Jackson County Oregon
Note from the submitter: Warren
B Carah, 11464 Eagle Way, Brighton, MI 48114:
Ms. Patton wrote an article for an Ashland, Oregon newspaper regarding her covered wagon journey from Iowa to California in 1862 with her grandparents, parents and sisters. The full text of that article is given below.
(Newspaper Ed. Note: Written by Mary Frances Patton Welch, a 90 year old Ashland pioneer. The following article tells of the journey of the family across the plains, in 1862, with her grandfather, captain of the emigrant train of 100 persons and of their perils and adventures enroute).
Our Journey Across the Plains by Mary Frances Patton Welch
"We left Iowa in the year of 1862, I think it was in March, and we were six months on the trip. Our destination was California. Our emigrant train consisted of one hundred members who elected my grandpa, John Parham, as their captain. They drilled and practiced corralling and getting ready in case we should be attacked by Indians. Everything went all right until we reached the part of the country where the Indians were making trouble.
Our family consisted of Mr. and Mrs. John Parham, who were my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William Patton who were my parents, my little sister Ettie and myself. Sister Annie was born on the way, near American Falls on the Snake River in Idaho. Mother thought she would get through the trip before the stork arrived, but as there was a doctor in our emigrant train, she and baby were taken care of. When the baby was only three days old we had a fight with Indians.
We had seen small bands of them at different times, and had seen them telegraphing to each other from high mountains. They do this by building slow fires then throwing blankets over them and when they lift the blankets a cloud of smoke arises. The smoke is their signal.
On August 21st we had our trouble with them. In the evening, all night and until noon the next day near City Rocks close to a canyon, they attacked us. We saw them coming, got the wagons all arranged in a circle; got what we could out of the wagons such as bedding and other things that could be packed around the wagons; got the women and children under the wagons and packed dirt around the outside of the wagons. There we had to lie flat on our backs. Grandma had sister Ettie on one arm and me on the other. Mother and baby were on a bed near us and not very comfortable. Not much under us except hard ground and sagebrush.
They dug a hole in the middle of the corral and some women and boys molded bullets of lead for the men who were fighting. Mother had made some cookies a few days before so we had some of them and a little water to drink. We were scarce of water because we were cut off from it.
The Indians left us about noon the next day for a while. They had driven away all of our cattle before we could get them inside the corral. They shot one of our men in the arm and killed one of our mules. We got away and started to travel again, but had to pass through a canyon where the women drove and the men fought all the way through.
Before we got to California a company of cavalry made up of miners from somewhere in California came to meet us. A few of our men and women were riding horseback ahead of our train. They saw what they supposed to be Indians and came back to tell us. We started to corral and get ready for the Indians but before they reached us we could see they were not Indians, as they raised a white flag so we knew help was near and what a happy meeting!
We made camp and included them. They brought us food which the women cooked as we were short of food. It was a wonderful help to us. We told them of the trouble we had had with the Indians and that that day we had passed a rancharie of them. Our new friends said "We will get them. " Some of our men went with them.
They found the Indians, killed and scalped them all and brought back the scalps strung on their saddles. (Newspaper Ed. Note: The scalp is the top of the head with the hair still on it.) That night they made a bonfire and strung the scalps on a pole and had a war dance. They came all the way through to California with us.
I have a snuff box which I picked up where there had been a massacre near where we made camp. The men arranged camp while the women gathered in wood for the fires. Grandma and I gathered sagebrush and buffalo chips which burn like bark. We ran onto some graves where the dirt covered only part of the bodies leaving the hair of the heads and the feet uncovered. That is where I picked up the snuff box. I still have it, and I will never forget those graves.
Our train separated, some going other directions. We stayed all winter in Red Bluff, California. Grandfather and father did carpenter work until spring when we traveled to Yolo County, California where we located on farms. That ended our journey across the plains, of which I am glad to tell. The younger generation does not realize the hardships the pioneers had. Although I was only five years old I can remember many things that happened, and the rest of the story I have heard my people tell.
After living in Yolo County for some time we sold our farm and moved to a farm which father owned in Mendocino County, California. We children had to walk two miles to school and two miles back each day. There were wild cattle, rattlesnakes, ringsnakes, and once in a while we heard a panther scream.
There was plenty of game such as wild hogs, turkeys, quail, plenty of fish in the streams so our meat did not cost anything. Father bought cattle, but on account of feed being scarce, he sold the ranch home, took 200 head of cattle and we started for Goose Lake.
We girls helped to drive the cattle. We had no saddles, only surcingles and blankets for our horses. We were several weeks on the trip. Since the Modoc War was being fought in Klamath County, we had to go father around to escape that. We had two wagons. They would go ahead and make camp. In some places they had to cut down small trees and tie them to the back of the wagons to use for brakes. We milked some of the cows, put the cream in a chum and by the end of a day's travel we would have several pounds of butter-the motion of the wagon churned it. Our bread was baked in a dutch oven. (Newspaper Ed. Note: An iron pot with iron lid, which was placed with hot coals both under and over it.)
There were no highways then, so it was a tiresome trip but we arrived safely. Father took up a homestead in a little valley ten miles from Lakeview, Oregon and turned our cattle out on the range of which there was aplenty.
He kept the stage station where the soldiers changed horses going and coming from the Modoc war. After several years he sold out his cattle and we moved to Ashland.
I am the only member of the family previously mentioned who is still living. I am the oldest of the eight children and there are only four of us left, including my sister, Mrs. T.L. Powell, and my brothers Alpha and Fred Patton, the latter three being born in the West. We four are still living in Ashland, Oregon. I was 90 years old on February 22, 1947. My only son and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Allan T. Welch, are living at 5720 S.E. Belmont, Portland 15, Oregon."
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