following stories are part of Roy S. Kirkham's research based
on his family ties to the Clatsop Plains, Warrenton, Seaside
and Gearhart regions of Clatsop County, Oregon. Updated April
This is the
story of the Robinson, Thompson, Motley and Tuller families up
to, during and a bit past seven years on Clatsop Plains,
Oregon. I came into possession of a family Bible and read that
it was given by my Great Great Great Grandmother Margaret Robinson
to my Great Grandmother Jessie Thompson in 1852 in a place called "Clatsop".
I started doing Internet Web searches and discovered I had ancestors
on the Clatsop Plains as early as 1845. Step Great Great Grandfather
Jeremiah Tuller platted the town of Lexington (first County seat
in Clatsop) on his land claim. Lexington absorbed the town of Yellow
Bank, then was itself absorbed by the town of Warrenton. My Great
Great Great Grandfather John Robinson sold his land claim to a
man who then sold it to Phillip Gearhart. Another of my ancestors,
Obediah Motley sold his claim to Phillip Gearhart. My Great Great
Grandmother Miriam Robinson-Thompson was recently widowed, and
about to remarry to Jerremiah Tuller, and she also sold her land
claim to Phillip Gearhart. This has turned out to be quite a saga,
so, I should list the cast of characters:
John Robinson, aka Captain John Robinson, aka "JR", aka
Margaret (Peggy) Carnahan Wilson
Arthur H. Thompson, aka A. H. Thompson
Miriam Arnath Robinson
Step GG Grandfather: Jeremiah Gerome Tuller, aka Jeremiah Teller,
aka Jerry Tuller
G Grandmother: Jessie Marion Thompson
Other relatives in the Clatsop Plains saga were:
Obediah Motley (John Robinson's other son-in-law)
Elizabeth Robinson-Motley (Miriam Robinson's sister)
The Robinson, Motley, Tuller story continues around
1854 in Benton County were they relocated following seven years
on Clatsop Plains. Here is some of of the story leading up to that
Jeremiah Tuller married into the Robinson family in 1850, following the murder
of Miriam Thompson's husband during the California Gold Rush. Jeremiah had preceeded
the family to Oregon in the Jesse A. Applegate Oregon Trail wagon train of 1843
and by 1845 had established the town of Lexington on his land claim in Clatsop.
The Joel Palmer Oregon Trail wagon train roster has Arthur H. Thompson and and
his wife Miriam Robinson traveling to Oregon in 1845. Samuel Barlow convinced
several members of the Joel Palmer wagon train to cross over the south slope
of Mt. Hood and create a trail there. Winter over-took the group, the wagons
wintered-over at "Station Camp" on the south slope of Mt. Hood and
the first party to decend the blazes of a new trail (to soon become the Barlow
Trail) were Mrs. Arthur H. Thompson, Mr. and Mrs. Buffum and Joel Palmer.
The Isaac Allen and Elam Brown California Trail wagon train and the Joseph C.
Alexander wagon train, both of 1846, carried on the rosters the names of John
Robinson, his wife Margaret Wilson Carnahan, the Robinson's son-in-law Obediah
Motley and his wife Elizabeth Robinson, and (possibly) their other son-in-law.
An "A.H. Thompson" was listed. It could be that Arthur Thompson immediately
returned east and accompanied the rest of the family to Oregon. When the wagon
trains reached the turn-off for Oregon there were several split-offs from the
trains and a group, whose captain could have been John Robinson, was one that
went to Oregon.
While the rest of the family was traveling west on the Oregon Trail, Miriam Robinson-Thompson
was the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Holmes in their Oregon City cabin. At about the
time that the Holmes family moved into their new house in February 1846 (a historic
home which still stands in Oregon City) Miriam departed for Tualatin, where Jessie
Thompson was born in June 1846. The rest of the family group joined Miriam and
Jessie, their wagon was retrieved from Station Camp, and they proceeded down
the Willamette and Columbia Rivers to Clatsop Plains.
An interesting note - Robert S. McEwen and his wife Cordelia Rebecca Noland were
in the 1846 trains to Oregon and might have been traveling with the Robinson
and Motley famlies. The Robinson, Motley and McEwen families left Clatsop Plains
together and all settled down in Benton County. Alexander John McEwan married
Clementine Motley and their grandson, Robert Reed McEwan has been a long-time
resident of Gearhart, Oregon.
By July 4, 1847 John Robinson, Obediah Motley and Arthur Thompson, with their
families, had settled and started dairies at the south end of Clatsop Plains,
the present location of Gearhart and the north end of Seaside. It is possible
that the Gearhart's first residence was the Robinson's cabin. Oregon State Archives
information on these claims are:
John Robinson, Vol 4 pg 266, 24 Apr 1847
Arthur H. Thompson, Vol 4 pg266, 24 Apr 1847
J G Tuller, Vol 7 pg 107, 17 Jan 1848
O G Motley, Vol 8 pg 085, 09 Aug 1848
J G Tuller, Vol 8 pg 164, 31 Jan 1849
The Arthur Thompson land claim had a creek running through it and was then named
Thompson Creek, which it is still called today. Thompson Falls is an important
location point for the Thompson claim. It is said that the Thompson land claim
had its southern boundary on what is presently Avenue A in Seaside, Oregon. When
I moved to Seaside, in 1987, I did not know about my ancestors and I find it
interesting that I bought a house that resides on what was my great great grandparents
Arthur H. Thompson was a hopeless adventurer and, when gold was discovered in
California, he left his wife and daughter on Clatsop Plains and went to the Gold
Rush to make his fortune. On April 17, 1849 Arthur Thompson was murdered by Indians
not far from Sutters Fort. On July 25, 1850, Miriam Robinson-Thompson married
Jeremiah Tuller and daughter Jessie Thompson, 4, was living with them.
John Robinson was elected and served in 1847 3rd Provisional Oregon Legislative
Assembly and was listed as a legislator for Clatsop County.
On February 25, 1851 the citizens of Clatsop Plains met at the house of Thomas
Owens for the purpose of organizing two school districts. Chairman of the meeting
was John Robinson and the secretary was J.P. Powers. This meeting formally established
the first two school districts in Clatsop County.
John Robinson had discovered Benton County and by 1854 the Robinson, Motley and
Tuller families had relocated there. John next served in the 1855 session of
the 7th Territorial Oregon Legislative Assembly as a legislator for Benton County.
The family had lived in Clatsop County for seven years, then relocated to the
Jessie Marion Thompson, daughter of Miriam Robinson-Thompson-Tuller, married
Frelinghuysen Stilson in 1863 and one of their four daughters, Inez Stilson,
was my grandmother. Inez Stilson married John A. Kirkham and their only child
was Arthur Robinson Kirkham, my father.
In 1870 Jeremiah Tuller homesteaded in a remote area 7 miles west of present
Glendale, Oregon. A small pioneer gravesite along Cow Creek, near Glendale, Douglas
County, Oregon contains the graves of Jeremiah G. Tuller 1822-1895, Miriam A.
(Robinson-Thompson) Tuller 1826-1907, daughters Clementine Bell 1852-1901 and
Edith Tuller 1857-1931.
Tuller's trail experience was recorded in the Oregon Pioneer
Association Transactions, Number 23, 1895:
Crossing the Plains in 1845
By Mrs. Miriam A. Tuller, Glendale
born May 29, 1826, in Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois;
was married to Arthur H. Thompson,
April 17th, 1844. We started
on March 22nd 1845, from near Hennepin, Putnam County, Illinois,
in the company with Eugene Skinner and wife, for Oregon; crossed
the Illinois river there, and bid farewell to friends and acquaintances
- my husband fired with patriotism to help keep the country from
British rule, and I was possessed with a spirit of adventure and
a desire to see what was new and strange. From Illinois River we
went to Quincy; crossed the Mississippi River there and went to
Lexington and crossed the Missouri at that place. From there to
the state line, as it was then called, the place agreed upon for
the emigrants to meet for a final start for Oregon; there we started
from on May 11th, with a company of four hundred and eighty wagons,
nearly all ox teams, and some large bands of loose cattle. That
was a very dry, warm spring and thus far a very pleasant experience
for me. Stephen Meek, a brother of the renowed Joe Meek, was elected
guide. I was not acquainted with any one coming to Oregon when
I started, except my husband, but I made many very aggreeable acquaintances,
many of whom I have always held in kind remembrance. We were unable
to make much headway with so large a company, so agreed to divide.
Then we were in a company of eighty wagons and that was far to
many; so kept separating, some times twenty wagons and often only
four or five - that was more convenient - and we had become indifferent
to fear. We traveled up Platte River and forded it. Then we went
in the buffalo country; there were solid masses of these as far
as the eye could reach, and we had fresh meat galore. The little,
graceful antelopes were plenty and now and then we saw a big horn
and an elk. We stopped one day at Fort Laramie. From Platte we
journeyed to Sweetwater, then to Green River, which we forded by
placing blocks under the wagon bed to raise it up to keep things
inside dry. We camped one day near Fort Bridger, then on to Fort
Hall. Captain Grant, of the Hudson's Bay Company, was in charge;
he gave us the consoling information that the Indians would kill
us before we got to Oregon; but they proved better than represented.
We had little trouble with Indians, but they stole some things.
We saw thousands of then, many in the same style as Adam and Eve
when first in the Garden of Eden. Next went to Fort Boise; Mr.
Craig, of the Hudson's Bay Company, was in charge. He was more
polite than Captain Grant; he only said we had better wait for
more company, and he sent a French servant with a large canoe to
take us women across Snake River, where we crossed it the second
time. The men and teams forded it; then Bear River, Burnt River,
Malheur and Powder Rivers, with their numerous Indian camps, were
passed; the beautiful Blue Mountains, Grand Ronde Valley and river,
then John Day's River and next DesChutes or Fall River. This we
had to ferry, the first since leaving the Missouri. There was a
sand storm raging; some Indians were there with their canoes who
were more than willing to take us over for some calico shirts.
The wagons were unloaded and taken apart and after many loads,
we were safely over. The teams had to swim. Then we went to The
Dalles; here Father Waller and another missionary were stationed,
who sold us some beef and potatoes, for provisions were getting
low. There were a few row boats at The Dalles to take the emigrants
down the Columbia and up the Willamette, as that was the only way
to reach the Willamette Valley with wagons at that time. There
were so many of us, although one-third of our number had turned
off at Fort Hall to go to Califormia under Wm. B. Ide, guided by
the old trapper Greenwood, that it would take too long for all
to go in those small boats, so some concluded to go through the
Cascade Mountains. S.K. Barlow was the moving spirit in this undertaking.
There was only an Indian trail that some stock had been driven
over. We started with teams and wagons. We had overcome so many difficulties
that we felt quite sure we could go almost anywhere. We got along
quite well until we came to the heavy timber. The men worked on
the road for about two weeks, but gave up hope of getting the wagons
through that fall, as it was now October, and concluded it was
best to send the women and children out of the mountains. I was
mounted on a Cayuse pony and in company with Mr. and Mrs Buffum
and Captain Palmer, left husband and camp - everything - but a
few clothes and a little provisions, to try to reach some place
before the rain set in. The first night after we left camp rain
commenced and it rained all the time until we got through the mountains.
The trail that we traveled went up over the south side of Mt. Hood,
away up to and over perpetual snow. The coming down was worse,
the zigzag trail a foot or more deep with sand. We camped on the
side of the mountain as night overtook us. There it rained very
hard all night. We had no tent of shelter of any kind. The fourth
night we met three men from Oregon City, coming to meet those emigrants
in the mountains, with some provisions, as they had heard we were
in distress. We were not in any immediate danger of starving but
the beef and sugar were very acceptable, and to be so kindly thought
of by strangers was very cheering. The names of those mem were
Mathew Gilmore, Peter G. Stewart and Charles Gilmore. The provisions
were contributed by the people around Oregon City.
There were many many fallen trees across the trail that the horses
had to jump; the streams were deep, swift and cold. We reach Oregon
City the sixth day from camp, but when I saw a woman on a very
poor horse with a little child in her lap and one strapped on behind
her and two or three tied on another horse, I felt very very thankful
and imagined I was only having a picnic. I found a pleasant place
to stop and was very kindly treated by Mr. and Mrs. Holmes, near
Oregon City. I remained there until February; then went to Yamhill
County, where we stayed through the summer. In June my husband
and others who had left their wagons in the mountains took their
teams and returned to bring them out, as the road had been cleared
of timber. The mice had made lint of most of my clothing and bedding,
but I was glad to get what was left, as things of that kind were
very scarce in Oregon at that time. The fall of 1846 my parents
came, and we all went down the Columbia River, to Clatsop Plains.
In the fall of 1848, when gold was discovered in Califormia my
husband went, as did many others, to seek gold, but never returned.
He was murdered by the Indians near Mormon Island on American River.
There were four in camp and none left to tell the tale. Their names
were Arthur H. Thompson, Talmage B. Wood, Robert Alexander and
July 30th, 1850, I was married to Jeremiah G. Tuller. I lived
in Clatsop County seven years and went to Benton County August,
1854, where I stayed until 1880. My present postoffice address
is Glendale, Douglas County, Oregon. My maiden name was Robinson.
In the recollections of a grandson of John and Margaret Robinson,
a colorful family history emerges:
ROBINSON and MOTLEY FAMILIES
as told to Mrs. MORRIS by R. C. MOTLEY
"Way back in
the early part of the nineteenth century, May 22, 1805, to
be exact, Obediah C. MOTLEY was born in Spottsylvania
Courthouse, Virginia. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed,
as it was then called, to the United States Navy, where he went
to school until he was twenty-one. Here he was educated and trained
as a navigator. He served with the navy for several years and
then took charge of merchant ships. His son, Rudolph, has in
his possessions a consular receipt issued in 1838 clearing Capt.
MOTLEY from the U.S.A. port of New Orleans to the port of Galveston,
Republic of Texas.
"About twelve years before the birth of Captain MOTLEY, on Christmas Day,
1793, John ROBINSON was born in Buncombe County, N.C. As was usual in those days
every man was a crack shot with a rifle, and young John was taught all the lore
of the woods, the game, and the trail, and the habits of the Indians. John was
exceptionally adept at frontier work and soon became a recognized scout. When
the Territory of Illinois was organized he was sent by the Government to help
the settlers and to guard them. In 1815 he returned to South Carolina where he
had left his sweetheart, Margaret WILSON, and in spite of the remonstrances of
her people who could not bear to have their daughter go to the unknown frontier
country, that was alive with danger of every description, they were married on
Tuesday, October 3, 1815. Taking a little bedding, a frying pan, and the ever
present rifle, they mounted their horses and started west to Illinois. They were
compelled to shoot game in order to eat, as they could carry no provisions with
them. We can imagine what hardships were endured before they reached their destination.
"Just a year later the oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was born, October 1,
1816. They had three other daughters, Mary L., born March 12, 1819, who lived
only until Nov. 11, 1821; Harriet, born July 23, 1822 and Miriam, born May 21,
"Obediah MOTLEY, when they started the idea that they could run boats up
the Mississippi River to the new settlements, was given charge of one of them
to try and sail as far up the river as he could get. Before he started on the
unknown adventure he decided to buy the boat he was to command. He succeeded
in reaching Illinois, we do not know at just what place. He sold his boat and
decided to settle in that country. He made the acquaintance of John ROBINSON
soon after arriving, met the daughter, Elizabeth, and the rest is soon told.
He started in Hennepin during the building of the Hennepin Canal, so it is presumed
that was the town, although the young couple were married in Peru, January 18,
1835. Miss Elizabeth was teaching in Hennepin when they became acquainted, though
possibly her home was in Peru.
"Capt. MOTLEY remained in the mercantile business for several years until
the western fever consumed both him and his father-in-law, Mr. ROBINSON. At the
beginning of the Black Hawk War in 183_, John ROBINSON was appointed Captain
of the Illinois Volunteers under General WHITESIDES. Mrs. MOTLEY and her oldest
child, Clementine, together with her mother and her sister, Miriam, were forted
up at Fort Dearborn where Chicago now stands. Capt. ROBINSON lost the sight of
one eye at the Battle of Bad Axe (a creek). General WHITESIDES let the Indians
lead him into an ambush and the white soldiers were entirely surrounded by the
Indians. Captain ROBINSON told his men to scatter and fight the Indians in the
Indian way, each man for himself. He got down behind a tree just as an Indian
jumped out from the opposite side and discharged his gun at Capt. ROBINSON, saying "swap." Capt.
ROBINSON jumped behind the tree and the Indian's bullet missed him but struck
the bark off the tree and the splinter bark struck the captain's eye, destroying
the sight. Captain ROBINSON, a large, powerful man, grabbed the Indian and killed
him with his knife. The knife was made out of a file. The knife was in the possession
of the family for years, but finally disappeared.
"Early in 1846 the two men and their families decided to start west for
Oregon. A company was organized with Capt. ROBINSON as captain of the train.
I will repeat in Mr. MOTLEY's own words the account of the crossing as he remembers
hearing it told to him.
"The three things that impressed me most in my mother's description of crossing
the plains were, first, the Indians collecting toll; second, the Indians trying
to trade for, and then to steal my sister Margaret; and third, a scalp and war
dance near Green River, Wyoming.
"Somewhere near the head of the Platte River a large band of Indians, Sioux,
I think, met the train and directed them to halt in a circle, a renegade white
man acting as an interpreter. The Indians spread four buffalo robes on the ground
and told the immigrants they must pay a toll for crossing their country or territory.
It was, I think, a quart of flour, a pint of sugar for each person in the train,
and a certain amount of tobacco, bullets, and powder for each yoke of oxen. The
flour was placed on one robe, the sugar on another, tea and coffee on a third,
and the powder and bullets on the fourth.
"Near Green River one day an Indian rode along the line of wagons. Mother
had washed sister Margaret's hair and told her to hold her head out of the side
of the wagon in the sun to let her hair dry. Margaret had a beautiful head of
hair. The Indian rode up and looked at sister a long time, then wheeled his horse
and galloped away, presently returning with a fine large beaded and embroidered
buffalo robe. He thrust the robe into the wagon, and by signs made mother know
he wanted to exchange it for Margaret. Mother pushed the robe out of the wagon.
The Siwash pushed the robe back and grabbed sister by the hair and one arm. Mother
grabbed her by the feet and each pulled. Of course Margaret screamed. It was
very dusty and none of the men who were driving the oxen noticed for some time
anything amiss. Finally David CLAYPOOL (who by the way is my wife's grandfather)
saw the situation. He came back popping his ox-whip and laid it on the Indian
and his horse, good and hard. The Indian let go and fled. That night the Indians
came and set up camp near the emigrant encampment, fixed the ground, and held
a scalp and war dance.
"Grandfather, who was captain of the train, had the wagons form in the usual
circle, kept the stock all inside, and told every anther man to stand on guard,
as he believed the Indians would attack, as it was a bright moonlight night.
The Indians danced and occasionally a chief or a warrior would harangue them.
Then they would wave their scalps and the dance would wax more fast and furious
until daylight. An Indian messenger came in from the east, all at once the dancing
ceased, and the Indians hastily left. The next afternoon a detachment of soldiers
from Fort Hall met the emigrants and it was supposed that the messenger bringing
word of the approach of the soldiers was what kept the Indians from attacking
the train. Among the scalps on the poles were several with light hair.
"The train crossed the Snake River at the mouth of the Boise River. A young
man, for $2.50, took a bed cord tied to him across the river. He swam and by
the cord pulled a cable across. They caulked the cracks of the wagon boxes and
ferried the bedding, food, women and children in the boxes by holding to the
cable. The oxen swam and pulled the running gear of the wagons across. The young
man who took the cable was William ELLIOT. He afterwards came to Oregon and took
a claim near us in Benton County, north of town about four miles. He died years
ago and some of his grandchildren live on the old ELLIOT place yet.
"The ROBINSON and MOTLEY families first settled near Astoria on the Clatsop
Plains, which is now known as Gearhart Park. The Flathead (?) Indians were in
control of most of the surrounding country, and in order to fish and hunt they
had to buy the privilege from these Indians. Whenever they caught any salmon
an Indian came home with them, cut the heart out of the fish, and burned it.
No one was allowed to have a fish unless they could be sure the heart was burned.
If the heart of the salmon was not burned the spirit of the fish would go back
to the ocean where it had lived and tell the other fish how it was caught, and
the next year there would be no fishing.
"While the Indians seemed friendly enough, the settlers had to be very careful
not to interfere with any of the Indian rites or customs. On one occasion Mr.
ROBINSON saw a procession of Indians filing along to the Indian burial grounds.
The favorite wife of the chief was dead and they were taking the body for burial.
Behind the procession two Indian girls were crying bitterly. Mrs. MOTLEY, who
could speak the Indian jargon by this time, (it might have been Mrs. ROBINSON)
asked what was the matter. She found out that the two girls were to be buried
alive to act as servants for the chief's wife in the next world. The women wanted
to interfere, but were told by Sol SMITH, a squaw man who had been with the Indians
for years, that it would be impossible. They could not interfere with royalty.
That was one of their funeral rites, sacred to them, and were there interference,
the Whites in the whole settlement would be massacred. So better judgement prevailed
and the girls were left to their fate.
"Farming was not Capt. MOTLEY's calling and when gold was discovered in
California in '49, the ocean again called him. With Robert MCEWIN as a partner
he built a schooner and made three trips to California before they sold the boat.
In the meantime negotiations had been made to sell their homesteads, and in 1850
they both sold to Philip GEARHART. The two families then came to Benton County,
where Captain ROBINSON procured a donation land claim just west of William KNOTT'S
place, the MOTLEYs settling just beyond.
"In THE HISTORY OF BENTON COUNTY by Fagan, he speaks of a Methodist church
being organized in September, 1848, by Rev. Leander BELIEU, on the donation claim
of Mr. MOTLEY, about three and one half miles from town. Either this class and
camp-meeting was held on ground (that was) afterwards Mr. MOTLEY's claim and
so became known as that spot, or the date was later, as Mr. MOTLEY did not come
to Benton County until two years later.
"When the districts were legally organized, Mr. MOTLEY's daughter, Clementine,
taught the first legally organized school in the county. This was in district
No. 1, which schoolhouse was on the north side of John ROBINSON's donation land
claim. Mr. KNOTT and Haman LEWIS were the first directors and had been instrumental
in its organization. There had been other schools in the county but all were
kept up by private subscription. Any one who wished could start a school, many
of them being taught by people who knew almost nothing about teaching. Elisha
VINEYARD taught this little school when Miss MOTLEY resigned.
"In those days every bit of clothing was woven and spun by the women at
home. In the evenings the boys were put to work picking the wool which later
was taken to a little carding mill on Oak Creek. The wool was then dyed with
alder bark, which makes a dark brown, or with dogwood which makes a bright yellow.
"All 'bought provisions' - mostly sugar and coffee, about everything else
was grown or shot, - had to come from Oregon City. They carried beans, wheat,
dried apples, bacon and a little wool to the markets and returned with their
store supplies. What extra room they had in their wagons was filled with freight
for the neighbors or some of the stores.
"In 1851 or 52 a brother of Mr. ROBINSON, Beriah (Beniah), came from the
east and settled here. In speaking of the town of Corvallis Mr. MOTLEY said: "The
first hotel built in Corvallis was erected just south of Wilhelm's garage on
Second Street. It was a two-story affair with a long porch or veranda along its
entire length. It was built and owned by a blacksmith named BRIGGS. His shop
was on the opposite side of the street. Mrs. BRIGGS ran the hotel. A man by the
name of Philip GEORGE killed his partner during a quarrel in front of the blacksmith
shop. Mrs. BRIGGS was the only witness to the killing.
"Colonel KINDLE and a man by the name of RILEY had a saloon on the corner
where HECKART has his planing mill (Second and Jefferson). Peter KONGLER had
a blacksmith shop just north of the saloon. The AVERY store at the east end of
the McCREADY lumber yard was washed away during the flood of 1861. The second
hotel was the Eagle House, built and owned by John MURRAY. He was burned to death
when the hotel burned in 1877. Hamen LEWIS has a packing house on the river bank
just east of the Heckart building.
"The scaffold or gibbet on which Philip GEORGE was hung stood for years
at the end of Second Street, about where the car tracks cross the lumber yard.
"The two persons who impressed me most as a child were Elder FISHER who
used to visit my grandfather and Lieutenant SHERIDAN. Lt. SHERIDAN stuck in my
memory, perhaps, on account of the candy he gave me, or maybe the memory of his
bright blue uniform with its brass buttons. He came to see my sister, Margaret,
but father would have none of him. He had no use for a squaw man.
"From the first settlement of Oregon until 1850 times were hard - very little
money. Nearly all kinds of business were carried on by barter. Wages for a good
man for a day of twelve to fourteen hours were fifty cents. Times got better
after the gold discovery of 1849 in California, but were not good until the discovery
of gold in eastern Oregon in 1860 and 1861. Then wages advanced to $25.00 per
month of 26 days, or $1.50 per day in harvest. This meant a day from six in the
morning until six at night with one hour off for noon.
"All had to work from the smallest six year old up. As an urchin my work
during daylight hours was to carry water in two small pails or camp kettles from
the spring at the foot of the hill to the house, a distance of about two hundred
yards, enough for the housework during the day, after which I had to keep the
wild pigeons out of the grain. There used to be countless thousands of them in
this country but I believe they are now extinct. I was also expected to keep
the geese out of the garden and during berry season to pick enough berries for
the table. Then of an evening I had to shell corn or peel apples to dry, cut
squash for drying, or stem tobacco for making twists. The latter work I cordially
hated as the smell and fine dust used to hurt me until I learned to use it.
"The pioneers were a hospitable people. The stranger was always invited
to eat if near a meal time, or if near nightfall was requested to put up his
horse and stay all night.
"Clothing was scarce and hard to get. Until I was sixteen I was clad in
the made-over cast-offs of my older brothers. For an overcoat I cut a hole in
the center of a blanket and stuck my head through the hole. A great many of the
men had that kind of overcoat. They were called 'sarappes'. They were of all
colors known and of a busy day the main street of Corvallis looked quite gay.
To watch the ladies passing in their present day bright dresses brings back to
memory the days of the 'sarappe.'
"The first travelling correspondent I ever read the pieces of was a man
named J. Ross BROWN. His pieces were published in Harper's Monthly. He had good
descriptive powers. He traveled all over Oregon and California describing the
country, its resources, and the various people he came in contact with. He told
of the abundance of game and of the easy-going habits of lots of the men. He
gave as a final summary of them that from Humboldt Bay in California, on the
south, to British Columbia on the north, as being a "paradise for men and
dogs, but hard on women and horses," and I think he was about right.
"I have known men who lived in a small log cabin with large families to
keep from six to thirty lop-eared hounds. John KESSEE, a near neighbor, used
to keep about twelve dogs and each day he cooked a small wash tub full of fried
cakes to feed them. The average value he placed on each hound was about one hundred
dollars, and he often sold them for that figure. I used to look on it as a great
pleasure to sneak out of bed, climb out the window and down the logs to the ground,
and go hunting with John and his hounds, fox or coon hunting. We often got drenched
by the wet brush or by falling into the creeks. At the end of the chase we usually
repaired to John's cabin and had a feast of beans, bacon, hot but heavy sour
dough bread, and strong black coffee. For some reason I never felt very good
the next day."
"John ROBINSON died September 15, 1876, and his wife passed away September
25, 1878. They are both buried in the old Locke Cemetery north of Corvallis.
Mr. MOTLEY died February 15, 1858, but Mrs. MOTLEY lived to be eighty-seven,
dying Sept. 29, 1903. The MOTLEYs had eight children: Clementine (Mrs. Alex H.
McEWEN), Margaret (Mrs. Charles LOGSDEN), John, Cephas, Obediah, Mary (Mrs. ERFORT),
Henderson, Rudolph and Harriet."
References for this saga are:
Clatsop County Oregon, A History by Emma Gene Miller
of the Pacific Northwest, OR & WA, Vol. II
www.rootsweb.com/~orbenton/wpa/IntervM.html#The ROBINSON and
1843 Wagon Train Pioneers, www.peak.org/~mransom/n2z.html
Oregon in 1845, as told by John Minto to the Oregonian, reprinted
in Oregon Statesman, 1904, www.oregonpioneers.com/doc45.htm
Oregon in 1846, www.oregonpioneers.com/1846.htm
1850 Federal Census - Clatsop County Oregon
1854 Census of Benton Co, Oregon
Douglas County Pioneer, June 1994 edition