Mrs. George Blankenship, "Andrew Chambers on Puget Sound," Early History of Thurston County, Washington. Olympia: n.p., 1914, p. 158-163.
After putting in one Spring crop and garden in the Molalla, we [the Chambers family] built a barn. I then went to Tualatin Plains, west of Oregon City, and stopped with Brother James and family. He had married a Mrs. Scoggins, who had a family of five children, three sons and two daughters. I, together with these children, went to school for one term.
The oldest son was one of my best friends, and it was he who helped me to take the flour up the Columbia to my folks. Tualatin Plains, twenty miles from Oregon City, was settled principally by Hudson Bay men, English and Scotch. This was a fine section of the country. Plenty of wheat was grown here, and newcomers could get plenty of work by taking pay in wheat, at one dollar a bushel. The wheat could be taken to Oregon City and sold to the company, and taken out in trade at the store, and a receipt would be given for the remainder.
This receipt could be used in trading with other parties for anything wanted, and they, in turn, could go to the store and get goods and groceries with it. There was very little money in the country, so people were obliged to use wheat and these receipts as a means of conducting business transactions. The emigrants to this country had spent mostly all their money for outfits and a great many, even then, were, very poorly provided for provisions for the trip.
After school closed I stayed with my brother, James, and helped in the harvest. The barns were built of logs, two houses and a space of thirty feet between them, the roof including the three. The center was used for a threshing floor, and ten or twelve horses were used to tramp out the wheat. The farmers would furnish us horses and board and give us one bushel in ten to thresh out and fan the wheat, and, sometimes. they allowed us a team to take the wheat to market.
While I was helping my brother that harvest, I did the threshing and my brother and Young Scoggins hauled in the sheaves. We threshed eighty or ninety bushels a day.
One of the oldest settlers came to my brother and wanted help. James told him I could go and wanted to know how much he would pay me per day. The old settler said he would give me three pecks of wheat a day. James told him I might remain at home and play, before I should work at that price. I told my brother to make a contract with him to cut and shock his wheat, and Scoggins and I would do the work as soon as we finished James' crop. He made the contract at three bushels an acre and board.
We went, and put in thirty acres for him. We put up three acres a day, and the old gentleman was highly pleased with our work. His wheat was getting very ripe and shattering out so that he proposed for us to cut and bind in the forenoon and haul in the afternoon, and he would pay just the same per day for the hauling. That was nine bushels a day.
It was hard for him to keep help. One harvest was all that help would stay with him. Some of his help told that he recommended to them to eat the peelings off of baked potatoes. He said it was healthy and helped to fill up. I think he was correct about its being good for the health, if he followed his own advise, for he lived to be 104 years old.
The Winter of 1846 we spent in looking for a new location, thinking to better ourselves. We went to the mouth of the Columbia River and looked over Clatsop Plains, then south to the Umpqua country, but we did not find anything to suit us.
Father said he had started for salt water, and so in the Spring of 1847, after we had put in the crops, we came over to Puget Sound to look at that portion of the country. We spent two months looking around. At Newmarket, the present site of Tumwater, at the falls of the Des Chutes River, we found M. T. Simmons and family, and five or six other families and nine or ten young men.
They had settled here in June, 1845. They were putting up a sawmill. They already had a flour mill, a very small concern. The burrs were only eighteen inches in diameter and no bolting cloth was in use. Some of the families had sieves that were used to take out the coarse bran.
At the present site of Olympia there was only one man, by the name of Smith. His log cabin stood on the ground where the Huggins hotel is now. We finally staked out claims on what is now known as "Chambers Prairie." Then We returned to our homes in Oregon to make preparations to move to the Puget Sound region in the Fall.
Early in the Fall of 1847, we hired two boats of Dr. McLoughlin, and four Kanaka boat men. We loaded our effects, wagons, ox yokes and bedding, on the boats at Oregon City. We went down the Willamette to the Columbia River, down the Columbia to the mouth of the Cowlitz and up the Cowlitz to Cowlitz Landing-thirty miles.
It was fine boating until we came to the rapids on the Cowlitz River. That was hard work and slow traveling. We had to use the tow-line a great deal and go from one side of the river to the other to take advantage of the eddies and shallow waters, so that we could use the long poles and push the boats up the stream. Our boats were heavily laden and for about fifteen miles we used the poles and tow line, the water being too swift to use the oars.
There was a great quantity of salmon in the river. We had all we wanted, and cooked it Indian fashion. This was to dress the fish, run a stick through it and place the stick in the ground close to the fire, and as the fish cooked, turn it so that it would bake evenly. We always left the scales on till it was cooked. After working hard all day, it was fine-we thought, delicious.
We arrived at Cowlitz Landing after twenty days of travel, the only accident on the trip being the loss of a rifle, a considerable loss in those days, too. In making the trip to Cowlitz Landing, we started the hands with the stock, horses and cattle, to cross the Columbia. All were ferried over at Fort Vancouver; then they were driven down the river to Lewis River, where they were ferried over this stream, following down the Columbia to the mouth of the Cowlitz.
They were then driven up the Cowlitz and swam across the south fork. When they reached the Cowlitz Landing, they swam the stock to the north side of the river and waited for the boats. This landing is at the lower end of Cowlitz Prairie which prairie was settled by the Canadian French and is a fine farming country. The Hudson Bay Company and the Catholic Mission each had fine farms there. We rented twenty acres of land from the Catholic Mission and a like number of acres from John R. Jackson, and put in a crop of winter wheat.
When the crop was in, we left the stock needed to haul our wagons to the prairie (Chambers), which we had selected for our future home, and started to drive the remainder of the stock through. We drove them over Mud Mountain, or Mud Hill-all the first settlers traveled this way, and we crossed the Des Chutes about two miles above Tumwater.
There was an Indian trail from Bush Prairie to Chambers Prairie.
Then we went back to Sounder's Bottom and completed the wagon road around Mud Hill. This hill is east of Chehalis. There was one family living there at that time. We prospected and blazed out a road. We found trees on the banks of a creek that suited us for making a bridge. We built the bridge and cut out the wagon road through Saunders Bottoms distance of three miles.
The creek's source was from Mud Mountain and the banks were steep and muddy and could not be crossed without a bridge. We then came to New Market, one of the first settlements at Tumwater. The men of this settlement turned out and all helped to cut -a wagon road to Chambers' Prairie, a distance of three and a half miles.
The old settlers here were glad to see new comers and they were ready and willing to help us. What they had they were willing to share with us. They were much pleased when they learned that we had sieve wire, for they had no bolting cloth for their small grist mill.
They thought it a fine thing to have sieve wire so they could take the bran out of their flour. On the prairie we built a log house of two rooms, the smaller we used for a kitchen and the larger was curtained off into bed rooms. We then went for the family and brought them over. We stayed a few days, visiting Mr. Simmons' family.
We crossed our wagons on boats, when the tide was in, below the lower falls of the Des Chutes . When the tide was out we drove our work cattle across Budd's Inlet and then drove oat five miles to our future home. The fifteenth of December, 1847, we took our first dinner at our home on Chambers' Prairie.
Here our stock had plenty of grass and wintered well, so they were fat in February. We butchered a one beef and had plenty of tallow to make candles. Mother had brought enough candle wicking to do several years. The candles were a great -improvement on the old iron lamp in which we had to burn hog's lard. This lamp was made with a short spout for the wick to lie in and one end of the wick came out of this spout to burn.
The handle at the other end of the lamp was so arranged that it came up over the center of the lamp, so as to hold the lamp level.
A cotton cloth, twisted, served as a wick. Father put up a milk house, and, in March, commenced to make butter, and in April, to make cheese.
Brother Thomas and I took up claims adjoining, and we milked the cows, morning and evening, for our board. We built a log house of one room on our claim. We made it a live-cornered house, the fifth corner being for the fireplace. In May we dug two troughs and started a tan yard, on a small scale. We used the troughs for vats, and alder and hemlock bark, for tanning purposes.
We dried the bark and pounded it fine. We burned oyster and clam shell and used the lime to take the hair off the skins. We made sole leather out of beef hides, and for the upper leather we used deer and cougar hides. By the first of November we had our leather ready to make shoes. We brought a kit of shoemakers' tools with us and father and I made the shoes.
We brought with us a number of lasts of different sizes. For sewing we put a number of strands of shoe thread together-the length we wanted-and we twisted and waxed this string, tapered the ends and put a hog bristle on each end for needles. It was a nice piece of work to put the bristles on so they would stay. This we could do to perfection. If they came off they could not be put on again.
We made our shoe pegs of maple and dog wood, well seasoned, sawed the length and size we wanted the pegs to be. We split off slabs the thickness to make square pegs, and shaved the slabs to make the pegs sharp at one end. We used a stick with a notch against which we held the slabs and sharpened first one side and then the other. A strip of leather with a slit in it was fastened to the shoe board.
We took two or three of the sharpened slabs and held them with the left hand against the leather which served as a lever for the knife, and, with the point of the knife, held to place by running it in the slit in the leather, we split off the pegs.
The crop we put in on Cowlitz Prairie turned out well, and we hauled it over early in the Fall, or enough of it to plant and to keep us until we grew our first crop on Chambers' Prairie.
The winters of 1845-6 and 1846-7 were very mild and pleasant. We made rails to fence in land to protect our crops. We raised plenty of wheat, potatoes, peas and other vegetables. We had. wheat coffee, and pea coffee, and we could always change from one to the other. Boiled wheat and milk made an extra dish for supper.
Father and mother were highly pleased with this country and they thought there was no place like it; fat beef off the, range in February, and plenty of oysters and clams for the digging. One beef would give us sixty pounds of tallow, and in those days tallow was an important item.
That same spring of 1848, we built the log barn which stood over half a century and finally had to be burned on account of its being unsafe for the stock. It was built similar to those already described, except that this barn had five apartments, two for hay and grain, one for stalls, one for wagons, and one for threshing.
It was a long, narrow barn, and all under one roof. The clapboards were put on with wrought nails from England., the sheeting was of logs, put on the right distance apart to use four-foot boards.
Thomas and I had been looking forward and calculating to return to Missouri in two years to See our girls that we had left behind us. In 1848 mother received a letter from our old home, telling about what had taken place since we left and among the news was the marriage of a certain young lady, and this had the effect of making me contented to remain on Puget Sound.
This was a sensible decision, for, during the winter of 1847, Indians broke out and massacred Dr. and Mrs. Whitman and many others at the Mission, near Walla Walla. The people of Oregon raised a company of Volunteers to subdue the Cayuse tribe, the only hostiles. They succeeded in bringing the leaders to justice.
We, on Puget Sound, did not know about the trouble until it was all settled. The Indians here were friendly and they were glad to have the Bostons-as they called the Americans-come. About this time gold was discovered in California, and Thomas and I got the fever to go, as Brother James was there.
Mrs. George Blankenship, "Andrew Chambers on Puget Sound," Early History of Thurston County, Washington. Olympia, Washington: n. p., 1914. p. 158-163.