Grants Pass (Oregon) Daily Courier Saturday, Dec. 31, 1927
Mrs. Young In 1877 Made Hard Trip to Oregon
(Mrs. Sarah E. Young)
As you have asked for a few reminiscences of pioneer days I will send a few.
On August 12, 1877, I, with my three children, left Mt. Pleasant Iowa, for the Illinois valley, Oregon. We started one day ahead of the big railroad strike of 1877. The trains that were on the road could go on to their destination but no trains could start. It started on the C. B. Q., but at Omaha we were transferred to an emigrant train. It was among the last of the emigrant trains sent out by the railroad.
We were eight days to Sacramento. As the railroad only was finished to Marysville, Cal., we took passage on a boat for San Francisco. We stayed there 11 days waiting for a steamer that would call at Crescent City. We had a stormy trip all the way from the bay city up. The said it was the most severe storm in 18 years. It surely was dreadful and the boat began to leak. We were supposed to make the trip in 30 hours, but it took us from 4 p. m. Tuesday until midnight Friday.
But we found our troubles were not over. When we go to the city it was dark and the pier was old and rotten and the ship did not dare come up to it, the waves were rolling so hard. We were put into small boats and lowered with block and tackle, strapped into a big chair. The little boat was dancing around but we got down all right. The two children went down first, then baby and I, then we were told that the boat could not land but that we would be met by a wagon. It had a low rack on it and they said it would come along beside the boat and everybody had to jump for the wagon, which we did. My baby was so afraid of strangers I had to hold on to her, so I held her under my left arm and caught the wagon with my right and worked myself back. The driver whipped the horses down to a gallop but the waves caught up and my feet were dragging along in the water. The water came up to my knees. I had started for Oregon and I was going to get there. I was met by my husband and we came on in a wagon.
I had never seen big trees before and it was a surprise to see such giants. Everything was strange. Then we climbed the mountains. Part of the time we could follow the way which meant following where the big freight wagons had scraped the rocks and left white marks.
Everything was so different from anything I had ever seen, but I soon began to see beauty everywhere—such trees, such flowers, such fruit, and such vegetables, such good water and such good fish! And before the first winter was over—such a fine climate and such good people! I think pioneering makes friends of us all. So generous, so sympathetic!
Well, we got a log house built that had four walls and roof and a door, a well dug and we were at home to our friends. Our door had a wooden latch which was operated by a string. We had a chimney built of sticks.
Work was scarce and money was scarcer. Sometimes a man would say, “Mr. Young, I will grubstake you and give you a percent of all you find if you will work out my assessment on a claim or prospect a piece of ground for me.”
Well he got the grubstake and I got the per cent. He got the most. I worked at everything I could get to do—sewing, quilting, housecleaning, etc.
There was no church or Sunday school so my children and I would sing the songs we had sung “back home” and I would tell them Bible stories and teach them to trust their Savior. My whole life and time was given to the children. We had no school except a three months term in a year. I walked three miles and taught one term in what they call now the White District, at $30 per month and most of that amount was subscribed by the patrons. The school houses were old tumble down log houses with rough board seats and desks—no equipment whatever.
We had our mail brought to Mr. Briggs, then as there was no post office. It was just a neighbor’s kindness in letting it come there for the people of the valley. It was brought by stage to Kerby.
In all I spent 28 years in the Illinois valley. I have seen it develop year after year and while I left the valley for a home in Grants Pass, the little valley is still dear to me and “wherever I may roam that valley will still be home.” There is so much to be remembered but I am afraid of that “old waste basket.”
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