We’ve all seen the ads about magical discoveries, reuniting families, and nostalgic reminiscing but apparently my family history is just too boring for these sites. First I tried familysearch.org but with a little clicking around I decided that it only has information on Mormon families due to all of the LDS emblems tagging the screen and the fact that every member of my family doesn’t exist. Next up to try was ancestry.com because they have millions of ads and assume some credibility but I was also a little underwhelmed with their database. I imagine that if I give three generations of my family information they should be able to connect the dots and tell me anything I would want to know. With my terrible memory I can barely remember my grandmother’s maiden name, much less the birthplace of my great uncle! It’s no fun to search for family history when all of the information you find is the information you put into the search bar.
So… I took matters into my own hands. A couple of years ago I was on a similar family history kick and I discovered the Oregon Trail Diary of my great, great, (great?), (great??) grandparents coming over to settle in the area they still farm today! Little treasures like this excite me. I’m very curious about how things used to be, why they were, and how we got to where we are today. It’s amazing to me the dangers that faced them every day in their hard journeys across the country, and how they just got back up and kept going. It’s one thing to hear stories in books and see pictures in history class, but reading first hand accounts from family members is so much more intriguing! I wish that I had the opportunity to hear these stories first-hand. Here are some of the interesting bits I pulled out of the diary to share:
Sunday. J. Dill turned his waggon over in corporation of Quincy. His wife got one foot outside time anuf to get it under the sideboard which held her there, til we collected our forces, loosed her and let her go, all right. In Quincy.
They had two Roman Catholics in their company. They were stalking around among the men with their long robes on and their bibles under their arms praying to God to help them out. He didn’t. Apparently these Presbyterians weren’t keen on Roman Catholics? Or perhaps it just reads more cross than intended.
Indians got inside of the guard. Shot at them 3 times. All right.
Buried Turner’s son, three years old.
Camped at a Sioux Indian town. Quite a trade was got up between the women and Squaws trading beads and other trinkets for bread and meat. At Fort Laramie the old Chief told us we had to pay him for passing through his country. The commander at the Post told us it was customary to give him something. He spread down his blanket and each man put on his pay, some flour, some meat, coffee, beans, peas, dried fruit, etc. He was well pleased.
We passed two hot springs today becoming suddenly aware of the “HOT” when we laid down to drink.
John Miller’s wife died today at three o’clock.
Buried Louisa Miller at eleven o’clock and left the ford. Let me explain here that we buried Louisa in the road and the wagon train drove over her grave in an effort to conceal it from the prying eyes of the Indians.
John Miller’s child died today. (John Miller’s family sure didn’t fare as well as the Coons. The Coons are tough old birds)
Lost some oxen and hired the Indians to hunt them. The oxen were soon returned and the Indians paid with a shirt.
We upset our wagon again today in a big mudhole where the road made a turn around the end of a log. We spilled all we had, even our sack of gold and silver in all amounting to five dollars. All said, we had a muddy fingering getting it all together again.
Came two miles to the FIRST HOUSE IN OREGON!!! To the second house three miles.
I am thankful, for the Lord has been merciful. Whole distance traveled from St. Joe on the Missouri River to the Willamette Valley, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine miles. Days traveled on the road, one hundred forty one. Days laid by or didn’t travel, twenty two.
An interview with their son said, “In the spring of 1848, father came to Linn County and took up his donation land claim near Peoria where he spent the remainder of his life. In all, father and mother were the parents of fourteen children.” Such a fascinating (re)discovery and I’m so glad that they landed here because I love living in the Willamette Valley!
(And for those of you who prefer ‘normal’ holidays, it’s also National Flag Day, so enjoy!)