BELOW IS AN A LETTER THAT WAS WRITTEN TO JAMES LAWLER, ESQ FROM RICE DUNBAR AND IT WAS PUBLISHED IN THE GAZETTE (note I have typed it just as it appeared-tlb)
OREGON TERRITORY, Champoeg
Count, April 26, 1847.
To JAMES LAWLER, Esq:
Dear Sir- When I last wrote to you from Fort Hall, we were full of the belief that our journey would soon be at an end. But O! despair. We had the finest time to Fort Hall that could be thought of. Good road, good grass, and every thing went on well, untill we left the old road, 40 miles down Snake River, from Fort Hall; here we were induced by Mr. Applegate totake what he called his new route. We traveled south about 500 miles-here we left the California road, and took a course for the head of the Clamit River. Here we were beset with the worst and most savage tribes of Indians in all the country- – they drove off all the cattle and horses they could lay hands on. At length we arrived at the Umqua Mountains, 200 miles from the head of the Wallamette Valley-here the rain set in on the 28th day of October; we undertook to go through the mountains, but the snow and rain prevented. We had to leave our wagons and carry our goods and pack through-we sent some of the company on for horses and provisions. Here we were out of provisions and had to resort to killing our poor cattle to live on. Father Brislim died in this mountain from fatigue and want- – even the women and children had to wade through this mountain (16 miles) in the water from ankle to waist deep. On the 12th day of December the men returned with some horses and flour. We started on horse back, only taking some few of our wearing clothes, and after enduring the most extreme hardships through mud and water we arrived in the settlements on the last day of December, completely used up- without wagons, cattle, bedding or tools. But, yet I feel rich, when I look around and see all of my family well, and all of our neighbors healthy and enjoying good health, I feel more than compensated for our loss and privations. I have not seen a sick person since I have been in the Territory. We have no billious fever, ague and fever, congestive chills, winter or lung fevers, liver complaint, nor any other diseases. The people are all perfectly healthy in this country.
I have taken a claim (one section) about 40 miles from the Wallamette Falls, up the valley, about 10 miles from the River on the east side. I have about 400 acres of the finest kind of prairie, and the rest of the section in the best kind of Oak, ash and fir timber, and one step will take you out of the best kind of prairie into the best kind of fir timber, where you can get from ten to fifteen rail cuts from one tree, and not be more than 15 or 20 inches through at the stump. The land is of a better quality here than I expected to see- – I think that the red or hilly land in this country is the best of wheat, though either is very good. What is called hilly land here is like your rolling prairies in the States that is the land that lays between the bottoms and the mountains. I have seen the best wheat here that I ever saw in any country it is as much better than your best wheat, as your best wheat is better than your poor spring wheat. They commence ploughing and putting in winter wheat the first of September, and continue on until the middle of March, and from then until the last of May for their spring wheat. It is not first rate for corn, though they raise from 15 to 30 bushels to the acre. Potatoes grow fine, and the turnips are the best and largest in the world. I need not enter into a long detail of the different productions of this country, as it would be but a repetition of what you have all read and heard. The country is well adapted to the growth of fruit of all kinds, wild and tame. Wheat crops never fail in this country.
This past winter has been the hardest ever known by the American settlers. The ground was covered with snow for three or four weeks, though it did not seem like winter to me compared with Illinois, the cattle kept fat all the winter, no feeding of stock corn in this country. There has been four ships in this spring. Goods are tolerable cheap and coming down. Wheat is commanding $1 per bushel cash- – two ship loads went out of this valley last week, one for the Sandwich Islands and the other to the army in California and Mexico.
I want you to come to Oregon, there is room enough for you all-prepare yourselves with good strong two horse wagons, and good oxen and as many cows as you can bring safely-broodmares sell here very high- – start early and keep off of new routs. I find a number of Illinois acquaintances here, and some relations from Virginia and Kentucky. Young ladies are in great demand here, and that class of emigrants are received with open arms.
Source: The Gazette (Beardstown, IL) Friday, September 10, 1847 S. Emmons, Editor