Alice Rockefeller Reminiscences

Robin Barron at, a Rockefeller Family Researcher, was kind enough to donate the following information. It is important to note that early records list the surname as Rockfellow as well as Rockefeller.

William Hurst Rockfellow was the child of Henry Rockefeller and Elinor Hurst, from Indiana. He came from a long line of Rockefellers, those of Hunterdon Co, NJ.

William Hurst Rockfellow married Angeline Hendrix in Indiana. They emigrated to the west in 1853 with the Beeson party. The Rockfellow brothers, William, Albert and George are closely associated with Jackson county history. The census for Jackson County in 1854 includes father Henry Rockefeller.

Alice Rockfellow Meachum Fostr Ough was the eldest daughter of William and Angeline Rockefeller. Roger Davis of Ventura, a direct descendant of Alice, donated copies of her story to the Southern Oregon Historical Society. A complete copy may be obtained through them. The following is an abstract of that document.

Note: missing text is indicated by periods ............
Note: additional explanations are in brackets [ ]

The Story of My Life

by Alice Rockefeller Meacham Foster Ough

"In the year of 1853 a congregation of men and women were sitting around William Hearst's farmhouse. They were setting up preliminary plans toward setting out on the long trek across the plains. William had been home from the gold mines of California (he was a 49'er miner) about two years........

....There were about 50 wagons, some one-horse, some two and some oxen teams.

It made a fine showing that bright May morning as we started out. Some were laughing and some were crying. It was harder for the women than the men to leave their loved ones. The yard was lined with people with good wishes, both young and old. Many of the men of the neighborhood rode with us to our first camp, and helped to strike the first camp fire. Henry Rockefeller and my father's father travelled two days with us as also did some others.

We had plenty of fun in the evenings up to the time we had to look out for the Indians. We started in early spring and it took us six months on the road. Many of these immigrants were pretty old. They had given up homes that they had lived in all their lives for the sake of making more money, and the trial was great for them. Two years previous to our starting had been terrible times with the Indians massacring the whites. The following year there had been some depredations and we did not just know what our fate would be, so we were on guard all the time. It was proven later that the Mormons were mixed up with us. There was a tenor of fear all of the time; mothers were afraid to let their children out of their sight after leaving the settlement.

We crept along slowly. William's wagons were a light two-horse wagon for his family and a big ox team for provisions, by name Duke and Brandy. We slept in that wagon and I never got up until we were travelling. We had some seamless sacks of soda crackers in this wagon. I remember making breakfast out of these soda crackers, at the same time looking back at my mother and talking. I remember one morning we started very early; we had camped that night without water; the stocks were very dry. We had traveled several miles since starting that morning. All of a sudden an ox whirled out of the team and started to run. They ran quite a distance before they were stopped. Men said they smelled water and we soon came to water....When night came on and our day's drive was finished, our teams circled around with their wagons placing the wagon's tongue up against the next wagon's and all around, making a circle or enclosure so we had a complete circle. Then every man would attend to his horses and guards would take turns watching; others got wood and water, placed tents, and the horses would eat their fill of the long grass; and then the men would tie each by his own wagon, but still the men would patrol the country near us. In order to get water some days the drive would be short, others longer but we always stopped when we reached water.

......[fond memories of the Beeson family]........

Up to this time nothing of moment had occurred, but now some of the horses were giving out, not being very well fed and strong when we started. Amongst the first was my mother's sister and family. They were not very well fixed for such a long trip, so they decided to take up a homestead in a new country where they farmed for a good many years. There were also others who stopped with them in different points in that state. We were not molested by Indians on the trip although they would often visit our camps and beg for mulumuc as they called food........They tried to buy my six month old sister....... They tried to steal her and we had to watch very close or they would have taken her. They followed us many miles to get her.........[at the crossing of a big river] my father with some others contrived a way to cross. They swam over with the stock and took the wagon beds and caught them up and made boats, and families and everything crossed over that way. We crossed without accident and then it took a good many hours to put everything right again. From that place, I don't remember much in crossing the mountains. In some places the rocky ledges and rough places were so bad that the wagons would be let down with ropes.

Our first stop was in Oregon, in Wagner Creek, in the Rogue Valley, a very beautiful one. There had been a big Indian outbreak here the year before we came. The old fort was still standing at Wagner Creek. This creek takes its name from a man who settled first in this place. Afterwards he married a younger sister of my mother's...."

[From this point the reminiscence is of life in Oregon, CA and Washington. It contains an extremely interesting history of the area. Some of the names mentioned include: Beeson, Stearns, Bingham, Dailey and Meachum]

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