The Narrative of Martha S. Read -- the journey West


A letter from Martha S. Read to Lorinda Shelton, Norwich, Chenago Co., NY, April 16, 1852
Beloved sister I have seated myself for the purpose of writing a few lines to you to inform you that we are all well as usual excepting I am pretty much tired out a fixing for California we expect to start next monday which will be the 19 there is a great many a going from these parts and a great many families that we are acquainted with the roads are quite bad here now we have had a very backward spring but we think it will do to start by monday we are a going with two waggons [sic] one span of horses three yoke of cattle two cows we take a tent with us and a small stove and things for our comfort as far as we can but be assured it looks like a great undertaking to me but Clifton was bound to go and I thought I would go rather than stay here alone with the children I spoke about going there to stay with you but Clifton thought it want best he thought we had better all hang together and then we should not be a worrying about each other I hope to live to see the day to come back and live among you but life is uncertain I have one thing to comfort me I know that I have the same God to protect me a going to California that I have here


The Diary Started for California April the 16, 1852 from Marengo. Illinois

Mon. May 31. Laid by to wash.

Mon Aug 9 Got up before daylight and went to the old fort and laid by for the day. Found very good buildings, good rooms with good fireplace in them and furniture. Found one good large stove which we used to cook in. Found a good yard for our cattle. This fort, we hear, has been deserted about 3 years. We washed and cooked and had fine times in our houses. Weather warm and mosquitoes a plenty.


A second letter from Martha S. Read to Lorinda Shelton, Norwich, Chenago Co., NY, Sometime after Nov. 30, 1852
We found that we were too late to get through to the mines and rainy season had commenced and we wanted to keep our stock until they were in a condition to sell. so Clifton thought he had a right to a home as well as the rest of the folks so he looked around and made his claim of 320 acres of land.

We are 40 miles from Oregon City. they have a meeting about 2 miles and some schools all around us. we have none in our neighbourhood as yet but they will start one another summer. we have three or four neighbours within half a mile. we can see 8 or 9 houses in sight.

it is not so cold but what we live in our tent very comfortable. they say they have seen as cold as we shall see. we are building a small frame house we have got a well of water it is good soft water here Clifton thought he would get a farm a going and let Kittridge farm it and he would go to the mines and try his luck.

Clifton thinks this is the country to make money easy I expect if the country suits him as well as it does now he will spend his days here but it seems to far off for me to think of that and another thing I dont like the country very well as yet. it is too uneven and mountainous and another thing I dont like the rainy seasons so far although it does not rain half of the time and not much hard rain. it is kind of a mist most of the time I suppose I shall not mind it so much when we get into a house. our folks think it is fine they do not have to be out in the cold a foddering.

I want you to make up your minds whether you will come to Oregon or not write immediately direct your letters to Salem Marion Co


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