October 16th, 1876
Cove, Union County
After traveling 5 months and going from one place in the Promise Land to another, have hung up here in this little village called the Cove for the Winter. I presume you want to no how I like this land of Promise, so make a long story short - I do not like it at all. This Oregon Country is too old. The greatest objection is there is no market for farm produce, though for all this back-slam, there is an immense quantity of wheat raised here. Farmers trade it for store goods and for stock trade and turn over, chips and wheat stones and so forth and so on. And a man that works for wages has to take it in trade. I haven't been offered but one cash job since I have been in Grand Round Valley, and that was for herding sheep at $30 per month. Wanted me six months and couldn't pay any money until after sheering time next Spring. There is once and a while a monied man that will pay cash for labor if you will give him time. The truth of it is, to be plain and not divide from the truth, this Oregon Country and Washington Ter. is the most over estimated country that my eyes ever beheld. I paid a visit to the celebrated Walla Walla Valley of Washington since I have been here. A man would naturally suppose that a valley would be level, but this Walla Walla Valley is a valley of hills and mountains. They farm these hills and produce considerable wheat. The market is some better in Walla Walla then in this part of Oregon, though its the most disagreeable place to live that I'v ever seen. Its nothing uncommon to see dry dust - as dry as powder knee deep in all the wagon roads all over the country. As I said before, this is the most over estimated country that I have ever seen. There isn't a foot of land to take up in Oregon or Washington that I would have, and its the way with all of the emigrants that I have seen this summer. All of the desirable places that would have, have houses on them and good improvements. And still another thing against this Gods Country, especially this Grand Round Valley, it is too frosty. Some farms cannot raise vegetbles on account of frost. It is strange, some ranches raise vegetables while other ranches adjoining cannot. Frost strikes in places.
This valley is a pretty valley 36 miles long, from ten to twenty wide, surrounded entirely by mountains covered with timber. I do not like it, and do not expect to make this country my home longer than this winter is over. I am going over to Idaho Territory in the Spring, where there is lively times and plenty of money. Was an infernal fool for leaving there when I was there. I do not know how California will pan out, especially where Walkers folks are. One thing sure, I have too much knowledge of this Western Country to go and see. Montana and Idaho are good countrys to go to for plenty of money, and to stay in a country where there is no money in circulation, I won't.
There is plenty here to eat, but to get hold of money is like pulling a mans eyeteeth. If any of your neighbors intend emigrating to this country tell them to stay where they are, and not be foolish and run around looking for a better place. For my use, I wouldn't give old grasshopper Kansas Douglas County a loan for Oregon. That is all I have seen of it, if there is anything left out about the country and any one in your knowing wants to no any more - send a list of questions, and I will fill them out.
Union County Oregon February 13th, 1877
Your very kind letter is at hand and carfully read, finding us all well - wishing you the same blessings. There isn't anything unusual going on in this part of America at present. There is considerable sickness here, Typhoid, Pneumonia, Fevers are very prevalent. I have quit the sheep herding since I wrote you last. I was only getting thirty per month and worked Sundays. I am now cutting cord wood, I and Brother are working together and we are making all the way from $1.20 to 1.25 per day each owing to how hard we work, for a man can work fearful hard at wood cutting. However, I like it better than herding sheep and am making more money and doing it easier. Well, I must tell you how cheap grub is, and how easy we live. I haven't paid one cent of money out for flour since I have been to Oregon. I get flour for trade and it is so cheap $1.50 per hundred as good flour as can be made. Potatoes 75 cts. per hundred, cabbage cent a pound, beef 3 cts. per pound dressed. Pork demands a good price here and ready cash hogs gross 5 cts a pound dressed, 7 to 8 cts per pound. One thing I haven't eaten a mess of corn bread since I landed on this coast. I eat my share of corn when I was back in the States. Meal is worth 5 cts. per pound. Just send over a load of your corn, I will sell it for you and send you back the coin so you see our land. Pumpkins and squashes are not to be snuffed at, to come down to fact and figures about this country, although I do not like it. I would rather live here than to come back to Kansas and is really easier place to make a living, that is a living a loan than Kansas is or ever will be, though you know how I was ..... When I was back in Kansas too many eaters and they were not profitable laborors and the country was hoppered and bugged and dryed, though I smilingly hope that Kansas will never see such times again.
You wanted to no something about father & mother. They are keeping house for me and brother James. We have comfortable quarters situated on Cathlin Creek, four miles from Union Town in a pretty little valley surrounded by low hills or rather foot hills of mountains. The snowy range laying farther back.
You say two of Kirks boys are going to the University at Laurence. I suppose they intend to educate themselves to make a political dead beet and bummer like their sainted father. I want you to tell me how well Henry is making it if he is as close as ....................... and if he takes 15 ....... per cent for money as he did us once. Those pictures you made mention of in your letter, Ma says to be quick and send them as she wants to see them very much. Well about the Harris Ranch, did Mrs. Chamberlain get the ranch back or does Mr. Farris hold it yet. Do you ever hear anything of Chamberlains folks, where they are? Rite me if you do. In regards to leaving Oregon, I am between hawk and buzzard. I do not no what to do or say at this writing. A rolling stone never gathers any moss and I have rolled around on wheel rim one place and another looking for the Promise land and have not found it - until I am disgusted a traveling. Some say that Montana is the place to go to - lots of money there, though I am not inclined to believe everything I hear as I have been lied to so much. The family sends regards.
April 27th, 1877
Union County, Oregon
Dear Sir, your very kind and welcome letter is at hand. Finding us all well wishing you and family the same. I have ..... of writing waiting for something to transpire worthy of note in order to have lots of news to write you. However, nothing has happend and my budget of news, I fear will be small. We are having a cold, wet spring. The cold hurts me more now than anytime last winter. There is something peculiar about this country and climate that states people do not believe and I will tell you on some ranches it frosts every month in the year and for all that they raise wheat, oaks and barley as I have stated before on those ranches they cannot raise vegatibles. While another mans ranch ..... can raise all the vegatable they wish for , and it seems very odd to me. Grass commenced to grow about the middle of February. I turned my horses to the hills about the first of March, haven't fed them a bite since. They are fat and looking fine. Grass is now about 6 inches high, though just a few days since we had 3 inches of snow frost. Does not appear to bite anything here in the spring. This is a curious country and curious people live here. Their ways are very different, that is, manners and customs, to what they are back in the states. So much so, I shall never get used to them - never want to. I keep my [?] yet in addition to that, have bought one more horse since I come here - have three horses, 5 Berkshire pigs, nice wones, this is all the stock I own at present. I still keep farm. The mare we bought of Mr. Christen [sp?] you remember her, I could sell her for 150 dollars.
I am going to raise some race stock from her. The season cost me 25 dollars though, I am not on the horse race one bit. There is plenty of others that is and by that kind of stock and I will stand a chance to sell if it proves to be fast. Well those pictures come all rite. We all shook hands and kissed them, they looked so natural it seemed as though you was here. Considering the long distance and being old neighbors, if I could pick out some of my old neighbors and settle them down here around me I would be contented to live in Eastern Oregon the remainder of my days. A man never knows the worth of a good neighbor and his circle of friends until he rolls up stakes like I did and leaves them. However, I am here and likely to be for some time. My brother and myself are in partnership, he is gone up to Idaho Territory to work in the mines this summer and I stay at home. Have rented a small ranch on shares have about 20 acres of barley sowed, garden potatoes, vegatable about 2 acres of wheat sowed, enough for me. Bread as wheat is a sure crop yield well. Do not expect to make one cent out of my crop, that is get any money. I have a few hogs and if I could ever get what little money that owing me, I could buy several more that would do for fattening hogs this fall. Delinquent taxes are to pay I could buy some mens hogs at bed rock prices. People here are like they are most all other places, some of them are always behind - never try to pay there honest debts taxes nor nothing else, until forced to.