Augustus Ripley Burbank diaries , 1849 April 13 - 1898 May 7

Overview of the Collection

Burbank, Augustus Ripley, 1817-1902
Augustus Ripley Burbank diaries
1849 April 13 - 1898 May 7 (inclusive)
0.25 linear feet, (1 container)  :  1 half manuscript box
Collection Number
A 013
Augustus Ripley Burbank was a businessman in the West and Midwest. The A.R. Burbank papers consist of three volumes of diaries. The diaries discuss overland travel to California, the growth of Portland and Lafayette, Oregon, personal issues and the growth and development of railroads in the Willamette Valley. The frequency of the diary entries varies from nonexistent for many years to almost daily.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Augustus Ripley Burbank traveled overland from Naples, Illinois to Sacramento, California between April and September of 1849. He stayed at Sutter's Fort for a time and built up a business of trading in mules. From July 1850 to March 1851 he lived in Nevada City. He then sold out and returned to Illinois via Panama and New Orleans. In Illinois he was in the "note, land, warrant money trade and land business" in Bloomington. He and with his wife left Illinois in 1853 and came to Oregon by sea, via Panama and San Francisco. They settled first in Lafayette, where Burbank engaged in various businesses, among them agent and treasurer of the Pacific Telegraph Co. In 1857, they moved to Portland, and in 1858 to Monticello, W.T., where they established a hotel.

Burbank was active in politics, serving in the Oregon and Washington territorial legislatures. He was appointed Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue, Second District, Washington Territory in 1863. In 1867, he returned to Lafayette, Oregon and assumed full ownership of a mercantile store in which he had retained half interest. In August 1880, the Burbanks' daughter, Eva, drowned in the Pacific Ocean, and for several years thereafter her memory was the major recurring theme of Burbank's diary. He distributed photographs of her to lighthouse keepers on the north Pacific Coast, received communications from her via spiritualists in Indiana, and was pleased when Charles Bray, Portland, Oregon composer, wrote a song in her memory, "Lost in the Deep, Deep Sea," which was published by Wiley B. Allen of Portland in 1881.

Burbank was an investor in the Oregon Railway Company and in his latter years remained on the fringes of local and state politics, attending conventions and entertaining visiting office holders. He attended the Portland reception honoring President Benjamin Harrison on May 4, 1891.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The original of the first volume of the diary (1849-1878) is in the Henry E. Huntington Library and a typed copy is in this collection. Volumes two and three are originals. The diary has daily entries for the overland journey in 1849. From September 1849 to 1861, the entries are generally weekly; and from 1851 to 1853 there are more annual summaries. No entries appear from 1853 to 1856, and from 1856 to 1879 Burbank tended to write annual summaries, with one or two entries for special events. After the death of his daughter, Eva, in 1880, he again commenced regular diary entries, sometimes daily, more often two or three times a week. He outlived a good many pioneers of Lafayette and vicinity, and commented on the careers of his deceased contemporaries. The diary includes many references to the growth and progress of Lafayette and of Portland, where Burbank held real estate and where he frequently visited. He was especially careful to note all progress in the building of railroads in the Willamette Valley.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Cities and towns--Oregon--Lafayette--Growth
  • Cities and towns--Oregon--Portland--Growth
  • Railroads--Willamette River Valley (Or.)--Willamette River Valley

Form or Genre Terms

  • Diaries