Batchellor and Wilson Emigrants of 1853

Contributed by Hazel Kerr Wilson

The following poem was found in an old ledger belonging to Charles DeForest Wilson, my husband's grandfather. The poem was written in beautiful script....I can only assume it was written by Amy Batchellor.  The family in the poem included:  David Batchellor 1807-1879 (s/o Nehemiah and Rachel Batchellor) and his wife Amy Hall Batchelor 1808-1867; Their children---John W Batchellor 1830-1919; Phebe Batchellor  1838-1858; Mary Batchellor 1843-1855; Herman V. Batchellor  1834-1913 (I found them in 1850 census in Griggsville, Illinois): also on the wagon train was Oscar Fitzallen Wilson  1827-1858


                                                                                                     The Oregon Emigrant Family

They left their home in Illinois

To seek a home in Oregon.

They had two daughters and two sons

Named Phebe, Mary, Herman, John.

They safely passed the dangers through

That lurked in mountains, streams, and plains,

And there they fondly hoped to reap

A full reward for all their pains.

But disappointment was their doom

Our fate through life is often such.

They did believe but half they heard,

And even then believed too much.

One-sided were tales they heard

About the western Paradise

And so exaggerated that

They found a number of them lies.

But landed there they felt inclined

To make the best of their sad fate

And like the old Apostle tried

To be content with their state.

Twas in the fall they landed there

And in the winter Herman strayed

Away towards the golden mines

Where many said they fortunes made.

And in the spring the father went

Away from home to seek employ

That he might gain a livelihood

For those that were his earthly joy.



And while he was away from home

Yes, very far from home away

His lovely daughter Mary died.

She died, was drowned, the 1st of May.

She went on board a little boat

With four young girls, companions gay,

Across the dark Willamette’s stream

And there they crowned her Queen of May

Of flowers that bedecked the field

And scented all the air around

With the sweet odors they did yield,

The sun was setting in the wet

The evening shades began to come.

When they concluded to return

Across the river and go home,

They got into their little boat

Their hearts were light nor did they dream

That one of them should lie that night

A lifeless corpse in that deep stream,

But it was so for ere they rowed

Two rods in distance from the shore

The lovely Mary, Queen of May,

Fell overboard and was no more.

Then her bereaved companions all

Poured forth a sad and piercing wail...

Twas borne along the silent stream

Upon the passing evening gale.

Their mothers all were in one house

That stood not far from where they were

And faintly heard the wailing sound

That rode upon the evening air.


And thinking that the happy girls

Were yelling in their childish glee

One of them said unto the rest,

"They have a real jubilee."

Another went unto the door

And there with cheeks all colorless

She soon exclaimed, alas, the noise

Is not of joy, but of distress.

Their cries brought help, but twas too late

For she was gone, oh heavy shock!

Nor did they find her lifeless form

Till the next day at ten o’clock.

Her brother, John, the wailing heard

And ran down to the deep dark stream

And should have plunged in after her

But calmer friends prevented him.

For she was gone, already gone,

Beyond the reach of human power

And then besides, the place she sank

Was over near the other shore.

It was a time of melting grief

For all who knew her loved her well

And mourned that she so young and gay

Should go among the dead to dwell.

Ant then her friends more sadly wept

Because her dying time had come

While Herman was so far away

And her fond father far from home.

They bore her lifeless form away

Unto its last long resting place

And when those loving friends returned

They saw her grave, but not her face.

And the summer following

Their daughter, Phebe, married one

That journeyed with them on the plains

In traveling to Oregon.

His name was Wilson, and he hailed

From Pennsylvania I believe.

He gave his heart and hand to her

And in return did hers receive.

And soon they moved from Phebe’s home

And went to dwell in Butteville town

That stood upon the river shore...

Next to where the lovely Mary drowned.

And then the parents thus bereaved

Of both their daughters sadly sighed

But always felt somewhat relieved

As only one as yet had died.

They often went to Wilson’s house

And stayed a day, a night, or so

And then with heavy heart again

They to their lonesome home would go.

But while they thought of Mary’s form

In mouldering ruins in the tomb,

They thought in transports of her soul

Which soared to heaven, the Christians home.

And soon they hoped to meet her there

With many other kindred friends

Where sorrows tears are wiped away

And rest begins and labor ends.

But soon another trial came,

Their daughter, Phebe, died also

Her first born child sixteen month old

She bade adieu and home did go.

They opened Mary’s resting place

And placed both sisters in one grave.

Tis on a hill above Butteville

A fir tree’s branches o’er it wave.

But, ah, affliction stopt not here

Death came for Mr. Wilson, too

In one short month from Phebe’s death

He bade his infant son adieu.

They bore his lifeless form away

And placed it neath the same fir tree,

And there they slumber side by side..

Two silent graves contain the three.

And Phebe’s parents have her child

And Charles DeForest is its name

They loved its parents tenderly

Their love for it will be the same