1883 Diary of Charity Alice McKenney Reynolds Barnes

This wonderful diary was sent to me by Allan McKenney. Charity Alice McKenney was a daughter of Robert Eugene McKenney, and Allan is a descendant of a brother of hers. I transcribed it from a typewritten copy printed in a cursive font so it was digital age. The original diary was itself copied first by Nellie, Charity’s daughter, in 1952, and she offers occasional parenthetical notes that can be sometimes confused with Charity’s entries so I’ll try to sort these out in italics. I will also be supplying my own notations in blockquote.

Charity was born in 1856 in Minnesota and lived to 1922. At the time of the trip she was married to Albert Reynolds and had one living child, Nellie, sometimes called Nona, who was born in 1877 in Minnesota and eventually married first Oscar William Peterson Then Fred W. Strake. She died in 1963 in Coos Bay, Coos, Oregon.

The diary gives more than a strict and narrow account of miles traveled and places visited. We have Charity’s personal observations which provide a window on the pleasures and hardships of a trip that was relatively convenient compared to just a brief generation before, being both by rail and ship rather than wagon. She takes us from the first day of her journey to not only the time of their arrival in Oregon, but several weeks on when their possessions have finally come in from Minnesota and they’ve built a shingle shack in which to stay while they build their house, so it would seem that for Charity her “journey” didn’t end until this point. What is most curious is the pensive note on which Charity chooses to end the diary, which rises above the personal sphere to that of commentary on all “pioneers”, which I think is a rare find.

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1883 May 21st: Started from home 5:00 a.m. Took the Long Lake train at 6:18. Spent the day in Minneapolis. Took the St. Paul train at 6:00 in the evening, crossed the Mississippi River twice. Well, we are on our way at last and all goodby’s are over. We left a white frost at home but plum trees in bloom. John (McKinney), Mose (White), Elmer (Briggs?) and Maud (?) down to the train.

John McKinney was an older brother of Charity’s. He remained in Minnesota though it is known he was living in Oregon in 1887.

Moses White is in the Medina census in 1880, given as born in Ohio abt. 1848, his wife being a 21 year old Amanda. What’s notable about Moses is that he is living a couple of doors from a large group of Stubbs families, the head of these families being Henry Stubbs b. 1806 in Georgia who is married to a Mary. These Stubbs families are from Ohio and are related to the same Stubbs families who, coming up from Georgia, had settled in Belmont County, Ohio. Mary Stubbs, a second cousin of this Henry Stubbs, married Bailey Hayes, who is observed in the 1830 Beaver, Guernsey, Ohio census living near the John (2) and Robert (b. circa 177) McKenney families who are immediately related to our own. Frederick Hayes, his brother, was living next to the elder Robert McKenney in 1840 in Enoch, Monroe, Ohio. Moses White was united with the Stubbs families by marriage. His daughter, Esther, had married Charles Stubbs, a son of Henry Stubbs, before 1870. It was Charity’s daughter who, in 1952, identified this individual as not just Moses but Moses White, which suggests there were strong ties with this family.

Elmer Briggs I don’t observe in the 1880 census, but he is likely the Elmer who is in the 1900 census in Beaverton, Washington, Oregon, living as a boarder in the household of James W. Barnes and Ella. James W. Barnes was a brother of Charity Alice McKenney’s second husband, Calvin Barnes. Elmer Briggs’ brother, Alden Sylvester, had married Olive Mary Barnes and they too moved to Oregon and settled in the same area as these other families. Elmer Briggs, seeing them off, must have ridden on the ship that carried their belongings as he is mentioned again toward the diary’s end when their household goods arrive, now being in Oregon.

May 22nd. (Iowa) Train got into Mason City just at sunrise. White frost on every side, cold as March. Things do not seem much more advanced than we left at home. Now we are on our way several miles from the station. Prairie on every side as far as the eye can carry with now and then a dot of green. Really a nice morning but, oh my, such a road! Got the headache a little, did not sleep much last night. Laughed at Joe (Reynolds, Albert’s youngest brother). Said he was homesick. Could not get his pillow fixed to suit him. Breakfast at Hampton, 30 minutes. Left old Minnesota about 3 o’clock this morning. I was asleep. Crossed the Iowa river at 25 after 7. I have been napping and have my headaches. We are stopped at Oskaloosa. A gentlemen said they had frost last night and the fruit is about all killed. I saw some peach blooms – the first I have seen in 22 years. How green everything looks. Arrived at Outumnway at 1:30 and ate our lunch. Have to wait until 11:00 P.m. It is now 4 o’clock. I suppose we will get on the Emmigrant train tomorrow. Oh, what a (?) place this is – wish we did not have to lay over here. Good, here comes our train. I was mistaken. Am so glad we start at 4:00. Arrived at Creston at 9 o’clock. I have been a great deal better since I got some tea at Outumnwa. Well, this is quite a nice looking place. We stay here until tomorrow morning at 5:15. I enjoy myself first rate now.

The Joe mentioned here would be Josiah Reynolds.

May 23rd. Left Creston at 5:15 and now we are moving again. Feel first rate this morning. Have just eaten our breakfast and the children (Nellie Lenore “Nona” age 6) and Bart (McKinney, age 4) look as bright as buttons.

(May 24th?) Arrived at Kansas City at 12:45 A.M. First depot I ever saw. Took the emigrant train at 8:00 P.M. Train did not start until 11:00 P.M. I was asleep when it started. It is a real nice car and nice people to travel with. (In reference to the “nice” car I recall that the seats were bare slats like park benches. The bunks were over the seats, bare also. Everyone supplied their own bedding and their own food.) I guess the people are mostly all Americans. Well, it is morning. I slept pretty good. It is grey dawn and raining. One-half past ten and Emporia, a lovely little town.Afternoon our water all ran out. The children suffered for water. We are not even half way across Kansas. We have alkali water to drink. New emigrant car is just chock full and Oh, My God! over to the right – such a looking object! I will try to draw her picture but I know I can’t do her justice. We go about half a mile and then stop. I do not think we will get there very quick at this rate. It rained all night. Went to bed and laughed until I cried. Went to sleep at 9:00 and slept like a log all night until 4 this morning.

Charity Alice McKenney's drawing from her 1883 diary

May 25, 1883. Cold this morning and my lungs hurt. Guess I have caught cold. We see great herds of cattle on smooth prairie. 8 o’clock and the Arkansas River. 10 o’clock and plenty of cactus (?) and prairie dogs. Colorado about 6 o’clock, sand and cactus. Got acquainted with some of our new neighbors. I loaned a young lady my book to read. (I, Nona, remember that although mother was only 28 years of age she was considered too old to wear light colored dresses.) Well, it is bedtime and I must go to sleep so I can see all I can while it is daylight.

May 26, Saturday. Morning and we did not go very far last night. A train was wrecked just ahead of us and we lost eight hours. Saw Pike’s Peak and some other mountains. A few were beautifully snow-capped. Then, brown hills with a few scraggy cedars scattered over them. Sandy plains on all sides. I am very sleepy and my lungs hurt this morning. Some of our neighbors are very sociable. Some are, or think they are, very “Tony”. Bart is asleep. Nellie is playing around. We are traveling very slow. I wish they would hurry a little more.

Young Bart was Samuel Bartow McKenney Jr., a nephew. His father, Samuel Bartow McKenney, had been murdered in 1881 in Louisiana, where Bart was born, and Bart went to live with Alice. It is later mentioned that he still sometimes speaks French.

10:00 A.M. A lone grave between the tracks. How lonely it looks lying here alone and covered with sand and coal.

1 o’clock and mountains on all sides. 2 o’clock, we have just gone thru a tunnel 3/4 of a mile long. Now we are in New Mexico. High mts., rocks and deep ravines. I cannot write any more today – there is just too much to look at.

May 27th Sunday: Past lots of nice scenery last night. Past Hot Springs and Las Vegas. This A.M. we stopped at Wallas 2 hours. Saw lots of Indians. Bot a little mug for Bart (native pottery). (Also purchased a pottery pitcher for me, decorated with native dyes, which I still have at this writing, 1952). A swarthy Indian had them for sale. We passed Indian Villages and an old fort on the Rio Grande. We traveled down the river for several miles. We are passing thru towns where they have the Small-pox. Guess we will all have it. We had lots of fun “Gassing” with the brakeman. It is very warm and dusty, night is upon us again.

May 28th, Monday. Deming, a very ruff place. Stopped 1 and 1/2 hours. Saw a man who had killed six men. He was just across the street. He killed a conductor the other night. 1 o’clock and now we are in Arizona. Nothing but hot sands and whirlwinds and cactus. We traveled thru sand hills and long stretches of desert. Saw a mirage on the sandy desert, looked just like a lake in the distance. Then came sand hills and cactus 6 and 8 feet high thick as a tree. Some were like tall waving reed with red tassels on top. (Yucca.) We have to watch out because there are some strangers in here tonight. This P.M. there was another wreck ahead of us. If we had not delayed it would have been our train.


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May 29th. Got up and raised my window to see the scenery. Got a good view of a line of box cars! Run about 2 hrs and then stopped 4 hrs. Saw a lot of Indians. Saw one squaw with pappoose. One old greeger lost his britch-clout while he was running along side of the train. That is about all most of these Mexican Indians wear, the men I mean. It is so hot I can’t blame them much but they do look shocking. About 10:30 we started on our (?) trip. Not is (?) and we are in nothing but white sand as far as I can see out each side. We are all well but most awfully warm and dirty. Commencement of the desert. Now we are flying along between red sand hills and blue mountains. Oh, how very warm it is. The sun seems to melt everything in its reach. I have seen one swift and a little gray animal about eight inches long, travel very fast thru the sand. 2:30 P.M. and we are at the Seven Palms. We have just crossed a fearful desert. This place is called “Waters”. Oh, hotter and hotter! I guess we are nearing the bottomless pit. Every car window is closed to keep out the sand. There are no blinds – the sun streams in upon us and I see no show except to roast in a pile! I have started to feel quite sick. I have a pain in the pit of my stomach. Worse and more of it, I pity anyone that travels this southern road. Dark, green trees again and mountains. We are crossing them winding round and round, up and down and every way. Lots of our passengers will get off tonight.

The terms “squaw” and “papoose” are derogatory terms that were common parlance for the time.

May 30th. Los Angeles, early A.M. Stopped 4 hours. Got out and saw an orchard of orange trees just loaded with oranges. Saw some very fine flowers. This is a very lovely place. We have started out again. Saw more very nice country and wild flowers. Went thru a lovely valley then came the mountains. There we had to make the loop 4000 feet above the level of the sea, then down grade, swift as lightning. Looked every minute for the train to jump the track but we were all jolly. I laughed myself half to death this afternoon at an old glass-eyed lady. No, she wasn’t a lady or she didn’t prove to be one. Tho when we went thru a tunnel she gave us some useful information for which we thanked her politely. Dick Younger, Sally and I (my name is Nancy on the train) have had lots of fun today. We were playing cards, Sally and Jim and Al and I. While we were playing a young man came in and seated himself on the opposite side of the isle. He was smoking a pipe and watching us play. Well, then arose our honorable glass-eyed lady and said she: “I would like to ask this gentleman, if he is a gentleman, if he thinks it is polite to smoke in a lady’s face?” The young fellow turned as red as a piece of red flannel, took his pipe out of his mouth hurriedly and jumping up very quickly struck his head against the upper bunk. That aroused our pity and I told the old lady that anyone so “tony” that they could not stand a little tobacco smoke should have ridden in a first-class car. The rest all made some remark to the same effect. The little Irishman (smoker) thanked us all with smiles. All things passed smoothly enough for an hour or so. Then, some of our men lit their cigars and smoked pretty freely. At that the old lady and her partner walked out on the stoop. The men quietly laid their cigars aside waiting her return. She stayed out about an hour before coming back inside. Out came Dick’s pipe and Earl’s cigar. Several others lit their cigars also. And there came Buck-skin Joe with a pipe in each corner of his mouth and marched up and down the isle. We all laughed as hard as we could and called it square. I should like to know her private opinion of us.

I don’t currently know who Dick Younger and Earl may have been.

Well, now it is dark and we have passed thru 17 tunnels, making the loop around the mountains. It is a very dangerous place and lots of cars have been wrecked here. I will be obliged to go to sleep wreck or no wreck.

May 31st. Morning. Have the headache and could not eat my breakfast. This is not a very good looking country. Passed over another sandy plain. Evening and we are passing thru some very nice country, green wheat fields and gardens. Tonight is our last night on the train. Our car is quite empty now.

June 1st. Got up at 4 o’clock and hustled things together. Got ready to change from the cars at Oakland to go on the Ferry Boat to San Francisco. Now it is about 5 o’clock in the evening. We saw our friends off on the steamer Dakota. They are going to Seattle, Washington. Sorry to part with them. We came back and went down to the sea shore, but could not find any beach – it was all wharfs. (Apparently she did not realize that they were on the bay shore). Came back on the street car and wrote two letters; one to brother John and one to the old folks (Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds). We are the Golden Gate Hotel. We went down to supper then the boys Al and Joe, went to see about our tickets on the boat to Portland, Oregon. I lay down with the children in my room until they went to sleep. Now I am in the sitting room. There is a lady and a gentleman in here too, but they are total strangers and I have not spoken to them. Now is the first time I have felt the least bit lonesome. I really do feel lonesome.

June 2nd. Morning. I feel very tired and lame. We have had our breakfast and Al has gone to get our tickets. They did not get them last night. Only a few hours and we will be on the wild ocean, tempest tossed. Well, we got on the vessel, “The Oregon” at 10 A.M. and started out at 10:30. Quite a nice looking ship both on the outside and in the cabin but Oh, the stearage is frightful. I went down there. What a close, dirty place with bunks 2 feet apart all over the ship. I went back up in disgust and said I would stay on deck. Al said he would get the tickets exchanged for cabin tickets. He finally did after working around for about an hour. We took the children and went to the cabin. Our paper called for room #3. We just got in and began to think how lucky we were and there came a man, about half negro, and ordered us out. He said we could sleep on the floor and get our dinners in the cabin. He changed our tickets back to stearage again. Stayed on deck all day. Went down to supper and nothing to eat but bread and strong butter with nearly raw beef. I took some bread and butter and got up on deck as soon as possible. At bed time was obliged to go below. In passing the cook room it made me sick and just as soon as I got to my bunk I vomited 3 times. I slept pretty well, considering my changes. I could see and hear them vomiting and groaning all around me. The boys are not a bit sick nor are the children either.

June 3 1883. Arose early and got up on deck as quickly as the good Lord would let me, to keep from getting sick again. One day and one night has passed in this horrible place. Al has just been down after some breakfast for us. I can never go down there to eat any more. He brought me some more rare beef – the plate half full of blood and a little bread. Had to pay 50 cents for it. Stayed up on deck all day. The ship rolled fearfully and nearly everyone except us was sick. We had a good dinner in the cabin. Now, for another horrid night below.

June 4th. Morning. Now we are up for the last time out of that smothery place. Breakfast is next. We will soon be at Astoria, Ore. I have done so long on hard-tack (old time sailor’s bread) that I will be glad to get anything. Evening: Well, this morning Al got some nice brad and butter and a can of peaches. They were very nice. It did for our dinner too. Now we are in sight of Portland – the long wished for Haven of Test. Ships on all sides and of all sizes. I am very glad we are so near our journey’s end.

June 5, 1883. Portland, Oregon. Early morning. I would have not got up so early had I not been obliged to. We had rather bad luck last night. We had to go to a restaurant for our supper which costs us $1.25. We got to bed about midnight. Had to sleep on sofas in the parlor, not much better than the shop. They charged us $1.00 apiece, children and all, at the Burton House. We would not pay it. We paid them only $2.50. Nine o’clock and we are on the train for Beaverton. Such a rough road, worse than we have passed all the way out here. Evening again. We arrived at the Barnses (Shepard and Olive – “Grandma” and “Grandpa” Barnes) at 1 o’clock. They sent down for Eleanor (Barnes) Johnson to come up and get dinner. Grandma Barnes is not so much better than she was back in Minnesota. They were very glad to see us. I saw some of the loveliest roses I ever saw in my life. Had an introduction to Mrs. Hill who lives in a part of the Barnes house.

Shepard and Olive Barnes are Shepard B. b. 1819 in Maine and Olive Hill Small b. also in Maine in 1818, parents of John Calvin Barnes who would later become Charity’s second husband.

Jun 6th. It is evening and I have not had time to write any today. We are going to move into Bill Tulloch’s house and I have been cleaning it up.

Bill Tulloch was a brother of Jenna Tulloch who was married to John Calvin Barnes at the time.

June 7th. Again it is evening. We have been to Portland today. Mr. Hill went down for $3 with his mules. Ellanor went with us. We got us a new stove for $20, a set of chairs $3, table $2.25, bedstead $3.50, dishes $1.80, pail and rolling pin 45 cents. We got home and set up our stove. When we put up our bed the slats were too short. We had to sleep on the floor. This is our first night at home.

June 8th. Today I am not very well. I papered the shelves and fussed around all day. Am very tired tonight. Here comes Bill and Lit Tulloch with a stranger and his wife.

June 9th. Bill was here before breakfast. I had intended to wash today but we had company. Mr.s Hill, Lit and Ellenor were here and we all went up to Barnes for dinner. They were all here in the evening until about 10 o’clock.

June 10th. This is Sunday and also Bart’s birthday. He is 4 years old. Bill, Lit, Ellenor and Charlie Johnson were here for dinner. Little Charlie, about Bart’s age, was with them.

June 11th. I washed today. Al and Joe went to Portland and got back about 6 o’clock. Our goods (furniture, organ etc. they had shipped from Minnesotta) will not come for two weeks. They spent $2.25.

June 12th. Got up very late. The boys got some wood for me and then went to see the man about the hay shed. They went from there to Beaverton. They got me some hops and a fine comb. I ironed some and baked for the boys to go away.

June 13th. Got up early and got the boys started about 8 o’clock. I washed some and then took a nap. Frank Barnes was here (no relation to the other Barnes family, Frank Barnes later became the owner of a string of salmon canneries on the Columbia River and up and down the coast. He had one on the Alsea Bay). After she left I ironed and put away my clothes. I feel quite lonesome tonight. It is getting dark and I am alone except for the children.

June 14th. Ellenor came and stayed with me last night after all. I did not sleep much, Bart was sick. The cat got into the cupboard and I don’t know what all happened. I went up to Barnes’s today and got some butter milk and one-half pound of butter. Later I went to Ellenor’s and heard a letter read from Ollie. (Ollie Barnes Briggs and family lived near the mouth of the Alsea River.)

June 15th. Did not do much all day. Wrote one letter to Gusta and one to Emma Kneif and one to Mila. (Her niece, Mila Hayford, daughter of Fax and Rebecca McKinney Hayford.) Ellenor took them to the Post Office that eve.

June 17th. Oh, dear, how very lonesome I am today. The children are out playing and the house is so still. The clock ticks so loud and plain. It is a very warm day. The sun pours down with re-doubled force. There is not a breath of air stirring. The birds have all flown to the thickest part of the woods while I sit here watching the heat dance on the meadow and listen to the buzz of the house flies.

June 18th. Spent a sleepless night. This was a very hot day. There was a young fellow here tonight by the name of John Hoover. Ellenor and I had a good laugh at Shepard Barnes about the bed-bugs.

June 19th. I cut out pieces for my charm quilt and pieced them all up.

June 20th. I am looking for the boys home today. They have been gone one week.

June 21st. I feel well today. Washed some and cut out more quilt pieces. Pieced 6 blocks. Made light bread and ironed what I washed. The boys did not get home today.

June 22nd. Well, today they came back. They said they have some claims picked out. I do hope they get them.

June 23rd. It was very warm today. After doing some wash I went up to Barnes. Got the fiddle and brought it home.

June 24th. Sunday and how very warm and close it is. Al and Joe are making a shingle machine. Had a wild blackberry shortcake for dinner.

June 25th. Got up at half passed 3 and got breakfast for the boys so they could start for Oregon City. (State Land Office as at that time located in Oregon City.) Did a large ironing and mended everything. Pieced some on my quilt too. Boys did not get home tonight.

June 26h. Went up to Barnes’s and helped get dinner for the ladies who were visiting there. The boys came home with bad news – the claims were already taken. One of our boxes did not come.

June 27th. Got up early and Joe went to work for Barnes. Al wrote to Salem, Oregon State Capitol, about the school band. Then he went over to John Hoover’s to see about work. He got a job after next Tuesday. We went to Beaverton with the team and came back with the organ. It is home again and Oh, how glad I am.

June 28th. Up early again so Joe could get to work. Al could not get any chance so we went wild blackberrying. Got about 2 quarts and now it is afternoon. Al went to help Mr. Hill hoe potatoes.

June 19th. Al was sick this morning but he went to work this afternoon. I went out back of the field and got some more berries. We talk of buying this place.

June 30th. After doing up my work I did the ironing and baking. Got dinner but Al did not come home to eat. He said the frsot killed all of the Barnes potatoe vines. How is that for Oregon?

July 1st. Today is Sunday and it is very warm. I had company, Mrs. Howell and children were over. Later I took a stroll down by the beaver dam. We went up to Barnes’ this evening.

July 2nd. Al has gone to Corvallis and will not be home until tomorrow. The smoke hangs thick around the tops of the trees. I can hear the distant tinkle of cow bells.

July 3rd. All is bustle in preparation for the 4th. Picked wild blackberries for pies and did my baking. In the evening, I went up to Barnes’ to pack the basket.

July 4th. Got up at half past 3, got ready and we went to Portland. It was so early there wasn’t much dust. It was a cool fresh morning and we all enjoyed the ride first-rate. We arrived at 7 o’clock and went to the Tulloch’s. At 10 we went down town to see the soldiers march. Came home about starved to a good dinner at Lit’s. At night we went to the fireworks.

July 5th. We stayed in town last night and came home on the evening train. Got a letter from John (McKinney). He said Harriet got the shoes I had sent to her. (Harriet Lagrou, Bart’s Aunt, in New Orleans).

July 6th. This is a warm, close, smokey day but I went blackberrying. The boys went to Hoover’s to work. Ellenor went to Portland and left little Charlie with us. He and Bart have so much fun playing together. Little Charlie had bad luck – he stupped his toe and fell down. He was bare-footed of course. He cried and cried and said, “Oh, I wish my mommie would ‘tum’ home!” Today the old Italian fish peddler came. He drives from Portland in his one horse cart. He always sings out his wares. He stopped in front of our house and started to sing, “Fresh feesh oh, feesh oh, feesh oh!” Little Charlie was sitting straddle of the warm fence. He called out to the peddlar, “Oh, doe soat yur neck.”

July 7th. Ellenor and I took the children and went about a mile up to the Walker farm to call upon them. They are Southerners but early Pioneers here. The Robert Walker Farm is one of the oldest in this part of the valley, the Willamette. It was established in 1852.

July 8th. This is Sunday. Al and I went to the blackberry patch. It was very warm again. We got three quarts. I wrote a letter to Mother Reynolds and also one to Lantie Barnes. Joe has been upstairs writing most of the day.

July 9th. Joe and Al have gone to work again. This is three days they have worked. They have earned $6.00 apiece, 12 hour days. I am very discouraged. We have no prospect of a home yet and our goods have not all arrived. Everything goes wrong.

July 10th. Went blackberrying again and got two quarts. They say there is a black bear over in Sander’s berry patch. We got a letter from Salem with good news.

July 11th. Al has gone to Corvallis to buy his School land. I do hope he will get it this time. Joe has gone to his work at Hoover’s.

Bart said a cute thing. He was playing on the floor and looked up and asked “Mamma has an elephant got hair or feathers?” He still mixes a little French in with his English when he talks sometimes.

July 12th. Al got back and no land again. Nellie has been practicing on the organ since it arrived. She plays several tunes by “ear” for our company. Two of them are, “Jesus Lover of My Soul” and “Old Aunt Rhodie”. She can play them thru without any mistakes.

July 13th. Al and Joe both worked at Hoover’s. This wonderful beaver dam land raises all vegitables without irrigation. Grandpa Barnes raises the biggest strawberries I have ever seen.

July 14th. The boys went to work again today. There are many wild roses here, many kinds and much larger than back home. They start blooming in April and grow everywhere.

July 15th. Sunday. The boys picked a lot of wild blackberries. I made one half gallon of jam and one half gallon of jelly.

July 16th. Al and Joe went back to work for the last day. There is so many kinds of fruit here. The cherries are ripe and big peaches are setting on.

July 17th. The boys cut oats today. We got a letter from Mr. Keal so I think we will start for the Alsea Bay next Monday.

July 18th. The boys are cutting wheat for Grandpa Barnes. The children are both well again. How I wish our box would come and we could get moved.

July 19th. Joe went to Portland. Al was home all day. He made three ax handles. I washed and ironed, getting ready for the trip to the (cut off).

July 20th. Al and Joe worked for Mr. McKenny. I picked more blackberries.

This McKenny is likely Elijah McKenney who is in the Corvallis census in 1880. He was born in New York in 1830 and is no known relation. He gives his parents as born in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I can find no information on his parentage and don’t observe him before the 1860 census in Washington County, Oregon, where his name is spelled McHennie. In the 1870 Washington County, Oregon census he is Elijah McKinney b. 1825 in Illinois. He is dead by 1900 and his daughters give him as born in New York. Melva Butts was the wife of Elijah McKenney and was born in Iowa. Her father was John Butts who seems to appear in the 1840 Van Buren census with 3 sons and 1 daughter, which matches the ages of his children from a Rootsweb page.

July 21st. Al worked for McKenny and Joe for Barnes. They both helped me pack. This evening they took the organ, stove, tool chest and trunk over to Beaverton to load on the train for Corvallis.

July 22nd. Sunday. We stayed at Barnes’ last night. The boys harvested for him and I did the housework. I also went over and finished packing up our things.

July 23rd. We got up early and after breakfast got ready for the train. We left Beaverton at 10 o’clock. We got to McMinnville for dinner. Elmer Briggs met us there. Got to Corvallis at 5:45 and stopped at the Ordintle Hotel. We had a good room.

July 24th. We left Corvallis at 9 o’clock on the regular stage with … load. Stopped at a nice little stream (Mary’s River) and had our dinner. We traveled over very rough road until nightfall. We stopped at the (…) of a hill at Mr. Underhill’s . We were treated very well. This is the usual stop. Mr. Underhill has accommodations for the horses too.

July 25th. Started out at 7 o’clock and went over the roughest road I ever saw. We ate our dinner in the woods by a nice spring. Tonight stay at a very “Tony” house in the mountains.

July 26th. This is a day to be remembered. We went about three miles and up Pioneer Mountain, one and one half miles long. Then down the side and up another mountain almost as high. We were getting pretty hungry by that time but could find no place to buy bread. We were trying so hard to get to Newport on the Yaquina Bay. More mountains had to be crossed and when we got about two miles East of Newport we came to a log six feet through that had fallen across the road. It was on fire is why it fell. Lots of trees were burning. Since we could ride no further, the children and I walked to Newport to find lodging for the night. It was dark by this time and we could find no place to lay our weary heads. We had to walk back to the stage. We bought some bread and butter before we started. The children were crying. They had walked so far and still had two more miles to go / Oh dear, what a time. We passed through dark, lonely forest–dark as pitch. Al carried burning torch for light. We passed a lonely graveyard and a lonely shack where no one lived. We could hear the coyotes howling around us. Al yelled to see how close we were getting to the camp. Something answered. Later the driver told us that what we heard and what answered Al were dangerous cougars. We at last reached camp and had our supper. It was a relief to get to the fire. The children were terrified in the dark forest. The children went to sleep rolled in a blanket next to that fallen log. The men all lay on the ground and slept but I stayed up and kept watch until morning.

July 27th. The boys worked hard and got the log sawed in two. We got to Newport about 10 o’clock. Not much but sand to pull thru and not much of town either. We crossed the Yaquina Bay on a ferry. Then more deep (…) and until we reached the ocean beach where the sand was hard. The wind blew hard and cold. We traveled on until we came to Seal Rocks, the loveliest place I have ever seen in all my travels. A few miles farther on we came to a lonely house where an old man lived all by himself, Geo. Collins. We were all tired, hungry and cold. I helped Mr. Collins cook dinner. Then, Joe and Elmer went on to Al Grigg’s across Alcea Bay.


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July 28th. We started out this morning on the beach and soon came to the Bay. Joe, Elmer and Al Briggs met us there with the ferry. The ferry was a scow large enough to hold our organ, boxes and so forth, yet pulled only by a rowboat Our teamster went back. We crossed the Bay and walked about one and one half miles to Brigg’s place. Ollie was so glad to see us and we all had a good time.

July 29th. We all went to the village of Waldport and our things were moved into a shake shanty where we will live until we get our house built, on our Claim. I fixed up everything I could, then got dinner. After dinner I gave Ollie a music lesson. They stayed until dark and we all had fun.

July 30th. We walked south about two miles on the ocean beach to our claim. (This was not a claim in the usual sense but school land that they had paid for outright.) We found a place by a spring where we will build the house. We came home through a fog. We got some clams out of the ocean beach and Joe shot two grouse. I cooked them all for supper. We were all tired. We also found some nice shells and stones on the beach. The boys will hunt up a long to make shakes to build our house.

July 31st. Al went to the store and got a wash board. Then he and Joe went to look for a cow to buy. I washed and went to hang out my clothes on some salmon-berry bushes. I looked down through the bushes and there on the ground was an old skull staring up at me. It was a human skull – an Indian’s. It must be very old because it has green moss growing on it in patches. Well, we are a long way from Minnesotta and things are different here in Oregon.

The End.

Comments
4 Responses to “1883 Diary of Charity Alice McKenney Reynolds Barnes”
  1. jeanette barnett says:

    Just wanted to mention the Elijah McKenney you mentioned was an ancestor of mine. His wife, Melva Butts McKenney was the daughter of Catherine Bonnett Butts, who died on the Meek Cutoff (oregon trail) in 1845. (A movie is coming out this year about Meek Cutoff). I have a 9 page interview of Melva McKenney done in the early 1920’s. Thanks for posting your very interesting diary. Loved reading it!

  2. admin says:

    Jeanette, thanks for this information. If you ever post the interview online, let me know. I’d love to read it and link to it.

  3. Bobbi Marcantonio says:

    I am a descendant of Bill Tullock and Melissa Farnsworth Barnes (at least I think so, from what I can find online). I know very little about them. This diary is a fascinating read about these early Oregonians. Do you know anymore about Bill than what is in this diary? I’m wondering who Lit Tullock is? What does Lit stand for? Thanks!

  4. admin says:

    Bobbi, no, I’m sorry but that’s all the information I have on the Tullock family.

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