Tuesday, April 1, 2008


  There was no instant Internet news or nightly television news or hourly radio news. There were no cell phones or no click of the finger text messages. So I wonder how people got their news in 1850. The news that the Oregon Donation Land Law was approved by the federal government on September 27, 1850 did some how travel to Burr Oak Ridge, later to be named Tipton, in Cedar County, Iowa Territory.

This series of stories tell of the thirty-seven men, women and children who left Burr Oak Ridge in late March of 1851 and the forty-one who arrived in Oregon City in late June of 1852. The group consisted of 60-year-old Grandma Polly, 64-year-old Grandpa Beckwith, their children and spouses, sixteen grandchildren under eleven years old, and the four babies who were born on the trail or in Provo, Utah during the winter. The family came to Oregon in five Conestoga wagons each drawn by a team of four oxen, their horses, assorted farm animals and many head of stock.

 The people you will meet are your ‘Oregon Pioneer Ancestors’ and are the descendants of the people in ‘Pilgrim Ancestors’ and ‘Colonial Ancestors’. What an interesting group of people this was! Beckwith Cook, a descendant of Henry Cook, and his first wife Sybil had children. Polly, a descendant of Frances Eaton, and her first husband William Rice had children. Beckwith and William may have been childhood friends. I am certain, however, that since they had been young married couples they were often neighbors. Their children grew up together and Beckwith’s two sons were married to Polly’s two oldest daughters. You are a descendent of Beckwith’s son Mansfield Cook and Polly’s daughter Nancy Rice. Beckwith and Polly’s spouses both died during the winter of 1839. When the 1840 U.S. census was taken in September 1840, Mary Rice, Beckwith Cook, his sons Mansfield and Jeb Cook, and a son-in-law Linus Bushnell were all listed as heads of household in Burr Oak Ridge. Beckwith and Polly were married on January 21, 1841. Beckwith and Polly are great-great-great grandparents of Dick Harry and Dottie Lou Harry Cole. Chloe Cook, the eleven year old girl on the wagon train, is Dick and Dottie Lou’s great-grandmother.

 Sybil Cook, Polly Rice Cook, Nancy Rice Cook, Jane Bell Harry, and Chloe Cook Harry tell their stories of life between 1790 and 1929 in America as our family continues their move west from Massachusetts to Oregon.  Also included in this story are excerpts from the diary of John Alva Harry and a letter from Jeb Cook. I hope you learn something about how our family has been a part of Oregon’s history.

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