Philip Condit, Pioneer of 1854
The following series of letters were published in the News-Times, Forest Grove, July 1959 and contributed for inclusion in my web site by L. Jane Gray of Gleneden Beach, OR.
News-Times, Forest Grove, July 16, 1959--
"Letters Tell of Pioneer Family's Planned Trek To Oregon Territory--
With the celebration of Oregon's centennial year, many residents have gone digging in old trunks, pushed in some dark corner of the attic, hunting for some long treasured relic of Grandpa and Grandma's day. Some of the results have provided much of interest to see and read for those who look back to the 'good old days.' and for those who never saw them.
The C.C. Condit family of 1646 Douglas, Forest Grove, is no different. Condit, who is employed by the Waltz-Wieber Agency, and Mrs. Condit have been digging up information and historic records about the Condit family as a hobby for many years. On a recent trip to California they acquired some new data on the family, including two letters written in 1853 and 1854 and a diary written by Condit's great-great-uncle as he and his family crossed the plains from Ohio on their way to Oregon.
When Philip and Nancy Condit, with their family, set out from Wood County, Ohio, in 1854, they knew they faced a long hard trip across the rugged land, with danger from bad water, Indians, sickness and the thousand and one other troubles that might befall them on the trail, but they weren't easily discouraged.
At the time of the trip, Philip Condit was 53 years old and Nancy 48. He was a Presbyterian minister and had as his main purpose for coming, the establishment of a church, which he eventually did near Albany.
Seven Children--There were seven children who made the trip also, the two eldest boys bringing their wives with them. They were 27, 25, 21, 20, 16 and 12 years of age.
The family began planning for its journey several years before they actually left their Ohio home and during that time they wrote to many of their friends, encouraging some of them to join their wagon train.
A copy of the two original letters still owned by the Condits follow:"
"Mr. Robert Gordon
Mercer Co, PA
Weston Wood Co
Sept. 3, 1853
Brother R.C. Gordon,
After my respects to you all I would say to you that we are all in reasonable health at present. We have had a very dry summer here so that the crops are suffering a good deal in consequence of it. The railroad is progressing rapidly as possible. It goes along about a miles from our house. I guess, however, we will not see the cars running on it this fall.
I send by next mail a packet of papers in which you will find a series of letters written by a Mr. Smith of Oregon Territory. Sylvanus sent them to me and I got them printed in this paper for the benefit of those who wish to go to Oregon. You can read them to our friends on mill creek, Sylvanus thinks of coming home this fall to see us, but not to stay. He thinks some of driving cattle next summer, but I do no know what he will do.
Where's The Railroad?--I wonder what has become of your railroad of which you wrote last winter from your town to Mercer. I have heard nothing of it since, hence, I conclude that is all ended in a few trips in the mud from your town to Alexander or some other town or city to Mercer. You have never told us about how it came out.
I wish you would come out and see us and bring your good lady along and let us have the pleasure of becoming acquainted with her. It is Saturday and of course I can not write much. I will therefore leave this for some of the rest to finish if they will. Give our love to all inquiring friends.
Your Affectionate Brother,
Merton, Wood Co, Pa
Jan. 31, 1854 "
"Brother R. C. Gordon,
We received your letter of the 16th in due season and were very glad to hear of your welfare and that of the friends.
The great question of going to Oregon is settled, we are all going, and if you wish to go with us, come immediately. I wish, however, to view everything in the light of providence. The Lord sent us a man yesterday, and according to our wish, we have sold our land. He is to pay us $2,500 dollars for it in a few days. He lives somewhere about the mouth of the portage river and his name is Gray.
Start in March--We calculate to start about the first of March or near that time as we can. Sylvanus wants to know immediately what you are going to do about going along or letting him have money to buy cattle with. He has an offer of money from another man, but if he gets yours he thinks he will not take that and moreover he must let the man know very soon what he is going to do so that he can have the money ready for him. Sylvanus lot a letter yesterday from Iowa which states that oxen are high. I think from 60 to 75 dollars a yoke, and most things about in proportion to that.
The present calculation is for us all to start from here about the first of March. Our present idea is that we will take horses and 4 wagons or we might say three 2-horse wagons, one 2-horse buggy and when we get out to the starting place buy oxen and put to the wagons.
We have put up advertisements to all our personal property on next week Friday. I feel (mallenkelly) to write much, therefore you have to do with ? .
I was going to say something about your taking your children with you if you go but perhaps I had better not. I do not know certain whether Mr. Black will let Nancy go but I guess it is rather doubtful and if he don't I would like to have Nancy Lucetta very much but I do not want to persuade you for fear I might do wrong. Look to God for direction and decide and wish and let us know. I must close now. It is late and the boys want to start to Penneebough before day. I remain your affectionate sister.
Philip Condit Trail Diary
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