The following was contributed by Jeff Scism:
This Journey began April 11, 1847, and Abraham Miller Jr. wrote this
c.1849. (it was presented to Nancy Ann Miller Weiss on October 4,
Note: This transcription is from a booklet presented to his only
daughter, Nancy Ann Miller Weiss, who reprinted it and
gave copies to other family members. This copy is from a booklet in the
possession of Lee Edward Blevins.
of the Journey from Mercer County Illinois to Linn County
Oregon, via the Oregon Trail, in
When in my native land I dwelt,
With friends for whom my Interest felt;
I burst through ties that bind the strong,
And turned my face towards Oregon.
'Twas thus I left my native home-
Through a wild desert land to roam;
And as my team moved slowly on,
My thoughts flew swift to Oregon.
And when we crossed the last state line,
Of well armed men we numbered nine;
Numbers increased the way along-
With young and old five thousand strong.
Whose snow white sheets all in a row,
With crooks and straights made quite a show-
Much like a swan, a passage bird:
(except the lowing of our herds).
Pleasant roads make joyful crew,
Who fancied pleasures always through;
We ate, and drank, and went our way,
Slept sound all night, and moved all day-
Except the sentinel on guard,
Whose fortune here was rather hard;
Just half the night one out of three:
Stand rain or shine was the decree.
The Buffalo looked with surprise-
Whose frightened herds outstripped our eyes-
The Antelope stamped as we gazed;
At such strange site all stood amazed.
Too soon, alas, all pleasure fled,
The wagon was the sick man's bed,
The wilderness our only home,
Where savage men, and wild beasts roam.
Our screaking wheels moved slowly round-
Where sedge and sands so much abound.
The beetle and the gadfly reigns-
Sole monarchs of the sandy plains.
But when we left the sand behind,
Our road with rock or dust was lined;
O'er rapid streams both deep and clear;
Our winding course we had to steer.
Volcanic piles on every hand,
Oft made me think of Sodom's land;
And wonder what unchristian race,
Had brought this region to disgrace?
Where none but reptiles dare to live;
Ad poisoned streams their venom give!
Of fallen man there was no trace-
God's vengeance had removed his race!
God's curse on everything we saw;
Hung like the Mede and Persian law;
The rain forsook the barren ground;
The mountains were turned upside-down.
The boiling springs with curling smoke,
A deep mysterious volume spoke;
Convincing all who stood around,
Of secret mysteries under ground.
When next we met the human race,
Adjacent to this dismal place;
The sight we saw caused all to blush;-
Their clothing was the willow brush.
The cascades blocked the road ahead;
Snow, hail, and rain, with mud to dread:
Fearing our teams could never pass;
We turned aside for better grass.
Columbia's stream we had in view;
It seemed only an avenue-
Through which at last we hoped to gain,
The Promised Land, the long sought plain.
It rained and stormed, and tost our boat,
O'er rocks and sand, and waves afloat:
At length on shallow sands we found,
Our floundering bark had run aground.
The one thing needful now to do:
Was pack ashore the frightened crew;
Kernaccas soon brought us ashore;
And set the boat afloat once more.
And down the stream our boatmen went,
In gaining land some time was spent,
I only thought of saving life;
My greatest care was a sick wife.
O'er brush and logs I had to pack,
Her feeble form upon my back-
While two sick children grasped my coat,
T'was thus at length we reached the boat.
It somewhat calmed and ceased to rain,
Our sick were fed, and dried again;
And with a light and buoyant heart;
All hands got ready for a start.
Soon down the stream with speed we flew,
With full spread sail and joyful crew;
Too soon alas! We danger saw,
The Cascade fall began to draw!
Just as we gave up all for lost,
A mighty wind the current crost,
And drove us to the destined shore-
In safety reached the land once more.
Among the rocks I pitched my tent,
And wandering up and down I went,
To seek some passage around the falls,
Five miles over rock the current rolls.
Three-quarters of a mile or more,
I lugged our package down the shore,
O'er rocky steeps and slippery ground,
The sick, the weak, I carried down.
As winds came howling through the rocks,
The rain increased its heavy drops;
The drenching torrents overhead,
Reached all on foot and all in bed.
Although we'd passed a fearful place,
Fresh dangers hedged our only pass!
The balance of the fearful way,
The angry waves dasht high their spray!
But when we got our all on board,
The tumbling waves like thunder roared;
Three hundred souls witnessed our start:
Dismay had seized the stoutest heart!
The old canoe was now to try,
Whether we live, or whether die!
Lord, in the storm shall we all lie,
Or on the waves our fortune try?
Thou saved us at the rapids head;
Now at the foot we are afraid:
To trust our lives to Thy strong hand,
As safe on water as on land?
Three daring flatheads seated low,
One in the stern, and two in the bow;
With deaf'ning shrieks they snatched the oar-
They waved farewell to all on shore.
Two minutes and a half we spent,
In passing every mile we went;
With speed and safety did we go,
And shipped aboard a boat below.
At length we reached our journey's end;
Our days in Oregon to spend;
With fertile soil and genial clime;
God grant that we redeem our time.
But when I ranged the wilds around,
Few native aborigines I found,
But ancient marks were everywhere,
Like Israel's tribes had once been there.
Thousands of piles of Moss green rock;
Still grace the rugged mountain's top;
To witness covenants unknown,
To us; lie these mysterious stone.
But mouldering bone, sad, sad to tell;
Where many thousands once did dwell;
We thoughtless tread their ashes down;
To cultivate the forest ground.
Who knows but our enlightened race;
In time, to others must give place?
The present age no prophets tell;
Who next upon this land shall dwell.
No antiquarian ever traced;
Mysteries of the ages past-
Mysterious world where none shall know;
What hidden mysteries time shall show.
Oh! slothful muse why fail to tell?
Of who once was, and yet shall dwell?
The past to present may give birth;
And yet, we're strangers in the earth?
Henceforth let us contented be;
With what we learn from what we see,
If more I learn perhaps I'll tell;
But for the present fare you well.