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Roxann Gess Smith
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The Wisdom's, along with the Gess' left
Missouri in April of 1862, and arrived in Baker City,
Oregon, October 17th., of that same year. The wagon train
consisted of sixty wagons under the supervision of wagon
master, Charles Chandler. The train was made up after
crossing the Missouri River near where Omaha is now. This
was the first wagon train to ever arrive in Baker City,
Until recently the Chandler cabin rested on
the Charles Chandler Hereford Ranch north of Baker City.
The 1862 cabin was dismantled and moved to the Haines
City Park, just 10 miles north of Baker City on Highway
30. John Wisdom described Charles Chandler as, "a
man of large stature."
Founded in 1862 during the gold rush, Baker
City is located at the southern end of the Powder River
Valley. Situated a few miles east of the gold fields and
nestled at the foot of the hill where the Oregon Trail
came over the breaks and into the valley. The first wagon
train to arrive was in 1862 and as indicated above, my
ancestors were among that group of hearty pioneers that
survived the perilous journey west.
6, 1862, a day to remember, we arrived at Flagstaff Hill
overlooking Powder Valley. Coming over this last hill a
most remarkable sight met our eyes. Here was a beautiful
valley with luxuriant growth of green grass through which
flowed a river of clear sparkling water with high
mountains in the rear. The grass was even better than
that cutivated in the rich soil of north Missouri. On the
west side of the river was rye grass so high you could
ride through on a small horse and never be seen. A land
the likes of which I never seen and I decided, "Here
is where I am going to live!"
|ON A HOT SUMMER'S DAY
Wm. Wisdom was born in Randolph Co., Missouri in 1840,
the son of Thomas Barnes Wisdom and Lucinda Gess. As a
child, he spent a great deal of time at his Grandparent
Gess's plantation home, where many fond childhood
memories were developed. Upon reaching adulthood and
finding himself located in Baker City, Oregon, John
Wisdom was preparing to build his family a home. He
decided to build that home as a replica of his
Grandfather Gess's, where as a child he had spent so many
happy and carefree hours. The task would prove to be
drewling. It took one year to build the three story, two
parlor home. It would be the first home in Baker City to
sport an indoor toilet. The furniture, carpets and
draperies were shipped by boat from San Francisco to The
Dalles, where they were freighted overland. In spite of
the belief that basements were unhealthy, John Wisdom's
home had a basement. He had the foundation put down six
feet into the ground, assuring the sturdiness of a house
to last more than his lifetime. The house still proudly
husband and I visited the home a few summers ago. Now
being used as the, "Lovelace Real Estate"
office, it's old southern charm still addresses the
future with pride. As I stood half dreaming on its wide
sloping porch, I tried to imagine my g/g/g/grandfather
standing on the very same type of porch, gazing out at
his land and horses and listening to his children at
play. Than I thought of what it must have been like the
day that the Union soldiers ran him from his home...
separating him from his children, but not his punishing
breath. I suppose that if the truth were known he died
that day, and not some two years later in Illinois, where
he fled. For a few brief moments I was there, looking out
across the wide stretching landscape where the sign read,
"Randolph Co., Missouri"
As Submitted by Members of
THE GENEALOGICAL SOC. OF CENTRAL MISSOURI
and compiled by James Givens and John Fund
Published April 1, 1996.
Thomas Wisdom, probably the son of
John Wisdom, Jr. and Sarah Fuller, was born about
1778 in North Carolina. He married Luranna
Barnes, (born ca 1780), the daughter of John
Barnes, about 1799. They lived in Green and
Cumberland Counties of Kentucky before coming to
Boone Co., Missouri before 1827. Thomas was a
Baptistand a farmer. He died January 25, 1860 and
is buried in the Bethlehem Church Cemetery in
Boone Co. Luaranna died September 12, 1862 and is
buried in the Schooling Cemetery in Boone Co.
Wm. Wisdom & wife
Mary Elizabeth Sturgill
Thomas and Luranna
had ten children, although not proven,
all born in Cumberland Co., KY, as follows:
AMMONS/AMOS WISDOM - born March 31, 1800;
married FRANCES A. WADE, July 31, 1821;
died August 4, 1875 in Taylor Co., Iowa;
buried in Blockton, Iowa.
WASHINGTON WISDOM - born August 13, 1801;
married PATTY (MARTHA) WADE; died Oct.
13, 1846 in Boone Co.; buried in the
Rocky Fork Church Cemetery in Boone Co.
BURTON WISDOM - born in 1803; married
BETHONIA HERN on Jan. 7, 1830; died Sept.
02, 1888 in Marion Co., Mo.; buried in
- born about 1806; married JOHN WAD about
1826; died about 1895 in Missouri.
MADISON WISDOM - born March 24, 1808;
married CATHERINE TURNER on June 16,
1831; died between 1850 and 1860 in Boone
or Audrain Co., Missouri.
WISDOM - born December 11, 1810; married
CORNELIUS SHORT on Jan. 01, 1834; died
May 01, 1875 probably in Boone Co.;
buried in the Bethlehem Church Cemetery
in Boone County.
BARNES WISDOM - born June 26, 1814;
married LUCINDA GESS on March 22, 1836;
died February 01, 1893 in Baker Co.,
Oregon; buried in Baker Co., Oregon.
WISDOM - born about 1815; married EDWARD
J. GRAVES on June 02, 1835.
WISDOM - born December 16, 1815; married
(1) ZILPHA DOTSON on July 13, 1838;
married (2) MINERVA EVANS (widowed);
married (3) REBECCA INMAN APPLEGATE
(widowed); died July 13, 1884 in Grundy
Co., Missouri; buried in Trenton,
WISDOM - born Oct. 26, 1817; never
married; died Oct. 10, 1865; buried in
the Bethlehem Church Cemetery in Boone
following are a few excerpts taken from John Wisdom's
book, wherein he makes mention of his father, Thomas
"Father built a pen
of rails four feet high. He dug a trench to the
center of the pen and baited it with shelled
corn. The wild turkeys would follow the bait up
into the pen, then I - not much bigger than the
gobblers - had to crawl in and catch them. They
wouldrun around the pen til I would finally catch
one of the big fellows and how they would beat me
with their wings. Father would get a great laugh
out of this."
"In 1855 Father
wanted to move farther west so we moved to
Haynesvill,Clinton Co., and in 1856 to Grundy
Co., eight miles north of Trenton,Missouri. There
he located a homestead of forty acres down on
Honey Creek in the timber which gave us plenty of
work to do."
few years later Father sold the farm after we had
fenced some eighty acres. I had plowed it with
three yoke of oxen with plow fixed in frame and
wheels so that all I had to do was work the lever
in and out to plow to the end of the land."
then bought a place four miles from Trenton but
the acreage in cultivation wasn't enough for the
two of us."
Wisdom leaves with the Gess's headed west by wagon
train..., he's now trying his hand at mining in Idaho.)
came from the wagon train camped on Boise River,
tramping over hills and hollows (gulches as they
were called in the West)asking for John
Sunday when I dropped into the market, the
meatman told me that my Father was here looking
for me. I was quite surprised, not knowing their
wagon train had arrived that far. This was in
a year after Mother and Sister Armilda's deaths,
sister Frances (Blew) persuaded her husband to go
to Webfoot country. After harvest, Father sold
his farm and decided to go with them. Sister
Katherine and brothers Mike, Wesley and little
Jeff went with them also, leaving James, George
and me in Baker."
Father with his daughter Kate and her husband,
George Carson,and five children came to visit us
in 1885. Father had sold his farm in Junction
City after the harvest and wanted to come back to
Baker.They visited with us nine months and left
for Payette, Idaho.
stayed with us until 1892 when he moved to a little
house, belonging to brother Jim, on Bridge Street. There
he died in February 1893 ... this year brought many
changes. I was sick most of that year and couldn't even
attend Father's funeral.
"Thomas Barnes Wisdom, the compiler's
father, with his family crossed the plains with a wagon
train (ox teams) in 1863. The company under the
leadership of G.W. Gess, son of Captain Wm. Gess, left
Missouri,April 10, 1863 and reached Baker County, Oregon,
October 25, of that year. This was one of the best
equipped wagon trains that evercrossed the continent. It
consisted of 100 wagons and 150 men well armed. They also
had plenty of food and ammunition. Mr. Gess was a brave,
bold and daring man with nerve and decision, yet he was
alwaysprudent and conservative.
The entire journey was beset with perils,
there being constant danger of Indian attacks as well as
assaults from white bandits, jayhawkers and guerrilas.
There were several skirmishes with the Indians but no
serious damage was sustained. Mr. Gess, his family and a
number of emigrants stopped at Boise, Idaho.
The Wisdom family and a greater part of the
company moved on to BakerCo., Oregon, where the Wisdom's
located at Pocahontas, a little placeat the foot of the
Baisley-Elkhorn Mountain in the Blue Mountain Range.
Pocahontas is in Powder River Valley, which is one of the
most fertile spots not only in Baker Co. but in all
The Civil War with its devastations and
bitterness led thousands to leave their homes, in Western
and South-western states; not alwaysfrom patriotic
motives. Missouri, especially, sent hundreds of menwith
their families, "Southern sympathizers", who
were glad to get away from the perils of the conflict. As
this army of people came to eastern Oregon, they
scattered over Powder River and Grande Ronde valleys, and
strayed somewhat through the Blue Mountains and along the
Umatilla and John Day rivers."
"At the outbreak of the Civil War,
Thomas Barnes Wisdom was a well-to-do farmer and stock
raiser. But as I have briefly stated his affiliations
were in the South, consequently could no longer remain
without placing his life and the lives of his family in
jeopardy, as it had been threatened time and time again,
until forbearance had ceased to be a virtue. His property
was all confiscated, everything but his land."
"Father was a man of great vitality,
strong, robust and muscular.I am unable to find language
to express his ennobling traits of character--a pure,
clean Christain. Such is a brief sketch of one of
Oregon's brave pioneers, one who had the courage to break
away from civilization and become one of the men who made
it possible to subdue the then unsettled portion of
eastern Oregon, which is now one of the greatest states
in the Union."
"Much may be said of Thomas Barnes
Wisdom, as his many traits of character have endeared him
to all who knew him. He was always ready to extend a
helping hand to those who were in need and was
aconsistent Baptist until his death, which occurred at
Baker, Oregon,February 01, 1893."
following are randomly selected notes taken from
John Wisdom's book regarding his own life.
"I, John Wm. Wisdom, was born March 15, 1840
in Randolph Co., Missouri and was reared on a
farm there. My father's name was Thomas Barnes
Wisdom who was born in Fayette, Ky. My mother was
Lucinda Gess, born in Farrell Co., Ky."
- "I was kept in
the guard tent for ten days which seemed
like months..., "
- "They replied,
"If you will take the oath of
allegiance and agree to go West we will
let you go." (speaking of the
- "We were joined
by my three uncles, John, Tom and William
Gess.Our train was made up after we
crossed the Missouri River...,"
- "September 6,
1862, a day to remember, we arrived at
FlagstaffHill overlooking Powder Valley.
Coming over this last hill a most
remarkable sight met our eyes."
- "Hearing so much
about the Boise mines, a party was made
up forthe trip."
- "This, however,
did not last long as my father came
- "Some of my
relatives about concluded to end their
journey herein the Boise Valley but my
folks had a desire to go to Oregon. After
much discussion all decided to continue
on except Uncle Will Gess and his
- "My youngest
sister sickened and died while we camped
on Weiser River."
- "I kept on with
my freighting all that season. Uncle G.W.
(Will)Gess was associated with
- "I returned to
Powder Valley a very sick boy..., About
the time Ibecame concious, my dear Mother
and Sister were stricken with it and in a
short time both died."
- "I have felt I
could never forgive myself."
- "My answer came
shortly when Dr. Boyd, a local doctor
asked me to go into the drug business
- "On June 14, 1868
I married Miss Mary Elizabeth Sturgill,
better known as Molly, an orphan and a
native of Kansas."
- "Little Frank was
born in 1870, Frances Katherine in March,
1872, Marguerite, 1873, Vesper Ann
(Bessie) in 1875, Loy Winter in
January,1886, Mabelle, 1888, Glen Albert,
1890 and John Junior (June) in1892."
- "I drew what I
wanted, trying to copy Grandfather's home
in Kentucky where I spent one summer when
- "It took a year
to build the house which is three stories
- "I homesteaded
360 acres four miles from Baker in what
was called the Missouri Flat
Breeze Missouri Flats"
- "In 1880 I was
elected by the Democratic State
Convention as delegate to the Democratic
National Convention in Cincinnati,
- "I had thought
for some time that Baker Co. was in need
of an improved breed of horses...,"
- "The lot cost me
between $8,000 and $9,000.00..., With our
carload of horses...,"
- "In 1883 brother
Mike's wife, Cordelia Moore, died and
left two little sons..., Before she
passed away she gave Merton to Molly. We
raised him until he was twelve...,"
- "The year
1893..., I was sick most of that year and
couldn't even attend Father's
- "Due to my
illness and absence from the store my
business was in bad shape.
- At this point in the
book, daughter Loy continues with her
Unofficial Eastern Oregon Museum Page
Bluff, Nebraska and the Oregon Trail
here to view the wagon ruts as they appear today at
Scotts Bluff, Nebraska.
of a pioneer family stopped to eat and rest at Scotts
Bluff in the 1850's.
17 Dec 2008
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All Rights Reserved.