Reflections on Pioneer Life in Hazel Dell, WA.
by Marilla Anderson Gardner; 1934-5
Introduction and transcription by Suze Hammond
Marilla only thought she was old when she wrote this. She lived another 20 years, and died in 1954 when I was 14.
Marilla was the daughter of William Reese Anderson and Sarah Jane Sturges-Anderson. Reese Anderson was born June 22, 1822 in Marion, Smyth County, Virginia. He first appeared in Oregon in 1849 with the US Army. He settled in Clarke Co. OR in 1855. He died Oct. 30, 1902.
This version retains her original spelling (pretty good) punctuation (mostly none) and syntax (archaic) as much as possible. Some words were very difficult to decipher due to the condition of the letter, which is very browned. She saved time by using ampersands wherever one would say “and” and using numerals where modern writers would write out the word. She also seems to have had a problem with composite words like “into” and “upon” and saw words beginning with “a” in the same way. For example, you will find “any where a round” where we would say “anywhere around”. Also, there are troubles with a few homonyms. Will “threw” his gun, not “through” it. 🙂 There are a few highly personal abbreviations, such as “B” for “brother” and one old one, “cts” for cents. She also refers to herself in the third person in the beginning and a couple of other places. She refers to second weddings of herself and her mother where we would refer to a “renewal of vows”. (They had only one husband apiece). She more often than not ignored conventional capitalization. I have capitalized Will’s name where she did not, in order to differentiate it from the verb form.
One corner is missing on all pages and I have guessed on some of that, using context and traditional family knowledge.
I have also sometimes added extra spaces where I think sentences should end. The “paragraphs” in this version are really just her page breaks. We should be kind and remember she was writing this by hand on poor-quality lined grade-school tablet, in pencil. She seems to have gone back and added a few periods and a very few commas, as an afterthought. I have written further explanatory notes at the end.
(Corner of page missing)
Vancouver Wash April the 3 1934
Mrs Marilla Eudora Anderson-Gardner was borned March the 14, 1860. Her Parents was Mr & Mrs William Reese Anderson They settled in Clark county in 1851. They had a donation [land] claim of 640 acres & they lived & owned the claim for many years & reared a family of 13 on the same claim They both lived to celebrate there golden wedding [anniversary] on the same claim The brush & young fir trees were so thick that wilde animals could stand 75 feet from you & couldn’t be seen & the big firs was from 10 to 16 feet through Just as thick as they could stand & grow. There were no white People any where a round so mother learned the chinook language & she could talk it as well as the Siwash or the big cheif could. The Indians soon made up with her. They [Andersons] were run off the home 3 times but father was bound to stay & came back & finally he built a little log cabin & the Indians was thick but when they came to the log cabin mother could talk to them. & so nice and good to them they was taken with her & they would fight for her in preferance to there own tribe & they never had any more trouble with them we older children was raised with Indians in fact
(Corner missing) raised one Indian girl & afterwards took the other Sister Indian & kept her a long time untill some white people came & settled with in a mile or 2 of us My father Killed 250 wild animals from 75 yards to half a mile from home where now is the Totem Pole corner our house stood almost on the spot my father saved his Second Sons life by the barking of a little bear dog wich my brother Will had to go & drive the cows to the barnd (hard to read) in a lonely trail a bout 75 yards from the house &. the logs was piled so high on the side of the trail & going a long brother Will got upon some of the logs & a grate big brown bear was laying a mong the logs & he made for B. Will & bogy dog kept him a way till father came wich wasnt more than 2 or 3 minutes in time to kill the bear & father said William why dint you shoot him you had the gun no I didnt father I was so scared I through the gun & started to run when you came & saved my life I was only a little fellow then I couldnt of shot it any way all the cleared land for half a mile we children followed the plow & picked up fersen(?) roots tons & tons & stacked them up & then the nighbors came in & helped father make large log heaps & they hauled firrs roots & put them on the logs & burned them oh such fires they burned for week day & knights sure did my share helping clean up the farm so he could
(Corner missing) wheat to make our diffrent kindes of flours We rode horses round & round to tromp out the wheat & father flailed lots of it out when the horses was busy working & he fan[n]ed the wheat out & hauled it to flour mils 3 ½ to 12 miles to have it ground in to flour Ansel Marbel owned the first mill where now stands the contuckey Stabels The mill was in the crick in front of the old Marble house just a quarter of a mile from this mill was the little old log school house where I & the other older children went to school & we had to walk 3 miles when we didnt crawl & lift up young fir trees & other brush laden with snow & sleat & going through the trails we would have couger scream & bears running through the salals & oh such scampering us children would do lots of bears & deers wouldnt hardely get out of the trail to let us get by we only had 3 months in the year to go to school our hazel dell ave now was just a narrow road & only just wide enough to drive a ox team a long. The oxen in coming down from the old home to our ave waded belly deep in Many Places till we got to the road to come to vancouver the first horse my father owned was a Spotted Kanadian he got it from a circus outfit the horse got hurt and they wanted to travel & so they gave it to dad he sure was a beautiful horse & my kept him for many years untill he died His name was lepard
(Corner missing) fathers onely way of making a living was cutting hazel poles for making hoop pols(?) For binding sugar barrels that the way they shiped sugar in barrels fathers hoops to many Eastern Places & where thy barrelled sugar. my father was a very hard working man & never had but one fight in his life & that was for for his caracter & mother was a mother to every body Black & white & never had an enemy in her life & she lived to be 75 or close to it & father lived to the age of 83 my father & mother donated the road through from the hazel dell school through to the State highway  mother gave an acre where the morse home now stands then when she gave brother Will that land then she gave an acre where the School house now stands & the ground was covered thickely with hazel brush & when they moved the school house from a cross the road they asked mother to name the school house & she called it hazel Dell very appropriate at that time. Now theres a hundred pupils & when I went to school there were from 10 to 15 & later on as school was half out more came sitting on home made benches & desks the same & to day if children cant have everything they want they wont go school. After long years of hard work I & all of the family. After fathers death mother gave each one of the children from 6 ½ to 40 acres of ground was good to every one of her children out of 7 girls there is 2 of us living my sister lives in Martinez Cal & Mrs Gardner [Marilla herself] lives on
(Corner missing) home(?) place we have one son C W Gardner & 1 grand son Edmond Gardner We were married in 78 December. in 28 we celebrated our golden wedding & I was Married in Mothers silk wedding dress that she was married in in 51 & and when she was married 50 years she was remarried in the same dress & I still have the dress & there isnt a hole in it She bought the goods in vancouver at the hudson bay co I wear the dress evry summer to some Pioneer doings we have a nice comunity hall that was built in1927 & we were married in the hall we gave a grand reception & a lovely supper we recieved many beautiful gifts & the comunity gaves a 10 dollar gold piece the youngest son of the man that first married us said the same words his father used that bound us together all those happy years of life. We lost our first baby boy in 88, 2 ½ years old The man that that married us in 28 is dead his name was Charlie Alexander my husband EBGardner is in good health & works out side feels good & looks good & can dance the hiland flingat the age of 76. Good every body thinks. Oh yes our hall is built on part of the donation 3 mints (?) Walk from our house. Be fore this home was cleared my folks killed bear right where we cut hay now I look over the old donationj & think you People that live here now cant ralize the hard work it took to make those lovely homes all done by hand labor. Grubbing & burning out
(Corner missing) stumps that took a month to burn out. Hundreds & hundreds of lovely pine tree was burned in log heaps wood was hauld in to town for 1.50 a cord & fual(sp?) the train My father made the childr3ens boots & shoes in early days I have worn many a pair my self only when we run barefooted in warm weather my daddie worked all day cutting hoop pales & after supper made shoes for the kiddies I have helped father shear sheep helped mother wash & dry the wool which we children tramped it clean in a tub of suds made from soft soap when the wool was dried I had to pick it to pieces in order to card the wool in to rools(sp?) So we could spin the yarn ready for knitting socks & stockings I hand carded & made rools & have spun the old spinning wheel many many times spinnning yarn to knit & I have knit a many a pair long legged sock & also stockings some work, believe me I got 1.50 a pair for heavy socks I couldnt hardely handle them & when I was 12 years old & my sister was 8 we both peaced a quilt for the county fair which was held nowwhere the airport Pearson field is I pieced the double T.T. & sister the sunflower she took first prize and me second & then they took it to the Salem fair & sister won first & me second She kept the ribbon till it wore out by people looking at it oh I was hurt to think I got less than sister did at 8 & me 12 Mr Gardner & I were married here on this place in the first house that
(Corner missing) where(?) this house now stands mother gave 10 acres west of my home to have this house built the lumber was so green that in years it shrunk 2 or more inches My fathers first cabin was mad of small young fir trees & when it was torn down I found 25 cts & I bought baby sister Stell a dress when I was 5 ½ years old I can remember it so well. I can remember vancouver when there was but one store in it & Mother was the first white girl in it . in 47 & father came in 49. 4 years ago we drove over the old oregon trail in many places on our trip through Yellow stone & navadda. The trail Mother came from St Joseps masauria [Missouri] They were 6 months coming through they just escaped by one train of imigrants from the Whitman masacree mother mother was 9 years old her father was drowned in the snake river fording the cattle a cross his name was Moses sturgess my mothers name was S J Sturgess now anderson & her mothers name was Elizabeth weldon Jennings & then to sturgess there 2 girls & 1 boy george Sturgess There were 7 boys and 7 girls in our family she rased every one but the oldest boy She was married at the age of 13-1/2 years old in a wilderness. & & Indians and all lived to be married men & women I was the oldest girl I have mothers chinook Book out of 13 children none of us ever learned to Speak the language its sure funy that we didnt mother lost her language 2 week She Sure could talk chinook & 2 other kinds
(Corner missing but no text that line) My Bs name William Franklin. second brother charles hampton. the 3 william Reese Anderson the 4 Edward doncarlos buel anderson the (scribble) the 5 boy was george washington. the 6 was Asa Alexander anderson the 7 was Robert E Lee Anderson & now the girls Eudora Marilla. A. the 2 Estella Flutena anderson the 3 Lucretia virginia A. the 4 Fannie Elizabeth A. the 5 Minnie Jane A. the 6 Audree A. the 7 Katherine Some family. rased all but the oldest boy & he died at the age of 3 months old
March the 10. This is 1935
there is 2 girls & 5 boys left of the 13
our grand son Edmond is going to university he is 22 the 3 of this May & he is a Nice Young Man
May the 13 I lost my dear Loving husband May 13 18(?)5 he was 86. the 5 of March 1935 he was borned March the 5 1848 There has been a lot of changes since Mother Passed a way in 1912 many new homes if both of them could see the old donation what would they say. is it true Mother cant realize it Mother knew Portland when only 7 little huts as she called them I have the bell she rang for the officers in vancouver Post to come
(in another hand – probably her son Charles’)
Mrs. Marilla Eudora Gardner a native of Clarke Co. Wash.
Born at the Totem Pole north of Vancouver Wash Mar. 14 -1860 and has never lived at her home over 20 miles from her birthplace.
Mrs Gardner was the daughter of William Reese and Sarah Jane Anderson, who settled in the wilderness on a donation Land Claim comprising most of the Present Hazel Dell District
Mrs Gardner was the last living member of a family of (14 crossed out) Fourteen Children
Mrs Gardner leaves a Son Charles W, Gardner who resides in Hazel Dell
[Notes from 2006:
“Siwash” is no longer considered a polite term. Like the “N-word” for Native Americans. I don’t get the sense Marilla meant it in that way. Ed’s historian brother-in-law Ken says there may have once been a tribe of that name, but that it was always a “bad word” to his knowledge. Marilla was no angel, but the way she uses it here sounds as if she thought of it as a legitimate name.
The actual Totem Pole was a landmark related to the Totem Pole Restaurant, which replaced the original homesite. The corner became known as Totem Pole Corner. The last time I saw the pole it stood in front of a tavern. Sad comedown from its old prominence. I believe it now stands at the Bomber restaurant in Milwaukie ,OR. The Totem Pole restaurant was at the SW corner of Hwy 99 and NE 78th St.
A “rool” of wool is probably a phonetic variation on the Gaelic spinner’s term rolag – (pron. “roolag”) and is a small batt or skein of carded wool, roughly 1″ x 18″.
The silk wedding dress is at the Clark County Historical Museum, donated by her grandson Edmond and family. Still no holes!
I haven’t been able to trace “pal/pol” as I don’t know any barrelmakers. I suspect it’s related to the word “pale or paling” or “pole”.
The Fort “Vancouver Post” bell was sold many years ago and no one knows where it is now. It was bronze or brass, with a rosewood handle as family legend has it.
The donated street is still called Anderson St.
At the time of his death Charles (aka Dave) was still living on the last of the Anderson DLC when he died (and where I grew up).
“Claim”, “donation” and “DLC” all refer to the Donation Land Claim given to early settlers by the US Gov’t. to encourage settlement of the West. Dave’s 2nd wife sold much of what remained of the Anderson claim and his son Edmond sold the rest. Over the decades the extended family has frittered away over 640 acres of prime real estate.
The two schools endowed by this pioneer couple live on as Hazel Dell and Sarah Jane Anderson elementary schools.
The “Chinook Book” a Chinook dictionary I’ve seen, was sold by 2nd wife Faye along with many memorabilia. Edmond recovered as much as he could afford. (Faye was desperately afraid of dying of cancer and was saving up for it. Never got it.)
Sarah Jane often claimed she “lost” her English, or almost lost it, due to having no one much to speak English to.
Marilla suffered from some form of senility only about the last 4-5 years and was in a retirement “home” the last two because she kept hiring taxis to go visit long dead relatives, which embarassed her son Charles (aka Dave). She escaped, over the chainlink fence, with a younger retired man and was out for two weeks before they were tracked down. He was happy to be rescued. She did not feel “rescued”.]