Resources > Pioneer Diary Excerpts

The Lane County Historical Museum has quite a few copies of Lane County pioneer diaries and letters for sale in the museum store. The following is a selected and slightly edited list of entries found in a few of them. For a complete list of diaries and letters, please view the contents in our Museum Store.

  1. Lester Hulin – Applegate Trail to Oregon, 1847 - April 23rd, 1847 – “On this day I took my last leave of the friends in Iowa and commenced a journey of more than 2000 miles over the Rocky Mountains or to the territory of Oregon. After a travel of nine days I arrived at St. Joseph a distance of 250 miles. Here I waited one week for the man I expected to accompany. Spent the next week in making our preparations to leave the land of civilization, accordingly on the 20th day of May we emerged from the land of society so long dear to us, and night found us on the opposite bank of the Missouri River. Camped here in the bushes.”

  2. Esther Brakeman Lyman, Letters, 1853 Lost Wagon Train“On the 21st of August I lost my babe. It only lived a few hours. I should not have mentioned this only I wanted to tell you one particular about it. It was a daughter, however that was nothing strange, but if you had seen it you would have thought it ought to have belonged to Mary instead of me. It had five fingers on each hand and one was exactly like Mary’s, her worst one. Otherways it was a perfect child . . .”

  3. Journal of George Belshaw, Journey From Indiana to Oregon, March 23 to September 27, 1853.May 25th – “Drove 20 miles. Rather poor sandy soil. I took in six more wagons and ten men for Oregon. We have 17 wagons and 27 men now in our company. I went ahead and picked out the grass and camped. Had to go two miles after our wood . . . May 26th – Drove 20 miles. Bad roads, quick sandy and hilly . Saw some buffalo heads for the first time and another little animal called a Santa Fe frog . . .”

  4. Diary of Agnes Stewart, Lost Wagon Train of 1853 – Monday, June 27th – “Blows so hard we can not proceed on our journey. The sand blows up in the air most dreadful. I went yesterday to canyon on the Platte River. I never saw anything like it in my life. One side was nothing but perpendicular rocks three hundred feet high for the length of three miles . . . dead trees, frowning rocks sometimes stretched over our heads threatening destruction to all who passed below . . .”

  5. Diary of Charlotte Emily Stearns Pengra, 1853 – Friday, July 8th – “Started very early this morning. Drove about a mile and come to the spring. Found the water thoroughly saturated with sulphur, but the cattle drank enough to quench their thirst . . . This afternoon we descended some very steep and long hills, but the road was hard and smooth. We met with no difficulty. We reached the river just dark, but the ferry is a mile distant and we must stop here until morning. This is very much against us, as there is no feed and the cattle have had nothing since morning and they have traveled over thirty miles.”

  6. Journal of Andrew S. McClure 1853 – Friday, May 20th - (Platte River Valley) “From the register at the fort, 4,160 men, 1,036, one thousand 398 children, 2162 horses, 845 mules, 41,406 head of cattle, 1,596 wagons and 2006 sheep. These are the returns from the register which was posted on last evening . . .”

  7. Elizabeth Goultra, Across the Plains in 1853 – Thursday, September 30th – “Drove out this morning quite early. This is a happy day to us. This day lands us where we can see once more a civilized community and once more enjoy the preached gospel and the society of Christians. Thanks be to the all seeing eye who has watched over us across the dreary plains and still more dreary mountains. Reached Oregon City about three o’clock. This is the end of our journey of toil. We are landed safe in the Willamette Valley, a point of great interest to all emigrants.”

    Photograph at the top of this page: Confiscated bootlegging equipment piled up on the grounds of the Lane County Courthouse, 125 East 8th Avenue, Eugene. Original sleeve indicates that photo was taken for property officer. date unknown - Catalog Number: KE2621

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