Sunday, May 10, 2009

What I Remember about Mother, Mary Anna Webb

Since both my mother and maternal grandmother are still living and I don't know much about my other grandmother, I thought I would post this. I have the original and only recently found out it was published in a Hornbrook, Siskiyou Co. history book:

"What I Can Remember About Mother: Mary Anna Webb Wellons", Written by Georgianna Wellon Berger (daughter of Mary Anna)
Mother was the tenth child of Andrew and (I think) Priscilla WEBB, and was born in Wabash, Indiana, in 1862.
Her father was not tall and quite fat - as I remember him. Mother was only 4 feet 10 inches when grown. The father was blue eyed and had fair hair. Mother had gray eyes and red hair. The sisters and brothers I knew were dark haired and brown eyed.
My mother was 13 months old when her mother died - leaving a family of 6 boys and 4 girls (ages 19 years to 13 months).
Two of her brothers were killed in the Civil War. (I remember this because my Grandfather Andrew WEBB received a small pension after a certain age). My mother was the one who looked up the data and applied for it for him around the time I was born.
I knew two of Mother's sisters very well after they all came to Oregon and California.
One of two stories they told of their childhood before they moved to Colorado. The sister, Martha, and Mother were coming home from school in a snowstorm and Mother got so tired and sleepy she wanted to rest and her sister wouldn't let her but made her keep going.
Grandpa WEBB remarried a young woman not much older than the boys and the girls used to do things to tease her and laught at her. These stories I heard about when the girls got together in 1905-06, and they were ashamed of themselves then.
This marriage may have taken place after Grandpa WEBB and family left Indiana. I don't know just when the family left Indiana but it must have been after 1870. In crossing the mountains, the fourth child was born and they named her Lillie Timberline, because it was at the timberline. The mother died there so I guess the older girls took care them. I know nothing of those four children.
The family settled in Colorado, where they grew up and married.
Mother went to live in the home of a doctor - I think she was treated well and learned many things in housekeeping. She was only 11 years old when she went to work.
I asked her one time "were you pretty Mother?" She answered, "Well, some folks thought I was." Her hair was red and her eyes bluish gray, a very fair skin, pink cheeks.
Her sister, Martha, had dark brown hair and bright brown eyes. I remember her well - but she too was overweight.
They all seemed to enjoy life - laughed and sang - but were very timid - but both married young.
Mother was 16 1/2 when she married George Washington WELLONS on May 28, 1878 in Animas City, Colorado.
While still in Colorado, they had 4 children, Eben Boulder, born November 22, 1878, Hermosa Florita, born April 1, 1880, Edna May, born August 3, 1882 in Durango, and John Chapple Montgomery, born April 11, 1884 in Animas City, Colorado.
Before Flora was born, my father sold his property for around $2000 and planned to invest in a saloon - but I guess what you'd call a con man persuaded him and a neighbor to invest in some new product with headquarters in New York - so Dad settled Mother with Ebb in two rooms and money for groceries and he and two men went to New York - found the place where they had invested thier money "gone out of business" and the guys skipped out - a counterfeiting gang. So Dad came home broke. He said afterwards he was sure glad he hadn't invested in the saloon.
Of course, Mother was alone those two months he was gone - and she said she was afraid to go outside the door - but never a complaint I guess. She was a spunky little thing.
March 26, 1981 {date of writing}
I don't remember when I started writing about Mother, but I do want to write much much more - so I'll start again, after resolving to write a little every day and before my handwriting becomes any worse.
Mother was such a wonderful person. The older I get, the more I realize her greatness - yes, greatness - she was patient, kind, merciful, loving, forgiving, resourceful, industrious, never complaining and asking for nothing for herself. I could add many more fine attributes - such as humming as she worked, teaching us happy songs and helpful stories.
She was a fine seamstress, proud of her old pedal sewing machine - knitted lace on bleached flour sack underwear. She was noted for her bread, cakes, cookies and doughnuts, fried chicken, white lard which of course she rendered -- and her white clothes after they hung on the line washed by the soap she made.
Guess I'd better get back to their leaving Colorado.
After Father got back from that trip to New York, Dad took up farming again.
Dad decided he wanted to come to Oregon or California and in August of 1884, they left Colorado. There were three wagons in all - Mother's sister and husband, Mr. and Mrs. Jule NICHOLSON (Aunt Martha, we called her Mat), her brother George WEBB who had just married and another brother William. Grandpa WEBB was willing to come with them, so the four families left for Oregon.
I don't know the route they followed, but I know they went through Utah - for she and her sister would talk about being afraid of the Mormon men - and would hide in the covered wagons if they saw any riding by their camps or on the road - more afrraid of them than the Indians. They mentioned crossing the Mesa and the Snake River at least three times. The men would take the wheels off the wagons and float it across the river. The Snake River is the only one they mentioned. How they crossed the mountains, I don't know but I suppose they took the Oregon Trail for they finally arrived in Oregon at a town called Lakeview or near there.
One brother stayed in Eastern Oregon, but the rest of the party came south and arrived near Klamath Falls. What an experience, seeing the Klamath Lakes, flocks of wild birds, wild animals.
The winter was severe, but they stayed in old (couldn't have been very old) sheds and barns and they had plenty of wild game.
At one place they stayed in 1886, Sarah (Sadie) was born - so now there were five children. (The other two couples didn't have any.)
The earlier settlers were kind and hospitable. Dad was a good worker and "a jack of all trades but master of none." By this time he was in his early forties and Mother 25.
The party seemed to have gone their separate ways by the time they reached Klamath Falls.
Klamath Falls was quite a good sized town. There were little steamers on the lake and transportation was carried on the water. Shipping lumber, groceries, produce, etc. as well as for passenger service.
I don't know why my father didn't stay there - but he took the family about ten miles south on the river to a town called Keno. There they stayed for five years. Another baby girl was born February 24, 1888 and was named Fleda Leona. She was born in the house Dad built a little distance from the river. The little girl died when she was 3 months old. Mother and Dad really grieved over her loss. She was buried in the yard - by the house. Years later (about 6) Dad walked the 50 miles back to Keno when he heard they were going to plow up the field where her grave was. He moved her into the cemetery. I can remember about it because I listened to him tell Mother about it when he got home - and they cried and cried. That was unusual to see anyone cry, especially your mother and father.
They made many good friends there. One family, the McCORMACKS, had fourteen children. The father was named Tom and the Mother Anna. They must have been well (?) educated for the older girls taught the lower grades in the two-room school. They knew their 3 R's well anyway and Ebb, Flora, Edna and John went to school there.
Well - I came along two years later (Georgianna). I was born April 29, 1891. So now there were six children.
The railroad was being built to Oregon and would cross the Klamath River about 20 miles south of the Oregon border in California. There was a large lumber industry developing at a place called Pokegama, but they needed a railroad outlet so the company, John Cook & Co., moved their operation to a place on the Klamath River and called it Klamathon.
My father decided to move from Keno, so in April of '92 the covered wagon was put into use again. I like to think it might have been the same one but of that there is no proof. The covered wagons were the motor homes of that day.
Six children and Mother and Dad started on the 50-mile trip over Topsy Grade, through beautiful timber down the Klamath River. Sorry I can't describe the trip as I wasn't quite a year old. Mother said there were quite a few farms along the way for the soil was fertile and cheap. A health resort had sprung up called Klamath Hot Springs and was even then becoming known. It must have taken at least 2 weeks before we got to the town of Ager where the railroad was.
A roadhouse, hotel and store, owned by the Ager family, was operating a good business. One of the young women who worked there was a Spannaus girl. She might have been married to Jud Ager at that time; anyway, she told me this story of our family when we arrived there when I was 1 year old. Not really a story but her impression of the family.
She and Jud owned the hotel, store and just about everything at that time. But of all the people who came there, she remembered Mother the most -- a little 4 ft. 10 in. red headed woman, timid and gentle who kept everything so clean - and because all of the children were so well behaved. I take no credit for my behavior for if I were a good 1-year-old, it was because all of the rest of the kids spoiled me. There had been no babies in the family for 5 years. Ebb was 14 and on down every two years to Sadie, 5, and me.
Back to the trip down to the town of Klamathon. It was raining hard when they arrived in Ager and so Dad decided to stay there. I think they stayed in a little house for two weeks.
It was only five miles on to Klamathon but there was quite a grade to go over and no place to live when we got to Klamathon except in the wagon.
John said they left Keno on his birthday, the 11th of April, so it was nearly May when they arrived in Klamathon.
He settled the family near a creek on the north side of the river. The railroad was on the south side. Dad took up a homestead about a mile away toward Hornbrook, and built a small four-roomed house. Some time during the summer they moved there. They used a large tent for a bedroom for the boys. It could have been the top of the covered wagon, for I'm sure it was waterproof. They had used it for storing things.
Soon they had a garden, fruit trees, a barn for the horses. They bought two cows and of course had chickens and a pig or two and were doing well enough.
Mother began doing washing for the families who owned the mill and also did some baking. She must have been a good manager of her time with garden and chickens and family to feed and four girls to sew for, quilts to make, etc. That sewing machine surely paid for itself.
Ebb and Dad got work with the lumber company until fall.
There was no high school in Klamathon, so in the fall Ebb went to work for a druggist in Fort Jones and went to school there.
Mama's sister, Martha, who lived in Hornbrook, came often to see us. She always brought presents and helped Mother with her work. We all loved her very much. She was so happy and jolly all the time.
So we lived on Doby Hill for four or five years, then moved into Klamathon proper where Mother started a bakery.
Brother William Andrew was born in Klamathon on July 20, 1894, the last of the children.
We lived in Klamathon for six years, then fire swept the town. Saving a few of our things, we moved to Yreka in the fall of 1902. Mother started doing some baking with the help of her daughter Edna, and Dad would deliver the pastries and bread. They did this for about three years, then rented a house on Center Street where they kept boarders."

While there are some errors and omissions (the family lived in Kansas and Illinois before Colorado) it is a treasure in my family and also a great history of the Oregon and California border area around the turn of the 20th Century.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this account of the life of Mary Anna Webb - thank you for posting it.

    ReplyDelete

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