Oregon Trail

Do you have an ancestor that followed the trail to Oregon? While I have an ancestor who seems to disappear around the time of the gold rush (1849), I haven’t been able to prove he did indeed venture west. However, I have several collateral lines that followed the trail to both Oregon and California.

One of those lines is my THOMPSON line. Jacob Thompson, son of John and Sarah (Iglehart) Thompson migrated from Indiana to Iowa and then on to Oregon. Jacob and his wife Rhoda were married in Warwick county, Indiana in 1844. By 1850, they are living in Wapello county, Iowa. Eight years later (1858), they are found in Linn county, Oregon.

According to the WikiTree Freepage, Jacob Thompson and his family were part of an 1852 wagon train that travelled from Wapello County, Iowa to Oregon. After reaching Oregon, Jacob Thompson homesteaded land. While the image of the original patent is not currently available online, the First Landowners database shows the location of Jacob’s land.

The 1860 survey map also shows Jacob Thompson’s land

While the Wikitree page lists one set of names that migrated from Wapello county, Iowa to Oregon, there is a Find a Grave site, 1852 Wapello Wagon Train Members, that lists another set of names. A Google search turns up a document from 2011 that provides more information about the Wagons from Wapello. The fall 2010 issue of Northwest Trails contains the article, Who Was David R. Koonz? that identifies several families that migrated from Wapello county with David Koontz. None of these sources list Jacob Thompson or Richard Evans as members of the 1852 Wapello wagon train.

While it is possible that there were two wagon trains from Wapello county in 1852, land records show Martin Koontz owning land adjacent to Jacob Thompson and near Richard Evans.

Further research will be required to determine whether the Jacob Thompson family ventured west in the same train as the Koontz family.

Addendum: In my copy of the book that indexes Oregon-California trail diaries and letters called Platte River Road Narratives, I found more information about the Edward J. Allen letters mentioned in the Northwest Trails article. According to the book, Edward J. Allen’s letters were published in the Pittsburg Daily Dispatch. Unfortunately no publication date is given.

Thus, I searched Newspapers.com to see what I could discover. My first search for “Edward Allen” did uncover quite few hits for “Edward Jay Allen”. But those hits were for a younger person living in Pennsylvania. When I searched for “Letters from the Oregon Trail”, I found an obituary for Col. Edward Allen published in the Pittsburgh Post in Dec 1915. This obituary identifies Col. Allen as the author of the letters claiming,

He wrote his impressions and experiences of the trip to newspapers and magazines under the caption “Letters from the Oregon Trail.”

Pittsburgh Daily Post (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) 27 Dec 1915, Mon  •  Page 1 available on Newspapers.com

Since my newspaper search wasn’t uncovering the letters, I turned to Google and hit the jackpot. A digital copy of the “Letters from the Oregon Trail” is part of the Harvey Allen papers in the University of Pittsburgh Digital Collections.