Excerpt From Samuel Moore's Memoirs

 

 

Dear reader; While reading of this trip that reached almost from the northwest to the southwest of the United States and return, remember it was made 40 years ago.

Passenger conductors were not at all like they are today. Some were real “Smart Alecs” and liked to bluff or ridicule a passenger to get a laugh out of the others in the car, also to show importance if they could get away with, and they did most of the time. But I just was not built that way, I always called their bluff and when they found out that I was an Oregon ranchers it was all off with them and I let then know it.

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TRIP TO FLORIDA AND RETURN

I owned a stock ranch of 900 acres on Soap Creek, Benton County, Oregon and raised hogs, cattle and sheep, but made sheep my specialty.

I had sold the ranch in the spring of 1903 and was looking for a new location. By chance a man told me the year before that there was a lumber company in Florida that owned a thousands of acres of cut-over land that they wished to sell to a practical sheep man to demonstrate that sheep in large herds could be successful raised in Florida if up-to-date methods were applied. I wrote them and found they had 20,000 acres of land lying between two rivers and extended north from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico about 10 miles. The sources of the rivers were very large springs and started near each other and just wrapped around this 20,000 thousand acres from the two sides and only about three miles of fencing across the north end. It would have been stock proof—the south by the Gulf of Mexico, east and west by and part of the north by rivers.

Most of a small town belonged to it and from its wharves we could have shipped wool to any good market we chose. The price of all was $1.00 per acre, one-tenth down and 20 years for the balance at three percent interest. There were 1800 sheep on the place for $1.00 per head. Well, it looked good to me so I advertised my ranch for sale and found for everything for cash. I moved the family to town and got ready for the trip. This was in July 1903. I met my friend, W. A. Gellatly in 1899 and we were friends form the first meeting. He owned a large ranch. I told him about the proposition and asked him to go in with me as the layout was large enough for a partner, but he could not let loose of his ranch. (Mr. Gellatly will come in later on another trip.) We went over the proposition on paper together.

So I started on my trip alone, buying my ticket to Florida in Portland. It would take about a week to go one way, and almost a straight-line trip from one corner of the United States to the other, cattycornered, before I would be there. I got a fair idea how large our nation is.

My ticket (about two yards long) was what was called a tourist, and gave permit to buy a common sleeping car, but not in the Pullman car. I started in the evening and passed in the night all of the finest scenery in the northwest—the Columbia river, the gorge, rapids, bridal veil falls and other fine natural beauties. When I awoke I was in eastern Oregon. It was cattle and sheep country with wheat jus creeping up on the stockmen and finally driving them back into rougher lands that could not be cultivated.

One of the railroads ran not fat from he old Oregon Trail ran. There was lots of rough country until we struck the uplands in Idaho. Here it was mostly sagebrush (now fine farms). Our engine broke down way out at a little sidetrack station where we had to wait for hours for another engine. The passengers sat around in the shade of the train telling stories. Of course we could tell as bog ones as we pleased, as there were no others to contradict. All at once a cloud of buffalo gnats settled down on us and their stories changed, slapping gnats and cussing. I noticed that the one who told the biggest story now swore the loudest.

As all things came to an end, the engine came and we were off. Not far from here we struck the highest plateau country. It was the route that half of Lewis and Clark’s band took on the way back from their famous exploring trip in the year 1825. This country north of Denver is really the top on the Rocky Mountains. We arrived in Cheyenne, Wyoming; about 10 in the morning with one hour lay over. A passenger and myself made a bee-line across the square to a barbershop. He went first. The barber at the farthest chair was something to look at. He looked to be at least five different breeds with scars all over his face as if someone has plenty of time and craved every available spot on his face and head with smallpox marks thrown in. He was dark and had a mustache that he could put the ends over his ears. To top it all he had a monster razor at least 16 inches long with an 18 inch handle. Our passenger saw that his turn fell to the chair with the bad looking barber and “flew the coop” while all in the shop had a good laugh. Then I fell heir to his turn. I felt like going out too but stayed with it. After he lathered me I asked if he would grant my request to use his small razor, as I would probably have future use for my ears and nose. He said, “all right” and they all had another good laugh. He was showing the tenderfoot what the Wild West was like. It was a good advertisement and worth seeing.

The next place of interest to me was Greeley, Colorado, the big potato center of the United States. At that time I remember that about 15 years prior to this time, the Salvation Army had picked several families out of the slums of New York City and planted them at Greeley and I was told here that all of them made good.

The prairie was covered with a good growth of grass the everything looked prosperous. Out next stop was Denver. It was surely a nice clean town. We had stopped long enough to eat and change engines. We had just got a fair start when a big thunderstorm came up. The lightening seemed to strike all around us. On monster crash could be heard above the roar of the train. I should judge it lasted about 30 minutes. I imagine it sounded worse to me coming from Willamette valley in Oregon where seldom has an electrical storm.

About dusk something went wrong with the brakes. We were miles from any town. A brakie was sent back to start a red light burning on the track to stop any collision with any train that might be following us. He was probably an eighth of a mile away when he lit the red light. Suddenly a thousand head of cattle began bellowing, with the roar of several bulls. It seemed to come from all sides and you should have seen the brakey run for the train. The passengers cheered him and he made it all right. We were soon rolling along again and before long we were in the recent dust district, but at that time there was plenty of rain and the natural grass had not been plowed up as it is today. Grass, grass everywhere. When we awoke in the morning we were going along a river. There had been a flood. It was sight never to be forgotten. Crops were destroyed on the bottomland, bridges torn up, big barns upset and some carried quite a distance. Houses had been swept away. It was just unbelievable the amount of damage that water can do. Thousands of acres of corn and small grains had been destroyed.

A man who sat in the seat in front of me said: “Do you see those fine buildings on what we call the second bottom? It does not overflow. And do you see that rock sticking out of the bank? It is about six to eight inches and runs in sheets. Well, those rocks made all of those fine buildings.” A German in the early days (when the saying was “it was as hard as the times in Kansas”) notice the hens in the winter went under those sheet rocks where it was washed out and seemed happy. It gave his the idea—why couldn’t he dig out under the rock space large enough for a fire n=box under this and build a chicken house on the rock, build up the front with rock, make a chimney out of the rock at one end and a fireplace at the other. He acted on this and built his chicken house on this rock—it proved a success. A little fire would warm the rock floor and this would heat the chicken house above just right to make the hens lay all winter when eggs were high. The firebox was so that most any old thing could be burned. Wheat was almost nothing and it made this German farmer wealthy. Land was low and he had the dough to buy. I will say that he fed his hens little in the simmer and when eggs were cheap and molted them in summer. He had them laying early in the fall when eggs soared up in the prices. It was just one little thought but he acted upon it and it made him rich.

As we rode through Kansas my mind was turned back to the days when I was a boy back in the 70’s. I remember how tens of thousands drove and led their “all” to that western frontier; some taking up claims, other buying land, full of hope and determined to get homes of their own some day. Others built what was called dug-outs, dug down in the ground with the roofs built above the ground. Others built sod houses by plowing the wild grass sod, cut it into pieces and laid them like brick. Because that latter of the two were warmer, more of them were built. Now reader, can you imagine how these women, and children must have suffered even in time of loneliness, heart, wind and not a tree for miles? Then along came a drought, then grasshoppers that stripped the earth clean. They raised very little the first year; this made three years with without crops. After thousands returned cast. Those who were too poor to get away had to suffer it through and most of these people made good. I remember seeing a long string of wagons going through Illinois. Poor horses, children almost starved; yet some could not help putting signs on their wagons. A few of these I can remember, “In God we trusted, but in Kansas we busted:” “We went bust in Kansas now were are going back to live off our wife’s folks;” Lived in hell three years, we have come back to heaven to live again.” “Went busted in Kansas, we are going back to live on Dad in Posey county, Hooppole, township, Ingeranna (sic).”

One wagon had a fine calf where he got it, the driver said, that “he had traded eight acres of Kansas land for it and as the man to whom he traded could not read, he socked 160 acres on him.” They had gone west full of confidence and hope and after three years of poverty, came back broke financially, in health and in spirit. Volumes could be written in about the suffering of those early settlers. I remember a brother of my father, sold his farm in Illinois for $8000, went to Kansas sank all in three years came back with his wife and five children. The wife soon died and the children were placed out with relatives for a while, but he soon pulled out and went to Dakota, took up a claim and again went through untold sufferings. Later he traded out for a place in Oregon. Then Kansas “came back” with a thud. At the time of this writing western Kansas sis in that awful drought and dust storm area, like the great Arabian desert in northern Africa.

Less than a hundred miles south of this area and but a few years back of that day I rode down what was then the end of the trail. Hundreds of thousands of cattle were driven from Texas to the railroad and shipped to Chicago. It was those days when the cowboys came in after a long drive, sometimes from 500 to 1000 miles and you could not blame them from having an all around good time. I still remember the cowboy stories I heard when I was a kid. Those were the good old days never to come again.

As I entered Kansas City my thoughts went back to the hard times of the 90’s and how this city handled its unemployed. This city had previously had a wonderful boom and when the hard times hit, they had tens of thousands of working people on the point of starvation. Something had to be done quickly. The city issued some kind of script and put men to work grading down hills, (Kansas City is a city of many hills) to level up the streets, put in miles of sewers and to make other improvements. This script served as money. Some of it came to over into Illinois and was redeemed later (when times became good), with no interest to pay. I often wonder why this city’s system was not tired out in our depression. When you come to think of it, our money trust did not have a good hold on our throats then as now. When good times came, Kansas City was all fixed up and ready to go and she grew leaps and bounds. It was all because someone had the gray matter and courage to put it over. We should take our hats off to the unknown hero, whoever he was. He should have been rewarded.

The city showed evidence of the storm above mentioned. The water had been four feet deep in the railroad union depot. One could see the marks it left on the plaster in the waiting room.

As we were in Missouri, my thoughts centered on what Missouri was noted for: First, for its mules, in size and number, and the saying “You must to show me;” the James and Younger brothers. I took the train for St. Louis, and as I rode along, came to some beautiful lakes, their blue surfaces rippled in the breeze. Then again, there was that Kentucky blue-grass covering the ground. A man across the isle said to me; ‘When I was a young man, I fed cattle for a man over in that hollow. It was a cold winter and when I got cold I would go into a large old log house that stood there and built a fire in the big stone fireplace, sit with my feet on the big flagstone which was the hearth and wish I had a bushel of gold. One day I was planting corn; two men drove up in a livery rig and inquired about the old place. They drove on down to the grove that surrounded the log house and hitched their team to a tree. As I was not interested, I did not watch them. A couple of days afterwards I happened to enter the log cabin and there the old flagstone had been lifted. There was a box that would hold over a bushel, lined with newspapers. One was dated 1853. They showed me that the box had been full of $20 gold pieces, by the marks left on the paper. On examining the hearthstone I found there was a small slot drilled through the rock just large enough to drop the $20 gold pieces down. Then I could see what the slim rod was for. He could run it down this slot and level the coins around in the box below; he had it hanging on the wall. You can figure out how many thousands of dollars there was in that box and to think my feet were not six inches from that pile of gold, when I had sat there dreaming of riches.” I asked him how it got there. He replied: “That’s is really a story in itself. It seems that a man settled on this place in the early days and went into the cattle business. Because of all of this country of fine native pasture to run his cattle over, and mild winters, he raised and sold thousands of dollars worth of cattle. He always got his pay in gold. He was an old bachelor and spent practically nothing so he must have buried it around the ranch. He had no relatives there and when he “kicked off,” the eastern relatives ordered the land sold, never coming out to the place themselves. The two men who took the gold were never heard from again—just dropped out of sight, as suddenly as they had come. It was one of Missouri’s mysteries.”

Then he told me of a couple in the hills. He said that farther down on the edge of the Ozark Mountains there was a little valley of a few thousand of acres, which was surrounded by rolling hills covered with blue grass. It had a narrow passage, which made it easy to fence, and paradise cattle ranch. It had a south slope for winter pasture and north slope for summer pasture. It was ideal in the very early history of the state. “My grandfather,” he related, “said that a man and a women, both perfect athletes, came and took possession of this entire valley. The man was over six feet four inches and the woman five feet eleven inches in height. They built a large log house and log barn and then disappeared for a few months and returned with 500 good cattle for that time. As the years passed they sold thousands of head of cattle. These two did their own work, made friends with no one and after a few years a daughter was born to them. She grew to young womanhood. Her mother was killed by a horse falling on her and was buried on the ranch. The daughter, it was said, was beautiful in face and form. About three years after her mother’s death she came out to the settlement to the county seat and asked to hire a man and wife to look after the ranch and she took them and made them familiar with the work. She then returned to town and gave birth to a fine, beautiful baby boy. Of course that made the people talk and they asked her questions and she told them it was none of their business who the father was. This caused some inquiry. They knew that no one had been on the ranch but the father so the authorities went to look for him but he could not be found. They looked up the records and found he had deeded everything to the daughter and had disappeared from that location forever as far as anyone ever knew. This baby grew to perfect manhood and his mother sent him away to college and it seemed that it was just nothing for him to stand at the head of all examination; also in all sports it was the same. He was what you call a super-man in everything. Some noted people of Missouri are his descendents. No one ever knew where these people came from or where the father went. My father never told me the name they went by. This gave me food for thought. He said here is a perfect male and female again. A perfect male blood back to a perfect male got a perfect male in both body and mind. I often wondered if this would work in stock and I honestly believe this will be worked out someday.” Well, that had been over a third of a century ago. In the last 20 years it is found that in poultry good results are obtained by mating the mother with son and daughter with father, but not sister with brother. He also said there is always something happening in this old world that is never solved, and yet it might be as well we don’t know the real truth sometimes.

Just then the conductor remarked to me, “I heard you say that you did not have cyclones in Oregon. Look out that window in a few minutes you will see a cross made by the storm driving a rail through a telegraph pole.” Sure enough there it was, a perfect cross. The rail was driven through the center of the pole. He said, “These storms do some queer things. At one place here it plucked or pulled all of the feathers off three hens, and not a feather off the balance of the flock. And still another place it drove straws through barrel staves.” We could not figure how a storm could do such strange things, but all agreed that the same force that stiffened the straw so it could be driven through an oak barrel stave, might be harnessed as electricity is and be of use to man, The stave was sent to the Smithsonian Museum at Washington, D. C. At a later point in the trip, a man in front of us said, “I am sorry to say that most of our early heroes of the frontier that we worship today, died poor men. They were robbed of their land either by the government of let someone else do it. Not far from here Daniel Boone got land from the government but was later robbed of most of it. Back in Kentucky he lost all his holdings through some technically of the land laws, after Boone’s pioneering through untold hardships.” And then they told the story of that he could not stand to have a neighbor closer than five miles. That he just came to Missouri to get a fresh start and nearly lost it all. I told them we had the same thing out in my adopted state of Oregon. By far the greatest frontiersman, who pioneered agriculture and helped the early settlers in this new country, was a man who had moved from the Hudson Bay company station to Oregon City, when the station closed. He took land, or so he thought, but later found that land sharks had beaten him out of most of it and all he had for his deeds was this kind of gratitude. This wonderful man’s name was John McCloughlin.

The same man that had finished telling about the perfect couple and the conductor who told about the storms, the two men suggested that turn their seats over and all four could talk and hear better to their advantage. This was done. Then I said. “ We are all in Missouri and I have often liked to met someone that had met the James brothers and Younger brothers and Quantrill.” Well, one man said, “I have meet them.” I said, “Let’s hear their side of the story.” This man said, “All right. The cause of the James brothers taking to killing Is just this. There was about 15 northern guerrillas went to the James brothers’ step-father’s house and accused them of aiding the South. The James brothers like others had their own belief and stood up for their rights. The Guerrillas proceeded to shoot up the house. The step-father was killed; the mother was shot in the arm and it had to be amputated, but the worst they did was take the sister and outraged her. Frank swore he would never rest until all 15 of the outlaws were killed. He went and joined Quantrill’s band and started on his mission of revenge. One day part of the same band returned. Jesse was a mere boy and was out in the cornfield at work. They asked him where Frank was. He told them he did not know. They beat him, whipped him with a big black snake until he was almost dead. When he got well enough to ride he went and hunted up Frank and they started out in another hunt and added these men to their list. Now do you blame them? You and I would have done the same thing if we had a pinch of manhood under our hide. Well, time went on and they kept picking them off and the war came to an end and they continued to get their men. Some of the northern outlaws were connected with some of the very best families, and they, of course wanted to see the James brothers captured. Then they were hunted by detectives, but never got very far in Missouri. Then they had to live so they took up with the Younger brothers and went to robbing banks and holding up trains. Then they met their Waterloo in Minnesota and the Younger brothers were killed or captured and the James brothers got away and went back to Missouri the best way they could. Then came the killing of Jesse. Well, we all have our ideas about different things and mine was that Bob Ford killed someone else and got the reward and Jess went southwest and went into ranching in the back country and is living down there somewhere. I often think what if I had been in their place if we would have done the same things.”

Well, I heard your story, now I will tell mine; one morning a week or so after the Minnesota attempted bank robbery father had gone to milk the cows over in a side road where an old house stood. As he passed the house there lay two men on the porch and he spoke to them. They remarked about the weather and he came home and said he saw Jesse and Frank James. They are over on the old house porch and said if the authorities knew it they would be right after them. Mother said it might be them and it might not and if the sheriff was told they would make an attempt to arrest them and you know that anyone that has any spunk would resent it and someone would be killed so just let it go, and Dad said that was his thought. This was Illinois. We found out afterwards so we were told that they did come through there. Well, after it was said that Jesse was killed, father and I went to Chicago to an annual exposition and on our way home were two men that tallied in every way to Frank and Jesse James. Father whispered to me to keep a close eye as they were the two men that slept on the porch of the old house and that it was Frank and Jesse James. He finally got to talking to them and Jesse asked dad what he thought of the way Jesse James was killed. Father said the governor of Missouri was a big a murderer was they were to employ such methods to accomplish the end, and set as bad an example. Well, he said to my father, ‘he should have been killed long ago. He was not worth the lead and powder to kill him.” The following week Frank James gave himself up. They were going south then.

I asked him if he knew the Younger brothers and Quantrill. He told me about both of them but I just can’t recall what he said about the Younger brothers, but I do remember what he said about Quantrill. He said Quantrill and his brothers were teaming down in Indiana when one day the state militia from Kansas, swept down on them and killed his brother and wounded him and he heard one say that “I don’t believe he is dead,” but the leader said to leave him and let the coyotes eat him in the night. He had to fight them off all night and the next day an old Indian woman and a man came along and hauled him away in a wheel cart. They saved his life. Before they came, as he was laying on the ground suffering from his many gun wounds and from thirst he swore if he lived he would kill that whole company, and as soon as he came to himself he started on his mission of revenge. He knew every one of them as Frank James did and followed the same tactics—picking one off here and another there—until they became suspicious, and he had his friends bring them to his shack one night, by telling them that he knew of a man who could tell them where they could find Quantrill. When they arrived at the shack Quantrill proceeded to kill them, all 10 of them. Then he disappeared and formed his band of the most fearless gang ever known in America.

The exposition building loomed as we entered St. Louis. We did not stay long but were soon crossing the mighty Mississippi river. It appeared as I imagined it and its tributaries were still pouring in floods of water from the big rains of the previous month

We were soon in Southern Illinois, the part called Egypt. I do not know why it was called that unless because it was near Cairo, Illinois, and also for the fact that people seemed to be backward in most of this county. The soil around seemed light when settled. There seemed to be disease or poisoning. If people used the milk from the cows that pastured in some of the woods, they became sick, some losing their lives. While others just seemed to lose all ambition and were listless. It was called milk sickness. If the cause of this poisoning was ever found, I never heard of it.

In the night we passed over into Kentucky. Kentucky is noted for many things and the following is a few of them: It was the home of the famous Daniel Boone—what a thrill we got out of reading about him in our old history at school. Then comes the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln at Hodgeville, in the very poorest place in all Kentucky. He was born in an old shack and they lived there until the Lincoln family starved out and moved to Indiana. Then too, Jefferson Davis was born at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, not far from Lincoln’s birthplace, and were almost neighbors in their youth. They were bitter enemies during the Civil War, each being President of warring sections. Then come the famous racehorses. Kentucky blue grass and limestone did the trick. The great Mammoth caves; the old broad brimmed hat; Kentucky Colonels with their picturesque goatees and mustaches. Then come the old Kentucky whiskey, which is the greatest of all whiskey some think, and last the government is burying the gold standard in Kentucky for safe keeping.

Next came Tennessee, the home of General Andrew Jackson, the real president of the common people. As I am writing this I am thinking. If we only had “Old Hickory” here now, hold of things in this nation it would not be in the dirty mess we have gotten into. What is going to happen no one knows. (This was written during the early 30’s) Tennessee has some fine old plantations, but mostly what we could see from the train were small farms. The south, to a prairie resident, looked like all the timber with its plantations hued and dug out into openings. It seemed just as though the timber and wasteland was squeezing in on the farmlands.

At one station several people got on the train among them was a white mother and a colored woman with the white woman’s child. The colored woman was the child’s nurse, and let it nurse instead of its mother. My seatmate was one of the southern colonels. He had been relating some of the big things of the South, and I, of the great wild Northwest, said to him: “We Northerners just cannot make out where you Southerners draw the line between whites and blacks. You have the “black crow” car for the Negroes, yet you let a colored woman come into this car and let a white baby nurse while the white women sits there besides her. We just can’t make it out.” He got mad and I guess would have challenged me to a duel but I had him buffaloed with my big northwest stories of bad men. He said, “Do you take your boys out and let them suckle a cow when the mother hasn’t milk or do you bring the cow into the house?” I just could not see the connection so I dropped the subject.

That evening we entered Georgia and my troubles commenced. I wore a black sateen shirt with a silk tie. This seemed to annoy the conductor and he got into his head that the Jim Crow car of Negroes was the place for me and informed me to move into it. I asked him how he got that way, and he told me my ticket would not allow me in any other. I replied that I had ridden over four thousand miles in that class car with the tourist sleeper. He said, “ None of your back talk; you are going to ride in that car if we have to throw you in.” I said: “Now that you have gotten that funny about it, I am not going out of this car and all of your train crew are not big enough to put me in.” He continued: “Think it over, for the third stop from here, I will come with a force big enough to put you in your place, so get ready to move.” I said: “I am not going out of this car do you get that?” He answered: “We will see,” and left. I took the names and addresses of all the passengers and showed them my ticket and told they how far I had come on it. After the stop he mentioned, he came in the door facing me with three burly fellows and stood about here seats ahead and looked at me. I arouse, opened my satchel, took out my revolver and cartridge belt and buckled it on. And sat down with my hand on my revolver. The conductor asked me if I were going into the car in front I said: “I say again and for the last time, I am not going to leave this car or this seat tonight.” I arouse and continued, “I have shown every one in the car my ticket and all but two men (and they had wives with them) said this ticket is all right and you are in the wrong and I will tell you furthermore, that these men can join your squad. I believe that they are the ones who put you up to this because I have on a colored shirt. I will say for their benefit, that as good men wear colored shirts as those who wear white ones. I warn you not to lay a finger on me. Now it is up to you to do your stuff.”

The conductor glared at me and said; “I suppose you are one of those half civilized heathens of Oregon.” (That made me hot.) I said; “Yes, I am from Oregon and an Oregonian isn’t a big enough coward as to get a gang of bullys to jump one man. I will further say, that Oregon was not settled by European convicts as Georgia was.” There was a titter and a groan went through he car. He hesitated an instant and said: “Stop you loud talking and sit down.” I answered him: “you started this and I will stop talking when I get ready and will stand up all night if I want.” He turned, marched his men out and that was the last I saw of them. One passenger said he understood that the two of the men I referred to were stockholders in the big iron works of Birmingham. They got off the train there and I believe he was right. Northern capitalist started large iron plants there where there was coal, iron and cheap labor.

Morning found me in Florida; the land had lots of white sand, which looked poor but had quite a lot of vegetation and grass. They have their rains in the summer time and helps the growth. It is not like Oregon, it get the rain in the winter and not enough in the summer. Some places were covered in timber but not with the big trees as in the Northwest. It seemed that an English company owned every other section or square mile. For miles in western Florida, going south, the land was better than any description of it.

I cut my visit to this part short, as I seemed to be taking a high fever, and felt as though I would burn up. I went on to a town called Mareanna, about a hundred miles from the western border. It was noon when I arrived and I went directly to a large hotel dining room that was run for northern boarders in the wintertime. As I walked up to the clerk’s desk and was signing my name to the register, in walked a man who had stayed at our Oregon ranch two years. After a hand-shaking, he said he was residing on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, and that something seemed to tell him that I would be at that hotel the next day. He felt so dead sure he had walked 35 miles to see me. While we ate he told how he lived and all about the country as he knew it. He stayed with me all the time I was there.

This Florida seemed to have a streak of clay soil several miles wide, instead of white sandsoil. I next went to Pensacola on the Gulf of Mexico, where the government navy yard is located. It was an old Spanish town three hundred years ago, where the Spaniards had their navy station. It is said that it was here that General Jackson mixed with the English before the battle of New Orleans. But at the time I was there, over 40 years ago, it was an up-to-date down of the South.

There was quite a lot is shipping done here as they have a very good harbor and it is the nearest port to southern Alabama and Georgia. Quite a bit of northern capital was invested here. On arrival at Pensacola, I went to the hotel after a look around a bit. I seemed to have a high fever at times; then I would take a sweating spell. The weather was hard on me after leaving Oregon’s mild days and always cool nights. A terrific thunder and lightening storm came up, lasting a couple of hours, but did not cool the air to speak of. I just lay there for hours and it seemed I would smother. Even after removing all my clothes. I awoke in the morning as wet as though I had been dipped into the gulf and all of the covers which I used were a sheet over and one under me, and they stuck fast; when I got out of bed they both came with me. I just felt mean. I went down to the sitting room and lay down on a sofa until breakfast was called. I went to get a drink of water and it was warmer than dishwater. As I took my place at the table there already were people sitting on the far side of the table, which was long, old southern style. I sat down opposite them. Everything was in large dishes. I reached for the butter and as I tried to help myself, it ran off of the butter knife like water. I remarked. “Where is the ladle?” (Refrigeration was not developed as it is now). I put back the butter knife. I have never seen butter to soft to lift out with a knife in the 40 years I have lived on the western coast. Next I took a potato on my plate. It looked like a half frozen potato. They didn’t grow them there as we do in the west—the real thing. As I lifted a piece of steak on my fork, it flopped down on my plate like an old wet rag. I was disgusted as I leaned back, my appetite on edge, I looked over the table and my eye caught a big dish of slice tomatoes. I asked permission of three men to eat them all. That was I had for breakfast.

The three men were eyeing me all this time. One was about 55. The others were about 65 and 75 years of age, all well dressed, regular southerners. One said, “Where are you from?” I answered, “God’s country—Oregon.” If had said hell; it would not have surprised them any more. They stopped eating for a few minutes; one had dropped his knife and fork. Another said, “What do you raise up there?” I told him. The third one asked, “Who does you manual labor?” I explained to him that the whites did it. The first one who had not spoken said, “Are there no Negroes there?” I told him there was one in our county. He was so well thought of that you could not have raised a bigger row than if you had insulted “Niger Lew” as he was called. They were astonished. The second one asked, “Did you own a plantation?” To which I replied that I did own a ranch of nine hundred acres but has just sold it. He continued still curious; “You don’t say that you yourself worked” My answer to that was that less than ten days before, I had been pitching hay. One asked to see the palm of my hands. I extended them across the table, and he said, “You tell the truth.” He wanted to see if my hands had callous places where I had held the pitchfork. The elderly man asked if I had any business of late. I told him I had been half owner of an elevator and ran it successfully for 10 years. He then wanted to know what I was down here looking for. I told him. He said, “I know of something that will beat that a thousand times and I want a partner. I am not asking you for one cent of investment, only your full time as manager. I have a large sawmill and box factor in a fast fruit developing section and if you would take charge, I would put in an ice factory (cold storage now) was just being developed then. What do you say?” I asked him the location. He said it was up in Georgia. My answer was as I felt; “If you would give me all the state of Georgia I would not take it a gift, if I had to live three, for I would not be contented a minute after living in the northwest. If you are not contented you have nothing. If God lets me live, I am going back to the good old northwest. Thank you very much for the offer.

At this I arose from the table and went back to the sofa to lie down. In a few minutes the younger man of the three came into the room and sitting down beside me said, “I am sorry that you look that way at the offer that man made you. You had better reconsider it.” He went on say, ‘he is worth at least a million dollars and you can see, he is getting old and realizes that he will soon have to shift the heavy load of the management of the business to someone else’s shoulders. He has no family and has trusted his business with no one thus far. We got the surprise of our lives when you went out. When he said, “There is the only man I have ever met that I would trust my business with, and further, this man has real grit in him and he says just what he thinks. He sure would make my business bounce.” Now, young man not one man in a million has had the offer you have had today.” I said. “No, I am not going back.” He left the room, but later returned and said to me. “If you will lend that pocket memorandum a minute, I will write his address and if you ever reconsider the offer, the man said to write to him.” He wrote the man’s address and his own and that of his companion. I have filled them away. I just didn’t feel like staying in that hot climate. (I have their addresses in that book)

I sincerely thanked the man for his most generous offer and the faith he had in me of my business ability.

After I lay there an hour, the tomatoes I had eaten seemed to help me, so I got up and drank a lot of their warm water and took in the town. I went to the railway station and inquired the price of a ticket to Portland Oregon. I had my in express traveler’s orders. I went to the express office and asked to have a $50 order cashed. The head man turned around in his chair and took a look at me and said, “Go to the bank and cash it.” (The black shirt must have come in here again). I went to the bank and the cashier said, “The express office is the place to cash this.” So I returned to the express company. Seeing me again, he said and very curtly, “Didn’t I tell you to go to the bank and get it cashed?” I replied, “I have been to the bank and they sent me back here.” “Then go back again,” he retorted. As I had plenty of time I did this. The cashier was very indignant and said, “You go back and get it cashed at the express office and don’t come back here again. I told him, “I will not trouble you again. I am go glad that we have real gentlemen out in the Oregon banks.” He said, “Hold on; I would like to talk to you about the West.” I said, “No thank you, go to the express office, then go to hell.” Then I walked out with a very important air.

I returned again the express officer and was loaded for trouble. I pulled my hair down in front, stroked my bushy eyebrows down, struck up my long mustache, riled up my big hat up tight in the front and strode into the office. The manager jumped to his feet to start trouble. I headed him off. I hit the counter and yelled, “what in the hell are you fellows trying to do; you think because I have got on a black shirt, that I am one of your poor “crackers” (that is a name they gave to the poor white trash in that part of the South). I wish to inform you that I am a rancher and cowboy from Oregon and I want my express order cashed and that d—m quick.” I hit the counter again. All of the office force was on their feet. The manager said, “I will cash your order.” I ordered him to cash three more, which he did in a hurry. Before I got out of the office five of the employees were out asking questions. A little cussing and telling them I was a western rancher changed the color of my shirt.

There was no fault to find with the ranch that my trip took me clear to Florida to see. Instead of its possibilities being exaggerated, to me it looked as thought he owner had not even done it justice in his written descriptions. Had I made the trip in the winter, or even a couple of months later, my decision concerning its purchase would probably have been different. It all rested with the climate, the intense heat which I concluded unbearable. I just couldn’t “take it” as we say now. Ones entire life is sometimes altered by no more than and impression such as I had received.

There lay 20,000 acres, at one dollar per acre, as the description said, between two rivers, that they and the Gulf of Mexico almost surrounded. The source of the rivers was two large springs, almost a river from the jump-off. It would take less than three miles to fence it. There it lay, slightly rolling and had some small brush and under-brush. It looked like an ideal sheep ranch. I planned to lamb and sheer then on this 20,000 acres and in the summer time take them up into the Georgia hills and bring them down in the fall. It sure looked good to me and I felt disappointed when I began to burn up in the heat. There were almost 2000 sheep on the ranch and all the fault I could find was that the razorback hogs eat some of the lambs when young. This could be remedied however. It was too much for me to jump from Oregon’s cool climate to this hot, steaming country in one week. I almost forgot that I heard them talking about their medical springs north of where I was at Marana and I was told that is was the same spring that Ponce de Leon, the Spaniard, hunted for which he would make an old man young again, and I was told the Indians would not show him the springs for fear he might destroy its medical qualities. It was said this guy was very cruel to the Indians and there are some rich old stories of how he captured an Indian princess who had come to do him respect and he thought he had a young one sure and she was good looking and it is said she found out what a bad scrape she had got in and like a woman she sort of made love to him and asked permission to stay in the tent a few minutes and he granted this and she sneaked out under the tent and was gone. All his soldiers couldn’t find her and the old boy was really mad. Well I heard that this was the same spring that Roosevelt is going to now and it was know to the Indians hundreds of years ago for its wonderful medical qualities. It was interesting to hear these elderly people tell these stories. Whether they are true or not they cost us nothing and they seemed to have a good time telling them to me so I have passed them on to you.

After getting my grip back at my hotel, I went to the depot and bought a Pullman ticket to Portland, Oregon, over five different railroads, by the way of Chicago. I was going to make sure that there was no doubt of my a first class ticket if I did wear a black shirt. I was told I would have to ride to a town by the name of Filomath, Georgia, in the day coach, then the Pullman would be hooked on.

On entering the day car, I venture to say that there were 15 men standing in the aisles and at least 20 women. Women were seated with grips and packages piles besides then to keep anyone from sharing their seats. I stood up for about 10 miles and was beginning to get mad. To the conductor I said, “Out in Oregon we have a few male hogs, but not so many female ones as there seem to be on this car. Look at all these men standing up and only one woman in each seat. I paid for a seat and I demand it.” Nothing more was said, but some of the women doubled up and the satchels and parcels came off the seats of the others, making room of all of the men who were standing.

Some of the elderly guys who had seats, did some muttering about northern gall, but hey didn’t bother me. After a while the conductor whispered in my ear, “Thank you. I have thought what you have just said, many a time, but I run the local here and dare not say anything.’

On arrival in Filomath we had a 15-minute stop, so I went out on the platform. I noticed someone had thrown out the window some apple peelings. They had hardly hit the ground, when at least five razor-back hogs made for them, right there on the platform on the depot. I asked the agent if they kept a hog ranch in town and he said most of the towns down here let some people keep razor-back hogs to run loose to eat up all the refuse that was thrown out. They served as scavengers. He also said that they did their work well. That was a new one on me. The agent asked what railway agents were paid in the west. I told him and said each agent in the small station had to rustle the baggage and express himself, as they did not have a lot of colored help us he had. He said, “Right here I stay, if that is the case.”

The train started for Chicago. I took my seat in the day section again. After a half hour, the conductor came with the porter, and called Moore, the Oregon man. I rose and said “Here.’ He said, “Follow me to the Pullman. You bring his baggage,” he said to the porter. As we entered the Pullman, the women all pulled their skirts around them, as much to say. “I don’t want as much as my skirt to touch him.” He showed me my seat and called real loud. “Ticket please sir,” and leaned back; he seemed to want to attract all the passengers in the car. Some way I had a hunch that something was going to pulled of by that conductor for the amusement of the passengers, so I buckled on my cartridge belt with the revolver holder, I had seen the one conductor point at me to this conductor, as I passed through on the platform. I handed him my ticket; he grabbed on end and let the other end unfold to the floor. He held it up high as he could with one hand and the ticket lay on the floor about a foot. The conductor said in a loud voice “I suppose you’re one of those wild cowboys of Oregon that we read about in a dime novels, with a big revolver strapped to his hip,” As he said revolver I grabbed it and stuck it into his stomach. He said “and an big knife,” I had one I could touch a spring and give it a quick flip and it opened, which I thrust into his ribs. He continued, “with whiskey flask in his hip pocket.” I drew one out and held it up (When I had taken sick, I had brought a pint of brandy.) The passengers roared with laughter. I was still feeling mean and sore over the way I had been used coming down. I called to the porter to bring two glasses, had him hold one and I filled it full, later pouring some in my own glass and I said, “hold it up.” We clinked glasses and I said, “Here is to the only colored man in Benton county, Oregon, ‘Nigger Lew.’ I hope, Lew, that you will live a hundred years and all be an honorable as your past life of 60 years had been, and my last wish is that all white men in this state could show as clean as record as your. Here’s to you Lew.”

There was some muttering and two or three men started to get up but their wives pulled them back. It didn’t take much of a pull to seat them again. I figured if they ganged up on me, I would bruise hard and I had a long while to heal up on my long trip home. From that minute, the old black shirt was on par with the fine white shirts, studded with diamonds. Everyone showed me a good time clear into Chicago. The porter got me three big pillows, placed them around me and was a constant admirer. He told me a lot about the passengers who they were, and what they had to say about me. He said one old millionaire said, “That cowboy was a bad man. Look at those big front teeth, and that bad mustache; he is over six feet tall, will weight over two hundred pounds. I knew a bad man once in early days who looked and acted just as that man and he would shoot at the drop of a hat, if he had to drop it himself. He can take this car if he wants it. For all of me; I am not going to buckle into him.” This man came over afterward and we had a long talk. He was very anxious to know of the northwest. It was almost unbelievable how ignorant some seemingly smart people were of their own country 40 years ago. But it is different now since the automobile, when one can drive almost anywhere.

When I awoke we were well up into Illinois. We had crossed Tennessee and Kentucky in the night. Illinois crops were good. As I came in sight of Chicago my thoughts ran back over the years that I had visited the city in different capacities; first was in the early 80’s when I went with my father and visited the annual exposition, which was a real wonder to me. Another wonder was the vast amount of the city that had not built up yet after that terrible Chicago fire. This was caused, they said at the time, by a cow kicking over a lamp in a barn while a woman was milking. Next, when we boys would get stock passes to and from Chicago and go up on the stock train and see the sights of that big, wicked city, and believe me it was there, we missed none of them. Then we would return on the passenger train. This was in those good old tough days of the 80’s. Next I visited Chicago in the capacity of our grain firm (this is told in another story—“the Different Businesses I Have Been in”). Next to the great World’s Fair, I made two trips of 21 days to a stay. Next as a representative of a grain dealer’s convention. Now I was entering Chicago only to get out and go to my far western home. There had been a terrible hailstorm the day before and there were thousands and thousands of dollars of damage done to the windows. I did not see a window on the west side of the buildings but what was knocked out. It was the worst hailstorm the city ever saw before or since. We arrived at Union depot at 3:00 p. m. When my train was called I picked up my grip in hand and a light raincoat in the other. As I went through the gate I was not within two feet of the people ahead of me. Without a seconds notice a big half idiot a policeman reached over and struck me in the chest with his fist, nearly caving it in and knocked the breath out of me. “Don’t be crowding up there,” he ordered. I did not get over it for years. There was no call for it in any way—just low-down brute showing off. I told him, when I could speak, as much and said I would like to meet him sometime in the country and I would not show him any more mercy than I would to a mad dog. I also said that I had heard the Chicago police were the most brutal on earth, and now I knew it. He said, “I will have you thrown in the jug.” I told him to go to it; that several people had seen what he did so he shut up. He just had to show his authority.

The next morning I awoke in the big wheat fields on Minnesota, with the little lakes, and the pine timber. Just at sunrise we came to a beautiful little lake, the wagon road running on one side of it. On this road were several hundred state militiamen with full equipment, mule-teams and mounted officers, with privates marching by the train. This is what I saw. A narrow field of wheat, the militia, the lakes, and beyond was green pine timber, a sight I have thought of many times since.

Before the night we were in the Dakotas, with their large crops. You would not have guessed then that they would ever have trouble with droughts. Later, we came to the bad lands of Dakota. It is said that this land contains some of the finest coal lands in the world. When it is supposed that lightening sets it on fire and burned out he coal and the land since has fallen in at places. It shows the story is plausible.

As we went west of the Dakotas, the country became dryer. The cattle ranches had not been broken up as yet. Cowboys were at nearly every station loading cattle and we passed, every few minutes, stock train specials going east almost as fast as our passenger train was traveling, loaded down with stock for the Chicago stockyards. Those were good old days for the Montana stockman. Just think what has happened in one-third of a century, grain farming, drilling for oil, and terrible droughts in Dakotas and eastern Montana.

Idaho was not so well developed; there was more mining. It has some beautiful lakes. I remember our train was taken on a ferryboat the full length of a good-sized lake. It looked to me as though there were trainloads of telephone and telegraph poles being hauled out of western Idaho. Miles before entering the state of Washington, there were small grain farms. It was as good as grain as we had seen on the whole trip. Spokane was just beginning to wake up. Dry farming was in its first stage. The stockmen had been in possession of this vast empire for so long, were on the retreat to the hills, both cattle and sheep men. It really seemed when they have begun to see the end after having had full swing of everything and were the first white men to settle the great northwest.

In our car was a family that formally lived in Yakima, Washington. They had made a stack in stock and sold out and gone back to live in ease the rest of their lives. But they were not contented a minute. They said they were on their way back west to stay for good. As the man put it, after we got settled in the east, they found the country as little and as narrow as it people. The woman remarked, “Give me the broad, open country,” and the children shouted, “Hurrah, hurrah, we are going home to stay!”

Good old Oregon welcomed us the next morning. After making this round trip as I did, almost from the Northwest to the Southeast of these United States of America, I’ll admit it is as large as I thought it was and then some. The things I found interesting were the changes the trip took me through, first going down the Willamette valley through green fir covered mountains, then out on to the dry eastern Oregon country, through Idaho. Wyoming, Colorado and back into the green grass of Kansas and Missouri with their huge stock farm and fields of corn and small grain. Next we dropped south and the crops changed to tobacco and cotton with small fields of corn; work being done by the old faithful mule and darkies. The difference in the people in dress and speech and color was something to remember.

Another train acquaintance was a man about 40, a timber cruiser from Michigan, coming west on contract for a year’s work. He seemed a well educated man and smart in many ways. I was in his company the biggest share of the time after leaving the Dakotas. As we walking down the street in Portland, women approached us inviting us in to see them and this man was almost persuaded to accompany one of then into a dive. I had hard work to get him to refuse her and go with me until I explained to him that Portland was the toughest city in respect of all the cities I had ever visited. I advised him to fight shy or they would get him and rob him of all his money. One woman grabbed this man’s hat and dashed into a building expecting him to follow. But I made him understand it was only her game to “get him,” and I told her to bring it back or I would call the police, which she did. My acquaintance and I soon parted and I’ve often wondered how he got along and where he is.

At the beginning of my trip boarding the train at Corvallis, Oregon, there were a number of Indians of the Siletz Indian Reservation at the depot, more in eastern Oregon and Idaho, practically all the white people in the middle west, then after reaching the south, there were five colored people to one of the whites—just Negroes, Negroes everywhere. As before stated, our part of the country had just one lone Negro.

My quick return did not surprise my wife, I was glad to be back in God’s country where I could sleep in peace, with no thunder and lightening storm, and where it wasn’t so hot that the sheets stuck to one from perspiration, where the butter will stay put on the knife and potatoes were the finest in the world. Back to the country where the meat did not wilt after it was cooked, and fruit grows to perfection and to drink that good, cool mountain water.

After 43 years have passed since taking this trip, I am still here, and I occasionally pause to consider the changes that have come over these old United States, some good—some bad.

I was talking to a Camp Adair soldier from Florida and I asked him if he knew the peace of land that I went to see and that I had an option on. He said, yes it is worth over a half a million dollars now.

I was tell this in the Herald Press room and one of the men said that he knew the land is worth at least $600,000 now, as he lived near there. That is just part of a lifetime.

THE END

 


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