PETER EMILE MATHIOT
East Portland, Oregon
I have often wondered why it is that people in the United States take so little interest in their ancestors, or the genealogy of their family. It may be owing to the fact that “all men are created equals” and hence it is not worth the while to distinguish them.
This country having been settled by all the different races of Europe, the time will come when people here will desire to know from what race they have originated; and for this reason, I will write these few pages, hoping that the name “MATHIOT” may not degenerate but become better and greater.
I will relate only what I know what I have heard and seen, my authority is mostly from my parents and my maternal grand mother and what I have seen myself. If I am permitted to ever visit France, I will be able to add to this.
The Mathiot Family (“pronounced Maht-YO”) is at the present time of French Origins but when and how they became French I could not say. I am told the name is of Greek Origin. The Mathiots are not very numerous, they are found mostly in Franche-Comté in eastern France and a few in the United States as we shall see later. The name may have been changed some as up to the time of my grand father, they wrote Matthiot.
I have often heard my father say that the year 1769 had been remarkable in that in that year were born Bonaparte, Currier, and his father (that is my grandfather). The two first were truly remarkable but I don’t see much of my grand father in history but he took the lead in his little village and that is something to be proud of. He was born and lived and died in his village where he raised a family of four children.
Our grand father Pierre Mathiot then was born in 1769 in the little village of Autechaux, in the Département Du Doubs in the Arrondissement de Montbéliard in Franche-Comté, France, about six miles from Montbéliard. He had three sons and one daughter. His oldest son was named Jacques, his second son (my father) was named Jean-Jacques, and the youngest was Pierre (Peter). My aunt, I have forgotten the name, she died when about grown but she never married.
My paternal grand father seems to have been a man of some importance in his village having been (Maire) Mayor and justice of the peace also Elder (Ancien) in the church (Protestant) about all his life time. He was generally called le maire (Mayor). He was a well to do farmer and from what my father got from home he must have been worth at least $15,000 American money. His sons all married and raised good sized families except Pierre who had but one daughter (Julie). The Mother was from French Switzerland. They did not live happily together, so they separated. He went to Nice and never returned. My oldest Uncle Jacques and my father were farmers, but Pierre had a college education and had been educated for a mercantile life. After my father and uncle married, they formed a partnership to wholesale and retail wine. They met with losses and this was the cause of much ill feelings between them. This caused much worriment for my Mother and indirectly was the cause of our removing to the United States. My father Jean-Jacques Mathiot was born on St. George day April 24, 1804 at the old homestead at Autechaux in France. His childhood was spent in working on the farms and going to school. Besides attending the common school, he went to a Grammar school. He had no aptitude for figures, but his knowledge of reading and writing was good. He was a great reader and a fair public speaker. He wrote once a song entitled Pour Vivre Sans Chagrin that was fairly good.
Mother: On the 28th day of November 1827 my father was married to Miss Catherine Vergon of Abbévillers in the same County. My mother was an only child. Her father was Frederic Vergon, and her mother had been a Catherine Brunet, when she married my grandfather. She was born March 6, 1782 and came to Ohio in 1847 where she died in 1850, April 29 and is buried in the Druhet graveyard near the road leading from Sardinie Brown Co. to Mowrytown Highland Co. She has a good marble slab with proper inscription over her grave as follows:
Born in France
March 6, 1782
Aged 68 years.
After my father married, he left his Village and went to live with my Mother’s people at Abbévillers. My Mother’s father was nearly blind. He died shortly after this, aged about 57 years, and it was a stunning blow to my mother who idolized him. I have often heard her say that a better father never lived. My Mother, by the death of her father, came in possession of a good estate of about 30 acres of land worth at the least 30,000 francs ($6000.00). Thus my father and mother started in life well provided for.
On the 6th of December 1828 their first child a daughter was born. She was named Eugénie. They were at this time comparatively happy being prosperous farmers with plenty around them.
On the 26th day of December 1833 a second child, a son, was born. They named him Adolphe Aurelle.
On the 6th of January 1837 Edouard Silas another son was born.
About this time my father formed a partnership with his two brothers to wholesale and retail wine. His youngest brother, Pierre, having by this time completed his college education. Now I must say that this business venture proved disastrous and was the source of much trouble especially to my Mother.
The first thing they did was to have a fine house built in which to do business. This cost them much more than had at first been thought – so much so that the house was ever after called “Le Château” that is the castle and I was told not very long ago that it is still there 1891 and used as a customs house by the government. The partnership as is usual with brothers was a very loose affair. My Mother used to say that any one of the partners or their wives could go to the till and do as they liked. My father went about the country with a six horse team to purchase wine while my uncle Pierre kept the books. At any rate, the venture soon came to grief. My father paid up all he could and my Mother made up the balance.
Naturally my father was much disgusted as he was a very proud man, and moreover a failure in those old countries is a much more serious matter than it is in this Country, so he very soon decided that he would seek his fortune in some other countries.
Algeria, then a new French Colony, was a popular place to go so he betook himself there in the spring of 1838.
This being perhaps the first venture of this kind undertaken by any of our people for generations; he went alone and remained away until July 15 of the same year. During his absence every thing at home including the unsettled wine business, was left with my Mother, then a young woman 27 years old with three little children, and the care of the farm. It was simply amazing to hear her tell of all her troubles, while out in the hay fields looking after a gang of men working from sun up to sun down. She was often importuned by the Sheriff’s Summons to appear before the Court at Montbéliard, a distance of two leagues (6 miles), and this she often traveled on foot after working hours. She was importuned by hungry creditors who tried to collect from her what was due them by my uncles. She finally paid all that was justly due by the firm.
After father’s return from Algeria, having acquired enlarged views of the world, he was no longer satisfied with his old surroundings. He also felt mortified in his lack of success in his business ventures so he decided on further travels.
AMERICA: This time he left France for the U.S. of America. He left in March 1839. He went as far west as Ohio where he remained, I think, all summer. Mother sending him money to come home.
Pierre Emile: During his absence another son was added to the family, Pierre Emile, the same who 51 years later is writing this, was born May 16, 1839 at 6 A.M.
Father returned in November of the same year, none too well pleased with the new baby. I have been told that in disgust he spent the first night, after his return, at a neighboring tavern, but he soon found out I had come to stay and could not be bluffed that way, so he submitted without any more fussing.
Father had a violent temper and was exceedingly hard to please. After father’s return he was more dissatisfied than ever, so it soon became evident he had decided on removing his family to the U.S. His return created a great stir among his old acquaintances who flocked around him to hear the news.
Sale: A sale was made of all the possessed (their inheritances for perhaps hundreds of generations) and having settled to the last farthing all they owed, and having bidden farewell to all whom they held dear, they left their native village forever.
Now let us contemplate for a moment, here is a strong and vigorous young man 38 years old and a timid young woman, 31 years of age, leaving her Mother, and all her youthful associates behind. They have four young children and what a risk they take. They leave a good old home where all is familiar for the uncertainties of another nearly four thousand miles off in a new country of which they know but little, and of whole language they know not one word. They leave all, kind friends, and Native land.
But the time has come, a last embrace, a final farewell, the stage driver cracks his whip and now all (but one who had never been further than six miles from home) are bound for the new world.
They went 400 miles (from Montbéliard to Le Havre) en diligence (stage coach) stopping at Paris a few days on the way where brother Edouard knocked a fancy Pendule Clock off of a mantel piece, for which 40 francs had to be paid.
At Havre de Gruie they took passage on the good ship La Duchesse d’Orléan (there were no steamers then) for New York. Those vessels carried but few cabin passengers, but all were huddled together like cattle in the hold. On this ship were about six hundred passengers mostly German. The passengers had to provide for their wants including beds and do their own cooking.
The ship set sail. The Dear coastline of dear old France faded from view perhaps forever! The passage was accomplished in thirty days.
Landing in America: We landed in America at New York about March 1842. From here the course of travel to the West was up the Hudson to Albany, from Albany by Canal to Buffalo, from here to Cleveland and from here we went to Massillon, Ohio by Canal. From there we went to Mount Eaton, 12 miles distant, where there was a family named Geo. Mathiot, who were from my Father’s village. Here the family took a rest while father went on farther West to a new French settlement situated in the Southern part of Highland County, Ohio on the Bell Run between Mowrytown and Sardinia. This settlement consisted of about fifty families mostly French Huguenots from our part of France, but none related to us. Besides these, there was a mixture of Americans and Germans.
My father here bought a very nice farm of 175 acres of good land, 100 acres in cultivation, including a large orchard of apples and peaches, and a good two story 7 room hard finished brick house. Father then came back to fetch us. This was in March 1842 and right here from this time my memory dates.
From Mt. Eaton to Mowrytown we went by wagon. We arrived on the farm just about the time I was three years old. Here then in the woods of Ohio was the place where we were to spend our earliest and happiest childhood, and a more delightful place for children could not be found. Plenty of park like woods, running water, good fishing, an abundance of wild fruits and nuts, also good hunting. I look back to all this now as having been a sort of earthly paradise.
We were not permitted to take immediate possession of our farm so we put up temporarily with our neighbor, old Daniel Quelee, an old French soldier who had been with Napoleon in most of his campaigns. Here I commenced to play. They had a grandchild named Henri Milain with whom I had some nice times. He is my friend yet (1891).
Moved on the Farm: Sometime in June of this year we moved on the farm. We were at last at home with all sorts of happy prospects and surroundings, and if my father had had a disposition to ever be satisfied, he could have been happy.
On the 28th of March 1844 another little sister came to us Une Petite Américaine. She was named Céphalie. It had long been my Mother’s desire that her Mother (yet in France) would come and live with us, but Grandmother who did not like my father, had always refused to come. Finally seeing she was growing old, she wrote expressing a desire to come. So Sister Eugénie was permitted to go and fetch her. She went with a light heart, having a great desire to revisit her native land. It was also thought by our folks it would afford her an opportunity to complete her religious education. This must have been quite an event in her life time and was really the event of her life. She had to go up the Ohio to Pittsburgh and by stage and railroad as best she could overland to New York.
She arrived in good time in France and she was not long in preparing herself to be received in the Church. In order to do this she had to memorize a long catechism which was about as much of a task as to learn a good sized Opera, but she had a good memory. She was confirmed in the Church with a number of her former playmates, all draped in white.
After a visit of several months, she started back on her return journey bringing Grandmother and also Old Mr. And Mrs. Bichenot who were later on to be her Father and Mother in-laws.
Meanwhile, while these things were taking place, another sister came to live with us. She was born December of 1847. After sister Eugénie came home, a goodly number of the Bichenot family came to live with us, so we were usually about 20 at meal times. These were happy times. It is true that at times father would try to extend our ears perhaps owing to our neglect of duties, owing to too much time spent in fishing or in our fooling too much with the old shotgun, but for all this we had many happy moments. If we could not play in the day time, we played at nights. Fish bite as well at night as in day time.
The three boys had to work with the men in the fields all day long, help to clear land, in fact be at work continually. Father built a two story brick house. I had to mix the mortar and carry all the bricks when I was only 10 years old. That is the hardest job I ever had.
Father was always building something, barns, houses, fencing the farm with oak rails. In winter we had to haul logs to the sawmill so take it all in all we had but little time to go to school. This father partly made good by teaching us in French up to ten o’clock at night, but he was so severe that we labored under fear to such an extent that we learned but little, especially as he used a copy of the New Testament for a primer.
We looked upon education not as anything needful but as a means of punishment. That little schooling I had in the public school while in Ohio did not amount to much as I understood but little English and we usually attended school only in the forenoon. I could not converse in English until I was 16 years old. While going to school I formed an attachment of friendship with a boy of my age named Pierre Rosselot and after over 40 years we are greater friends than ever. About this time our Maternal Grandmother died. She was the first person I had ever seen to die. She was sick about one week. She was a cool headed self reliant old lady. She gave me many good advices and although I did not agree with her then, I do now.
When she came from France, she brought some $1500 with her. The management of this money was a source of much trouble to her, but all in all her last years were happy. She had an old prayer book called La Nourriture de l'Ame in which she had a prayer for every day in the year. She died in 1850. She is buried in the Druhots graveyard half way between Sardinia and Mowrytown about on the County line of Highland and Brown County, Ohio and here is the inscription on a plain marble slap facing West.
Ann Catharine wife of
Born in France
May 6, 1782
April 29, 1850
Aged 68 years
This was the first death in our family in America, and was the first dead person I had seen. Grandmother had a good supply of good sound sense. The older I get, the more I find it out, and she was wholly destitute of fear. I will mention only one case to show this. During the invasion of France in 1814, a lot of Austrians were quartered at my Grandmother’s. These soldiers found out that at some of the houses in the same village they gave wine at meals. They reported this to Grandmother and told her she too would have to furnish them wine. This she absolutely refused to do. The took her by force down to the cellar door and told her if she refused to give them wine, they would run her through with their swords, at the same time the one addressing her drew his sword and threatened her with the point of his sword at her breast. She coolly told him he was a hog, that he might kill her, but she would give no wine and she didn’t. They did not molest her, but they got along without wine.
1850 Census: White Oak Twp, Highland Co., Ohio
So he began to read books of travels, especially about Oregon, and the more he learned about the Country, the more he took it to be the promised land. I recollect that in the spring of 1852 while we were boiling maple sugar water, he one day came to see us (as sugar making was done in the forest).
It had been a late cold spring and most of our fruit trees had been frozen out. As he stood by the fire he said: “Children, I think we can find a better country than this.” Now we boys thought that to move to Oregon would be a good thing for several reasons. In the first place, we would not need to work while on the way. We would see new country and we firmly believed that after we got there, all we would do would be to fish and hunt, and that more than likely the birds were already roasted ready to eat on the bushes. We never thought of the other side of the picture.
Mother was very much opposed to moving for several good reasons. After ten years of hardship and privation, they were now ready to enjoy the fruits of their labors. They were even during that summer to have a family carriage made, something unusual for those times. Another reason was that our Sister Eugenie was about to be married and it was not known if her prospective husband could be prevailed upon to come with us as his people were all settled there. If he would not come, it would put Mother in a predicament as she idolized Eugénie. She was her favorite child, they were like two sisters or lovers together and could not have been made to part, but evidently Mother must have been born under some adverse Star as it was her lot all through to pine and fret about something all the time, and I can’t imagine that any one shed more tears than she did.
While things were pending, Eugénie was married. It was a lovely day on June 15, 1852 [sic](Sunday) to Louis Bichenot. This match had been brought about mostly by Mother, and although Louis was a moral and industrious and good looking man, yet it was not a very brilliant match, and no doubt Eugénie had been prevailed upon to give up much better prospects. Eugénie had loved another, and she had been loved in return by a young man that was in all respects worthy of her, but Mother was opposed to all matches until the time came that Eugénie got along in that time of life when a woman must marry then or never and she married Louis so as to be married.
Louis was poor but had a good trade, being a carriage maker, and would have got along well if he kept his health. Father was opposed to all such foolishness as weddings. He did not like Louis any too well. The day of the wedding, I see him yet, he was sitting on the porch reading when all was ready. Miss Sophie Quelet, the bridesmaid went to him and said: “Père Mathiot! Le moment solennel est arrivé”. He only gave a grunt. He could have seen the performance through the opened door, but he did not do so.
So one of the family had got married. Shortly after this Eugenie and husband removed to Feesburgh Brown Co. where he engaged in the manufacture of wagons and buggies.
Just before this event took place, another little sister was brought to us. That was on the 7th day of March 1852, Angeline now (1893) Mrs. John Labbe, was born.
Soon after Angeline was born, my Father perhaps through disgust and partly because the climate did not suit him, decided to take a trip somewhere in search of a new el dorado. He left and no one knew where he had gone. He stayed away as long as his means lasted which was several months, so Mother had many a cry over it thinking that perhaps she had been abandoned, which, all things considered, might have been a good thing. At any rate when little Angeline was baptized by Emile Grand Girrard, there was almost a Scene.
Father came home all right and he was very good to us for a while, and Angeline proved to be the last child born to him, and I am sure I never heard him repining because he had not had more. The family was complete with seven children. My father in his last adventure had been at New Orleans. He came home more disgusted with our old fashioned farm than ever, so it was decided that we would move to the Pacific Coast, then an almost unknown land full of Indians and also said to have been infested with wild beasts.
Eugénie and Louis were to accompany us. This quieted Mother and now all was made ready for the great move. We had the farm with all our other belongings to dispose of before we could leave, but in due time all was sold. Of course many things were sacrificed including that farm that sold for not more than the value of the improvements. Our resources then reduced to money were about $3500 or not over $4000.00. This was about the same amount that had been brought from France ten years previous. This was the old balance left to us from our ancestry before it was to be increased, it was to be fearfully diminished, but the time had come to go farther West. We had already come 4000 miles; we were to go 3000 miles more.
We left Ohio in October 1852. Our first move was from the good old farm where we had lived ten years to Feesburg in Brown Co. where Louis and Eugénie were living. We stopped with them for a week or so until he had his business settled. The distance to Feesburg was about 20 miles. From here we went by wagon to Higginsport on the Ohio River where we boarded the Steamboat for Cincinnati some 40 miles below.
This was great times for us boys who had never seen much of the world. I thought then that a steam boat was a great thing. So the long expected moment for our departure was at hand. Father was then 48 and Mother 41 years old. I was 13, so we were all good material to go to a new country.
We arrived at Cincinnati late in the evening and immediately took passage on the Steamer Wm. Noble for New Orleans. This was a large Steamer with the best of appointments. We had all the comforts of a first class hotel. This was the nicest piece of living we children had ever had besides the pleasure of traveling on a beautiful river. Besides our family several friends came with us as far as New Orleans including Frederick Bichenot, a brother of Louis. It took us 14 days to reach New Orleans and the cost was $16.00 each.
We arrived in New Orleans just in time to be too late for the steamers to Nicaragua which had sailed a few days previous, and since there were but two steamers per month, we had to wait nearly two weeks for the next one. All this was fun for us boys as we had plenty of time to see the sights about town including a slave market where Negroes were sold like so many cattle.
Our folks moved our baggage into a house belonging to a friend of our parents, named Frederic Mercier, who had been a school mate of Mother’s. Here we had the use of our beds and we boarded at different hotels. Board was very cheap.
Meanwhile Cholera was in the City, but we did not know it at the time. Finally our steamer arrived; it was the Daniel Webster. Father procured our tickets which came to $160.00 each to San Francisco. This was in the steerage. The first cabin passage was $400. Some of the smallest children went at half fare.
We left New Orleans on Christmas Day 1852. It was in the night. The next morning we were at the mouth of the river 100 miles below the City. We children were much elated at the prospect of seeing the Gulf, and when we found ourselves rolling over the billows, we thought nothing could be nicer except it would be still higher billows. Well we got them. Father had been telling us we would soon have enough of it, and so we did. It did not take long to put us in the notion to feed the whales with our breakfasts.
Adolphe in running to “wook over” the sides of the ship had his fine fur cap blown into the sea. We soon betook ourselves to our bunks and for the first time I found out what it is to suffer. To be sea sick means to be as miserable as one can be.
We made the passage in six days, but we perhaps came near being wrecked and perhaps we boys were the means of saving the ship. As we were looking over the side into the sea, we could distinctly see the rocks at the bottom. We called others to come and see the rocks. The Captain, who was up in the mast, noticed this. He stopped the steamer and changed its course and we were once more out of the jaws of death.
On the sixth day we got sight of land. It looked like a distant cloud, but the Captain told us to be of good cheer – that land was in sight. We were as glad to see the land, as we had been to see the sea.
We arrived of a beautiful morning a place called San Juan del Norte at the mouth of the river Nicaragua. Here we were transferred from the Ocean Steamer to a river boat that ran on the river. After the transfer of baggage was made, we started up the river. While on the Ocean Steamer, we had our board furnished and Father had understood that we would be furnished board throughout the trip, but on reaching Nicaragua, we found out that each had to look out for oneself. Few things were to be had and provisions were at fabulous prices, such as we had never heard of before. In good old Ohio where we had seen eggs at ½ cent per dozen and striped pork at one cent per pound, we could not see how any one could stand to pay $1.00 per meal. Louis had a lot of Sardines which he divided around. This together with some rice soup we bought of the cook kept us in good spirits.
We were a couple of days going up the river and across Lake Nicaragua when we landed at a village called Virgin Bay. Here we had still ten miles to reach the Ocean, and this had to be gone over on mule backs. We stopped over night at Virgin Bay. The village had a Mayor and was a military post. One of our men knocked the Mayor down and that brought on a row that came near causing blood to flow, but finally a compromise was made by which our guilty passenger was locked up over night and allowed to go next morning.
Mules were furnished us free of charge. Father, who was not much of a rider, had requested a safe animal, but he was given a vicious beast that after he got fairly seated, he looked about and “Children are we ready?”. Just then the mule gave a kick and poor Father landed in the ditch by the road side. He was not hurt much. Another mule was procured and we all started. It was quite a sight to see about one thousand people (many of them women and children) riding these wicked mules and some asses, some so small that the men’s feet touched the ground.
As we had to pay 20 cents per pound for all of our surplus baggage, father made special arrangements with two natives to carry a couple of bales of our bedding, sardines and other luxuries. These fellows were urged to hurry up to which they replied: “Go ahead, we will soon be with you”, but they never came.
We arrived in San Juan Del Sur in the afternoon where Father procured us a square meal. The next day we went aboard the Steamer Pacific and left for San Francisco where we arrived about January 15, 1853 after having touched at Acapulco on the Mexican Coast.
San Francisco: On arriving at San Francisco, Father soon found out that like at New Orleans, the Steamer had left for Oregon some days before. As the steamer made but two trips per month and that meanwhile it cost $16.00 per day for board, it was rather a serious matter, but we had to put up with it. It is really astonishing that Father did not stay in San Francisco, as that was during the best days of the gold excitement. From the offers that were made to him, I think we could have made over $500 per month for the family while waiting for the steamer. Louis then fell sick with a splitting headache. I had also symptoms of a fever, but we got on the first steamer called the Columbia going North.
On the way up, Louis was very sick and disheartened, but we finally landed in Portland on a little wharf not far from the foot of B (afterwards called Burnside) Street. We put up at the Willamette House not far from there. We furnished our own bedding.
It is a wonder to me how Mother had managed to keep her little baby alive all this time as from the time we left New Orleans until we reached San Francisco, she had hardly seen a well day, she being seasick about all the time. At the same time there was absolutely nothing for an infant fit to eat.
When we left Ohio in October, Angeline was 7 months old and creeping lively, but when arrived here, she was as limber as a rag. Owing to Louis’ increasing sickness, having the brain fever, he could not endure the noise at the Hotel, so Father rented a one-roomed house near to what is now Yamhill and Second Street on the southwest corner of the street being the N. E. Corner of the block. At present it is occupied by a brick house rented by Chinese. It was then the extreme western portion of the town. We had logs all around the house and no fence. We carried water from the river for our use.
Death of Louis B.: The day we moved, Louis was just able to ride on the wagon, but at every jolt, he would grunt. He suffered all this time with intense pains in the head, at times he would cry aloud; so intense was his pain that he soon fell into a delirium. We had plenty of medical assistance but it did no good. We had a doctor living with us at the time but a few days after we moved, poor Louis died. Mother and I were sick in the next bed to his and I saw him breathe his last.
Now anyone can imagine what fearful blow this must have been to our Sister here in a wild, new country and about to become a Mother with no resources but to fall back upon her parents, who were sorely pressed with a large family of children. Mother was nearly as much broken up as was Eugénie and she was sick in bed. This then was that great dream of my Father of the new promised land.
Some young men came in and shaved Louis and helped to lay him out. The Methodist preacher from where Taylor Street now is, came and made a few remarks and then Louis was carried by six young men to the grave. The graveyard at that time was about Second or Third and Ash Streets in the woods, but I recollect that I could see the men at the grave from our place, there being no houses in the way. We were all much depressed by this unlooked for calamity except Father, who if he ever felt gloomy had the good sense to keep it to himself. He told us to cheer up, that he was going up the Country and would make arrangements to get a place for us to move upon. He struck out on foot and we did not see him for several days, so Mother as usual thought that he was lost, but he finally came back much cheered up saying that he had found a good country.
Accident on the River: About this time all of we three boys came near drowning in the river, as we could not swim. We had procured an Indian canoe from some Indians at the lower end of town and as they would not trust us with their oars, we used clapboards instead. While rowing hard, Adolphe standing up, broke his paddle. This pitched him head foremost in the river and at the same time the canoe almost upset and filled with water. Adolphe struggled hard while Ed and I yelled for help as hard as we could. Meanwhile I was pulling as hard as I could, but made little headway as we knew nothing about guiding a boat. Adolphe soon began to sink. We were so frightened, we were fairly paralyzed. We well could be as here about the foot of D (Davis) Street, the river was about 50 feet deep. We kept getting nearer to him, but he was now out of sight. Finally the bow of our boat rested over where the water was boiling. Ed put his arm down as far as he could and caught the flapper of Adolphe’s coat, and pulled him up. Just at this time the boat from a steamer had also arrived. They took him aboard and put him ashore. You may imagine what a scare this was for Mother. I am sure if we had all been drowned, she would have gone insane. There never was since the beginning of the world a Mother so much wrapped up in her children as was our Mother. She lived only for them and all she did was for them. Her children and her God were all of life to her.
Preparations were now made for removing up to Butteville in Marion County, about 31 miles distance by the river. After we got aboard the little Steamer Multnomah, I recollect that poor Eugenie broke out weeping. She said: “Well we are on the go again, but we are one less.” True enough, one of our number had dropped out by the way and we left without him.
It took about one day to reach Oregon City, as they had to pull the boat over the Rapids with ropes. We stopped overnight at Canemah. The next day we reached Butteville on the little iron hulled propeller Washington. It was so small that the Captain was careful about placing us so we kept the boat balanced.
Upon arriving at Butteville, we were fairly at our journey's end. We were in Oregon, were fairly well received by the people as immigrants, were welcomed and all the more so if they had money. We removed at once to the farm Father had leased which was one mile south on the Salem road and was owned by a French Canadian named François Havier Matthieu. His wife was half Indian and half French Canadian. She spoke to her family in the Chinook tongue, while he spoke to her in French, but she could talk French to strangers and proved to be some company to Mother and a true friend. A friendship was formed between them that was not interrupted as long as Mother lived and she was the only stranger at Mother's bedside when she died. Mrs. F. H. Matthieu is one of the best women I have known.
Scarcity of Provisions: Now we were in Oregon, it did not take long to see that the new land of promise was not all milk and honey, say nothing about figs and grapes. We would have been only too glad if it had produced a few more potatoes and hogs. Owing to the fact that almost every able bodied man had gone to California gold mines, food stuff was hard to procure even with money. Flour was $40 per barrel and lard, bacon, butter and about everything was a dollar, but little was to be had so we were compelled to gradually shrink our stomachs to conform to the size of our rations. Moreover we could not procure immediate possession of the house so we lived in the woodshed. It finally came spring weather (about March 1, 1853) and we lost no time to bestir ourselves. We prepared to plant a large garden. Onions then being about $25.00 per bushel, we thought we could easily make a fortune. This however proved to be mostly wind, but we took fifteen cows from a neighbor to milk on shares. We also bought one Spanish cow for $100.00 and two yokes of oxen for $450.00.
Birth of Louise: About this time our Sister Eugénie gave birth to a daughter. This happened on the 7th day of April 1853 and 11 P.M. The child was named Louise after her Father. Our sister hardly ever fairly recovered after her confinement. She was melancholy and irritable, in fact a broken hearted young woman who had once been exceedingly ambitious.
She had much trouble with her little babe as her breasts gave her much trouble and may have been the cause of her death. Her breasts becoming worse, Dr. Wm. Bailey, a noted physician, came and lanced them. This gave her some relief, but he told us that it was a dangerous case. Still she got some better and was well enough about June 1 to go out on the prairie after strawberries. But we could see that she was no longer the person she had been. She felt that her life had been a failure and she would tell us that as soon as she could make a little money she would go back to France, saying she could be happy no where else.
Sickness and Death of Eugénie: Meanwhile Mother was continually in dread that something bad might happen, but Eugénie having always been a remarkably strong girl, the idea of danger never came near us. When a person is low spirited, they are not in a position to resist disease. We soon found out that her strength was not equal to her burden, and poor Mother could see only too well that not only her favorite child, but her constant friend and best companion in this wild country among strangers was about to go from her and it is really pitiful to think of it.
I have known her to lie down on the floor and moan all night, and she was not then a childish old woman, but a bright woman in her prime. Our neighbor was an Episcopal Clergyman who came several times to offer prayers and such consolations as he could, but it seemed to do no good. The natural feelings of a Mother for her offspring are far above all other feelings, including religion and all, and more especially for a woman who is not a philosopher.
During all this time we had the best of medical assistance. One day father came to us on the prairie where we were plowing and he said: “Boys, you had better unhitch and come home as I think your sister is about to leave us”. It must have been serious indeed when father said to unhitch.
It was a sad scene indeed to stand around the death bed of our poor sister with Mother almost crazy with grief. A few minutes before Eugénie died, she was asked if she knew us. She nodded her head to say yes, when she commenced to froth at the mouth and presently without the least movement she fell quietly to sleep. She was dead.
This was the first death in our immediate family, and although we were very wild boys, this made a lasting impression upon us, as we all had a great affection for one another. This very sad scene took place on a beautiful day, June 14, 1853. When Eugénie got married, on June 15, 1852, as her husband’s brother had died young, she said laughing: “In one year from now I may be a widow”. She was a dead widow.
Mother was so completely broken down and disabled that we had great fear for her life. We all felt as children. Of what great importance she was to us with two helpless babes and with a father who seldom had a kind word for us. If Mother should die now, the family would be completely broken up. Mother knew as well as any of us how much she was needed and I think this alone kept her from giving away entirely to despair. If she had had any hand in shaping the destiny of Eugénie, and if she had in any way made a mistake, she surely received ample punishment.
Burial of Eugénie: We buried Eugénie in the graveyard above Champoeg and she was, I think, the first one buried there. She has a marble slab over her grave. She has now (1890) by her side the babe born in sorrow who herself died leaving an infant after her to be raised by her grand parents. For years after this gloomy event we could not get Mother to smile and she made a vow to never sing again which I think she kept faithfully.
If Mother had been a fashionable woman with a doctor at the house for every ailment, it is not likely she could have raised little Louise, but being a plain woman and knowing nothing about drugs, the baby grew to be a large woman and married in due time and if she died young, it was not for any fault of raising.
While we were preparing to raise a crop in the next year, father was looking about to see what he could find in the way of land for this purpose. He went South afoot as far as the Umpqua River. He was gone so long, Mother as usual thought he was lost, but he came back in good time. He made still another trip in company with Adolph, and on this trip they bought a farm, but since they had paid no money, they never came in possession. All the better Government land had been taken up and although there was much public land, yet it was hard to find, as the original settlers claimed the whole country around them and since the surveys were not completed, it was hard to find where the land was.
Purchase of the home: There was a little piece of land (132 acres) adjoining Butteville on the Willamette, which was still open for settlement, but it had a squatter upon it, so father bought him out for about $300.00 and he entered the land in his own name. The place was entirely covered with brush and heavy timber and although the land was suitable for fruits, it required a vast amount of labor to clear it.
We remained on the Matthieu place during 1853, 1854, and 1855 up to about September of that year. We had raised during this time about 2000 bushels of wheat and other stuff and were beginning to take a start in the world.
When father bought the “Butte”, as the place he had purchased was called, it had a little one story house on the bank of the River. This we tore down and moved over on the East side on the Champoeg road and with a lot of split cedar wood that split into lumber, we made us a very comfortable one room house with a kitchen attached, and in a pinch a lot of us children could be stored under the rafters.
These were pretty hard times as having no more plow land, we could raise nothing. Father thought that it was not such a bad idea to starve to death as long as we were clearing the place. He was inclined to lay plans for far off in the future, but still something had to be done to keep the pot a boiling more or less as Fir leaves straight don’t make good greens.
First Carpenter Work: As good luck would have it, father and brother Adolphe had had some little experience while in Ohio in rough carpentering and in those early days in Oregon if a man did not know much about the trade, they called him a “Log-house Joiner”, but they paid him all the same. We hewed out the timber for a barn for F. X. Matthieu and did some other carpenter work that helped to keep the wolf from the door and that was about all.
Little by little we kept on learning the trade so in the summer of 1857 we actually took the job to build a barn. We were to get the bulk of our pay in Spanish cows and since they were worth $50.00 apiece, it did not take many. Father acted as architect and foreman and we three boys did most of the work. We finally raised the barn, and with the exception of a few tenons that insisted on pointing N.E. while our building stood square with the world. After a stubborn resistance by some of the timber that had no fear of the maul, we got the building far enough along to collect our pay and drive our cows home.
Singing School: During this summer an event of some importance took place and that was the starting of a singing school in the neighborhood. This was a Godsend to us boys as we were passionately fond of music. The year before this, the Aurora Band had arrived in the country and all this had a tendency to raise the gloom that had before that settled over us. As good luck would have it, the singing school was to be on Sunday as of course we had no other time to spare. There not being enough scholars around Butteville, it was decided to put two schools in one and meet alternately at Butteville and in the “Whitney” settlement four miles apart. Having only cows of course we had to walk. Our teacher was one Geo. Jackson an old fashioned man who used such high-toned technical terms that I have had reason since to think he hardly understood them himself. Still he was rather an able teacher but he managed to keep so far ahead of his class that the class lost sight of him almost. But at any rate we learned the first rudiments of music from this man which has been the cause of a vast amount of pleasure all through life. Had we had the advantage of good teachers, in time I believe we would have developed in that line, as the music was in us. And even as it is Adolphe has composed very fair music.
Schooling: In these early days of our existence (and that was all it was) in Oregon, our education was greatly neglected; in fact we had not any at all. We finally about this time attended a three months school at Butteville. We had a fairly good teacher named Owen Wade who afterward became Register of the land office at Oregon City. We were very backwards in all our studies. Our spelling was very poor and we could barely read English, but still we were learning something all the time as we were all great readers.
About this time, in the Fall of 1857, a little circumstance took place that made some change in the family management. We had built a house for a farmer and after the house was completed, while my father was absent, Brother Adolphe did a little extra work for which he received $5.00, and this, considering that he was by this time 24 years old, he thought he was entitled to keep, especially since he had never received one cent from home. He also wished to attend a party to be given at Butteville.
Adolphe leaves: By some means father got wind of the $5.00 and that put him in a towering rage – So he addressed to poor Adolphe a little speech something like this:
“I notice that you wish to do business on your own account, and perhaps you are tired of home and considering that you are of age and that really you can’t do much good here, I now advise you to leave here. There are a few dollars yet coming to you at old man Gear’s. You better take that and go.”
I suppose that father after this little comedy thought himself a much injured man, yet Adolphe, ever since he was big enough to walk, had always been the wheel horse and the heaviest blows had always fallen on him. The lash had been applied on him before it was blunted.
This was a sort of black Friday for us all as Adolphe had always been the lead horse in all our deviltry, but to poor Mother it was simply crushing. Father in his wrath had intimated that Adolphe had better keep away from home. Father at times was really cruel, and it seems that he delighted in tormenting our poor Mother.
First Job: Well Adolphe struck out. He first worked a while at Milwaukie, made a few dollars, then went to work at the carpenter trade in Portland, working for one McDonald. Brother had the promise of good wages and like all green country boys just from home, he thought there was not such another fellow as his boss – So he loaned him $50 and this together with two months wages was never paid back to him. So poor Adolphe had on a feeling of the deepest shade of blue. McDonald notified him if he did not leave town in short order, he would have him put in the penitentiary for slandering his character.
Poor Adolphe found that he had worked hard all winter all for nothing. It was not the first time nor the last. He went to work again and as soon as he could scrape a few dollars together, he thought he would run the risk to come home again and see us. No one in the family up to now had ever been away for so long a time, so he had perhaps a better welcome home than he had expected, and no doubt felt better on account of this.
Peter joins Adolphe: Even father was willing to admit Adolphe had not lost everything as he had actually learned many things about the trade. Now he was rated as a No. 1 carpenter and he had no trouble to get good jobs even more than he could do. It was now decided that I had better go with him. We started in the early Spring hewing out timbers for a house. As we were working a nice little point came up and it was this. Since Adolphe had never been received back at home as one of the flock, the question was, “should his earnings go in the general fund?”
Since I was working with him, we had a suspicion that when my Father came to collect my wages, he might also take some of Adolphe’s. This gave us not a little uneasiness because by this time Adolphe was past twenty-five.
Father goes to California: Well it so happened that Father did not collect, but he got it all the same! We then took contracts and made about $700 on these along in the Fall of 1858.
Father decided to go to California after some grape vines to set out on the hill. Father being a little short of cash, poor Adolphe was once more made to contribute to the extent of his means for the vineyard fund. Father went to California and bought about $600.00 worth of grapevines which we set out and they did well. The next year we started out with renewed energy thinking that perhaps before long we could do something for ourselves. So during the year we worked hard working as long as we could see and we made about $1500 but father thought we had not grapevines enough and since another draw was about to be made on poor Adolphe, my father flattered his amour Propre enough to intimate that he (Adolphe) might go this time. Adolphe has always been a great lover to travels so he willingly consented to go even if had to pay for it. So he went and purchased a big lot of grape vines amounting to perhaps $800 but this was the last draw. After this it was understood that Bro. Ed and father would work the place and Adolphe and myself were to shift for ourselves.
From this period on, Adolphe acted jointly in all our undertakings so I shall write now more particularly about ourselves.
1860-1861: During 1860-1861 we worked at housebuilding mostly among farmers in Marion County and although times had become hard, we continually made money because we spent nothing. I say times were hard. Most farmers had engaged in raising apples and they had gradually declined from $16 per bushel here or 40 cents a pound in San Francisco down to $1.00 per box. So every one was praying for something to turn up.
During the season of 1861 gold had been found at Orofino, in Idaho, and brother Edward owing to some misunderstanding he had with father, concluded to go to the mines. He left in the Spring and it was understood that if the mines proved good, we were to go and meet him. His going, as usual, gave poor Mother many a sleepless night as the country from The Dalles to the mines was a complete desert, hardly a house from The Dalles to Walla Walla, and from there on it was an Indian country, so we were all sorry to see poor Ed, whose health was none too good, go. He had never been away from home. He was then 24 years old. He did not write very favorably so we took more contracts and built more houses. But during the Fall of that year a tremendous excitement was raised about some fabulously rich mines found on the Salmon River, above where Lewiston is now situated in Idaho. The reports came that men were taking out over $1000 per day to the man. At the same time reports came that gold had been found in paying quantity on Powder River in Oregon.
Adolphe and Peter go: So all was excitement and we made ready to go. We procured five horses and other things needed during the winter. The great flood in the Willamette took place so it cost us dear to winter our horses. Father was again disgusted with everything and thought we were too slow. He struck out afoot with a few dollars only. He got stranded at The Dalles but nothing could stop him. He worked a while on the R.R. then building from The Dalles to Celilo. He then found two old chums of his from France and all three with one horse struck out for Powder River.
Adolphe and I left here on April 10, 1862. There was such a rush to go that we had to wait several days before we could procure passage on the boat to The Dalles. This was a new business for us for we had never slept on the ground before; we also had to learn to cook. Our bread for a good while was about as close grained as soap.
First Camp: We made a dry camp about five miles beyond the John Day River. The next day we were stunned to find all our horses gone. They were all tied with ½” rope but these had been either cut or broken. This was a severe blow to us as we had all our traps on the open prairie and no way to move them.
We looked for the horses far and wide but could find no trace of them. Near evening Adolphe went back to the John Day ferry to make arrangements to store our goods and judge of my surprise when I saw him bringing the five horses with him. He had found them at the ferry landing. After this we made it a point to always to camp near a watercourse. We started at dusk and traveled all night. I was so tired and sleepy that I slept on horseback several times. We arrived at Willow Creek about midnight. Next week we camped on Butter Creek. From there we went to the Umatilla which we did not cross but went up Birch Creek and we followed this Creek until we got at the foot of the mountain. Here we found a large number of men camped awaiting the thawing of the snow to cross over. We heard of three men with one horse having been there a few days before which we suspicioned having been my father and so it was but they had gone back to cross the mountain by the old line grant road.
Through Grande Ronde Valley: We had to remain in camp here several days. Finally the word came that the road was passable. It took us three days to cross over to the Grande Ronde River. This was the worst piece of road we had ever seen. A good part of the way the snow was six feet deep, but the trail had become worn down so the back of our horses were just on a level with the snow and in places the water was dammed up so as to almost float our horses. It took a long time to cross the River. The next day we reached the Grande Ronde Valley just where the town of Old Grande Ronde now is. There was only one old dilapidated house there then. Here at this place we found the first large number of miners returning from the mines and the report of the mines was anything but cheering.
The next day we camped some miles beyond LaGrande. We had met so many returning miners all saying the mines were no good that we thought of returning also but we remained in camp a few days when we again continued our journey. Here I would say that at times the least thing can change the destiny of a person for as we had traveled a few miles we finally concluded we would go no further.
While we were deliberating the course we would take, a man on foot came along and of course we spoke to him. He said he had been in the mines and he thought they were very promising. He said that in all gold mines, however good, a great number would fail to succeed, in fact some would fail if gold was ever so plenty, as they did in California, a good many begging while wages for laborers were $16 per day.
Arrival May 16, 1862: We finally concluded to go on our way our man telling us that he would return soon himself. Our road up the Powder River Valley was as bad as it could well be. Our horses would mire down and had to be unloaded frequently. It was not unusual to see a whole train of horses down in the mud at once. After several days of this kind of life, we finally arrived at Griffin’s Gulch. This was the first camp in the mines, or rather, it was the discovery camp. Some work had been done here but Mr. Griffin was sick, he having wintered here. We went on a few miles farther and camped on Elk Creek, perhaps half a mile from the River and now we were in the mines. I think it was on my birthday May 16, 1862. We had left home April 10.
Ever since crossing the Blue Mountains we had traveled with three men named James Conley, Dave Wallace, and old Slutes, but after we camped on Elk Creek, another adventurer named Capt. Johnson camped with us. He had been made prisoner by the Rebels of the Confederacy, but had been paroled.
Our men, except the Captain, were old miners. Old Slutes having been in California since ’49, they decided that right where we were was as good a place as any. So we went to work digging a tail race to turn the creek from its natural course so we could work in the gravel at its center. We worked several days. Although it was the latter part of May, we had half an inch of ice every morning but our men worked up to their knees in the cold water with their shoes on. We worked for about one week, but owing to the amount of water flowing in the creek, we concluded that we would have to wait for the water to go down.
Meanwhile it was decided that a part of us would strike out in the Mountains and seek mining grounds. Connelly, Wallace and I struck out. We crossed Powder River, above Auburn, prospected as we went, traversed the Burnt River district which was rather risky, as it was an Indian country; but we met with no mishaps. We were gone over one week and we come back to camp having found nothing. Our men having left our old camp on Elk Creek, we did not know where to find them. We soon found out that they had gone on up to one of the tributaries of the Creek named Five Bit Gulch where they were at work with a prospect of making enough to pay for provisions, or in local parlance they were working what was called grub diggings.
Paul Fuhr: Captain Johnson had left our crowd, but another, Paul Fuhr, had come in. He was not much inclined to work, but was always thinking out some scheme how to get rich. The miners are so liberal that while we were altogether whenever a little gold was found, it was shared by all.
Captain Johnson came one day and told us we were foolish to work there that he knew of much better places. We did not believe him at first but he told us that there were three old Frenchmen on Blue Canyon (afterward Auburn). That they were taking out a good deal of gold and as he described them, we concluded that one might be my father, as he said his hair was as white as snow or wool. So I went over to see about it.
Finds Father: I enquired at a little store about my father and they told me he was near there. I soon found him. I did not know how he would receive me as he had left home a little huffy, but he received me very kindly. He was with his two old chums he had met at The Dalles. They told me that they had come very near being stranded, that they had no more provisions and only $20 left for the three and flour was $60 a barrel, but my father found these mines at the eleventh hour where they could pick up ten dollars per day.
Finds Mine: It is impossible not to think that my father finding these mines was not Providential and that a certain destiny follows man and that what is to happen must happen. It came about this way:
My father in company with some fifty French Canadians had been traveling together for some time and they were on their way to Snake River. But my father with his two chums being about broke concluded that they were not in a position to go much farther. They camped one evening where Auburn, Baker County, now is, and as my father was always restless, he sallied out in the evening with a pick to see what he could find. As he was going down a hill, the idea struck him that the ground looked favorable for gold. He had never been in any mines and did not know gold dust when he saw it.
Father’s Discovery: He struck his pickax in the ground. He then went down a hundred feet to the creek (where all the miners look for gold). Here he found a French Canadian panning out sand. Father told him: “Young Man I have some dirt up here on the hillside that I wish you would wash for me.” The Canadian went up and got a pan full and washed it. There was in the bottom of the pan a piece of gold worth $2.50. Father took it, thanked the Canadian, and returned to camp. He kept the secret to himself until he got in the tent with his chums and then he showed them what he had found.
The next morning when the cavalcade was about to move, they were not a little surprised to see our three men refuse to go further. They urged them to go saying: “There is no use looking for gold here as the indications are not like they were in California”. But they told them they would prospect a while and go to work if possible. So they parted.
Father and his two friends went and found that the ground was really rich with gold and it was just after this when they had worked a few days that I came upon them.
I returned to camp and related all this to our men and it gave us all heart because up to this time a good many had thought that gold would not be found in paying quantities.
Meanwhile our friend, Paul Fuhr, kept on speculating as to what could be done. (This is the same Paul Fuhr who turned out afterward the great gambler of Portland).
Goes to Walla Walla: One day he came to me and told me that he wanted me to go in with him in a saloon business. I told him that I would not do that but I was willing to go in the provision trade. He was willing to start at that as he said we could include liquors later on. He had $600. I had $300 with me and also had five horses and he had one, but he engaged the other men’s horses so he had four horses. In order to get goods, we had to go to Walla Walla, perhaps 200 miles off, but we started out. I with a heavy heart, as I had never gone away from Adolphe before. When we started, Fuhr’s mare had a very young colt which proved a nuisance so he was anxious to rid himself of it, but he had a superstitious fear (although he believed in neither God nor devil) that any one killing a colt would never more have any luck.
In fording one of the branches of Powder River, the colt refused to come so Paul Fuhr tied a rope around its neck and rode on. The current took the colt off his feet and it floated down so the rope choked him to death. Now Paul had killed a colt and trouble commenced.
We went on for three or four miles and stopped to rest when Fuhr’s mare looked for her colt. She started to go back, Paul ran after her afoot. He had to follow her the four miles to the river. This was a bad beginning but we went on and arrived in Walla Walla about the 25th of June. We camped just below town on Garrison Creek and we found out to our sorrow there was not a sack of flour in town to be had. So we had to wait ten days for flour to come and when it did come, I paid $40.00 per bbl. for it. Seeing that I would be idle for some time, the idea struck me that if I could find work, I could make enough to keep me in a first class hotel and that would be better than to camp out. I mentioned it to my partner. Fuhr said very kindly that it would be a good thing for me and that he would take care of our horses and the camp.
I looked around and soon found a man building a house. He told me I could go right to work. It was on Main Street and about across the street from the Stine House. I had no tools but all I needed was a hammer to drive nails and this I think I borrowed. I went to work and my pay was to be $4.00 per day. I took my meals in a good hotel which was better than to live on bacon and beans, but at night I slept with Paul at the camp.
During this time Fuhr was buying more horses from parties of questionable character. One night these same parties (we had reason to think) stampeded our horses. The next day they came around and agreed to find them for us for five dollars apiece. This sum my Fuhr paid for some of his, but I refused to pay anything. My horses finally came straggling home, all but one, old Whity never came back. I suppose the horse brokers kept him for their trouble of stampeding the others.
After working five days, I received my pay $20.00. Flour arrived in town July 3rd. So we made ready to load up on the 4th. I went to town and bought my groceries, about 800 pounds of flour. I noticed that Fuhr would not buy or come with me saying he would buy as he loaded his horses.
Departure from Walla Walla: We broke camp, I leading my five horses and he driving his. We had packed our cooking utensils rather loosely so that in walking our tin cups and frying pans kept rattling in such a way that Fuhr’s horses (some of them were wild) took exception to it and they broke to run. Instead of trying to head them off (he was riding), he jumped off his horse, placed his revolver in a bunch of sagebrush, and he took after them afoot. The more they ran, the more the outfit rattled. Pretty soon everything became scattered over the prairie and the horses panic struck went at a tearing rate. They passed not far from the Garrison, they went out of sight and we never saw them more.
Fuhr came to me and told me to go ahead, that if he got the horses he would come on later, but he never came and really I think he never got the horses. This proved a great hardship on our boys in the mines as by this means they each lost a horse.
I went ahead as if nothing had happened, but I expected much trouble as it is exceedingly difficult for one man to pack horses. As good luck would have it, I came across a Canadian who was also packing up for Powder River, so we agreed to travel together. He had two horses and I had four. Having lost my riding horse, I loaded all the others and I footed it back, the biggest walk I ever had.
Arrival at Auburn: We returned to Auburn without anything unusual happening. I found out that our mining claim had not proved good. We were then a little undecided as to what we should do and were about on the point of going to Virginia City, Nevada. Then Father proposed that we should take another trip in the mountains and prospect for new diggings and if we failed in that perhaps he would arrange for us to work in his place. This time Connelly, Slutes, Dave Wallace, my brother and I struck out. We were a jolly crowd. We were all mounted and we had supplies enough to last one month.
Prospecting: We went up Powder River and up to the headwaters of Burnt River. We then went away beyond the last mentioned river, but found nothing good. However, I shall always remember this trip, as one of the happy times of my life. We were gone eight or ten days and then returned to Auburn, not much discouraged as we had ample means to travel indefinitely.
Father’s claim was proving better and better, but he was tired of such a life, so he told Adolphe that seeing that he (Adolphe) had given the family a good deal of his time and money, after he had become of age that he now proposed to give him his interest in the claim outright. This was surely worth over $1000.00, and it was arranged with the other two partners that they should sell me an interest so as to make the business in four parts instead of three as heretofore and this was done, not that those men liked it, but they did it to show their good will to Father who had really given these two men all they had and Adolphe (good soul) agreed then that we should be equal partners. We paid our partners some two or three hundred dollars to become half partners with them. We then gave father a horse and an outfit and he struck out for home. Before leaving, he took a final look at the place and picked up a chunk of gold worth $16.00 the largest piece found in the claim while in our possession.
Mining: We went to work and from this on we could consider ourselves well off – with a prospect of a fortune. We made from $15.00 to $50.00 a day and our general average was about $20.00 to the man. We worked at this until we had about $3600.00.
Homeward Bound: During the latter part of September we were greatly surprised to see our brother Ed enter our cabin. We had not seen him for about eighteen months. He was on his way home, but we put him to work and when the winter set in, we all left for home together.
Meanwhile all the stuff I had purchased at Walla Walla had been sold at a good profit. We sold our half for three hundred dollars and yet our last day’s work paid thirty dollars. The claim was perhaps worth several thousand dollars yet, but we were glad to go home. We had done well and we were tired of such a wild life.
At the Dalles we sold part of our horses. Adolphe and the partners came to Portland by boat, while Ed and I came overland to the Cascades and there took the boat. From Portland we all went up to Butteville where you can imagine how glad our poor Mother as to see us all. A few days later our grumbling Gongnists (our partners) left for Switzerland and that was the last of them.
By this time we were well to do young men. It was arranged that brother Ed should take care of the old homestead and do the best he could with everything. Adolphe and I spent the winter at home making a few visits up on French Prairie where we had worked when we were hard up.
Now the idea crept upon us that the country was getting too small to hold us. However, we had some warm friends up there especially Sam Brown’s family and also the Sam Allen family, a friendship which has lasted until now. Mrs. Sam Brown is one of the best women I have ever known.
In the summer of 1863, having nothing to do, Adolphe and I took up our old tools and put up a couple of buildings but our hearts were no longer in this business so in the Spring of 1864 we removed to Portland where we made arrangements to invest in property. We bought four lots but through some technicalities these purchases were never completed.