Menefee (Leah Collins) Papers, 1852-circa 1979  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Menefee, Leah Collins
Title
Menefee (Leah Collins) Papers
Dates
1852-circa 1979 (inclusive)
Quantity
.9 cubic feet (2 document cases)
Collection Number
Mss 2519
Summary
Research materials and drafts of article "Cutoff Fever, 1853" (1976-1978) by Leah Collins Menefee and Lowell Tiller, regarding the Elijah Elliott wagon train to Oregon, 1853, and the Free Emigrant Road or Elliot Cutoff. Includes copies of diaries, reminiscences, and other documents.
Repository
Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library
Davies Family Research Library
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR
97205
Telephone: 503-306-5240
Fax: 503-219-2040
libreference@ohs.org
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The discovery of an old log bridge on the Menefee ranch on Big Marsh Creek led Leah Collins Menefee to research the Free Emigrant Road, sometimes referred to as the Elliot cutoff or the Greenhorn Road. The cutoff was identified in an 1853 immigrant guide but was not traveled until 20 March 1853 when Elijah Elliot led a wagon train from the Malheur River to Lane County. The trail was purported to have had ample water and grass, and was less traveled and dusty than others. The Free Emigrant Road was unique in that it had no toll gates, was built from west to east by an established western community, was managed by three road commissioners chosen at a public meeting, and was funded by monies contributed by the people of Linn, Benton, and Lane counties. This wagon train has been referred to as "The Lost Wagon Train of 1853" and has been confused with the Stephen Meek Wagon Train of 1845.

Menefee stated that her purpose in writing the book was to explain why the cutoff was desirable, to gather and publish details of the efforts to build the road, to trace movements of the pioneers and separate their stories from those of the Meek wagon train, to prove that the "lost" immigrants were never really lost, and to detail how exploration and settlement of central and eastern Oregon proceeded after the Free Emigrant Road was established.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Papers include: draft of an article entitled, "Cutoff Fever, 1853" by Leah Collins Menefee and Lowell Tiller, published serially in 6 installments in the Oregon Historical Quarterly, 1976-1978 (vols. 77-79); and notes, correspondence, diaries, narratives, reminiscences, and other source data collected by Menefee and Tiller and relating to the locating and construction of the Free Emigrant Road, as well as to the first wagon train crossing in 1853.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library before any publication use. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

Leah Collins Menefee Papers, Mss2519, Oregon Historical Society Research Library

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series A:  Drafts of "Cutoff Fever", circa 1976-1978Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Part One
  • Chapter one: "The Oregon Fever"
  • Chapter two: "The Road Viewers -- To Find a Middle Way"
circa 1976-1978
1/2
Part Two
  • Chapter three: "Planning a Free Immigrant Road -- Be It Resolved"
  • Chapter four:"General Palmer's Plan -- To Remove a Nuisance"
  • Chapter five: "Dr. Alexander Starts Construction -- A Noble Beginning"
circa 1976-1978
1/3
Part Three
  • Chapter six: "The Migration Forms -- Beware of Heavy Wagons" (pages 15-18 missing)
  • Chapter seven: "Taking the Cutoff -- What Man Has Done"
circa 1976-1978
1/4
Part Four
  • Chapter eight: "To Harney Valley -- Here We Buried Mrs. Lapham"
  • Chapter nine: "Leaving Meek's Tracks -- A Bad Decision"
  • Chapter ten: "To the Deschutes -- The Water Kegs are Empty"
circa 1976-1978
1/5
Part Five
  • Chapter eleven: "Into the Cascades -- Visions of Bread and Butter"
  • Chapter twelve: "Down Into the Valley -- Flour, Bread, and Helping Hands"
  • Chapter thirteen: "A Final Tally -- The Cost of Failure"
1/6
Part six
  • Chapter fourteen: "Commissioners Versus Alexander -- A Partial Retrieve"
  • Chapter fifteen: "Macy in 1854 -- Where Others Failed"
  • Chapter sixteen: "Requiem for the Middle Route -- The Gold, the Gun, and the Grass"
circa 1976-1978
1/7
Notes on Photographs
  • Pictures -- people
  • Pictures of People in Menefee-Tiller 1853 story
  • History of the Bruce family
  • Lane County, Or. Bible Records
  • Photos in album in possession of Dorothy Matthews Lamotte
  • Journal of Lt. Williams side explorations
circa 1976-1978

Series B:  Research materials (formerly Mss 2519-1), 1852-circa 1979Return to Top

Includes copies from diaries, narratives, reminiscences, and other sources. Unless otherwise specified, all materials are photocopies or typed transcriptions.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
2/1
Diaries, narratives, booklets, etc.
1966
2/2
Bond, George, 1853 journal and family donation land claim records
1962
2/3
Bond, Isaac William and Hetty (McClure): genealogy and biography, "Journey Over the Oregon Trail"
undated
2/4
"Overland from Indiana to Oregon: the Dinwiddie Journal"
Photocopy from Sources for Northwest History, No.2. Also includes letter from Paul L. Bristow to "Friend," 14 July 1947
1928
2/5
Noble, Orin and Eliza (Brumley): genealogy and biography
undated
2/6
"The Lost Immigrant Train," by Mrs. W. Wheeler
1958
2/7
"Reminiscences of southern Oregon pioneers: Charles Mansall Hall"
Includes clipping re: Hall and Medley families.
1938
2/8
"A Tale of Pioneer Days," Thomas H. Hunsaker
undated
2/9
"Lost Wagon Train Story," Randall Stuart Jones
1958
2/10
Narrative of Elizabeth Young (Stewart) Warner, "Lost Wagon Train, Middle Fork Route 1853"
undated
2/11
Smyth, Rye Letter to Smith family
1964 August 4
2/12
"By Ox Team to Oregon" William Stoops
1925
2/13
Belknap, Dr. and Mrs. M.P., description of route from Maury Mountain
undated
2/14
Matthews, Alexander and Margaret Jane (Baughman), Short family history, including Overland Journey 1853
undated
2/15
Slater, John Lyman, reminiscence of 1853 journey
1931
2/16
Slater, John Lyman, interview by Fred Lockley
1931
2/17
"Hockersmiths Came to Oregon with Famous Lost Wagon Train," by Mrs. George H. Robinson, granddaughter of Martha Jane Gale Hockersmith
1954
2/18
Adventures on the Meek Trail 1853, George Grey of Union County
undated
2/19
"Came Across in 1853 : Experiences of the Gale boys and the Rough and Ready Train"
1893
2/20
"The Wolves Did Not Get Him," E.B. Watson and D.B. Thompson
undated
2/21
"A Pioneer of 1853" (poem) and Mrs. Sarah Watson Hamilton's poem
1905
2/22
Crowe, Mrs. Hardy, "Last Survivor of the Lost Wagon Train"
1931
2/23
Blue Bucket Mines: Interview with C.A. Sweek
undated
2/24
"Crossing the Plains by Ox Team in 1853"; Jason and Catherine Jones family records; notes on Joseph Leonard related items in Eva Emery Dye collection (MSS 1189)
undated
2/25
McClure, A.S., three newspaper items
1880-1898
2/26
Davidson, J.M. Letter from S.W. & E.E. Lawrence
1854
2/27
R.M. Fletcher's Story
1937
2/28
Kincaid, Harrison R.: Excerpts
1915
2/29
Woodcock, Wm. Cornelius, notes and passages from a diary
undated
2/30
Gray, Doke Interview re: Robt. Gray
undated
2/31
"A Trip Across the Plains in 1853" Mrs. M.A. Loney
1907
2/32
Crow, L.C. "A Short Autobiography"
undated
2/33
Murphy, Mrs. J.J. Interview
1922
2/34
Hailey, John "Oregon Money, 1853 Gold"
1907
2/35
Hinkle, Jerry E Interview
undated
2/36
Diary of Joseph Hite family crossing the Plains in 1853
undated
2/37
Letter re: Notes on Oregon Trail and Elliot's cutoff
1962
2/38
"Oregon Pioneer"
1904
2/39
"Our Mountain Top," description of Elliott's cutoff
1869
2/40
Struggles and triumphs of Mr. Pittock in newspaper field
1911
2/41
Williams, Perry, notes re: Elliott's cutoff
undated
2/42
Williams, Perry, "The Pioneers of 1853"
undated
2/43
Williams, Perry "The Pioneers of 1853"
undated
2/44
Hampton, Mrs. Hugh, interview re: Thomas Williams
1958
2/45
Butler, Peter, George Miller West, & Isaac Smith, notes taken from letters at Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley
undated
2/46
Bristow, Paul, "The Starved Emigration of 1853"
undated
2/47
Easterbrook, Adaline, letter to her grandmother
1855
2/48
Patterson, Ida, "The Wagon Train of 1853"
circa 1900
2/49
Harlow, Mahlon, Diary excerpts
1851-53
2/50
Names of donation land claims of those on 1853 Elliott Cutoff
undated
2/51
McClung, J.H., "Recollection of a Trip Up the McKenzie River in the fall of 1860," undated
2/52
Notes on Selected 1853 Pioneers (manuscript)
undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Overland journeys to the Pacific
  • Pioneers--Oregon--Correspondence
  • Pioneers--Oregon--Diaries
  • Personal Names :
  • Elliot, Elijah
  • Tiller, Lowell, 1925- (creator)
  • Geographical Names :
  • Oregon National Historic Trail
  • Oregon--Description and travel
  • Oregon--History--To 1859
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Diaries
  • Letters
  • Reminiscences