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Early Days and Ways
Circumstances of Interview
Federal Writers' Project
Works Progress Administration
OREGON FOLKLORE STUDIES
Name of worker : Sara B. Wrenn Date January 14, 1939.
Address : 505 Elks Building, Portland, Oregon.
Subject: Early Days and Ways in and around Milwaukie.
Name and address of informant: Mr. Harvey Gordon Starkweather Manager, Broadway Building, Portland, Oregon.
Date and time of interview: January 12, 1939 10-12 A. M.; 2-3:45 P. M.
Place of interview: Office of informant, Broadway Bldg., Portland, Ore.
Name and address of person, if any, who put you in touch with informant : ----
Name and address of person, if any, accompanying you : ----
Description of room, house, surroundings, etc. : A typical downtown office building, ten stories high, on Morrison St., between Park and West Park Avenues, Portland. A conventional private office, one of a suite, conventionally furnished.
Personal History of Informant
Information obtained should supply the following facts:
1. Ancestry : Welch, Scotch and Irish. (Family came to America, 1640).
2. Place and date of birth : Near Milwaukie, Oregon, 1868.
3. Family : Father, William Austin Starkweather; mother, Eliza Gordon Starkweather.
4. Places lived in, with dates : All but three years spent in Milwaukie and Portland, Oregon. 1898-1899, Athena, Umatilla Co., Oregon, 1899-1901, La Grande, Union Co., Oregon.
5. Education, with dates : Public school of district (Concord) where now living. Never saw the inside of a high school until made principal of one.
6. Occupations and accomplishments with dates : Teaching. Property appraising. Real Estate.
7. Special skills and interests : Sixteen
years a member of Concord School
District Board; County School
Superintendent, Clackamas Co.,
1896-1898. Six years a member of the
Board of Regents, State Normal
Schools. Spent 10, or 15, years
promoting super-highway from Portland
to Oregon City. Appraisal work on
State Highway Commission; Right-of-way
appraiser for War Department for
Bonneville Dam flowage easement.
Appraiser for Interior Department,
power lines Bonneville to Vancouver.
Appraised land for the biological
survey in Marion County. Outstanding
work: On recommendation of Oregon
State Grange was selected and sent to
Europe as member of U. S. Rural
Credits Committee, in 1913. Visited 13
European countries in study of rural
credits and other farm problems. (See
U. S. Sen. [Doc.?] [214?], of 1913),
report on which served as basis for
progressive legislation, including
Federal Farm Loan Act.
8. Community and religious activities : No particular religious affiliations; brought up as Presbyterian with some Baptist influence. Interested in all federal, civic, and community affairs. Member of State Grange, Masonic, and Odd Fellows lodges. President of Sons and Daughters of American Pioneers, 1818-1819.
9. Description of informant : Large, somewhat portly man, with white hair, and twinkling blue eyes. Well groomed and prosperous in appearance, with cordial and genial manner. Slow in speech, and given to digressing.
10. Other points gained in interview : Extremely well informed on Oregon history, but somewhat disappointing in matters of a folklore nature, which have to be gleaned from the history related.
You asked about my religious activities back there, reminds me of an old-time exhorter. He used an ox-team as a simile, where one of the oxen was balky. A balky ox, as you probably don't know, is just about the balkiest animal the Creator made. The good ox will pull with all his might while the balky one is stubbornly standing in his tracks, or, to make matters worse, retreating in the other direction. It's a pretty bad situation for the driver, any way you take it. So this exhorter was shouting, "If my Baptist ox and my Presbyterian ox and my Methodist ox will only all pull together we can pull a mighty load." That's the way I've always felt. I'll just pull along with each and any of them, without waiting to see which is Presbyterian, Methodist or Baptist.
Well, you want folklore. Folklore, they say, comes out of history, so perhaps I'd better give a little of that first. I've lived almost all my life in Milwaukie, as I told you back there. Same folks say Milwaukie is so spelled because the people who incorporated the town misspelled, making the last syllable "ie" instead of "ee", as the town in Wisconsin is spelled. As a matter of fact, according to what I have been able to learn, "ie" is correct rather than "ee".
While Lot Whitcomb platted Milwaukie, he wasn't the first settler. Milwaukee's first settler was a man named Fellows, who built his cabin close to the edge of the Willamette river, near the foot of what is now Jefferson street. The site of the cabin washed away in the floods long ago. Where Fellows came from, when he built this cabin, or where he went after disposing of his squatter's right, nobody ever knew. Later on, Lot Whitcomb filed on the donation land claim that afterwards included the townsite.
Lot Whitcomb was quite a man. A Yankee, born in Vermont, in 1807, he came to Oregon , in 1847, as captain of a train of 147 wagons, that included the wagons of Henderson and Seth Luelling -- the name that is always associated with our famous Oregon cherries. Whitcomb was influenced in coming to Oregon by a pamphlet written by old Joel Palmer, and that he wasn't a poor man is evidenced by the fact that his own equipment consisted of six wagons, with five yoke of oxen to each wagon, and a family carriage drawn by four horses. That was quite a caravan in itself -- six wagons, thirty oxen, and a four-horse carriage. In addition, he had an ample stock of provisions, furniture, bedding, new carpets, and a set of sawmill irons, such as were in use in that day. The trip across the plains to Oregon, by Whitcomb's party, took seven months and twenty-one days. They arrived at Oregon City in November, 1847. The next spring, Whitcomb filed on his donation land claim, and then built the first sawmill -- near the mouth of Johnson Creek, where the lumber for Milwaukie's first schoolhouse was sawed.
Along with Whitcomb in the building of Milwaukee, then the rival city of Portland, were the Kelloggs, father and sons, Orrin and Joseph, and the brothers, Henderson and Seth Luelling, mentioned above.
The Luellings brought the first cherry trees to Oregon. Henderson it was, who took the initial step in bringing that first good variety of grafted fruit trees, the details of which are interesting, Henderson, planning to come to Oregon in the spring of 1846, secured the cooperation of a neighbor, by the name of John Fisher, for his plan. First, they procured a stout wagon, then they made two boxes, 12 inches deep and of sufficient length and breadth that when placed in the wagon-box, side by side, they filled it completely. The boxes were then filled with a compost, or soil, consisting principally of charcoal and earth, and in this 700 small trees were planted. The trees were from 20 inches to four feet high, protected by light strong strips of hickory bolted on to posts, set in staples on the wagon box. For that wagon alone three yoke of oxen were detailed. Can't you see those men working and planning to the utmost detail, that Oregon might have in time the wonderful cherries and other fruit for which it is now famous? And there are those today who dare to say the pioneers had no vision, that they were mere adventurers. Well, to go on with our story. The Luelling caravan, which consisted of three wagons for the Luellings, one for the Fisher family, two for Nathan Hockett's family, and the Nursery Wagon itself -- seven wagons in all -- started on its long journey across the plains, on April 17, 1846. It traveled about fifteen miles a day, and every day, no matter how scarce the water, nor how far the distance between watered camps, each and every one of those little 700 trees were carefully sprinkled with water. Each little tree was a saga in itself. The Dalles was reached about October 1st. Two boats had to be constructed to bring the families and their goods, not forgetting the cherry trees, down to the Willamette Valley. It was November 1st, when they left The Dalles. They got down as far as Wind River, where the boats were unloaded and reloaded (north bank), until finally, at the Upper Cascades, the wagons were again set up and everything hauled to the Lower Cascades (north bank). Meanwhile, the boats had been turned adrift and went bumping down the current to the Lower Cascades, where they were captured, reloaded, and poled and paddled to Fort Vancouver. At The Dalles, the fruit trees had been taken out of their boxes and wrapped in cloths to protect them not only from the handling but from frost. They were nursed carefully the next six months and more, until their owner found what he thought the proper place for their final planting. About one-half of the original 700 trees survived and grew.
Some idea of the importance of fruit in those days may be realized from the fact that a box of apples brought by Mr. Luelling to Portland, in 1852, sold as high as $75.00. Four bushels shipped to the California gold mines brought $500.00.
Before leaving the story of the Luelling fruit trees, while it was Henderson Luelling who instigated the bringing of the first fruit trees, it is to his brother Seth that we are indebted for the toothsome Black Republican, Royal Anne and Bing cherries. Henderson left Oregon for California, in 1854, where he started the fruit industry of that State, dying in San Jose in 1878. But Seth remained true to his first love. He stayed in Oregon. A great admirer of Abraham Lincoln, Seth belonged to the "Black Republican" party, and, saying he would make the people relish Black Republicans, he gave his newly propagated cherry that name. The Bing cherry he named in honor of his faithful old Chinaman, Bing, who cultivated the test rows of his nursery. The old home of Seth Luelling still stands on Front Street of Milwaukie, shaded by the great Babylon weeping willow, that Seth's first wife, Clarissa, planted as a cutting so long ago; a cutting that, tradition says, was brought originally from Mount Vernon. Every spring the old tree, as if in celebration of the start of its long journey more than ninety years ago, transforms itself almost over night from a waving gray mass of skeleton branches into a magical fountain of vivid, living green.
To the Kelloggs, father, Orrin, and son Joseph, Oregon owes not only much of her early river navigation, coincident with which was the building of the first schooner, (later taken to California and traded off in a series of trades that ended with the purchase of the bark Lausanne, all of which resulted in the sawmill and shipbuilding firm of Whitcomb, Kellogg and Torrence), but the delivery in Oregon Territory of the first Masonic charter, Orrin and Joseph came to Oregon, in 1848. On their way, they encountered a man by the name of P. B. Cornwall. Certain Masons then living in Oregon had petitioned the grand lodge of Missouri for a charter, authorizing the establishment of a lodge in Oregon . This charter was entrusted to Cornwall. But Cornwall, on his way, had heard of the riches of the California gold fields. When he came to the branching of the ways -- one leading to the land of homemakers and the other to the adventurous realms of fortune, Cornwall chose the latter, not, however, before ascertaining that the Kelloggs were master Masons. Satisfying himself as to this fact, he entrusted to them the charter, which they brought on to Oregon, and under the authority of which, the first masonic lodge west of the Rocky mountains was established in Oregon City, September 11, 1848. The charter still hangs on the walls of the Masonic Lodge at Oregon City; in the anteroom of the lodge stands the little old trunk in which it was kept en route.
Joseph Kellogg was not only a river-boat builder and navigator. He was also a road builder. He it was who built the first macadam road in the country, which led from Portland south along the west bank of the Willamette to a point known famously or infamously -- according to your point of view -- as the White House, just across the river from Milwaukie, and just north of a big jutting bluff, called Elk Rock. Macadam Road was for many years a favorite pleasure drive for early Portlanders, "fast" drivers and otherwise.
Speaking of Elk Rock, an old tradition of the early settlers was that the name was derived from the fact that long before the advent of the white men, the Indians were accustomed to stampeding the herds of elk then common in the vicinity, forcing them over the precipice into the river below, where they were finished off, and picked up by the Indians, waiting in canoes. Some color is lent to this story by the finding, many years ago, of a pair of elk's antlers in the bottom of the Willamette river at that point.
Joseph Kellogg it was, too - to go back to the Kelloggs -- who built the breakwater above the falls of the Willamette at Oregon City, on the east shore, forming what was known as the Basin, where for many years, the up-river boats could slip down through quiet waters and discharge their cargoes for a short transfer to traffic below the falls. Old Orrin Kellogg, the father, was married to an Indian woman, a Chippewa, I believe. She was a devoted Catholic, and died, erect on her horse, while returning home from church. William Johnson, of the Johnson D. L. C. of South Portland, has been quoted as saying that one squaw was worth six white women, which shows there is no accounting for taste.
Well, there were more than six squaws to one white woman in those days, so I suppose we ought to be a little lenient about a man's choice. Even as late as the early 60's, there was always a big Indian camp in the vicinity of Oregon City. They kept the white women on edge a good part of the time. They were peaceable enough until they got drunk. When they were drunk nobody knew what they might do. A favorite amusement under such conditions was beating up their wives -- or anybody else's wife.
From the noise and yells at the distant camp it was evident the bucks had got hold of some firewater one evening, father being in the land office and detained, when my mother was alone. This was confirmed, when old Solie Ann, a squaw who helped mother in her housework occasionally, came slipping in through the back door, asking mother to hide her, as "Indians fighting" she said. But before she could be concealed, one of the braves, very much "lit up" came in and demanded that Solie Ann go with him. Solie Ann was in no mood for a "tanning." She resisted. Meantime mother, who was not lacking in spunk, had got hold of an old dragoon pistol -- one of those old powder and ball affairs with a long bore and a bent handle. It wasn't loaded and mother knew it, but she brandished the ferocious looking thing and managed to bluff the drunken Indian off till help came, and Solie Ann rescued.
That reminds me of the bull fight story. The cattle that Ewing Young brought to Oregon in the 30's were of the longhorn, Mexican variety. He started with 800 cattle, if I remember, and what with Indian raids and quarrels among his own men, arrived with some 600. Later he sold Mexican cows for as low as $3.00 each. Naturally they increased and got to running wild through the country, and of course they were a menace, especially to anyone afoot. Sometimes there would be as many as fifteen or twenty to a bunch.
My grandfather Gordon had located on the Molalla river, building a log cabin. The door was of split shakes with wooden hinges. There was no fence about the cabin, and these long horn cattle I'm telling you about, mere roaming the country thereabout. One day a bunch appeared, led by two old bulls, or at least one of the bulls was old, and one of his horns was gone. These bulls were fighting, and they were making a gory mess of it, as they bellowed and pawed, with the dirt flying in every direction. At the time the cabin was occupied by two families, that of my grandfather and the family of J. G. Hundsacker. My mother was then a girl of fifteen or sixteen, and she it was who told me the story. The men folk were absent on this day -- only the women and children at home, and from the time the bulls appeared it was too late to do anything but watch them, and with what terrified eyes the two women and children peered through the cabin cracks at the savage goring and pushing. Butting enters largely into a fight between bulls. Sudden consternation overtook the cabin's inmates, for slowly but surely the old one-horned bull, dripping blood from the rapier-like thrusts of his opponent, was being pushed toward their only exit, the frail door of split shakes. Already they were but a dozen feet distant -- so intent on their duel for mastery that the screams and yells of the trapped spectators availed nothing. What would happen in that confined space when the crazy brutes crashed through the door? Frantically the mothers piled their scanty furniture as a barricade. Above, poles had been laid across from joist to joist, as a place for storing various articles not in use. Up, on this precarious perch, they managed to thrust my mother, with the Hundsaker baby in her arms. The other children they crowded into the corners. Then, armed with firewood and whatever they could find available, they awaited the inevitable. The old bull's mighty rump was practically at the door, when, with a tortured bellow he extricated himself from the thrusting horns of his adversary and plunged into the woods. The young victor turned with a snort to the cows and calves, which had been meekly awaiting the outcome, and behind him they all filed out of sight.
Now, as to the
story of the State Seal. It was
designed by my uncle, Harvey Gordon.
First, I want to give you a little of
his background. His father, Hugh
Gordon (my grandfather) was born in
North Carolina in 1796. He married
Jane Hickland in Kentucky, and moved
to Indiana, then a frontier, where his
three children, Harvey, Eliza (my
mother) and James were born.
Grandfather farmed, but never had a
wagon until he came to Oregon .
Subsisting largely by hunting, he had
lived always in a log cabin, with
luxuries unknown. He maintained that
nobody should work more than four
hours a day. Deciding to come to
Oregon in '45 he went first to
Missouri in order to get an early
start for the long trip across the
plains the following spring. They
wintered in Missouri, and in May,
1846, the train of fifty wagons was
off for Oregon. In the party was a
family named Simpson. During the
winter in Missouri a baby boy was born
to the Simpsons. The baby was Sam
Simpson, afterward Oregon's well known
When the party left Missouri, Oregon's boundary line was still in dispute. The treaty was signed on June 15th, 1846, and none of them knew as they plodded along whether their journey's and would be in America or British territory. It must have given them considerable food for thought.
I have reviewed all this so as to show something of the trend of thought of the young man, possibly, when at the age of 29, he was commissioned to draw the first seal of the State of Oregon -- caused him to give thought, and place in his drawing the departing sailing vessel of the English, as England's dominion withdrew from Oregon's shores, while America's arriving steamship symbolized the new, and immediately after there must have sprung to mind the picture of the covered wagon, with that long trudge beside it in his memory. The elk, with its "haunching" antlers, was a noble example of our then abundant game, and what could be more typical, by 1857, of Oregon's agricultural possibilities than the plow and the rake and sheaf of wheat. As to the pick-axe, I am inclined to think that was added because it was close to Harvey Gordon's heart. In '48 he went to California and dug out a fortune, and a second time he went there and picked out a fortune in the gold mines. Gold hadn't yet been discovered in Oregon. The thirty-three stars, of course, represent the thirty-three states, Oregon making the thirty-third. The ordinary bearing across its face. "The Union", as Oregon's motto ("She flies with her own wings" being the territorial rather than the State motto) reveals Harvey Gordon's strong feeling on the question of slavery and sedition, growing of more and more paramount national interest. Though his ancestry was southern, both he and his people were all for an undivided country.
The seal as designed was adopted by the Oregon Constitutional Convention, at 2 P. M., of the afternoon session, September 18, 1857 (see page 99 of that year's Journal), and the story I have given you as to the motivating influences of Harvey Gordon in creating the design, is the story as known to his family and descendants, of which I am a member.
A somewhat exciting incident in the crossing of my grandfather's train of covered wagons was when -- in Wyoming I think it was -- the way was stopped one day by some three thousand Indians, making demand of tribute. In full warpath regalia -- feathers and paint and everything to create a terrifying appearance -- the braves appeared as if by magic. That they were primed for a fight, in which the handful of whites had not the slightest chance, was evident to all, albeit they sat their ponies quietly enough, as the chief powwowed, demanding more and yet more. The white men, with no time even to form the usual barricade of linked wagons, did the only thing there was to do under the circumstances. With no protest and as little resentment and show of alarm as possible, they brought from each of their wagons' already depleted stores, food and various articles which they piled on the blankets spread for the purpose. At long last the chief raised his hand, permitting them to continue. The relief with which they did so may be imagined. Their provisions might grow short, as indeed they did, but that was a problem better faced than massacre.
Somewhere, along about this time, two of the women got a fright. Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Briggs had riding horses, and they had formed the habit of riding apart from the company. One day as the slow, dusty road wound around a bluff, they took a short cut over the hill, where eventually they were not only out of [signt?] but out of hearing of the wagon train. Suddenly they were confronted by a band of braves, all decked out in the usual paint and feathered war-bonnets. Naturally, the women were scared half to death, but they didn't lose their heads. Putting on a bold front, they made known the fact that a big wagontrain was close at hand, so the Indians after considerable argument among themselves finally let them go. First, however, the captives had to give up their bonnets. These were of bright calico and had taken the fancy of the young bucks, who probably gambled for their possession. The Indians passed the wagontrain before the reappearance of the women, and Mr. Briggs was horror stricken to see his wife's bonnet on the chief's head. She was not among them as a captive; neither was Mrs. Baker. Immediately it was assumed they had been killed -- when they came galloping in. And all Briggs could think to say was, "What the hell, Orvilla, have you done with your bonnet."
It was Horace Baker, of this wagon train, who settled on the 640 acre donation land claim near Clear Creek, on the south bank of the Clackamas river. Being a stone mason be built a stone-and-clay fireplace in his 20 x 30 foot log cabin, with its shake, or clapboard, roof. Shortly afterward he established a ferry, operated on a cable, across Clackamas river, with a toll of $2.00 for a team, and 50 cents each for foot passengers. Baker's Ferry was operated until 1883, when it was replaced by a bridge -- then and now known as Baker's Bridge, though the present bridge is not the same. When the Willamette Locks were constructed in the early 70's, Horace Baker quarried the stone there for on his farm.
It is not generally
known, but the Western Star of
Milwaukie, the motto of which was, "As
far as breeze can bear or billows
foam, survey our empire and build our
home", was in existence for some time
prior to the Weekly Oregonian
(Number 15) (From which it would
appear the paper started November 1,
1850) of Volume 1, "Milwaukie, Oregon
Territory, February 27, 1851," was a
copy of this old paper from which I
supervised the printing of a duplicate
some years ago. Some of the items may
be of interest, as, for instance:
"TERMS, invariably in advance. For one
year, per mail, $7.00; for six months,
$4.00; single copies for sale at the
(From the replica edition of the Western Star, being an item inserted by Mr, Starkweather) Milwaukie Home of Direct Legislation
"Milwaukie is entitled to the honor of creating the organization that after ten years of agitation and education secured adoption of the initiative and referendum in the constitution of Oregon . At a session of the Milwaukie Farmers Alliance at the home of Seth Lewelling, Alfred Lewelling read portions of the book, "Direct Legislation in Switzerland" by J. W. Sullivan of New York.
The members present realized at once the great power the adoption of this system would confer upon the people and advised that it be taken up with the state convention of the Farmers Alliance and the State Grange. This was done and persistently followed until the measure was finally approved by the people. One of the first steps of this movement was the purchase and distribution of 1000 copies of Mr. Sullivan's book at the publishers' cost price of $125. Following that 50,000 copies of an eight page pamphlet were issued explaining and advocating the adoption of the principle.
"Times were hard and the people had very little money; these pamphlets were all folded, sewed and mailed by the women of about twelve families living in the town of Milwaukie. Some of the men of the same families usually were delegated to the county or state republican, democratic or people's party conventions of those days and always obtained resolutions endorsing the principle of the proposed amendment. There was always some one from Milwaukie attending the meetings of the State Grange and Farmers Alliance urging the adoption of favorable resolutions. In fact, the people of Milwaukie and vicinity were the prime movers in proposing and securing adoption of the Initiative and Referendum in Oregon."
Here's a story that illustrates the "moving spirit" of the early settlers. Starting from Pennsylvania, maybe, on the Atlantic coast, they would move to Ohio. Then, having got a taste of new lands, and adventures, and despite the fact that Ohio was a rich, fertile country, they would pack their belongings on the heavy-wheeled and springless wagons, gather their families together and, behind their plodding oxen, rumble and bump their way over well-nigh impassable roads to Indiana, or further on to Missouri. If they happened to live near the Ohio river, they might trust their lives and household goods to a scow or big flat-boat, which, with poles and rude oars, they propelled down the swift current. A year or two in Missouri, or Indiana, as the case might be, and the fabulous tales of Oregon's fertility and marvelous climate, again produced the itching foot. This time the trek was longer, more hazardous, but after a few months' of preparation they were off, with arid, dusty plains, treacherous rivers and the unknown dangers of practically trackless mountains, not to mention hostile Indians, ahead of them. Once Oregon was reached, this wanderlust could take them no farther west; the north was not inviting. Their trail must turn south. There was one such man of those long-ago days, who, though his wife begged him to "stay set" in the Willamette Valley, refused to listen to her. After a year, and off they went, lurching and bumping toward California. Then, one day, they came to a beautiful expanse of country -- just where it was, deponeth sayeth not -- but anyway they came upon such a place. There was grass and water, and there was plenty of trees for wood, although the eye could see for miles and miles, and in all that vista there was no solitary sign of habitation or human being. The man slowed his oxen and stopped the wagon. "Here we are, Maria," he said, "here's where we stay. Get the young 'uns out." So they set up camp, and cooked and ate their supper, and after a good night's sleep got up early to survey their domain. The man was up first. He was chopping firewood, when suddenly he stopped. "Maria!" he called excitedly, "Come here quick." Maria ran out, "What, John, what is it?" she cried, "Look", said John, "do you see what I do?" Shading her eyes with her hand, she stared about, but saw nothing to disturb her. John grow impatient. Grabbing her by the arm, he turned her in the proper direction, "There," he snarled, "don't you see that smoke, over there to the west near that mountain! Yes, it's smoke all right, God damn, this country is too thickly settled for me. We'll have to move on."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Here's another story of pioneer hospitality. My father was very hospitably inclined, and being something of a politician and a leading light in the territory at that time, he was always bringing guests home. Once when he was at the state legislature he sent word that two of his fellow legislators were coming with him for the week-end. Mother and grandmother were in a dither. There weren't beds enough to go 'round for our big family, let alone strangers. There was nothing for it but to build a bedstead, which they did. It was crude, but it served the purpose, they thought, and, of course, they had plenty of comforts and quilts. Women were always doing patchwork. When the guests arrived, one proved to be very short and the other extremely tall. The partitions were thin. When father and mother had retired to their room, they could hear the visitors preparing for bed. The tall one got in bed first, they could hear him stretching and yawning, then they heard him say, "Bill, when you get your clothes off, would you mind hanging them over my feet and legs. This bed's just a little bit short for me, and I'm afrain I'm going to be cold."
Major Jake Rynearson, whose brother, Peter M. Rynearson, filed on a mile-square donation land claim at the junction of the Clackamas and Willamette rivers, was prominent as a fighter in the Cayuse Indian disturbances. Following one fight with the Indians, he found, an abandoned little Indian boy of about ten years of age, who, from all that could be learned, was of the Hez Perce tribe, who had been taken prisoner and held by the Cayuse Indians as a slave. Major Jake, as he was familiarly called, brought the boy home and gave him to his brother, Peter.
One of the pleasant customs of the Indians was to clip the ears of their slaves. This boy had clipped ears, of which, as he grew older, he became more and more sensitive, always wearing his hair long enough to cover them. At Peter Rynearson's he grew up to manhood, spending his life with them as chief cook and bottle-washer.
Now the Rynearson family was an exceedingly prolific one. Old Peter was married twice. By his first wife he had six sons and two daughters. To enumerate them sounds rather biblical. They were: Abraham, Isaac, Cicero, Peter, Cornelius and Frank; Sarah Jane and Kate. His second wife, a widow, brought to his household two daughters: Kate and Clara, and two sons, Bill and Dick. Of Peter's second union there were born four children, Emma, George, Jake and Ed. Now, that makes sixteen children, doesn't it? To that number add Peter and his wife, making eighteen, in addition to which there was the hired man, and the cook himself, Indian Dave. So Indian Dave had twenty people in all to cook for - and he wasn't any too clean, though he might have been just as dirty with a family of two or three. I think he would.
Peter Rynearson was a just man, as I think you'll agree, when I tell you this story. In fact he almost fell backward in his justice in this case. It happened this way. Major Jake was digging a well, the dirt being carried up by bucket and windlass. Somebody let the bucket fall on Jake's head. It made such a dent in his skull that he had to have a trepan operation, with a silver plate inserted to protect his brain. Old Peter didn't drop the bucket, but he felt so responsible that in compensation he gave Jake the north half, consisting of 320 acres, of the Donation Land Claim.
Peter Rynearson was a big man. He must have been six feet a half tall, bony end spare; and he always walked stooping from the hips. He had sorrel-colored hair and beard, and he always wore a slouched -- or what had once been slouched -- hat with no brim and full of holes, from which his sorrel hair stuck out. From this description you will see that he looked a good deal like an animated scarecrow. Querulous, intolerant, and uncouth, Peter was picturesque in his language, and he was a great braggart. His crops were the best, and his horses and pigs and cattle were the best in the country. He sold some pigs to a relative of my first wife-- in fact it was her father bought them. They were little when they were bought, but by his manner of saying "Them're the dern-dest pigs -- them're the dern-dest pigs", he gave the impression that, like everything else he possessed, they were of a very superior breed. When they grew up -- well they were the "dern-dest" pigs sure enough, but not of the sort hoped for.