I invariably lagged, and even now in thinking it over I cannot fix the time or place, much less the reason why I so soon emerged from the indolent boy to an active place with willingness in caring for loose stock all day long and then at night engage in the camp romps. Verily there is no goodly degree of enjoyment only as an active helper.
Medford Enquirer, June 29, 1900, page 2

The next two issues of the Enquirer are lost.

Reminiscences of Crossing the Plains
and Early Settlement in Oregon.

(By J. L. Wigle)
    Still traveling on our way with cholera in the rear and in front of us where daily some loved ones were left in this homeless and almost timberless prairie with an unmarked grave for a resting place. We yet were blessed in that our company was free of the much-dreaded disease. I do not think I have ever seen an attempted estimate of the number of deaths in the emigrant trains of 1852, but I do not doubt but the percent was greater than the armies by shot and shell and disease of the Civil War. Our company was yet in excellent spirits and our teams keeping up splendidly. We passed a little to the south of Fort Hall and through the Burnt River country which is very appropriately named, crossing the Portneuf River where we raised our wagon beds above the water by putting blocks on the bolsters.
    The Owyhee, too, is a rough country. The Malheur River and country is better looking. We are nearing the Snake River, and if there is a country and time that l would have blotted from my memory, it is the Snake River country and the days we spent traveling down it. Our oxen have become jaded and not infrequently a faithful ox, one of our best, would drop dead in the road. The yoke was taken off and the teams would drive to one side of him.
    With the death roll in our teams and the heavy hauling through the hot sands of Snake River, the cholera, too, invaded our train. Until then, our journey had been an enjoyable one.
    In our travels every board or scrap of wood, every bone of the faithful ox which bleach was picked up and the names of travelers with the date of the writing was written thereon. Occasionally the name of some person who had passed that way years before was found by the great mass that same year. Sometimes the names of persons familiar to us whose acquaintance we had formed on the road or elsewhere, were found and whose names were read with a great interest, for we could learn by them if we were making as good or better time than other companies.
    It may be thought that a brief acquaintance formed in traveling is soon forgotten, but not so. After reaching Oregon and locating there, these travelers of the plains would sometimes visit each other, though fifty miles apart. On this road the true character would show itself; likes and dislikes were formed the same as among settlers of the same neighborhood, only the imprint of character was more readily impressed and the impression was more deeply rooted, and hence not so soon eradicated. On one occasion we witnessed a disgraceful scene between father and son. While no one approved of the father striking a blow with an ox bow, neither did anyone approve of the son drawing his dirk knife on his father; it was thought he would have been less blameless to have kept out of his father's reach. Both father and son were very well respected as traveling comrades, and after locating in Oregon, I with others who knew him on the plains went five miles with an ox team to hear that son preach the Gospel of Christ. And as he, in comparison, told the story of our travels and trials on the plains, there were not many dry eyes in the audience. He was an ordained minister before starting to Oregon, but remembering that scene with his father, we thought his religion must have been bottled. I refer to George Caton, and have not seen him since that visit.
    After the invasion of our train by the cholera, the songs from our hymn books of evenings were heard no more; the romps and all those pastime exercises were discontinued; mirth and song gave place to the cries of the sick and the caring of their needs. The first visit of the doctor (Dr. Holten) he administered medicine to seventeen cholera patients in our company--one-third of our number. Among these were Mother, brother Pete, sister Mary, Guilford Barnard, Patrick Cronan, Mary Campbell, Joe Hunsaker, and others who were not so bad. Mary Campbell died in about a week after being taken, and Patrick two days later. These were wound around with their bedding and thus they were buried in their graves of sand. This was a time not to be forgotten; men and women begging and crying for water, which was denied them because it was thought to be injurious to them. So great was their thirst that some would ask to be laid in the river and left there. The doctor was with us daily, treating those who needed his attention. I do not remember that I ever heard his charge spoken of as being exorbitant; I think though it was very reasonable, the place and all considered. Until this sickness my brothers each kept a daily journal of our travel, but here there was a break they could never connect. It was decided not to lay by because of sickness. It did look inhuman to drive all day with so many so very, very sick, and then to only stop the teams long enough for the dying to draw the last few breaths, driving on then until stopping time and then bury the corpse; but such was the plains of 1852. If we had stopped because of sickness we would not only have been losing the time, but our supply of provision would have been wasting and no opportunity afforded to get any additional; and then too, Dr. Holten would have driven on and we would have been without a physician. We all liked Dr. Holten, and our train fared much better than those that went into camp and waited because of sickness.
    The death of Mary Campbell, an estimable young lady, was deeply felt. She was the affianced of Joseph Hunsaker. He being the captain of our company, our teams were for weeks taxed to their utmost in order that we might come up with the Campbells. This having been effected, our union was highly appreciated by all.
    The banks of Snake River and every stream leading into it were dotted with the carcasses of the emigrants' cattle, so we could obtain no water without dipping below [i.e., downstream from] a dead animal, and in the river itself at most all times there could be seen floating dead animals--one, two, three or a half dozen at one view. The water was more loathsome than the sandy and alkali water of the Platte. I am very fond of beef soup, but we did not learn to like it as a beverage. The Indians were my dread at first, but that had passed; but the water--our daily drink--it was so sickening to look at, really it seemed a blessing to be sick. If there was any one thing on the way to be abhorred above all others, it was the water of Snake River. The weather, too, was excessively hot; I know that some days the sand was too hot for our bare feet. We would often take off our shoes but the prickly pear had taught us to be careful about that, and now the hot sand would persuade us to desist so that even though we would take advantage of the shade of the sagebrush and green wood all we could, we would have to put on our shoes or moccasins. The moccasins we had bought of the Indians, and nearly all of them were ornamented more or less with beads. The Indians were great lovers of beads; I suppose they had traded their furs and skins to the Hudson Bay Company for them. They would adorn their necks and ears, and some even their nose, with beads; what few garments they wore were also trimmed with them. In their superstition, they would bury with the dead the treasures that belonged to the dead Indian, or they would decorate his grave in some way with them. Truly, beads were so plentiful that the ants would carry them and use them in making their hills. We partook of the Indians' craze for beads and would pick them out of the ant hills. The ladies of the pale face are not the only admirers of beads. Oh, no! even the Indian men wore them. If they could but be profusely attired with those cheap beads of many colors, though their person was almost entirely naked, they appeared to be among the upper tens. I very much doubt if a large train loaded with beads would supply those Indians and ants with beads as they were supplied.
    On Platte River the banks were low and water could be easily dipped with a bucket and only a short distance to carry it, but Snake River (I do not know why it has that name; it looked no better than it was) I can only remember it with a loathsome horror. The water was so very bad, and then too, we would sometimes have to carry it a distance of a half mile or more up a steep hill--too steep to drive the teams to the water. It was up one of these hills Mary Campbell carried a bucket of water, and on the way up, she said: "If I die on the plains you may blame it to my carrying water up this hill." The next day she was taken sick with the cholera. Elizabeth and Nancy were both good girls, but Mary was the favorite. In Oregon, Elizabeth and Joe Hunsaker were married and are now living in or near Prineville, Oregon.
    When disease invades our homes and death makes his inroads, breaking the home circle, and we can take the remains of our loved ones--followed by a long procession of sympathizing friends--to the well-cared-for cemetery, it is even then sad and heart rending, and the presence of friends with their sympathy and consoling words fail to comfort the bereft ones. What then must it be to the wearisome traveler in a desert and barbarous. country, without a coffin, with the grave unmarked and uncared for, to be seen no more? These were but a boy's reflections, when each day it was expected that mother, sister or brother would be left by the way.

Medford Enquirer, July 20, 1900, page 8

Reminiscences of Crossing the Plains
and Early Settlement in Oregon.

(By J. L. Wigle)
    1 well remember my sympathy for sister Catherine when weeping at the side of Guilford in the wagon, she and others thinking he could not survive another hour. Sympathy at such times has no healing balm for the sorrowing ones. If our measure of joy and enjoyment is for this life only, then indeed it were as well for us not to have lived; but that there is a life beyond, we have a well-grounded hope, and these trials--our cup of sorrowing--fit us for usefulness here and the enjoyments of the sweets of a future life. It is well that the life-chain is but a link at a time; humanity could not bear to have the afflictions of a lifetime unveiled in a moment.
    Of a truth, our journey had become to be anything but a pleasant one. The monotony of the way was almost unbroken till coming to the Grande Ronde Valley, hidden away among the Blue Mountains. This was beautiful to look upon. Such grass I had never seen; and merging as we were from a stretch of more than a thousand miles of prairie where scarcely a tree was to be seen, it was as a new life to us. Health was by this time in a great measure restored, and as we looked at the fine evergreen on the mountains we were reminded of the stories of the timber in Oregon. When I say in Oregon, let it be understood that I refer to that part of which we had heard before starting, which was the northern part of the Willamette Valley. It was said that trees grew to the height of an hundred feet or more without limbs; that we had to look twice to see the tops of them and were so near together that an elk could not run through the timber. I have never seen these sayings all fully verified in one body of timber, but from that time on we were less skeptical. Even now, with locks whitening with age, the boy of those days looks back to that valley as the very picture of natural beauty, unequaled by anything I have ever seen except in the vicinity of Diamond Hills in the Willamette Valley, where we made our future home. This was one of the places where I remember walking alone and allowing my mind to feed on the surrounding beauties of nature. The Umatilla, too, presented a fine appearance with an abundance of excellent grass. Here we found some vegetables for sale. The potatoes were small and too high for us to buy many of them. Some fresh beef was bought of a man who was stopping there at a price too not much exceeding what is now asked at the block in our meat markets. Some few had stopped here and would purchase of the emigrants oxen that were exhausted. The price paid was too small to make a note of it with a pencil, and they would drive in these jaded oxen abandoned by emigrants, and thus with a little foraging which has been continued in that country for years, these men had a bright yellow future before them.
    It was no uncommon occurrence to see emigrants whose supplies were exhausted. I suppose in laying in their supplies they had not considered the fact that travelers on that road could not have access to gardens and orchards and that they would require more of the heavier diet than when at home, and that people on the road seemingly, if not really, always eat more than when at home. And then too, many would stay in camp on account of sickness, and thus indefinitely extend the time on the way. In the absence of supply stations, emigrants had to divide with each other. Do you wonder then that we became as one family, and today remember the associate of the plains?
    I write from memory only, and therefore I cannot always give the occurrences in their proper order, nor can I in every instance place the rivers and other marked localities in the order in which we came to them. 1 know of human frailties, and I know too that forty-eight years have passed since the time of which I write; yet I assure the reader that that whereof I write my memory is not much at fault.
    The Blue Mountains which we ascended from the Grande Ronde and descended to the Umatilla we found to be very steep, in fact, the heaviest hills on the way. There were on the route only a few places where it was necessary to double teams because of the steepness, and this was one of the few. The buffalo chips of the Platte were succeeded by the sagebrush and greasewood of Snake River; and now that we had reached the Blue Mountains, we found wood in abundance. In leaving the Black Hills we left all semblance of hickory and oak timber; we saw no more of either on the route. There is considerable oak west of the Cascades but no hickory. The Rocky Mountains were barren, there being no timber except a scattering and very scrubby growth of red cedar or juniper--I do not know which--and most generally this was away from the road, growing on the mountain steeps. We would sometimes see some cottonwood and I remember our passing through a grove of quaking-asp, but cannot place it. Now again new stocks were cut for the whips, but the evergreen would not equal the wild cherry of some former places for this purpose; and the boy, with others, delighted in cutting and sporting the new walking stick.
    Clothing by this time was growing old with the wear and tear of the way. Mother, in this extremity, made me a new pair of pants of the seamless two-bushel emptied flour sacks. I do not remember of that pair of pants ever growing old or of their becoming much the worse for the wear; no, nor what became of them. I would prize them now as a relic. Old Ball, the faithful off-wheel ox bought of Mr. Snyder in Illinois, always used in Elish Whitley's and Peter's team, which had never refused to do service and was always ready to receive the yoke and whose left hip joint flew out of place at every step of the way, fatigued and about the middle of the afternoon was abandoned as many others had been, because unable to go farther. Often we had been told that that ox could not stand the trip to Oregon so we were not surprised at his giving out; but we were surprised next morning at finding him with the rest of the cattle. By favoring him with a place with the loose stock he stood the journey through, and in improving the farm in Oregon (in plowing our ground and hauling rails) he was the favorite ox. Others were sold but Ball was one of the four kept on the farm; and after a few years this old servant too, was sold with the other three, and the ox team and ox wagon gave place to the horse team and wagon.
    Dennis, the Irishman, became discontented and left the train, and I have not seen him since. James Nations became offended at Mother because she scolded him for eating her light bread while traveling so there was not a sufficiency at mealtime and baking had then to be done. He quit Father's service and was going to leave the train. Eb Crouch, his comrade in driving, would go with him. At the same time Brad Hunsaker had some words with Uncle John and quit him. Father and Uncle then exchanged hands, Brad working for Father and Nations for Uncle, thus saving them from leaving the train.
    I think it was in Umatilla County that we saw the lone man with his wheelbarrow for the last time. That man we had frequently seen on the way; first on the Little Blue and then again and again--always pushing that wheel containing his outfit. His way doubtless was a lonely one, working and living as he seemingly was for self only and forming no acquaintances. There were scores who would invent something for a boat and go down on the Columbia River, and we suppose this naan abandoned his wheel and went in company with some of these. A few travelers were seen with pack horses en route to the mines of Oregon or California, the first a territory, the other a state, and together embracing at that time the entire Pacific Slope from the summit of the Rocky Mountains west and from the Mexican Republic south to Canada on the north. A few, but very few, we met with pack horses crossing the plains to the east. Enoch Fruit was one of these few. Some of our company were acquainted with him and recognized him. The emigrants of 1852, like those of former years, were seeking homes, many in Oregon and many in California. Many of the young men designed to ultimately go to the gold regions of California and Southern Oregon.
    The first settlement we reached was at The Dalles, and this was so scant and so unlike our eastern homes and surroundings there that we then regarded it, and do yet, more as an impediment on our way than as a help to our necessities. The few people there were there for the sole purpose of growing fat off the leanness of the dejected and worn-out emigrants; and they attended strictly to their business, improving every opportunity. We saw nothing inviting to the homeseeker there. The hot sand which was carried everywhere by the wind, the general dryness and parched appearance of the country and the preying settlers made our situation while camped there so very unpleasant that in all these passing years, during which cities have grown up on the then-barren plains and many thousands have there become prosperous and happy, yet I have had no desire to see that place again. As likes and dislikes are formed in early life the same as habits, and as our early habits are hard to overcome, so it requires an effort to learn to admire what was once loathsome to us.

Medford Enquirer, July 27, 1900, page 8
Reminiscences of Crossing the Plains
and Early Settlement in Oregon.

(By J. L. Wigle)
    I am in advance of our travels, especially of some things worthy of mention. Fort Boise we had passed to the south of, but not so distant, but some of it could be seen and the same of Walla Walla, only we did not come in sight of it. This last-named fort was the scene of the murder of the Dr. Whitman and his family, early missionaries among the Indians. To Dr. Marcus belongs the glory of saving all of the then territory of Oregon to the United States government. [This myth has since been debunked.] This he done by a midwinter horseback ride to Washington City and inducing and piloting nearly one thousand emigrants to Oregon the following spring, thus giving United States citizens in Oregon a majority over the English subjects.
    Uncle George's wagon had so nearly gone to pieces and some of the teams had become so weakened by the loss of oxen that it was decided to leave his wagon and divide his team among other teams to give them additional strength. His goods were merely placed in other wagons, and some thrown away. Conspicuous among these left was their feather bed. We frequently saw good feather beds that had been thrown away and also clothing. These were invariably shunned lest one germ of disease might be lurking there. About this same time Father sold to Mr. Campbell one hundred pounds of flour, to be paid for in Oregon and at Oregon prices. This flour was in a few years afterward paid for in a set of wagon hubs of Mr. Campbell's making and brother A. J. then made a two-horse wagon for Father.
    Some additional facts connected with the Whitman massacre should be stated. Dr. Whitman and Rev. Spalding were missionaries sent to the Pacific Coast by the Presbyterian Church. The doctor had prescribed medicine for the Indians sick with the measles, and they keeping up their own remedial practice for the cure of the sick which was sweating profusely and then a cold water bath; many of their number died. Honestly in their superstitions they blamed Dr. Whitman with poisoning them and the massacre was the result. Rev. Spalding and family were protected by friendly Indians and escaped.
    In Oregon I became acquainted with some of the volunteers who assisted in punishing the Cayuse Indians for the murder of Rev. Spalding [sic]. I have often seen and talked with his daughter, Eliza, who was the first white child born in Oregon, and his daughter Martha became the wife of Wm. Wigle. [There must have been a line skipped in the typesetting of that paragraph. William Wigle did marry Eliza Spalding, but it was Dr. Whitman who was murdered. Spalding died a natural death in 1874.]
    At Salmon River Falls we bought several fine salmon of the Indians, and oh my if ever fish were good these were more so. Was it because we had eaten no meat but the corn-fed bacon for so long so that our appetites were properly adjusted for the relishing of these fish. I think they were good, yes, very good. These were the first we got of those fish, but we found them at several places afterward. The Indians dried many of them for their own use. Their manner of cooking fish was peculiar and strange to me. I would gawk around their fires and watch them, almost equal to their gawking around our camps but I did not beg of them for fish to eat; my appetite was not "built that way." No part of the fish was allowed to go to waste. The body was cut open and dried at their fires, the head and refuse was served in a soup mixed with whatever roots and things they had for the purpose. We sometimes had invitations to eat with them, but about that time we were not hungry. Often we would see the squaws with her papoose's head in her lap or perhaps the head of quite a large papoose or another squaw and men hunting [lice on] each others' heads (good hunting ground). Sometimes at their camp, sometimes at ours, when they would visit us and we could very distinctly hear the louse crack between their teeth. Oh, but they did relish them. We resorted to no such measures for fresh meat. Do you wonder at their wild nature that our ways are not all like their ways. I wonder if they live in the same way yet, still eating their lice as a luxury. The woman would carry her child fastened to her back. She would gather in the wood, keep the camp, catch the crickets and prepare them for food, would assist in catching the fish, and make and ornament the moccasins. He, well, he would have a good time. Can there be a white man found like them. The Indian boys are experts in the use of the bow and arrow. They would dislodge a ten-cent piece from its fastening at a distant of ten paces. That distance they were more accurate in their skill than most of the white men with the rifle.
    The John Day River I have not much memory of. I know the country would not compare with the Umatilla and Grande Ronde in grandeur along either of these streams. I thought it would be a pleasant place for a home. Of course we had no thought of locating east of the Cascade Mountains. We had started to go to Oregon City and we were in a manner blind to all other places. Oregon City was our goal, and it would not do to stop short of it. We arrived at The Dalles on the seventh day of September. It wanted but four days of being five months since we left our home. In that time we had lost about one-half of our cattle, the very first one being a cow we had bought of Uncle Solomon Wigle. She broke a leg in a mud hole, the only animal lost by an accident. I know to a certainty the day of our arrival at Uncle Jake Hunsaker's at Oregon City, the very day on which we crossed the great desert and reached Green River (July fourth), the day of our arrival at A. J. Allison's place in Linn County, Oregon, the day of our landing at the mouth of Sandy, on the Oregon side of the Columbia and west of the Cascades, the day we reached The Dalles and the very time of our crossing the Mississippi River. These are the only dates of which I am positive of our arrival at places, but I think we crossed the Missouri River on the ninth of May.
    The Cascade Mountains, dreaded from the start, were yet before us. We had been told before starting how very steep and rough the hills in these mountains are and all of the reports on the way confirmed the first statements. It was said that in descending it is so steep that it is necessary to cut a tree and tie it to the back end of the wagon so as to avoid trouble. After having settled in Oregon we brought our rails out of these mountains a hundred miles farther south and in most of our hauling we would drag a log behind the wagon that would make from thirty to fifty rails, unhitching from it at the foot of the mountain. This crossing of the Cascades, known as the Barlow route, passing not far from the base of Mt. Hood and entering the valley near Oregon City, was then the only wagon road across this range of mountains, and I suppose it is the steepest and roughest one that has ever been located over them. Our teams were jaded and weakened by the loss of so many oxen, and ourselves feeling that same way, most any way of avoiding the crossing of the Cascades would be acceptable. So owing to the weakened condition of the teams and the knowledge we had learned that feed is scarce in those mountains, they being densely timbered, a consultation was held and the Wigle connection decided on boating the wagons and their plunder down the Columbia River and sending the stock over the mountains by trail to the Cascade falls.
    Mr. Campbell and Mr. Caton chose crossing the mountains with their wagons. They could not do otherwise for the lack of means. The next day following our arrival at The Dalles our teams were started by trail and our wagons taken to pieces and put into a boat. We were then told that the boat was loaded and not another pound would be taken on it and we must wait for another boat. The boat was loosed from its cabling and we saw it land and take on other people's goods and the passengers. We could now see when it was too late that the conclusion not to cross the mountains was a mistake. The boat that had been promised for next day came and was loaded with other people's goods and passengers and then went off down the river to its destination.
    Another was promised which done the same thing. Every day boats came and loaded with other people and their plunder who came after we did. Father went with the stock and was not there to help us out of the clutches we had gotten into. Day followed day and we were there on that windy beach a prey to the unmerciful men who had us in their power to hold us as long as they liked. They had received their pay for conveying us down the river and they were unconcerned about us and so turned their attention to catching other fish. With other travelers we had no trouble. The Indians did not molest us, but our last acquaintance with the settlers of Missouri was clouded and on the way at almost every small creek having banks lined with brush, some few unprincipled white men would take advantage for gain and obstruct the crossing and then exact a toll for the right of crossing on their bridge. It is not that our own people are less honest than others nor more heartless that I thus speak of them, but it is to know that their greed for money is greater than any other caste or nationality, and if there is a place in the wide world that offers superior advantages over other places for amassing a fortune in a short time our white brother will find it. Some of this class was on the plains in 1852 and came and settled in Oregon.

Medford Enquirer, August 3, 1900, page 8

Reminiscences of Crossing the Plains
and Early Settlement in Oregon.

(By J. L. Wigle)
    If any person wonders at my dislike at The Dalles let him for the moment see himself camped there with us, having traveled so long and so far, our teams and wagons gone, Father gone, money gone, scooped in [sic], no windbreak, sand flying everywhere, a hot sun streaming down upon us and then the uncertainty of getting away. I cannot now conceive of any pleasantness to be derived in a home there. This was the order for one week, when one night a consultation was held by Uncle John and A. J. Wigle, at the window of the sleeping room of the boating contractor, relative to a course of action. The talk was heard and understood and next evening, a little before sundown, the last of our plunder and ourselves were received in the boat, already having a sufficient load without us. Our stay there had been so very unpleasant we were ready to accept of any opportunity for getting away, but our departure was destined to be even less pleasant than our stay had been. The overloaded boat immediately commenced leaking at every joint near the top of the boat. Men were put to work with buckets, wherever a bucket could be used, bailing out the water. The boat was loosed from its fastenings and started. Soon the passengers--seeing the boat fast filling--entreated the captain to land, but he would not, though after a little while he gave orders to run back to The Dalles. In this he was opposed, because it was seen The Dalles could not be reached. Alter much suspense and excitement a landing was effected one mile below The Dalles on the Oregon side of the river. Darkness had come upon us. The captain used much discretion in landing, running the bow to the bank and ordering that one man pass off at a time and for no one to leave his seat till his time came to go off. Our wagons and goods were all taken off, the water bailed out, and the boat then returned to The Dalles. This was a very uncomfortable place--the large rocks that had fallen from the cliffs being so near together there was no room for making beds--but it was preferable to the leaky boat.
    Another window consultation was held that night and in the morning an empty boat was sent to us, and into it we went with our goods. Our stay at this place, though lasting but one night and into the next day, was long enough to make its impression, It appeared as though as long as we were near this river trouble was measured out to us. From the first coming to Snake River our way was marked with crosses, but the source of our trouble now was not disease, and though not aggravating and unpleasantly exciting to the extreme we would have some pleasure even in imposed condition. In our voyage down Columbia we were often near the boat that had come so near sinking with us. These river boats were all rowboats; some of them had the advantage of sails. The one we were on was exclusively a rowboat, and there were but two hands on it and one of these was an Indian. We saw that he understood his business and we felt secure on that boat. The strong up-current wind which prevails almost every afternoon on the Columbia made the river so rough that we were obliged several times to hunt some favored place and wait for the abating of the wind. By this our going was slow. We camped one night on the way down and reached the Cascades an hour or more in advance of the other boat.
    At the Cascades we met with our teams, wagons and men. Of course they were in advance of us and knowing that our goods must be loaded into the wagons these were in readiness, and so we loaded in our things and made the short drive of three miles to the boat landing below the falls. From here there was no choice but to boat as we had done at The Dalles and send the stock by trail, for there was no wagon road. The wagons were unloaded, and they with all our goods were put into a boat. There were many more wagons besides ours on this boat, it being much larger than any of the upper river boats and designed to run by sail; there were though a double set of oars on the boat. From the Cascades down there were two or more steamboats engaged in carrying emigrants down the river, so there was very little trouble in getting conveyance. Our boat was of the schooner order, and there were on board a hundred or more passengers. We camped one night at the Cascades and about midday we started out in the river to make the run to the mouth of Sandy, a river coming into the Columbia just below the Cascade Mountains, at which place we were to again meet with our teams. This time Father remained with us and was in the boat with us. In this boat with us was Rev. James Pearl of the M.E. Church, a man three months younger than Father, who settled near us in Linn County and lived to the advanced age of ninety-two years. At the very first the boat was unmanageable; the sails were raised but to no purpose. The wind was blowing up the river and the boat could in no way be controlled, but would, though every effort was made, drift broadside with the current. The captain was without experience and it was the boat's first trip. There was also a Scotchman among the hands, a fine-looking man and one of resolution. There was also a sailor. The captain soon became lost in his efforts to manage the boat and became quite timid. The passengers became excited and a general confusion reigned. At this the sailor asserted himself and soon showed to the captain and others that the sails were not and could not be properly arranged to run against the wind. A large rock in the river below us toward which we were drifting soon became the object of general attention. We were rapidly approaching it, the excitement increased, some were crying with fear, some were praying, some were doing both. Rev. Pearl was of the latter class. Few were composed. The captain partook of the general fear, expressing that in his opinion the boat would go to pieces on the rock. The sailor was calm and tried to assure the people that the current parted at the rock and would carry us by it. He took the captain's place and gave the orders, standing with a pole in hand. A confused and excited company of men cannot be prevailed upon to act in harmony. There must be a leader in whom they trust or no effective work can be done. Fear had the mastery of most everyone. I thought as the sailor stood with his pole in hand trying to assure the people there was no danger that he was a truly noble-looking man, and when the boat came to the rock I saw him with his strong arm place the end of the pole against the rock, using his strength all he could in keeping the boat from touching the rock. I was doubly assured of his knowledge in the handling of the boat. Clear of the rock there was no other perceivable danger, but the sailor ordered a landing which was soon effected three miles from our place of starting. The landing was made on the Oregon side where there was a nice beach we could enjoy ourselves upon while the captain and sailor returned to the Cascades to provide for some better mode of conveyance down the river.
    There was no trickery shown in this and it required no midnight consultation to effect it for we were early assured of a steamboat to tow us down the river. We were only one night on that beach and in the morning the steamer came as promised and we had a very pleasant ride, being privileged to go aboard the steamer while on the way. It looked like civilization to again see a steamboat on the river. We had traveled all these months and not seen one, no train of cars, no machinery of any kind, not even a plow nor a chicken or any other domesticated fowl, no church edifice or school building, nothing to mark the trend of civilization, but now we can go on the steamer and enjoy the Columbia River scenery such as we had never seen and such as few places in the world can equal. The mouth of Sandy was the objective point, the appointed place for meeting our teams. On the twenty-second day of September, fifteen days after our arrival at The Dalles, we reached this place, time sufficient for us to have crossed the mountains twice over with our teams, besides an expense bordering onto three hundred dollars to the company. Our teams were there on our arrival. Next morning Uncle Jake Hunsaker met us. He lived but twenty-two miles distant and had made several trips to Sandy to meet with us, thinking that we would come down the river in preference to crossing the mountains.
    Years after Mother was gone Uncle Abraham Hunsaker visited us from Honeyville, Utah, he being a Mormon, and he told us that he went several times to the soda springs for the purpose of meeting with us, as we would pass there. Uncle Jake at once spent forty dollars for the necessities of the company and then kindly conducted us to his home. Here virtually ended our long journey, and now let us take a look at the country we had traveled so far to reach. Surely it must be a grand one and rich in products that we would endure so much at so great an expense, leaving lovely homes and parting with dear, dear friends and relatives to see and enjoy no more.

Medford Enquirer, August 10, 1900, page 8

Reminiscences of Crossing the Plains
and Early Settlement in Oregon.

(By J. L. Wigle)
    No, we will not look; it is so different from what we expected to see that we really do not regard it as worth looking at. Since then great improvements have been wrought there. The great water power of the Willamette River at the falls at Oregon City has been utilized and become the servant of man. It is now viewed with an amazing grandeur, but is a rough country still. It did not meet with our ideal for a home. Together we had shared the enjoyments of camp life and together we had borne the trials and afflictions of the way as one family. There had been some little broils, at the time unpleasant, but no ill will was treasured up. Our company was disbanded; homes were to be found, and for that purpose Campbells went thirty miles east of Oregon City and there located and lived the remainder of their lives. Uncle George and family were thrown upon their own resources at The Dalles. They were not kept there as we were but went in advance of us to the Cascades and from there to near Fort Vancouver where they settled and lived till Uncle's death, about the year 1869. The girls all married and had homes near their father, where Betsy and Matilda died, each leaving a family of children. The boys lived there for some time and both were married. They are so scattered now that they themselves do not know where the homes of some of them are.
    We reached Oregon City on the twenty-fourth of September, money all gone and seventy-five dollars in debt for our fare from the Cascades to Sandy.
    In a few days after our arrival I was taken sick with the so-called mountain fever. I think it was the typhoid but of a type peculiar to the plains, anyway it was a lingering disease. Joe Hunsaker was sick with it on the way. Through this sickness I was attended by Dr. Steele, and eighty dollars more were added to our debt. This was my last serious spell of sickness to the present. writing--forty-eight years after. Uncle Jake's oldest children both took the disease of me and died. Horton was my comrade in the squirrel chase when my arm was dislocated, and we had not met till now. This sorrow was brought to their home through the kindness bestowed on us. Mary Wigle, Uncle John's only girl, was a long time sick with it. Uncle Jake, having a vacant house near to his own home, one I think he bought of Mr. Magruder, the father of the gentleman of that name now living in Central Point, Oregon, he took us to it. We were greatly in need of many things. Without money, and strangers in a strange land, Uncle directed Father and Uncle John to a store in Oregon City with an order to get what goods they wanted. They each bought about one hundred dollars worth and on their return gave the bill of the goods to him. He hastily looked at the bill and in his peculiar way asked them why they did not get more. He would never have anything for these goods. If there is a tender cord in the heart it is touched by kindness and assistance given when in almost a helpless condition, and the impression then made is never obliterated.
    Guilford and Catherine Barnard remained with Uncle, working with him for wages. Uncle John and family, A. J. Wigle and family and brother Peter and sister Mary tarried at Uncle's for a few days and then started up the Willamette Valley to look for homes. Father and Mother and the little girls remained at Uncle Jake's waiting for my recovery. About one month from the time of our arrival before I could walk we started up the valley. We had a rainy trip of it. Oh how I did despise the rain, but in the forty winters I lived there I became accustomed to it and did not much dread the rainy season. Fifty miles from Oregon City and twelve miles southeasterly from Salem we came to Uncle Joseph Hunsaker's, Mother's cousin. We found sister Mary there waiting for our arrival.
    We liked the country here very well, much better than at Oregon City. We spent two nights here. By that time I could walk around and care for myself. When we were all seated in the wagon and ready to start on our way, Uncle Joe (I call him Uncle; he was certainly good enough) standing by the wagon next to Father said to him, "Well, John, I have but little, but I'll divide with you," at the same time handing him a fifty-dollar gold coin. This coin from the California mint was then quite common in Oregon but soon went out of circulation. 
    It is hard to estimate the value of kindness to a weary, needy traveler or its lasting imprint. This act of Uncle Joe was unasked for, and though he in later years received compensation in full, that did not lesson the value of the kindness to us nor detract in the least from his motive in bestowing it.
    Uncle Jake had spent more than two hundred dollars on the company, for which he never would receive anything, and a few months later when we were searching the country over for flour and could not get any for want of money, our neighbor of but a few weeks acquaintance (John Wilson), hearing of our want, came to our house and, unasked, said to Father, "Neighbor Wigle, anywhere that you can find flour you may use my name as security." Mr. Wilson was called a stingy man, almost miserly, but God only knows the human heart and that there is sometimes and somewhere hidden in the depths of the soul mines of wealth which man knows not of till the light glares upon him and will then shine forth in rich effulgence for the good of suffering humanity is true. In this instance Wilson could only have been moved to act but by the purest motive of doing good with no chance of gain but at the risk of loss to himself. We were not destitute of flour nor of other necessities of life. It was not Father's way to wait till the last morsel was gone. No, he looked farther ahead than that. I do not think that he ever saw the time that he did not have plenty in the house, but he wanted to know where the next was to come from. This first winter in Oregon he had to get out and hustle and had nothing to hustle with till Wilson gave him his name.
    John Wilson came to Oregon in 1847 and was at one time the heaviest taxpayer in Linn County. He was a stockman but never traded nor purchased; exclusively he was a stock raiser. I do not think anyone questioned his honor or that he did not come by his wealth honestly. He lived joining farms to Father till the close of his long life, and little did he think that day when walking over to offer his name to Father for security that his neighbor boy would, long years after he and Mrs. Wilson were gone from this earth, after his family had scattered and his landed possessions of more than three thousand acres had all passed into other hands, write this tribute to his name because of that one act.

Medford Enquirer, August 17, 1900, page 8

Reminiscences of Crossing the Plains
and Early Settlement in Oregon.

(By J. L. Wigle)
    Leaving Uncle Joe Hunsaker's, we had got forty miles to travel. The roads were getting considerable muddy and it required two days to drive that distance. I have since then a number of times driven it in one day. About noon of the second day, November the fourth, we met Peter and William Wigle on their way with an ox team and wagon to Oregon City to get a supply of flour, distance ninety miles. It could not be had at the very commencement of winter without money, which they were destitute of. I have written of the deeds of kindness by which Father had received some money. He had the boys to abandon the trip and so they turned back and went with us. That same evening we reached A. J. Allison's, where we found Uncle John and family and also Mary, who was still very weak from her sickness. Allison had worked for Uncle in Illinois and though yet not married and having a very small house, already filled to an overflowing, he opened his doors to us. He was then engaged in carrying the United States mail. His run extended from Oregon City to Pleasant Hill, which place is situated in Lane County, about fifteen miles east from Eugene. It was and is yet a place of no importance, a store and blacksmith shop being about its full dimensions, and yet it was the terminus of the mail route. There was no mail from the Willamette Valley into Southern Oregon, and not even to Roseburg. The mail was carried on horseback and the round trip made once each month. There was an ocean steamer due at Portland each month, and this steamer would bring the mail from the East. The coming of the mail was always anxiously welcomed. It was our medium of hearing from home and we paid ten cents postage on a letter, often making our own envelopes, and as there were then no envelopes having mucilage we must have a sealing wax or what was more pleasing to the eye, the wafer, commonly red.
    A. J. Wigle and Peter had each selected land claims six miles south of Allison's. They had built a house on Abram's and we went to it. We are now once more where we call home, the home we came to Oregon to seek. This home is all prairie land, not a stick of timber on it. On the mountain from three to five miles distant is a supply sufficient for all wants within its reach, but the road to it is so rough and steep that the boys were not satisfied with the land they had selected. Winter was upon us. An Oregon rain with a continuous blow of three days and nights in a very few days after our arrival was something we were not accustomed to and in no ways flattering to us in our new home. The low ground was flooded and we were anything but buoyant.
    After a few days it was decided to quit these places, thinking more satisfactory lands could be found. New homes were located on the stream known as Big Muddy. There is an ample supply of firewood here but very little rail timber. The change was considered in every way a good one. It was very rainy but immediately work was commenced on a house. Logs were hewn from timber on the place and a foundation laid. An old bachelor squatted on Father's claim and he could not be peaceably induced to remove from it, so in preference to trouble with him, it was decided to quit this place and select another. This time the location was made one mile north of where Harrisburg now is. We got shelter with Charles Roth, a German bachelor. The house was a very small one, but he had built him a shop for a chair factory and this also was open for our accommodation. The rent was--well, I knew of no one who paid rent or demanded it. I did know of one man who worked all winter for his board and one who refused us a peck of wheat for hominy, but the man who got the benefit of the emigrant's labor and the man who would not let us have the wheat never were prosperous men.
    Very hot weather ensued. Rain was an everyday affair. This lasted till Christmas, then came a fall of snow, snowing every day and thawing some till the snow was a foot deep. The snow lasted fifteen days. Provisions were hard to get. There was no feed of any kind for stock but the range, and poor cattle and horses, without shelter from rain or snow and no feed only what they could pick, could not gain much and so were not able to do much work. I do not know that I have ever seen the day when people were not complaining of hard times. It is a common cry now. There is now a call for laborers in every direction. Then no work could be had. Today there is an abundance of the necessaries of life at reasonable rates. Then flour was $24 per hundred pounds in the Willamette Valley and other things in proportion. Oh, yes, the land was a free gift to us, but how could the emigrants improve their land not having any means and no work in the country. We could build our log cabins and use the ground for a floor. We could be sociable with each other, for one was not much better off then than his neighbor, but these things did not satisfy our ambitions. In our two months' stay at Mr. Roth's, Father and Peter carried our provisions from Uncle John's, distance ten miles; sometimes they had water to wade to their waist. The grass at the foothills was good and our stock was left there. From the mountains to the Willamette River the ground was literally plowed up by mice and gophers so there was very little grass there and because of this we did not attempt to keep our stock with us. The water-soaked snow of that winter left no dry ground and the mice and gophers were so nearly exterminated they were never near so numerous afterward.
    A hewn log house was built. There was no lumber in the country, the earth was cold and filled with water, but with this--nature's floor--we moved into it about the tenth of January. Because of there being no grass there and an abundance of it at the hills, Father in his effort to do the best he could determined on moving to the hills, so he bought a right to a claim joining to Uncle John's. For this we were to pay $200. There were no improvements on it other than the little log house. I think the bachelor Father bought this place of is the same person who gave him trouble with his place at Muddy, he having left it as soon as Father did and the very same one who was in two years after, of about that time, richly rewarded for slanderous talk, receiving therefore a good cow-hiding, administered by a neighbor young lady, who has a son, one of our fellow townsmen in Medford. Of the cow-hiding the neighbors could only say, "Well done.'' I knew nothing of that bachelor since, and I only use him as one specimen of the black sheep in the emigrant flock of 1852.
    We soon moved from this place, having lived in our new house not longer than a week. The move was made in January, 1853. The storms had ceased, and of the forty winters I lived in the Willamette Valley I never seen one of more rain in the first winter months or as beautiful weather as we had from the middle of January and all through February as we had that year. Here we became acquainted with Mr. Wilson, and this place was our home for years.
    The house we moved [to?] from near Harrisburg. Ham McCully and Ab Waters came into our mountains and made one thousand rails for it. The timber was tree to split and the rails were not large. Hardships showered upon us. No work could be had. The country was canvassed for flour; the mills had no wheat and they had no flour. The merchants had none. It could only be found with a few who had had their wheat ground, and these were not the men who would let a stranger have flour without the money. Finally Mr. Wilson offered to assist us in the way of security; then one thousand pounds was bought of James McCarg for two hundred dollars. This lasted till flour was shipped in from the East. This was the time when in the mines of Southern Oregon and Northern California flour sold for one dollar per pound. Seed wheat was bought at five dollars per bushel, oats and potatoes at three dollars and a fine beef steer, the cheapest and best meat we bought of Mr. Wilson, for one hundred dollars. The beef weighed 1000 pounds net and lasted us till our own cattle would do for meat.
    Our dwelling was a small round log [i.e., the logs themselves were left round and
not hewn square] house of but one room, very much like the old school house in Illinois. We were seven in number and our home was much like a camp life. Oh, say, did you ever camp out and were your appetites good? Well we ate and ate and ate and still we were hungry. Our well of water was so salty we could scarcely use it for any purpose. We had no semblance of a barn and no fence at all, not even around the house, and nothing but our own strength with which to remedy these wants.
    Oh, yes, we came here in an early day when times were good and Uncle Sam gave us our land and we therefore ought to be rich. We had the pick of the country and could get the most choice land but we were not acquainted with the soils of Oregon, and we, like others who came early, selected of the poorest and not of the best for farming purposes. We had no plows and there were none in the market, only as the blacksmith made them. We could and did get along with a wooden-toothed harrow and a brush drag, but these were poor tools to work sod ground with. This with more and more added made up our facilities for our pioneer life in the wild West for which we had sacrificed so much to reach.

Medford Enquirer, August 24, 1900, page 2

The concluding installments of Wigle's memoir are lost.

Last revised September 12, 2023