Coon Oregon Trail Diary



 The Diary of James Madison Coon

and Nancy Iness (Miller) Coon

on the Oregon Trail

from Mercer County, Illinois

to Clackamas County, Oregon




 The original entries to this document were derived from a Transcription by Mrs. Evah (Coon) Smith. Later additions, entries, and corrections are derived from a transcription by Leslie A. Haskin who interviewed Mr. James M. Coon, Jr., the youngest son of James and Nancy Coon. At the time of the Haskin transcription, the original diary was in the possession of the interviewee, James M. Coon, Jr., who was a tailor living at 105 First Street, Albany, Oregon, and was loaned to Leslie Haskin to be transcribed.

 This rendition together with supplemental notes and clarifications is respectfully submitted by it's transcriber, Robert Lewis, for the enjoyment and edification of those who delight in the adventure of real American History as it has been recorded by it's participants and preserved for posterity by their descendants.

Notes taken from Coon and Miller family history records

in the possession of Robert Lewis

 James Madison Coon, born Sept. 24th 1813 in Jefferson County, Kentucky, was the second son of a family of eight children - seven boys and one girl - born to Michael Coon, Jr. and Elizabeth (Kelly) Coon who were married on the 6th of April, 1803 in Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia. Michael was the descendant of hardy German immigrant stock who came from the upper Rhine River Valley to York County, Pennsylvania in 1738. Michael's father, Michael Sr. and six of his brothers were members of the "German Regiment" ("Pennsylvania DEUTSCH" not "Dutch") from York County, Pennsylvania during "The War of the Rebellion" (the Revolutionary War). His wife and James' mother, Elizabeth showed her fine Irish heritage with the great surname of Kelly and was the daughter of George Kelly of Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia.

 Nancy Iness Miller, born on April 8th, 1827 in Montgomery County, Indiana, was the seventh child and fifth daughter of a family known to consist of at least thirteen children - five boys and eight girls - of John Miller, Sr. and Sarah Smith of Millersburg, Mercer County, Illinois. Nancy died 7 April, 1907 near Halsey, Linn Co., Oregon.

 James and Nancy were married February 21 1847 in Mercer County, Illinois and about two months later, on April 11th, 1847 they departed for Oregon. He was 34 and she was 20 years of age.


Map of the journey

Crossed the Planes in 1847

Sugartree Grove, Mercer County, Illinois

 James M. and Nancy Coon Started to go to Oregon Aprile 11th - 1847.

 Sunday April 11th, 1847

Got to Oquawka. acalf gave out.

Weather pleasant.

Mon. Apr 12th

Went to Henry Creek. (??????) all night.


Tue. Apr 13th

Went to James Dill's by 11 oclock.


Note: James S. Dill and his family must have accompanied this wagon train and completed the trip to Oregon as his name appears on a BLM claim map as the holder of Oregon City Land Office Claim # 44, Not. # 2257 for 639.40 acres in Twp 13S, R4W, Willamette Meridian, sec.'s 17, 18, 19, and 20 - close to the present location of Peoria, Linn Co., Oregon. This location is within a mile or two of the claims held by James M. Coon, Jacob L. Coon, and John Miller, Jr. and Sr.

Wed. Apr 14th

Left J. Dills.


Thu. Apr 15th

In Carthage all night.

Lite Rain.

Fri Apr 16th

Cold night.

Lite Rain

Sat Apr 17th

Came through Fairfield.

Weather pleasant.

Sun Apr 18th

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.

Cold rain.

Mon Apr 19th

Tue Apr 20th

Wed Apr 21st

Thu Apr 22nd

Fri Apr 23rd

Sat Apr 24th

Sun Apr 25th

Mon Apr 26th

Tue Apr 27th

Wed Apr 28th

Thu Apr 29th

Fri Apr 30th

Sat May 1st

Sun May 2nd

Mon May 3rd

Tue May 4th

Wed May 5th

Thu May 6th

Fri May 7th

Sat May 8th

Sun May 9th

Mon May 10th

Tue May 11th

Wed May 12th

Thu May 13th

Fri May 14th

Sat May 15th

Sun May 16th

Sunday. Fifty four wagons in company.

Mon May 17th

Tue May 18th

Wed May 19th

Thu May 20th

Fri May 21st

One hundred fourteen wagons traveling together. Lost our Captain and are in camp on a branch of the Nimahau in four different places.

Twenty miles.

Sat May 22nd

Forty five wagons in this company. One company behind and one before, in camp on the Nimahau.

Pleasant. Twenty two miles.

Sun May 23rd

Mon May 24th

Tue May 25th

Wed May 26th

Thu May 27th

Crossed the Big Blue River and passed the forks of the road to Independence. In camp on a branch of Blue River.

Pleasant. Seventeen miles.

Fri May 28th

Met with an Independence Company of thirty seven wagons in camp on a small ravine to the left of the road.

Pleasant. Eighteen miles.

Note: Wagon trains starting the journey from Independence, MO commonly went into Kansas and followed the Kansas, Big Blue, and/or Little Blue Rivers West and North-west to either Grand Island or Kearney Nebraska on the Platte River. The "Coon / Miller" train has cut across on a much more northerly track to this point. RPL.

Sat May 29th

Passed 5 companies after night on the Republic fork. Camped on prairie. No timber or water.

Twenty five miles.

Sun May 30th

Mon May 31st

Tue Jun 1st

Left the Blue Earth River at twelve o'clock. Camped on one of the branches. Saw some Indians (Pawnees). Grass short.

Pleasant. Eighteen miles.

Wed Jun 2nd

Thu Jun 3rd

At the head of Grand Island. Salty Country.

Pleasant. Eighteen miles.

Fri Jun 4th

Laid by. Two companies passed us, One of thirty three and one of eighteen wagons, and One came up within three or four hundred yards and camped near us. Church man from Washington County, Iowa came up, whom we left with a friend of his from the same place by the name of Scott, who died May 31 on Blue Earth River. We fished and hunted today, caught nothing, killed two jack rabbits, and measured the Platte River by wading it with a rope. Made it one and one quarter miles wide.

Sat Jun 5th

Sun Jun 6th

Mon Jun 7th

Passed three companies in the evening on a small ravine running into the Platt, it being too full to camp we had the good luck to pass One company of forty three wagons scattered for half a mile on each side of the road, one half of them were fast in the mud. The poor oxen had to pay the bill or bear the blame. 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. We passed altogether ninety four wagons in the low bottom on the Platt, a great many fast in the mud. Three miles and camped on the prairie. Fifty one wagons in camp.

Pleasant. Eighteen miles.

Tue Jun 8th

Wed Jun 9th

Thu Jun 10th

Fri Jun 11th

Sat Jun 12th

Sun Jun 13th

Mon Jun 14th

Buried Turner's son, three years old. Left south fork of the Platt at 12 o'clock. Camped on the prairie eight miles from the river. Here we used buffalo chips for fire for the first time.

Cold. Seventeen miles.

Tue Jun 15th

Came five miles to Ash Hollow. Here we left 37 wagons. Came on the North Platte and camped.

Pleasant. Six miles.

Note: Ash Hollow State Historical Park is located on the North Platte River about 20 miles northwest of Ogallala, NB, near the town of Lewellen. RPL

Wed Jun 16th

Thu Jun 17th

Fri Jun 18th

Sat Jun 19th

Sun Jun 20th

Mon Jun 21st

Tue Jun 22nd

Wed Jun 23rd

Thu Jun 24th

Fri Jun 25th

Sat Jun 26th

Sun Jun 27th

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.

Pleasant. Twelve miles.

Mon Jun 28th

Three oxen died. In camp at good springs in ravine. Three companies here. Nooned at warm springs.

Light rain. Eleven miles.

Note: Warm Springs are located near the North Platte River and the present Wyoming town of Guernsey. RPL.

Tue Jun 29th

Wed Jun 30th

Thu July 1st

Fri Jul 2nd

Sat Jul 3rd

Sun Jul 4th

Mon Jul 5th

Tue Jul 6th

Wed Jul 7th

Thu Jul 8th

Fri Jul 9th

Sat Jul 10th

Nooned at Rock Independence. In camp on the Sweet Water. Saw snow at Horse or Crooked Creek.

Pleasant. Twenty miles.

Sun Jul 11th

Mon Jul 12th

Tue Jul 13th

Wed Jul 14th

Thu Jul 15th

Camped on a ravine on the north side of the Sweetwater. Met Captain William Findley going to the States.

Pleasant. Fifteen miles.

Fri Jul 16th

Sat Jul 17th

Sun Jul 18th

Mon Jul 19th

Note: Between the Big Sandy and Bear Rivers is a large alkali desert with essentially no water. Travelling at night would have reduced the animals need for water. To circum-navigate this desert following a trail with adequate water would take several days. RPL

Tue Jul 20th

Came to Green River at twelve o'clock, crossed and camped on the bank. We traveled twenty seven hours.

Pleasant. Forty five miles.

Wed Jul 21st

Thu Jul 22nd

Fri Jul 23rd

Sat Jul 24th

Sun Jul 25th

Mon Jul 26th

Tue Jul 27th

Wed Jul 28th

Thu Jul 29th

Fri Jul 30th

Sat Jul 31st

Sun Aug 1st

Mon Aug 2nd

Tue Aug 3rd

Wed Aug 4th

Thu Aug 5th

Fri Aug 6th

Nooned on Snake River twelve miles from Swamp Creek which is four miles from the river. Camped on Goose River.

Sixteen Miles. Weather still Pleasant.

Sat Aug 7th

On Dry branch, water in pools. Good camping. From Goose River to Snake River is nine miles, then thirteen miles to this branch.

Twenty two miles.

Note: Present day maps refer to this as Goose Creek. RPL

Sun Aug 8th

Mon Aug 9th

Tue Aug 10th

Wed Aug 11th

Thu Aug 12th, Fri Aug 13th.

Sat Aug 14th

Note: Judging by distance and time from Fort Hall, and the terrain, this crossing was very probably in the vicinity of present day Glenn's Ferry, Idaho. RPL.

Sun Aug 15th

Mon Aug 16th

Tue Aug 17th

Wed Aug 18th

Thu Aug 19th

Fri Aug 20th

Sat Aug 21st

Ten miles from the river. Good camping for five miles. At this point the road leaves the river.

Pleasant. Fifteen miles.

Sun Aug 22nd

Five miles to Indian River. Eight miles further to Snake River. Good camping at both sites. Pleasant. Thirteen miles.

Mon Aug 23rd

Tue Aug 24th

Seven miles to a creek with little grass. Two miles to the river. No grass. Six miles to a creek. Grass on the river for one mile down the creek, but little.

Pleasant. Sixteen miles.

Wed Aug 25th

Thu Aug 26th

On the river or bluff all day. Good camping along the grass on the island. We passed two hot springs today becoming suddenly aware of the "HOT" when we laid down to drink.

Pleasant. Fifteen miles.

Fri Aug 27th

Traveled along the river for seven miles, then left it to return again after eight miles march. Good camping on down the river.

Pleasant. Twenty miles.

Sat Aug 28th

Followed the course of the river all day. Good camping throughout the day's journey, with grass on the islands.

Pleasant. Thirteen miles.

Sun Aug 29th

Mon Aug 30th

2 miles to the old road that comes from Fort Boise. John Miller's wife died today at three o'clock. Camped at the ford of the Malheur River. Good camping. We stuck our fingers into a hot spring we discovered here.

Pleasant. Fifteen miles.

Tue Aug 31st

Wed Sep 1st

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.

Pleasant. Eight miles.

Note: Information found in the records of Abraham Miller indicate this lady to be the wife of Abraham's brother John Miller. Louisa and John would have been Nancy's Aunt and Uncle RPL.

Thu Sep 2nd

Traveled fifteen miles to a little creek where we found grass. Camped on the Snake River three miles further on.

Pleasant. Eighteen miles.

Note: This would have been in the vicinity of Farewell Bend. RPL

Fri Sep 3rd

Drove five miles to Burnt River, and followed it for nine miles. Leaving the river we traveled four miles and returned to it and found good camping along its banks.

Pleasant. Eighteen miles.

Sat Sep 4th

Came four miles. Left the river and went up Burch Creek four miles. Left Burch Creek and came three miles to Willow Creek. Then traveled two miles to Burnt River up which we traveled two miles. Good camping every few miles.

Pleasant. (???) miles.

Sun Sep 5th

Sunday. On the Burnt River and came up the north side two miles, then left it for three miles and came on it again after five miles traveled. Leaving it we traveled two miles and came on it again and traversed another three miles along the Burnt River road which is pretty rough. Camped this evening at the head of the North Branch. Good camping.

Pleasant. Fifteen miles.

Mon Sep 6th

Came into the Powder River Valley traveling thirteen miles without water. This branch of the Powder River was dry with water in pools along the river bed. Came down the valley about two miles.

Windy. Fifteen miles.

Tue Sep 7th

Came nine miles to Powder River, four miles to crossing, two miles to a creek and camped. John Miller's child died today. Good Camp.

Pleasant. Twelve miles.

Note: Information found elsewhere in the records of Abraham Miller show this John Miller to be Nancy (Miller) Coon's Uncle who came to Oregon bringing two more children, settled on a DLC in Benton County, raised the other children, and no records indicate that he ever re-married. RPL

Wed Sep 8th

Encamped at the foot of the hill after coming into Grande Ronde. Plenty grass, wood, and water.

Pleasant. Fifteen miles.

Thu Sep 9th

At the foot of the hill in Grande Ronde this evening. There are a good many Indians here with ponies to trade or sell. Good camp.

Pleasant. Fifteen miles.

Fri Sep 10th

This evening we camped on the Grand Ronde River at the foot of the Blue Mountains. The grass is short.

Pleasant. Eight miles.

Sat Sep 11th

Sun Sep 12th

Came eight miles to a creek, Louis Camp, and from there came two miles and made camp. Good camping.

Rain. Ten miles.

Mon Sep 13th

Cold and chilly. Came fifteen miles to the Umatilla River. Came two miles down it and succeeded in getting peas and potatoes from the Indians living there.

Rain. Seventeen miles.

Tue Sep 14th

Wed Sep 15th

Today we came to the river and followed it eight miles, then crossed it and went on nine miles to a good camp.

Pleasant. Fifteen miles.

Thu Sep 16th

Lost some oxen and hired the Indians to hunt them. The oxen were soon returned and the Indians paid with a shirt.


Fri Sep 17th

Sat Sep 18th

Left the river after coming down it four miles. Came seven miles and left the road, went one mile to the river and camped. Grass and wood are scarce. I lost two of my oxen, Jack and Jerry. A few Indians standing around offered to hunt them down for two shirts but I hunted for them until I got so tired hunting I could go no further. Then I accepted their offer, whereupon they mounted their ponies. Presently they returned with the oxen and I finished the bargain by giving them two shirts. We have been traveling in a company of twenty five wagons. Since coming to the Columbia River I have learned that smaller companies have been robbed by the Indians.

Hot. Eleven miles.

Sun Sep 19th

Mon Sep 20th

Tue Sep 21st

Came twelve miles to dry hollow. Went two miles to the river for water. Camped one mile up on the bluff with no wood nor water but much grass.

Pleasant. Thirteen miles.

Wed Sep 22nd

Thu Sep 23rd

Came one mile down Rock Creek to the John Day River, one mile farther down we crossed and went up a big hill, traveling on fifteen miles to a dry branch. We came up the branch and camped at a spring three miles from the mouth. There is no wood here.

Pleasant. Nineteen miles.

Fri Sep 24th

Came three miles to a pool of water. I got breakfast. Then we pushed on to where the road leaves the branch. One mile beyond this is good camping. We camped where there was no wood nor water. There was good grass.

Cool. Ten miles.

Sat Sep 25th

A good many of the emigrants were sick from the exposure and hardship of the journey. We descended a steep hill and came upon the Deschutes River.

Pleasant. Twelve miles.

Sun Sep 26th

Made a boat of our wagons and stretched a rope across the river and passed it back and forth by the ripe (??). As the old saying is, a heap of hands make light work. We took our wagons to pieces and at dark had them all across in one big pile on the (?????). A hard place to camp.

Mon Sep 27th

We were all day swimming our cattle across. Two or three were killed and three or four crippled. It's a very rocky ford and the water runs very rapidly. We had a good time getting our herds together on the rocks of the hillside.

Tue Sep 28th

Came up a very long, steep and rocky hill. Came eight miles to the west fork of the river. Good camping.

Wed Sep 29th

Came three miles and crossed the river. Came two miles, crossed a creek and came five miles to another creek. Crossed it and camped.

Ten miles. Weather hot.

Thu Sep 30th

Came four miles to Barlow's Gate and paid five dollars toll to cross the Cascade Mountains. We came eight miles to a creek. No grass. Lost a cow at this camp. (From description, A. Piburn got her)

Twelve miles. Pleasant.

Fri Oct 1st

Sat Oct 2nd

Sun Oct 3rd

At the summit of the mountains. We packed our plunder all up the hill. It stunk with dead cattle. Here we lost five oxen. I buried an anvil and some log chains to the left of the road at the foot of the summit. Camped in a small prairie. Little grass.

Six miles. Cloudy.

Mon Oct 4th

Tue Oct 5th

Wed Oct 6th

Thu Oct 7th

In camp at the top of a hill after crossing Sandy. No grass. We cut young maple for our cattle to browse on.

Seven miles. Pleasant.

Fri Oct 8th

Sat Oct 9th

In camp on a small ravine. Little grass. 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.

Six miles. Cloudy.

Sun Oct 10th

Came two miles to the FIRST HOUSE IN OREGON!!! To the second house three miles. Some grass. Here we camped.

Five miles. Pleasant.

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.

 James Madison and Nancy Iness (Miller) Coon.

  The following additional information was provided by James M. Coon, Jr. in his interview with Leslie Haskin:

 My father and mother reached Foster's ranch at the end of the Barlow Pass on Sunday, October 10th, 1847. Thus far it is told in the diary. After reaching the Foster ranch, they spent a few days there to rest their teams. They then went on to the Pudding River where they passed their first winter.

 Their first child was born in the winter of 1847. He died at the same place in 1848. 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.


Notes taken from Coon and Miller family history records

in the possession of Robert Lewis

 To provide the reader with a more concise and complete story, the following notes are appended here to give further insight into the activities of these pioneer families:

 Several of James Madison Coon's brothers and many members of the Miller family travelled the trail to Oregon at various times. Family records indicate that apparently Rev. Jacob L. Coon, the third of the seven brothers, had gone some two years earlier, in 1845, and probably sent stories home about "This wonderful land called OREGON" enticing other family members to join him in the trek west.

 I: George Kelly Coon: Born 7 Jun 1805 in Natural Bridge, Rockbridge Co., Virginia. Married Catherine Morgan 21 Aug 1839 in Ohio. Other family records show the marriage took place in Missouri. Started to Oregon in 1850. Stopped in western Missouri for thirteen years. Went on to Oregon in 1863 and died in Marion County, Oregon 11 Mar. 1896.

 II: James Madison Coon: The subject of this composition, born 24 Sept., 1813 in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. To Oregon in 1847, and died at Peoria, Linn Co., Oregon 30 May 1890. He was buried in the Coon/Miller Cemetary at Peoria.

 III: Rev. Jacob L. Coon: Born 3 Oct 1819 near Louisville in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. Public records indicate that he was the first of the family to go to Oregon. His obituary, published in the February 24th, 1904 issue of the "Albany Democrat" newspaper states that he arrived in Oregon in 1845 when he would have been age 26 years. He married Sarah Miller, sister of Nancy Iness, Born 6 May 1824 in Montgomery County, Indiana, on 27 Nov, 1851 at Peoria Precinct, Linn County, Oregon. Their Donation Land Claim - #661 for 640.00 acres in Twp 13S, R4W Willamette Meridian, Linn County, Oregon, adjoined his father-in-law's - #660 and that of his brother, James Madison Coon, near the present towns of Shedd and Peoria.

 IV: Washington Landis Coon: Born 10 Mar 1825 near Louisville in Jefferson Co., Kentucky. Went to Missouri and then to Oregon in 1850. Returned east via South America in 1864 and then later returned to Oregon again. Is listed as a minor child in custody papers in his fathers estate in 1839 signed by George Kelly Coon.

 V: Mary Jane Coon: Married as his second wife Nicholas Miller, brother of Nancy Iness (Miller) Coon on 25 Oct. 1849 in Rock Island County, Illinois. Nicholas was born 15 Jan 1816 in Wayne County, Indiana and died 16 Apr 1889 in Linn County, Oregon. He is listed as the holder of Oregon City DLC (Donation Land Claim) nr. 654 in Linn County, Oregon. No known dates or information about when this couple came west but presumed to be about 1850 to 1852. Mary does not appear on her father's estate papers as a dependent minor. She may have been older than most of the other children.

 VI: L.E.V. (Lincoln) Coon: Family records show his children living in Idaho near the turn of the century.

 VII: William Abner Coon: No records.

 VIII: Charles Harrison Coon: No known dates. He is listed in 1839 as a minor child in the custody papers signed by his older brother, George Kelly Coon, found among his father Michael's estate records in Warren Co., Illinois.

 Other family records indicate that most if not all of Nancy (Miller) Coon's parents and siblings were among the members of this wagon train. Note the Burial of Louisa Miller, the wife of John Miller, probably a brother of Abraham Miller., on September 1st. and the death of "John Miller's child" on September 7th, near the Powder River in eastern Oregon.

 Oregon land records show that John Miller, Sr's "DLC" - Donation Land Claim (Oregon City DLC # 660) - Jacob Landis Coon's (Oregon City DLC #661), that of James Madison Coon (Oregon City DLC # 329 645.8 Acres TWP 13S R4W Sec. 4,5,8,9), and Nicholas and Mary Jane (Coon) Miller's (Oregon City DLC # 654 TWP 13S R4W Sec. 23) adjoined each other near Peoria in Linn County, Oregon.

 Nancy's family is known to have consisted of at least the following family members. There may have been others (I have heard thirteen in all), but they are unknown to the compiler at this time:

 Father: John Miller Sr. Born 15 Dec. 1792 in Carter County, Tennessee, lived in Millersburg, Mercer Co, Illinois prior to the 1847 trip to Oregon. Family tradition claims that these people founded both towns of Millersburg, Illinois and Millersburg, Oregon.

 Mother: Sarah Smith. Born 9 July 1790 and Died 27 July 1853 in Linn Co., Oregon. She is buried in the Coon/Miller Cemetary at Peoria, Linn Co., Oregon but there are no dates or places listed on her gravestone. No further known information.

I: Isaac Miller: Born 19 July 1813 in Carter Co., Tennessee. Married Mary Gingles 20 Oct., 1842 in Mercer Co., Illinois, and died 19 June 1893 in Linn County, Oregon, and is buried in the Coon/Miller Cemetary, Peoria, Linn County, Oregon. He would have been 34 years old during the 1847 trip to Oregon. Isaac and Mary held DLC # 3116 in Benton County, Oregon.

 II: Nicholas Miller: Born 15 January 1816 in Wayne Co., Indiana. He was 31 years of age on the 1847 trip to Oregon. He died 16 Apr 1889 in Linn County, Oregon. Buried Pine Grove Cemetary, Shedd, Linn Co., Oregon. Married as his second wife Mary Jane Coon, sister of James Madison Coon 25 Oct. 1849 in Rock Island County, Illinois. No dates or information as to when this couple came west but assumed to be about 1850 to 1852 considering their marriage and DLC dates and locations. They are listed by the Oregon BLM as the holders of Donation Land Claim (Patent) # 654 in Twp 13S R4W Section 23, Linn County, Oregon.

 III: Mary Miller: Born 18 July 1818 in Indiana. She married James King - no date or place known - Died 30 Aug. 1838 at the age of 20, probably in Illinois. No further information known at this writing.

 IV: Susanna Miller: Born 20 January 1820 in Indiana. She married Noah King on 30 Sept., 1838. She married Wair Long some time in 1847. No known places for either marriage. She would have been 27 years old on the 1847 trip to Oregon and is known to have died in Oregon and probably is buried in the Coon/Miller Cemetary at Peoria, Linn Co., Oregon but no dates are known.

 V: Elizabeth Miller: Born 27 December 1821 in Indiana. She married James F. Jones on 1 April, 1847 at Mercer Co., Illinois - just 10 days before the family departure to Oregon. She would have been 25 years old when the family came to Oregon in 1847. She and James are listed as the holders of DLC # 4730 in Linn Co., Oregon. The both died in Oregon but no known place or dates at this writing.

 VI: Sarah Miller: Born 6 May 1824 in Montgomery County, Indiana. Was 23 years old when the family came to Oregon in 1847. Married Rev. Jacob L. Coon on 27 Nov, 1851 at Peoria Precinct, Linn County, Oregon. Their Donation Land Claim - #661 for 640.00 acres in Twp 13S, R4W Willamette Meridian, Linn County, Oregon, adjoined his father-in-law's - #660 and that of his brother, James Madison Coon, near the present towns of Shedd and Peoria.

 VII: Nancy Iness Miller: Born 8 April 1826 in Indiana, married James Madison Coon February 21 1847 in Mercer County, Illinois. She died 7 April, 1907 near Halsey, Linn Co., Oregon. These people show in BLM records as the holders of Oregon City DLC # 50, Not. # 2563 for 640.00 acres in Twp 13S, R4W Willamette Meridian, Linn County, Oregon, near the present towns of Shedd and Peoria. Nancy was 21 years old at the time of the 1847 trip to Oregon.

 VIII: John Miller, Jr.: Born 28 February 1828 in Montgomery Co., Indiana. Twin to Katherine Miller. He was 19 years old on the trip to Oregon. He was on the wagon train accompanying James and Nancy (Miller) Coon and we are told by James M. Coon, Jr.'s interview with Leslie Haskin that it was his child who died September 1st, and his wife Louisa who died September 7th "near the Powder River in eastern Oregon" as quoted from the diary. BLM records show him as the holder of Claim # 64, Not. #2538, 160.73 acres in Sec. 3, Twp 13S, R4W, Willamette Meridian, in Linn Co., Oregon near Shedd, adjoining his father's and James M. Coon's claims.

 IX: Katherine Miller: Born 28 February 1828 in Montgomery Co., Indiana. Died 14 April, 1830 at the age of two years, Twin to John Miller, Jr. Since the family is known to still be in Indiana at the birth of each of the next four children, it is assumed that she died and was buried in Montgomery Co., Indiana.

 X: George Washington Miller: Born 6 April 1830 in Montgomery Co, Indiana. Died 25 Oct., 1914 at Dayton, Golumbia Co., Washington He married Sarah Ping on the 25th of Oct., 1858 at Linn Co., Oregon, and married 2nd Mary J. Watkins - date and place not known. He appears on BLM records as the holder of DLC # 38, Not. #2238, 116.34 acres, and DLC # 65, 44.36 acres, Twp 13S, R4W, Willamette Meridian, Linn County, Oregon. This claim crosses the Twp line into Twp 12S, R4W, sec.'s 33 and 34.

 XI: Jacob L. Miller: Born 10 September, 1831 in Montgomery Co., Indiana. He would have been age 15 at the time of the trip to Oregon. He married Amanda Ella Dawson probably in Linn County, Oregon, and was known to be living in Dayton, Columbia Co., Washington in April of 1907 when Nancy (Miller) Coon died. BLM records show him holding DLC # 4758 in Linn Co., Oregon.

 XII: Rachel Miller: Born 10 September 1831 in Montgomery Co., Indiana, twin to Jacob L. Miller. She died 4 Aug 1904 and is buried in the Union Point Cemetary at Banks, Washington County, Oregon. No marriage information is known at this writing.

 XIII: Eliza Miller: Born 1 April 1834 in Indiana. She would have been 13 years old at the time of the Oregon trip, and must have either stayed in the east or returned there as the records show that she married Jezreel Vanator on 9 Mar, 1851 at Ft. Dearborn, Dearborn Co., Indiana. She was known to be living in Lakeview, Lake County, Oregon in April of 1907 when Nancy (Miller) Coon died. Eliza died in Lakeview and is buried in the IOOF Cemetary, Lakeview, Lake Co., Oregon - no known dates.

 A second Miller family line is represented in this story by a Samuel W. Miller, the son of Abraham Miller Jr. and Julia Ann (Morgan) Miller. Samuel was married on 29 Nov, 1868 in Linn County, Oregon to Sarah Caroline Coon, the daughter of James Madison and Nancy Iness (Miller) Coon, born 14 Mar, 1849 near Peoria, Linn County, Oregon. Samuel's mother, Julia Ann Morgan, was a sister of Catherine Morgan who married George Kelly Coon, the eldest brother of James Madison Coon, who came to Oregon from western Missouri in 1863 and settled "on Coon Mountain" near the town of Bellfountain in Benton County, Oregon.

 Further research into the Miller Family shows that there were at least three John Millers among the travelers on this wagon train, and TWO more arrived in Oregon on other trains the same year.

 Although the diary claims to start at "Sugartree Grove, Illinois", research in the Miller family line indicates that the present-day name for the place in Illinois is "Millersburg" - thus the trip actually commences in Millersburg, Mercer County, Illinois and ends at Millersburg (a present day suburb of Albany), Linn County, Oregon. The Miller family research also indicates that the family were indeed "Millers" - having engaged in flour/grist mill operation at several locations in Indiana, later in Kewanee, Henry County, Illinois and both Millersburgs as well as prior to their immigration to America from Germany (indications are that in Germany, the family name was Mueller - derived from their trade). Ship's passage records for the progenitor immigrant of this Miller line show the spelling Muller where the "u" is an "umlaut" with the dots over the "u". The German heritage of both the Miller and Coon families offers a ready explanation for their group movements together - Virginia to Kentucky and Ohio to Indiana to Illinois and later to Oregon. In fact it is known that the Coons continued to speak German well into the third generation in the new world AND both families had roots in the Pfalz-Zweibruken area of the upper Rhine River Valley near the Allsais Loraine district.

 The WPA interviewer, Leslie Haskin was unable to read certain areas of the original diary and as such, substituted question marks (?????) for the unreadable information. This practice is carried forward in this rendition.

Robert Lewis

We were saddened to hear that Robert Lewis passed away March 28, 2001
He will be remembered by the sharing of this piece of his family history.

The information below addresses concerns about the confused "John Miller" in the Coon-Miller Trail Diary by Robert Lewis From the Coon-Miller Diary
“VIII: John Miller, Jr.: Born 28 February 1828 in Montgomery Co., Indiana. Twin to Katherine Miller. He was 19 years old on the trip to Oregon. He was on the wagon train accompanying James and Nancy (Miller) Coon and we are told by James M. Coon, Jr.'s interview with Leslie Haskin that it was his child who died September 1st, and his wife Louisa who died September 7th "near the Powder River in eastern Oregon" as quoted from the diary. BLM records show him as the holder of Claim # 64, Not. #2538, 160.73 acres in Sec. 3, Twp 13S, R4W, Willamette Meridian, in Linn Co., Oregon near Shedd, adjoining his father's and James M. Coon's claims.”

From Robert Lewis’ family history book: Ancestors and Descendants of George Washington Coon and Rachael Charlotta Gibbs page32 (last paragraph at bottom of page)
" A notation in the diary made when the train was in the vicinity of the Snake River crossing near Vale, Oregon mentions the passing and funeral of "John Miller's wife" - Oregon DLC records show this John Miller to be Nancy and Sarah Miller's cousin, son of their father's sister Catherine who had married another John Miller.”

Return to Benton County Home Page

If you have questions about this page, please contact the Benton County Coordinator

Copyright © 1998 by Dorothy Burt and Gene Kelsey.
Revised - 11 June 2010