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Jane Paul Eakin (also known as “Jennie”) left Chicago Heights, Illinois, in April 1866 and began a four-month journey by wagon to Eugene, Oregon. She traveled with her family – including her parents, one set of grandparents, and a number of siblings (she mentions five in her diary). Little is known about Eakin’s life before or after her migration to Oregon. She appears to have married later and changed her surname to Hanna.
The Jane Eakin Diary of a Trip Across the Plains from Illinois to Eugene, Oregon in 1866 consists of nine typed pages from a travel journal that Eakin kept during the summer of 1866 when her family migrated to Oregon from Illinois. Eakin’s entries are brief. They mark the progress of her family’s wagons, note the weather conditions, and recount illnesses her family suffered. Some of Eakin’s references to campsites are specific – such as “stayed in Frog” – but many of them are less specific, such as “camped in a man’s yard.” Consequently, tracing her family’s progress is difficult. Eakin notes when other wagon trains joined them; she mentioned the “Montana train” and her sorrow when they parted company. She also offers observations about other travelers; she said she did not like the Oregon train because the women were “rough, course and ugly” and the men swore. The Eakin family joined other family members who had already settled in Eugene (the McCornack and Pattison families).
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[Identification of item], Jane Eakin diary, A 030, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.