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The Souvenir of Western Women/In the Very Early Days of Oregon

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In the Very Early Days of Oregon

Before the finding of gold in California money was very scarce. The little that was brought in by the immigrants was quickly spent for the family and the farm.

My mother's dress supply after the long journey was very limited. One day a neighbor came to her for advice about some sewing. Mother was busy over the wash tub, and the neighbor offered to exchange work. The washing was soon out to dry—but not on clothes lines. No, no, that would have been a luxury—but on the fence around the house and on every bush and brier near. Among the garments hung out was mother's dress, the only one besides what she wore. The family cow was near, and before it was noticed she had chewed the dress beyond repair. I think it was pieces of this dress that were afterwards used as binding for the spelling books that we had in our first Oregon school.

Mother was at first in despair—no money, nothing to sell, and Oregon City sixteen miles away through an unbroken wilderness. But, oh! those pioneer women, how full of resources they were! There stood the ever-ready ash hopper, without which no family was equipped for living. They were soon at work leaching the ashes for lye, and the soap kettle was boiling. Each had a bucket of soap, and in the early morning they mounted their horses and holding their bucket of soap in front of them were off for Oregon City to exchange it for at least mother's first Oregon dress. What the neighbor got I do not know.

M. H. D'A.