by Beatrice Tuttle
Preparation and beginning of the trip:
In the southwest part of Jefferson County, Illinois, and about a mile north of the Franklin County line, there once existed the small village of Winfield, Post Office, Fitzgerrell. Several families from this area and surrounding places farther east, came to Winfield for the departure. It was early spring, 1865, when the group congregated, and started to Oregon in covered wagons.
There were many details to be accomplished. Wagons were strengthened by laying a second floor and doing additional bracing. Great amounts of food, clothing, bedding, utensils, and tools had to be provided. The wagons were drawn by ox teams, sometimes using half a dozen oxen to a wagon. They took extra oxen, several horses, and milk cows. Scouts who rode ahead used horses.
Persons from the immediate locality who went to Oregon were as follows: Elder Joseph Hartley, the founder of the Primitive Baptist Church near Winfield was one traveler. There were three some of Elder Hartley and their families who went: The oldest son, Edmund Waller Hartley, his wife, and seven children; the second son, David F. Hartley, his wife and five children ; the third son, Henry H. Hartley, his wife and daughter. Another son, Clayton Hartley, who was in the military service at the time, later joined the group in Oregon. Isaac Clampet, who built the first mill in Winfield, and his wife, Dialtha Dudley Clampet, were also passengers to Oregon. Both the Hartleys and the Clampets obtained their letters from the Horse Prairie Primitive Baptist Church to take with them.
One lady from the Winfield group, who had much pride and many beautiful clothes, knew little of the rigors of wagon train trabel. Those making the trip were to leave just after daybreak on an appointed day. Some neighbor women halped her dress the evening before the departure. The many clothes of her day included five or six petticoats and her best dress. The ladies layed the proud woman across her bed to await the morning.
Along the trail:
It is known that the wagon train traveled northwest past where Waltonville is now. Mrs. Ida Newell remembered that her mother, Mrs. Augusta Philip, saw the wagon trail (about a mile long), come across Knob Hill and west toward her home. My grandmother, age 23, and several young ladies from the Winfield community rode horseback (side-saddle), and accompanied the wagon train several miles toward East St. Louis. The girls arrived home about dark that evening. The wagon train group gathered on the east bank of the Mississippi River, farther north across from Hannibal, Missouri. They joined a long larger train at Independence, Mo. Indians were often seen along the way. According to Mr. Henry Hartley, they never experienced combat with the Red Man. Often, they would spy Indians on heights above, and at a distance, who seemed to be watching the wagon train. If an Indian felt the travelers had seen him, he used a quick disappearance act. The Indian did this by sliding down on the far side of his pony (clutching to the pony's mane) then riding like the wind to get out of sight. Isaac Clampet served as scout and was called, "Captain." His duties were fourfold: To determine the best and safest routing, to kill game for the evening meal, to locate desirable camping grounds, and to keep a lookout for indians. Other scouts were spaced at intervals along the trail to herald any trouble.
When evening came the wagons were formed in a circle. The meals were cooked by in-dividual families within the circle area. They considered this plan as a fort-like protection. Several milk cows were taken and milk was one of their basic foods. The cream was poured into covered containers and allowed to sour. As the wagons bounced along the sloshing churned the butter.
Their food consisting mainly of dry beans, peas, and salt pork was a bland diet, which became tiresome. This caused much illness and furnished some of the worst hardships. A most pleasant experience awaited the wagon train people when they reached a Mormon settlement neat Salt Lake City, Utah. The fall turnip crop was ready to use. Each person was given one turnip with the top. Some cut off the tops and ate the turnips raw. Others pooled the turnips for their family and cooked them. Some used the tops to cook for greens. The weary wanderers were overjoyed with the speciality of that meal.
Often they stayed more than one day where an unusually good camping site was found. If the water was plentiful, they washed their clothes, or used the time for a rest period.
One day, somewhere in the high mountain country, the Henry Hartley wagon was bringing up the rear. Mr. Hartley was lying in the back of the wagon, as he had been sick with typhoid fever. Tom Ford, a bachelor, was driving the team. The mountain trail was very narrow. Other wagons had gone ahead and had helped to make the trail more narrow. A back wheel slid off the road, and the distance to the valley below was a frightening depth. Some lust yells from the family, plus a quick outcry from Rom Ford, and the use of the whip caused the oxen to jump and jerk the wagon to safety.
Near the end of the trail in Idaho, but still in mountain country, the wife and mother of one family died. Boards were taken from the bottom of the wagons and a coffin constructed. She was buried in a pretty spot near the trail. A few years later, the husband went back to take the body to their new home for reburial. They found she had been buried alive, for in her hands was some of the hair off her head. They then realized high altitude had rendered her unconscious.
In was November, 1865, when the Illinois people arrived in the Oregon country. The families settled in various places. Edmund Wallker Hartley lived near Salem, Oregon, at McLeay; David Hartley first went to Oregon, but later moved to Goldendale, Washington. Henry H. Hartley settled at Oregon City about 12 miles from Foresy Grove, Oregon. Clayton Hartley, who joined his family in the west, lived at Forest Grove, Oregon, and later moved to Goldendale, Washington.
Some returned to Illinois
The Henry H. Hartley family, in 1867, returned to the general location of Winfield, Ill. The trip was made by boat and portage by way of the Isthmus of Panama and New York. Travel by boat and train were both exceedingly slow. The Hartleys rode in a hack for some distance on the Isthmus. They went in a row boat on the Panama River and the boat was propelled by natives. From New York, they came by train to St. Louis.
One day while on the big boat, an exciting occurance caused the passengers to hunt quickly for places of safety. There was no regrigeration on the boat, so they took bull calves to butcher. One of the animals got loose and appeared bellowing and snorting in the dining room. The place was in shambles by the time the seamen captured the excited animal, but the people were no where to be seen.
Near New York, the passengers had to change to a small boat (the larger one could not anchor in the port). To do this, a rope ladder was used to swing the people from one boat to another. This was reported to have been one of the most breath-taking experiences of all. In New York, Mrs. Hartley was dressed in her best alpaca to take the train to Illinois. A boy pushing a baggage truck snagged her dress. She said, "What do you mean tearing a body's best alpackie?" When she related this incident, her beautiful black eyes shone as brightly as if it had just happened.
Isaac and Dialtha Clampet first lived at The Dalles, Oregon. It was Fort Dalles at that time. He ran a small store there for a period. Later Mr. & Mrs. Clampet moved to the Portland region. There he owned and operated a saw mill and built houses. They developed a real estate business to complete their operation. Mrs. Clampet explained they "beautified" the homes before selling them. This probably meant setting out evergreen trees and shrubs which abound there. This became a profitable business for the Clampets.
Mr. & Mrs. Clampet came back to Illinois, but kept real estate holdings around Portland. They made trips now and then to check on their interests. In 1901, while on one of these trips, Mr. Clampet died. He was buried at the Horse Prairie Primitive Baptist Cemetery near Winfield.
Mrs. Clampet stayed in Illinois and lived with a nephew and wife, William and Bartee Dudley in Scheller, Illinois. Her last days were spent in the home of the Dudley's daughter and husband, Mayme and Frank Hester, Waltonville, Illinois. Mrs. Dailtha Dudley Clampet lived a few weeks beyond her one hundredeth birthday. She died December 17, 1922, and is buried beside her husband in the Horse Prairie Cemetery. The Clampets were parents of three chldren, who had died before their Oregon Trail trip. Their names were Arolina, born 1846, Matilda, born 1849, and Francis, born 1850. Their graves are in the Clampet Cemetery, south of the Primitive Baptist Cemetery.
Acknowledgement for contributing portions for this story are given to Mr. & Mrs. Henry H. Hartley, neighbors at Waltonville, Illinois; also to Mrs. Dialtha Dudley Clampet, whom I met at the home of my grandmother, Mrs. Martha Clampet Newbury. More recently the following persons added and verified information: Mrs. Bertha Hertherington, Mrs. Melissa Wells, and
Mrs. Leona Allen.
Written by Beatrice Tuttle
©2010 and prior, Cindy Ford (all rights reserved)