The following is a collection of letters written to or from the state of Oregon in those days when the pen was still mightier than the sword. Please feel free to contribute your own family missives with full assurance that you will retain all ownership and copyright. This page is a memorial to those voices which refused to die - those lines which failed to fade - that parchment which weathered the storms ... and wars, before settling on this page.

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Coffeyburg Enterprise

Published Every Thursday - Entered as second class matter, May 24 1904 at the post office at Coffeyburg, Mo, under the Act of Congress of March 3, 1879.

Thos. Cunningham, Editor
“Letter from Oregon”Ontario, Oregon
1-1-1910


Dear Editor and Friends:

As I was thinking of you people back in Old Missouri this morning, and as I promised to write to friends and neighbers, will take this plan to write you all at once. We are all well and enjoying life. We like this country, the climate being good here. Have had a good deal of snow here, but the coldest here to date, was two degrees above zero, and old timers say this is the coldest weather they have had for many years.

This is a live town of about 1600 people, good water, good churches and fine school of 14 rooms and employs 12 teachers, piano and library. They grow most everything here, they plant all kinds of vegetables, fruits, melons, grain and hay. Alfalfa makes as much as eleven ton per acre, and they claim seven ton; and it is now selling at $10 per ton and hard to get at that.

They grow some corn here, but the land is too high priced to grow corn on, being worth from $150 to $1000 depending on location and improvements. I haven’t bought yet, am just looking around and getting acquainted. Land seems pretty high to a Missourian. They had a fair and stock show here the 15th and 16th of December, queer time of the year to have a fair, but we had good weather and large crowd, and I must say the finest exhibit of live stock I ever seen especially the horses, almost all breeds were represented, also all kinds of sheep, hogs, and cattle. We had a barbaque and free dinner the last day, and I enjoyed that to, for they say out here that Missourian can’t get enough to eat and I believe it, for I am hungry all the time.

I am feeling better than when I left Missouri, having gained some weight. People here are generally healthy. Jess Reed and Marion Harris went up into Wallow county about 200 miles from here. They both bought land, Jess 160 acres for 825. They like up there fine, it is a higher country than this, so is a little cooler climate than this, but a good grass and stock country and is also timber, which is quite an item.

We are thirty or forty miles from timber, pay $8 per ton for coal and per cord for wood. Most everything at the stores are about like they were in Coffey and some things are cheaper. Well I will bring my letter to a close if it don’t find its way to the waste basket, I may write again. Wish all a happy new year. From your friend,

John R Harris.

Letter and Photo Contributed by Rene Houston



The following letters were contributed by Jean A. Best

Dear Son John and Family,

After about two weeks delay, I will try and answer your last welcome letter which found us in reasonable health and so this leaves us and we trust it will find you and all yours well. We have a very wet Spring. We have had ---(probably now) rain for 7 weeks. Quite a time to get oats and flax sown. Considerable of the early March sowing of oats was killed by the freeze and drowned out by the wet and had to be sown over. Some persons have just got through oat sowing. George has not got his flax sown yet on flat land and wet. Would have sown about today or tomorrow but for the big flood rains of night before last and yesterday. The land is all a slush with water and mud. Wheat is coming out finely and also grass. But little corn planted yet on account of the wet. We have not a hill planted yet. On low or flat compact lands early planted potatoes rotted badly. I planted over 1/2 acre before the rainy weather, up and growing finely. Cultivated twice on red and mostly dry land. George planted 1 acre in potatoes between wet spells on dry red land they are coming up nicely. Well, John, the talk is nearly all about the late wet Spring and the war. One company has been made up in Dade Co. and will go to Jefferson Barrack, St. Louis the ___(word missing) of this week. One went from Golden City Barton Co. last w---(probably week). Every body are eager to get the weekly, half weekly, and daily papers to get the news fresh. We are taking the Twice a Week -----lic (possibly Republic) from St. Louis. Mo. We get it Tues. and Fridays. The Union and Ex-confederate veterans are both equally in for freeing Cuba and flaxing old Spain. I will now give you a brief statement of some of your relatives. Your grand pa Best's father's name was Enos Best born in Pennsyvania. He and one of his brothers went to Ky. He married Margaret Anderson a Scotch Irish girl near Danville Ky. and they soon moved to Indiana Territory as it then was and settled in Crawford Co. Ind. He was in the yellow Jacket Co. in the Indian war by Tecu---sey (probably Tecumseh) and fought in the battle of Tipacanoe in Ind. under general W. H. Harrison. ___ (probably He) died soon after he got home ___ (probably from) the war. Your great grand pa Wisdom was born in Va but early moved to the upper Counties of Ky, and then settled in then Adair Co. His name was Thomas Wisdom and he had a Son Thomas who went to Oregon its first settlement and they lost track of him. James Wisdom was your grand pa by your mother. His mother was a Stapp. Some of the Stapps are in this country from Tenn. Your grand ma Wisdom's maiden name was Baldridge daughter of Thomas Baldridge. Scotch Irish. You were born in Adair County Ky. as it was then but ________(unreadable word) Mecalf Co. part from Adair and part from Barren County. You were born the head waters of East Fork of Little Barren River. Ky. We lived near the head of East Fork of Little Baren river and moved to Mason Co. Ill in 1859. We left Ky in ______(unreadable word) Co. Sept. 28th and landed in Mason Co. Ill _____ _____ ___(unreadable words) remember some of our moves in Ills. In Sept. 1877 you left Ills for Kansas. and we sold out there in 1882 and on the 12th day of Sept. started on the train for Dade Co. Mo and landed at Lockwood on the 13th about 11 o'clock. and next day even ____(unreadable word) came out to where we n--(probably now) are. but our chartered ___(looks like car) did not get to Lockwood till Sat. noon. and we took off our stock and took all we c--d (probably could) that day to our new home. and here we are yet. And we will remain in S--- West Mo. what few days we have left. I am teaching ____(unreadable word) class ___ (unreadable word) Sunday school and preach now and then and give Bible readings. If you find any Wisdoms in Oregon you may claim kin with. You can tell them your mother was a Wisdom, daughter of James Wisdom, son of Thomas Wisdom of Ky and then of Ill. Your father in Love. A. L
Calumet, Okla.
Dec. 31- 1911

Dear Brother John and Family-
It has been some time since I recieved your letter but will write before the year is up. and havn't much time left to do it in, not quite 8 hours left in this year. We have been having some real winter weather. Rain, sleet, snow and lots of blow. It hasn't been so awful cold not more than Zero any time and that only one night and I am not sure it was Zero. we are very glad to have rain or snow for it means a crop another year. feed is so scarce in this country. we have corn fodder and Kaffir corn fodder and a very little corn and a few oats from last year. our health is fair. Grace has had more trouble with her throat but not bad as last year. I have Rhuematism but not bad as it was last year. John is well. Charlies live 1 mi away. He was here for a while today. They were well.

They are here every few days. They have very bright children And sweet as they can be. I am of the opinion you have some you think are just as bright and sweet too. But I don't think they can possibly love you any better than my Grand children love me. You know we and Charlies lived together for two years and then have lived only 1 mi apart. Ide miss them very much if they should move away. But Charlie is a great fellow for home and his wife likes to come home just about well as he does. Well Delbert has got back to his home stead and seem to like it. So Wilbur wants to try Canada? If he will write Delbert he will sure tell him something about Canada. I will give his address. It is Mr. D. B. Van Gundy, Stock's P. O. Alberta, Canada via Edmonton and Athabaska Landing or this the way Grace addresses Stock's P.O. via Edmonton and Athabaska Landing Albl. Canada. either will reach him all right. I wish we could sell for what we gave for the place and then we could go there too. I would be sorry to leave Pa yes very sorry. And he is so feeble. I did so much want to go to visit him this winter But money will be awful scarce before another crop is raised: we will have to borrow some to put in another crop. for we will have to buy feed for horses and it will come high. Will have to buy some hay as well as grain. But I don't want to complain and am not complaining just telling you why I dont visit Pa. I wish you could see him before he passes away. Ma wrote in her last letter that Pa said. If he couldn't do much he could pray for each of his children. And I am sure he is doing it and Im so glad he does. Do you write to him? If not do write him a good comforting letter. If you love him and appreciate his Christian life write and tell him so. Oh you don't know how happy it would make him. I know ma wasn't what she ought to have been to you. But she will have that to answer for to One who knows all about it. Pa doesn't write any more and at times does not have use of his mind other times he does. We read in the Bible of the blessed ones who were seen in Heaven. and when asked who they wase. The answer was. These are they who came up through great tribulation and surely, Pa will be among that number, for he surely has had years of special trial, but they will soon be over. The day of sore trial will be done And he who has borne then so patiently here, will soon be gone. When I get to thinking of him, sometimes. I can hardly stay away from him. May be I'll go yet this winter to see him. We sent him $5 for Christmas. I did think Ide write to Will and you and George. And see what you could do toward helping them. But I didn't. Geo. sent them $5. and Ma says they will get along fine. Pa is _________________ (unreadable line) fore noons any at all. Ma says he eats well and sleeps well but seems to just be wearing out. If he lives until next May he'll be 82 years old. If they can sell they will come to visit us and then go to Ills to spend their days. Now write and tell where your children are and hope you are getting along. Lovingly yours Sister Susie Calumet, Okla. Jan. 10, 1928 My Dear Brother John: I recieved your letter today. So glad to hear from you again. Sorry for -y (word is unclear) It must be hard to be left to raise a family alone. Hope she may Keep well and be able to enjoy her family now about Willie Best. He left San Francisco some time after the Earthquake (I don't remember just how long.) He told his wife he was going to hunt a job and so far as I know, she never heard from him. A woman who used to know him in Mo. Saw a name just like his in a paper in Canada. It was W.A. Best, Edmonton Canada and he was Secretary in some Enterprize there that is all I ever heard. Geo. is in Kansas City, Mo. I know nothing of the others. The last I heard of Eva She was living in Stockton Cal. You wanted to know in what part of Indiana you were born. You were not born in Ind. at all. Our Father Andrew L. Best was born in Harrison Co. Indiana May 24th 1830 Our Mother Elizabeth Jane Wisdom was born in Metcalf Co. Ky. July 17 1832 and died May 2 - 1868. In Decatur Ill. I was born in Metcalf Co. Kentucky June 5-1855. You were born in Metcalf Co. Ky Nov. 20. 1856 Jimmy our own little brother was born in Metcalf Co. Ky Aug 10-1858 He was only little over 2 yrs old when he died. He was buried in Mason Co. Ill, near Forest City You remember Ma was buried in Decatur Ill. Pa was buried in Thawville Ill. I wish he could have been buried near Ma. but I had nothing to say. Ma died in Ark. and was buried there. Our brother Geo is in poor health his daughter wrote that he was almost blind. poor boy there seems to be there is no hope for his sight improving as he has internal Cataract and it cant be removed I am so sorry. He was my favorite of Pa's last children. He was an affectionate boy and not like the others. They were more like Ma. I am glad you are well and donot have to work if you don't feel like it. I am in better health than when I was younger. Folks who have known me for a long time say I don't look a day older than I did 15 or 20 yrs ago. but they forget first because I looking well they think I'm not looking old I tell them when I get to be 100 yrs old they may call me old. not that I am anxious to live so ________(word missing). I want to live as long as the Dear Lord has any thing for me to do and when my work is done He will take me home. I have suffered quite a lot in my time but now I'm free from pain and not often sick. When I am sick I don't worry just leave it all to my Heavenly Father willing to stay or go as He thinks best. Grace and I work hard but we enjoy it. We always have plenty. Pay the Taxes and Interest on $2500. so you see we are pretty good managers. If I should get so I couldn't work we would have to sell the place. but long as I am able to work we'll stay here. We have the best of neighbors. Have a nice big church near us only 1 ¼ miles and good ____(unreadable word). We have a car and can go when we need to and have time. Delbert you know is a Preacher. he has a good work about 70 mi from us. We went to see him. ThanksGiving. Charlie live 4 ½ mi from us. He has one girl in College and one in Highschool. They are doing good work I think. The Oldest expe---(probably expects) to teach next year. He has 10 children. I must close or you'll have to get some body to read this for you, Lovingly, Sister M.S.VanGundy


Calumet, Okla.
Jan. 10, 1928

My Dear Brother John:
I recieved your letter today. So glad to hear from you again. Sorry for -y (word is unclear) It must be hard to be left to raise a family alone. Hope she may Keep well and be able to enjoy her family now about Willie Best. He left San Francisco some time after the Earthquake (I don't remember just how long.) He told his wife he was going to hunt a job and so far as I know, she never heard from him. A woman who used to know him in Mo. Saw a name just like his in a paper in Canada. It was W.A. Best, Edmonton Canada and he was Secretary in some Enterprize there that is all I ever heard. Geo. is in Kansas City, Mo. I know nothing of the others. The last I heard of Eva She was living in Stockton Cal. You wanted to know in what part of Indiana you were born. You were not born in Ind. at all. Our Father Andrew L. Best was born in Harrison Co. Indiana May 24th 1830 Our Mother Elizabeth Jane Wisdom was born in Metcalf Co. Ky. July 17 1832 and died May 2 - 1868. In Decatur Ill. I was born in Metcalf Co. Kentucky June 5-1855. You were born in Metcalf Co. Ky Nov. 20. 1856 Jimmy our own little brother was born in Metcalf Co. Ky Aug 10-1858 He was only little over 2 yrs old when he died. He was buried in Mason Co. Ill, near Forest City You remember Ma was buried in Decatur Ill. Pa was buried in Thawville Ill. I wish he could have been buried near Ma. but I had nothing to say. Ma died in Ark. and was buried there. Our brother Geo is in poor health his daughter wrote that he was almost blind. poor boy there seems to be there is no hope for his sight improving as he has internal Cataract and it cant be removed I am so sorry. He was my favorite of Pa's last children. He was an affectionate boy and not like the others. They were more like Ma. I am glad you are well and donot have to work if you don't feel like it. I am in better health than when I was younger. Folks who have known me for a long time say I don't look a day older than I did 15 or 20 yrs ago. but they forget first because I looking well they think I'm not looking old I tell them when I get to be 100 yrs old they may call me old. not that I am anxious to live so ________(word missing). I want to live as long as the Dear Lord has any thing for me to do and when my work is done He will take me home. I have suffered quite a lot in my time but now I'm free from pain and not often sick. When I am sick I don't worry just leave it all to my Heavenly Father willing to stay or go as He thinks best. Grace and I work hard but we enjoy it. We always have plenty. Pay the Taxes and Interest on $2500. so you see we are pretty good managers. If I should get so I couldn't work we would have to sell the place. but long as I am able to work we'll stay here. We have the best of neighbors. Have a nice big church near us only 1 ¼ miles and good ____(unreadable word). We have a car and can go when we need to and have time. Delbert you know is a Preacher. he has a good work about 70 mi from us. We went to see him. ThanksGiving. Charlie live 4 ½ mi from us. He has one girl in College and one in Highschool. They are doing good work I think. The Oldest expe---(probably expects) to teach next year. He has 10 children. I must close or you'll have to get some body to read this for you, Lovingly, Sister M.S.VanGundy


The following letter was contributed by Beverly A. Cowles.



April 1st, 1898
Polk County, Oregon

Dear Brother,

I Seat myself to write to you in answer to your kind letter that I received a few days ago. I was glad to hear from you and the old stomping ground once more. Although I was so very sorry to hear of the death of our dear father because he was always so good to me and I loved him so well and I do believe that he is now resting in that eternal bliss that the Lord has prepared for all the Saints. There is nodoubt in my mind but what he is better off now than we are. But still, I had to shed many tears when I heard of his death and I have thought of him many times and wished that I could see him. I have been thinking for the last two or three years that I would make some arrangements to come and see him but now it is to late. I wrote him a letter sometime back but I did not no where to direct and I directed to Monterey, po and I suppose he never got my letter, at least I never received any answer. I am sorry that we never kept up no better correspondence.

I think of the old home thousands of times and long to see it again and I how often I think of my dear Step mother how kind she always was to me and how often she has waited on me when I was on my sick bed and consoled me and gave me good advice which I will never forget, may God Bless her and relieve her mind from all trouble and may she live happy and always have plenty the remainder of her days. There has been many times in my travels over the world that people have asked me in regard to my parents and when I
tell them that my own mother died when I was little and I was raised by a step mother the next question they will ask was she good to you? Then it does me so much good to tell them certainly, she was that. No boy could ever had a better mother. It seems as though they think it is almost uncommon for a step mother to be good to step children and for that reason it does me all the more good to praise my step mother and so please give my best respects to Mother.

Well William you wrote to me that you was administrator on fathers estate and that there would be something for me after a while and that you wanted to no my postoffice address, it is Salem, po, Marion County, Oregon. That is where I get all my mail although I live just two miles west of Salem in Polk County. Have been living right here in the neighborhood for the last eight years. I have bought a small place here and I am doing all I can to improve it to make me a home and I am behind on it yet about one hundred dollars and some money would come in mighty good play to help me out and if you can send me some money some time this Summer I would be very proud of it. I think it would be best to send it by post-office money order. I would like ever so much if you would write to me and tell me all the news about the old neighborhood and I will answer your letters and tell you anything that you desire to no about this country. What I can, we have a fine country here and imigration is coming in rapidly all the time. Salem is the Capitol of the State and is a beautiful location and town. It is located on the east bank of the Willamette river, 50 miles above Portland. The river is navigable to Salem for a hundered miles further up. This is a great fruit country and the finest wheat that I ever saw and it never fails. Oats does well and grasses of all kinds and vegetables of almost all kinds grows to perfection and never fails. The climate being just adapted to such things and there is never any insects of any kind to devour them. But this country is not good for corn. The climate don't suit it. Can only raise about 25 to 30 bushels per acre. It scarcely ever freezes over an inch thick and it has not froze that much this winter. The climate is nice and we have the very best of Community. All sorts of good Society and good people. I was down to see Amanda and the Children last fall they was all well. I make it a rule to go and see them once a year. They live 50 miles down the river at Clackamas Station. She is keeping a boarding house there. It has been seven years since we separated the last time. I would like to write more about this but havent got space. I send my best respects to all inquireing friends. I will close by asking you to write as often as
you can. From your affectionate Brother

David K. Spurgeon




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