Trip across the Plains in Covered Wagon in 1852 Affords Interesting

Experiences for Mrs. Iowa Taylor

Hillsboro Argus - July 29, 1926 Edward C Robbins Interview (Page 1, Col 1)

Only a few days after a major operation, Mrs. Iowa Taylor, pioneer of Washington County in 1852 recently faced the Argus   interviewer on the firing line. Eighty two years of age and possessing an iron physique Mrs. Taylor a resident of Scholls is rapidly on the road to recovery.

Within 10 days following the removal of an eight pound tumor she sat up in her bed in Dr. Smith's Hospital joking with her attendants. Mrs. Wilson, head nurse, contrasts this with the case of a young person who as a recent patient in the hospital. The individual had a half-pound tumor removed. For more than two weeks following the operation a special nurse was with the person.

“Modern inventions are simply too wonderful for my min d to comprehend” declared Mrs. Taylor. “Even the field of medicine has seen a marked improvement since the date of my birth in Iowa, February 3, 1844.

When she crossed the plains in 1852 even anesthetics were in their experimental stages. The University of Edinborough was still perfecting chloroform. Ether was to be developed in Boston a score of years later. If Mrs. Taylor had underwent her operation in the fifties she would have gone through unavoidable pain which undoubtedly would have resulted in death.

One of the darkest years in the history of covered wagon transportation to the Pacific Coast was 1852. In addition to a larger than usual number of Indian attacks, that terrible pestilence black cholera, weeded out emigrants by the thousands.

“I remember running on to one train where the terrible disease had wiped out a number of the men and women,” declared Mrs. Taylor. “A long line of children stood at one side of the wagons.

“Who are they?” I asked

“Children of the victims just buried who met their death from cholera” was the reply. Present day knowledge of science and material medica was unknown. We even lost a young doctor in our train because he was unable to keep off the disease.”

Often the trains traveled by night fearing India attacks. At one spot our train stopped in a kind of natural camping spot, which it was believed would be safe from Indian attack.. One of the drivers spotted a note pinned to a stick in sort of a hiding place, but yet so placed that it was easily seen. He opened it and read a penciled warning addressed to any train that might happen to stop there. “For God's sake don't camp here” read the note as I remember it. “This is written by a member of a wagon train that has gone in advance of you. Here, our train was attacked by the natives. There is a natural hiding place for them in the underbrush and other spots around here. We possess information that other trains were also attacked too.”

“Hitching up, our drivers advanced for five miles before another camping spot was found. I tell you, they placed a heavy guard around our animals that night. Of course, there was always an armed guard set out when we camped.

“Great was our relief when our train joined a larger one later on in the journey.”

Wagon trains traveled every day in the week, Sunday included. Occasionally a half-day stop was made by some stream to wash up and remove some of the dust. The train Mrs. Taylor was with was rather fortunate, but under constant fear during the entire trip. Trains in front of the one she was a member of and in back of hers were continually meeting with casualties from the Black Cholera and Indian massacre. Mrs. Taylor once slipped from under the seat and the wagon wheels passed over her, but for some reason she wasn't scratched.

The journey was long and tiresome. There were no milestones to mark the right-of-way. Only the broken trail of wagons that had gone before gave the emigrants their directions. Buffalos and other wild animals were most important sources of food. They were killed enroute. The oxen lived on prairie grass and drank the water which for the most part came from streams with their sources in the Rockies and the Cascades. Mrs. Taylor recalls how the animals would attempt to stampede when thirst was the stimuli as they were approaching a cool mountain stream after a hot dry day's advance.

Reaching a point where the trail broke off the Oregon Trail, David Wiggington, father of Mrs. Taylor, deliberated for a long time, trying to determine whether or not to go to California. Some of her relatives had gone to the so called rich Sacramento Valley in the `50's. But the weight of evidence in his mind favored the “rich Willamette Valley.”

“We're here in peace in Oregon. We're here in peace with the Indians” - these words by Mrs. Duniway, and early pioneer, as remembered by Mrs. Taylor made up in part a song sung on entering the Oregon Country. “We used to sing almost everything,” she declared. “My only criticism of the radio is that classical stuff is sung. I don't even understand a word of it.”

Since her arrival in Oregon, Mrs. Taylor has lived almost all her life in Yamhill and Washington Counties. Her first days were spent in the vicinity of Lafayette. Among ere neighbors there was the Scott Family. She knew Harvey Scott, late editor of the Oregonian almost as well as her own brothers. She tells stories of how she made some of her spending money nursing his sisters and brothers.

“I remember once how Harvey, along with my brothers and some other youngsters in the neighborhood, went out to eat some camas roots. Of the two varieties only one was good to eat. The Indians always advised us as to the good from the bad. Well, the boys got hold of the bad. The result was temporary blindness. My, but that was a frightened bunch of boys as they made their way back to the cabins, hardly able to pick their way alone. Their sight soon recovered, but never again did they sample the camas,” said Mrs. Taylor.

In the fall of 1863 she married S.P. Taylor. They moved to Eastern Oregon in Umatilla County, residing near an Indian reservation. But shortly Mr. and Mrs. Taylor moved back to the Willamette Valley. To this union was born William David, deceased; George Harvey, who is fishing at Seaside; Mrs. Laura Ellen Cromo, living in Portland; Mrs. Mary Amanda Sorenson, deceased; and S.P. Jr., who is also fishing at Seaside.

NOTE: This was retyped from a transcription of the original newspaper article. I have not personally seen the article, so there may be errors I am not aware of. Candy-Lea Chickite


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