contributed by Molly McDade Hood
all rights reserved
Note: The following letters were transcribed from the originals which are currently in the possession of Molly McDade Hood. They are provided for your information and enjoyment. Duplication for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without her written permission.
*i Earliest surviving letter:
Written to Mr. William Woodland, Wooster Wayne Co Ohio
June 21st 1852
My Dear Brothers and Sisters
I am now a great ways off from but my mind is with you constantly. I am not forgetting you though I am daily speeding further from and almost hourly seeing new objects. I wish you were all with me. I should be much more happy then I am without you. I feel anxious to know how you all are and know you feel the same for me. I have enjoyed very good health most of the way. I was very sick for two days but am quite well now. I do not feel anyways discouraged the country so far is very romantic and pleasing for more than I had expected. I am glad I came to see it and wish you had too. After we left Independence we traveled over a hundred miles of beautiful landscapes until we came to the Wakarusa River. The river as far as the eye could reach I could see land covered with fine grass with a little timber here and there then high hills away off in the distance. Some of our sunsets and sun rising seen were lovely beyond description the aforementioned river being very high from some heavy rains we had had sometime before. We could not cross for a few days after reaching it and camped two miles from it then heard it was so crowded with companies waiting for it to fall so we stayed there two days then went down the river and had to stay on its banks three days before we could get over. All that time was one ?scene of business. The Indians were ferrying across it the price of two dollars and half a wagon some men were making rafts and some swimming their cattle and mules and horses over after the third day of raising the beds of our wagons we went over. Mrs. Perry and children and myself was road over by the Indians in the canoe the Chief of their tribe sat in one end of it and helped us in and out with as much politeness as anyone could wish. After that the timber becomes more and more scarce I have traveled a good many miles and not seen and woodland excepting myself. We crossed a number of small streams. Some we forged some had toll bridge which we had to pay for each wagon 25 cents. We have had some very fine weather and some were storming some nights the wind would blow so hard as to blow down our tents and threaten to overturn our wagon and the rain fell in torrents but for all that we push along keep moving whenever it is fine we cannot go in the rain on account of the oxens necks they get sore under the yoke. Then if we do we ferried the core river and expect to some more we reached Platte River on the first day of June and Fort Kearney where I sent my last letter from. We journeyed on the banks of the river until the 12th before we crossed it is a lovely stream about three quarters of a mile wide filled with island of all sizes covered with fine grass and most of these have some shrubbery on them. The stream is shallow but very swift we had considerable difficulty in crossing over but got over safely at last after that we had to travel late at night before reaching the North Platt for there was no water to be had between the two rivers but we did not reach it that night before we came into ask ?hallow among the mountains storms came on we could not see which way to go only when the lightning flashed fearfully around us then we stopped on the brow of a hill we didn’t date to venture down at night we have no music here excepting when the wolves give us a serenade and that is almost every night. They come very close to our camp sometimes I have seen some antelopes and buffalos but not many they keep mostly behind the hills. If Rosa and Henrieta Liopolid were here you could gather flowers of various kinds all along the way and Ed and Bill and Tom and fright young and Will and Jimmy and Emma and her pall think you could all find enjoyment in your own way there is everything here to inspire ?apoits vision rocks hill vales flowers streams and every material form the visionary to work upon in two days after we left Ash Hollow we came in sight of the solitary tower a huge rock standing alone which at a distance looks like a court house then there was Chimney Rock then several bluffs until we came to Scots Bluff here my ?towing and pen fails to give a description the scene was magnificent and grand. But somewhat difficult to get through at no accidents happening of the tears as I heard of the remainder of that day and part of the ? new road *ii was considerably sandy we camped at night close by the relics of an Indian camp which had been demolished by some means we have not yet learned. The skeletons of human bodies were there and on every indication of violence having been committed their war feathers a few beads from after the bones their blankets and clothes and ? kids or hides ? were scattered all around but I close for I never can tell you all until I see you all again. Tell the Widow Smith I saw her son John today he is very well the train he is on has had a good sickness in it they have lost six men by death but the company is getting better now. I probably shall not have another opportunity of writing to you again until I come to Oregon. Give love to Father and Mother. Yours forever, Mary Woodland
Mr. and Mrs. Perry send their respects to you and all enquiring friends.
*i The Emigrant Trail is the name collectively applied to the network of wagon trails throughout the American West during the middle 19th century, used by emigrants from the eastern United States to settle lands west of Rocky Mountains. The term specifically applies to three interrelated routes: the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, and California Trail. An estimated 500,000 emigrants used these trails from 1843-1869, with up to one-tenth dying along the way, usually due to disease.
*ii The trail itself passed through Mitchell Pass, a gap in the bluffs flanked by two large cliffs. Although the route through Mitchell Pass was tortuous and hazardous, many emigrants preferred this route to following the North Platte river bottom on the north side of the bluff. Passage through Mitchell Pass became a significant milestone for many wagon trains on their way westward
Sent to Mr. Thomas Woodland, Wooster Wayne County Ohio (FATHER)
October 1852 (no date listed) received November 11, 1952
My Dear Father and Mother,
I know by this time you are extremely anxious to her what has become of us and where we all are. I have not had any opportunity of relieving your anxiety until now since I last wrote to you at Fork Kerney. Since then I have passed through aggregate many changes a variety of scenes we have traveled along long wearisome road over rocks and mountains through swamps and deserts rivers of great and small some days we would go along pretty smooth and some extremely rough. In my last letter I told you our journey was charming and full of delights and so it was then flowers bloomed all around us and grass grew abundantly but that did not last more than one fourth of the way. Prickly pear began to take the place of grass and for days very little else could be seen. The land is barren of anything else where that grows spontaneously then we entered the Black Hills so called from there being covered with little scrubby pine which gives them a black appearance in the distance this road being very hard and solid and covered with fine clean gravel is very bad on the cattle’s feet the hoof will wear through to the quick if it were not for putting moccasins on. A great many teams would not be able to travel. Mr. Perry fared better in that respect than any other I have seen he left one steer on Platt River with sore feet but never had to stop to rest on that account with any of the rest. The Black Hills fills my idea of the sea in storm when the whole surface is covered with great billows of various sizes it is wild and grand to look at but hard for the teams to go over. One day we went ten miles and locked out wagons thirty three times then comes the wild sage brush and grease wood dust and sand. If you ride in the wagon you are almost suffocated with the dust and heat to get out and walk you must follow in the road after the teams over our shoes pot in sand and dust or else have your clothes torn and your flesh scratched with the briery wood. I hope I never see another bush of wild sage as long as I live for hundreds of miles that nasty brush is everywhere day after day we traveled as our teams were getting weaker our provisions lower and our selves wishing we were through then came the Rocky Mountains. They are sublime lofty columns of clean rock not a shrub not sphere of grass to be seen sweet water river winds all among these were crossed this stream nine times the road running through valley of the first range is very level after that we went up and down to our hearts satisfaction. Mrs. P (Perry) drove most all the way from Independence to Fort Hall then the horse they brought from Wooster Grove out and could not work anymore her and Mary and me attended to that while Mr. P (Perry) and his men the two ox teams. Mrs. P and me had lively times on the road we would drive on the top of the mountains then like the Dutchman from all ? high places see come down again and think day be ?(roddin) it is strange when we look back and see the dangers we have come through we had the courage to press on but all fear and dread seems to leave us and all that matters is to push on get through with your life if you possibly can. I am sure Mrs. P (Perry) and myself have drove up and down places we would shudder at to make the attempt at home but we all had our health very well and enough to eat and drink which many a poor emigrant is now starving to death for the want of there has been a great deal of sickness and death on the plains. It is very few families have come through without leaving some behind sickness and death was in almost every camp. It is supposed that two thousand wagons are yet back the people of Oregon are sending out food and teams to help them in but many will never receive help. Sufficient quantity cannot be sent in time over such roads they have to go some have entirely lost their teams, cattle have died by the thousands from Green River to the Blue Mountains dead cattle completely lined the road. I have frequently seen a dozen dead cattle lying in sight of each other. Mr. Perry lost nine head and eight yoke and four head of horses two off his wagon. He was fortunate enough to sell when his teams gave out a fine mare he bought at Independence he lost on Platt River by the wolves they tore her to pieces when she was picked close by the carol. She did not live long after we drove two wretches off he traded one ? and calf already ? of the Cascade Mountains for an Indian Pony we stopped to rest one day before we entered the mountains while Mr. Perry and his men were herding their stock. Two Indians of an Oregon tribe came and drove a pony off nothing has been seen or heard of since we had just passed the summit of the mountains when a storm cause on we escaped the snow but not the rains for two days and nights. Mrs. Perry and me had not a dry thread on us our teams giving out we had to walk all the way off the roads from the beginning to the end. The Cascades dares off the palm we frequently had to take off the cattle and lock all the wheels and rapt (wrapped?) log chains so t0 plow the ground then tie ropes behind and through then around trees to let them down. Storms in the cascades is very severe on stock. Mr. Perry wished you to have his nots collected and get the money ready and he will let you know in a few weeks what disposals to make of his property so that he may receive it here. Mr. Geary will give him information on how to receive a check on the bank here he has take a claim and wants his money. We got in to Oregon City on the eighth of October all well. I shall write to Anne in a week and then I will tell you all I know about Oregon so far we like it well. Write me directly give my love to all. Direct your letters to me Lafayette Yamhill County Oregon. Yours truly, Mary Woodland
Addressed to Mrs. Martha Woodland, Wooster Wayne County Ohio
March 29th 1853
My Dear Mother,
I received your letter on the fourteenth of this month and should have answered immediately but the mail from Lafayette only goes out once in two weeks. I was getting very impatient for answer s to some of my letters but now the intervals of hearing tiding from each other I hope hence forth will be of shorter duration. I was rejoiced to hear that William was going to school, tell him to write me a letter. I feel anxious for him to improve his intellect and also that the other children were all learning to write. I shall be very happy to read their letters in their own handwriting. Tell them I will answer each one separately and by doing we can hear so often from each other we need not live in such suspense of each other’s welfare as we have done this last year. I received your letter in the evening the next morning I took it over to Mrs. Perry. They live about four miles from me but that is no distance here they were glad to hear from home and like myself wondered how such false rumors without any foundation could get circulated. We never had any difficulty with the Indians accepting they stole one pony the other side of the Cascade Mountains. Had it not been for trading our clothes with them we should have been hungry many a time. I parted with a good many of mine and threw the rest way so that like Perry man I had no clothes at all when I got into Oregon. Mrs. Perry got all her good clothes and all her new stuff she packed up through Lafayette but after I got in Oregon I soon made up my loss more than ever. I got acquainted with Mrs. Burton directly and she took as much interest in me as if I had been belonging to her. She has a good heart and plenty of means to do good with. I do not know what I would have done without her. You no doubt wonder how I got married so soon (December 25, 1852). I should not had I had my friends with me I think. I should have wanted some time longer but I found my situation very lonely not knowing anything of Mr. Sterling or family. I was disappointed in the society I thought to have so Mrs. Burtons home was the only one I could feel at home in. I had several other opportunities some Mrs. Perry thought I ought to take but I consulted my own judgment on that matter when I gave my consent. Mr. Tidd offered me any money I wanted to get ready with but I told him if I were never married I could nor would not take one cent form him until he was my husband. He then went to his Aunt Mrs. Burton and told her to get me anything I wanted and he would see all right for. I would not take anything from him. She told me Christmas day was a favorite day of the family and if I would consent she would do all in her power to assist me. I told her my parents had raised me while I had my health to receive no favors from anybody that looked like charity. She has a large family of small children and has not time to do her sewing but has a great deal of it to do so I told her as I was going to board with her sometime after my marriage. I would take money from her and sew for her afterwards so I had not much to do until Mr. Tidd builds our house. I should be glad to do so and she was so glad at me and said it would favor her so much as me from the time I came into Oregon until I was married I earned by my needle 20 dollars and five I brought with me then Mrs. Burton bought me 30 dollars more of things so I had every decent and comfortable outfit of clothes and this in appease of my wedding dress *i and my collar the price of the silki was two dollars a yard eight yards made me a full dress the collar one dollar. Give the collar to Anne the rest yourself these beads you can divide among you Rosa, Gemma, Anna. I got them off the skull of an Indian on the banks of Platt River. You wrote you wished I would write a were coming home again. I hope to see you all at home some day but I cannot tell you when. I could not think of wishing Mrs. Tidd to leave Oregon now and go to the states though my heart is there with you but my reason tell me I had better stay here for awhile he has worked hard and accumulated some property and is now in a fare way making money besides his farm which he is now improving all this time. We have 45 head of cattle and nine head of horses and all his lumber for his house paid for. He is a carpenter by trade and not a cent in debt to anybody. I am very glad I was not married at home that is in Worster. I do not think I shall ever risk coming to Oregon. We are not living in or near our house yet but in a little place. So we can hold our land we expect to get into it in a few weeks though I am very comfortable now I should feel more happy if there was a Baptist Church but there is not. I have not heard a Baptist sermon since I left home. I expect to hear Mr. Geary every other Sunday and Mr Woodward they are fine mend and ministers of God. You bid me the ? of the mercy of him ? brought me through. T thank you for your admonition it was the least you could give me God was not only merciful to me on the road but crowned me with mercy ever since and though I have him aft forgot his loving kindness changes not I know you pray for me. I often thought I could feel the influences of the holy prayer around me. I know my own thoughts have been directed more to heaven and on heavenly things then ever there were before I came away. I believed for some wise purpose his providence led me there and I feel as if I can firmly trust him for my life here on earth wherever it may be and my hope and joy in a world to come.c
Mr. Perry wishes farther to forward the money they all send their respect to you Richard Percan wishes farther if he pleases to see if there is any letter from England for him and if so send them to Portland, Washington County. William Sloughton left Perry on the plans I have not heard anything of him since. He was a fine boy but could not get along with Perry’s nor hardly anybody else. I was glad you went to see Aunt Jane and Mary I shall write to them and give my love to Mrs. Voctrible and Jane Norton. I was sorry to hear of so many deaths. Give my love to all and tell them not to forget me. Yours Truly, Mary Woodland Tidd and ? (Riley)
i Her wedding dress was a two-piece gown of silk faille, trimmed with lace and beads. On her head she wore a silk hairnet held by a wreath of orange blossoms
This letter is written by W. H. Tidd and he is telling his wife’s sister, Rose, that Mary has died. Martha & Carey were Mary Woodland and W.H. Tidd’s daughters.
September 29, 1862
Dear Sister Rose,
I am now at home by myself with nobody to speak to. Writing to you hoping to find you all well as it lives me and myself at present. Last Sunday I took Martha and Carey to church and tomorrow take Stuart to Portland for a short time. I received your and Fathers letters and answered Fathers. I now answer yours in the first place I must tell you when I wrote to you last you told me you had not received my letters so I thought I would write to express I sent one to you and one to your Mother by way of Fargo Express thinking you would be sure to get them and answer me your. But they were in the Steamer that was burnt so now I will send this by mail. Given you told me in that you and the tooth ache I must say I putty you and that is all I can do for well I know what it is to have although I have never had it myself but poor Mary. Nobody can tell what she suffered with it but her suffering is all over with now. Dear Rose there is one that you did not tell me that is Mary, age the reason I want to know is to put it on her ?timeline and in her bible. I know approximately but not exactly and when I have done that I have done all I can to her memory in the world. Martha and Caroline are quite at home at Mrs. ?Vawny and well cared for but they are well good for it. One of Mrs. Burton’s Daughters is not expected to live she is sick with the measles and they settled in her lungs. Rose I know you will be very disappointed when you read in your Fathers letters and this to think that I am disappointed with you in not coming there at present but Rose you must consider that it is a long way and very expensive and to go there to stop a few weeks for I couldn’t stop long and offer leaving my children that I could not think of me and them shall never be further that was Mary’s wish although I would sooner then be with you than anybody else but were I could never see then that can never be I do not wonder that you wish them there but you must consider I am not their Mother and they are my only tie on earth. Last Spring it was my full determination to come and see you if you only knew my losses you would not blame me. Do not think that I am too poor to come no I have plenty but it is in property mostly and that I have plenty and as for being stingy that I am not but too much the other way. From the time I was 14 years old I traveled until I met with your Sister and then I was last ready to start in again and I think it would be wrong for me to spend from Mary’s children what she is helped to have for them. Dear Rose when you get this I hope you will not be mad with me but write of what but more frequent until twelve o’clock but take one afternoon once a week to write me. You told me in your last to take care of your letters you sent Mary. I have all done up and put away and nobody should see them until Martha is big enough to take care of them. I have Mary’s guitar and ? accedentily and Mary has her bonnet and other things. I will take care of everything belonging to her I should like you to have some of her things to keep if I could send them with ? Suiftoy. Dear Rose I see in your last letter that you have declined my offer of coming here too see us and I say this if at anytime you should take a notion that you would like to come say so and I will send you the money to come with me pay your expenses back so you would be out nothing. I told your Father in his letter that if you wished to come to take the money he has for Perry and I will pay him but I suppose you will not come for nothing would give me better pleasure than to see some of you. Mary and me would talk more about you than any one of the family so you might ? I know you pretty well. You have never seen me so you do not know me and for that reason I wish it was possible for me to come and see you but I cannot at present and that is not the case with you but I suppose you have other flies ties more binding than that and I f you have I do not blame you and maybe you haven’t but you say as I say home is home sweet sweet home there is no place like home that I know to my sorrow and praise if what I have ? intend at is ? true I think you must let me into the ? and I will keep it but if you do wish to come ask your Father for the money and come right away. The State Fair is now a going on about 60 miles from here and nearly everybody is going but me. And if Mary was alive I would no nor if ? staped away than nothing but now I have no interest for such places I now it will be worth seeing. Rose I must tell you about Miss ? Carey her and Amandey ?udit last week that is Mrs Unwns / Vawns daughter she is about 20 years old. Well her and Carey had a dispute about something and Carey spit in her face and said she didn’t like her and would not call her Mother any more but she didn’t whip her for it but laughed at her so you may think what kind of a place they are at but to it is not Carey’s fault but mine for when she was at home I used to take her in my lap and ? play her and spit in her face and would spit in mine and Mary and we would laughed at her so it is not her fault but that is nothing. Rose you spoke in your letter about me sending them and only Im that for a short time and that was on account of Mrs. Burton being sick and than they seen one another everything and now I must close so good bye for the foremost and write me soon and not put it off from time to time. I read your letters over and over again and I still promise your affectionate Brother. W. H. Tidd.
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