The DANIEL PEGG WILSON family migrated in 1852 from Morgan County, IL. to WA and OR.
|Daniel Pegg Wilson, the son of James Wilson and Mary Emory, was born in May of 1804 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Daniel's middle name "Pegg" originated from his ancestor, Daniel Pegg I, who was a prominent early individual in the colony of Pennsylvania even before William Penn. Daniel Pegg Wilson may also be related to James Wilson, one of the signers of The Declaration of Independence, however, I have been unable to make a positive connection. Daniel Pegg's early rearing must have prepared him well, for he grew into a man of tenacious spirit and resourcefulness. A taste for wanderlust was kindled when in 1815 the Wilson family, including Daniel's father James, took up the call for adventure and a better life and moved westward. They traveled in wagons until they reaching the Ohio River. There they stopped and cut trees, which were split and hewed into lumber. They made a scow and floated down to the mouth of the river, where they unloaded the three good wagons and drove to their new home in the promising Ohio. The wild Ohio frontier forged Daniel's skill as a frontiersman.
Daniel married Roseanna Hough Moul on 31 May 1827 in Belmont County, Ohio. Roseanna, before her marriage she was under the guardianship of John Ethel. Ohio was the birthplace of Daniel and Roseanna's first two children: Mary Jane, born 20 August 1828 and George Washington, born 17 September 1830.
The Wilson family may have lived in Licking County, Ohio near Utica. Licking County is where Daniel and Roseanna's third child, William Charles was born in February 1833.
The family again took up the call for it's westward destiny and in about 1836 migrated to Illinois taking up a farm in the Walnut Grove area near Springfield, Illinois. The land there bore dense groves of black walnut trees and Daniel, who was a millwright, built a sawmill for cutting them into lumber. This mill was the old pony saw type, running continuously as the flow of water turned the mill wheel. Logs were placed in position and when the saw came down, it cut the wood in the desired spot. When the lumber was cut, the wagon was loaded and Daniel with his wife Roseanna hauled it by ox team the eight miles to Springfield, young son George riding the oxen as they went on their way. The trees that were not used for lumber were simply cut down, piled and burned to get rid of them in the process of getting the land ready for planting crops. Later, Daniel built a gristmill and also a cooperage, as he was efficient at making wooden barrels and buckets. Daughter Martha Elizibeth was likely born near Springfield on 3 March 1839. Abraham Lincoln may have been a neighbor as there is an account of Daniel Pegg's sister Sarah remembering " sitting on Abe Lincoln's lap listening to him tell stories ". Five more children were born to Daniel and Roseanna. Daughter Sarah Frances was born on 7 November 1841. Son John Emory died young in 1843. Daughter Nancy Louisa was born on 2 June 1844 and son Daniel Fuller was born about 1846. Their last child Annliza C. was born about 1849. Daniel's oldest son George Washington married Ann Eliza Clark in Cass County, Illinois in December 1850. Daniel's family is listed in the 1850 Census of Morgan County, Illinois. Daniel owned at least 55 acres of land between the towns of Beardstown and Jacksonville in the Concord Township, in the N1/2 of Section 22, 16 N Range 11 W of Morgan County, Illinois.
The great western movement was at that time under way. Economic depression and epidemics prompted more and more families to sell their farms, buy covered wagons and start the long journey across the plains. Daniel had not given much thought to making the move himself until his wife Roseanna became ill with cancer and passed away in February 1850. The family felt lost and discontented to remain where she had so long been the guiding spirit. In the Fall of 1851, after due deliberation the family decided to make the move, so Daniel sold out, bought supplies and in April of 1852, Daniel Pegg Wilson, at the age of 48, led his family in the historic westward trek. The party consisted of Daniel, his eight children and one grandchild, as follows:
George (age 21 years), with his wife Ann Eliza and infant son Orlando.
Mary Jane (age 23 years).
William (age 19 years), with his new bride Lobia or Lobier Richmond.
Martha (age 13 years).
Sarah (age 10 years).
Nancy (age 7 years).
Daniel Fuller (age 6 years).
Annliza (age 3 years).
The undertaking seemed to be a great adventure to all of them and the excitement in that helped overcome their fear of the unknown. They said tearful good-byes to friends and relatives who they would never see again as they drove off with their ox teams and a milk-cow to St. Louis, Missouri. The Wilsons boarded at St. Louis one of the two stern wheel steamers making the run to Independence, Missouri. The vessels proceeded to put on a race. This caused some alarm to the passengers when their smokestacks glowing red-hot. Son George, who had operated steam grist and saw mills, investigated, assured everyone that steam pressure in the boilers were kept at a safe levels and that all was well.
Disembarking at Independence, which was their jumping off point for their journey to Oregon, the Wilson family purchased supplies. They looked around at the many outfits getting ready to start the long journey west. Most immigrants at the beginning of the journey believed that the larger the caravan, the less danger of attack from Indians. The Wilson family however, believed that the larger outfits had more dissension, therefore, they joined a small group of ten wagons, each with extra cattle and horses.
A historical perspective of the Wilson pioneer story during the prairie crossing phase of their journey is supplemented by the following descriptions of the Oregon Trail, obtained from "The Great Platte River Road", by Merril J. Mattes.
The first leg of the journey was across the prairie lands to Fort Kearney, Nebraska. This military outpost marked the gateway to the Great Plains. Fort Kearney was the first place of any importance on their route. Upon reaching this point the Wilsons must have felt that they had reached an oasis. Once more they saw evidence of civilization and refinement. The neat and comfortable tenements of the officers, the offices and stores, all reminded them of home, and as they looked aloft at the flagpole, where the stars and stripes were proudly waving to the breeze, they fully realized they were still protected, still Americans. The Wilsons may have had thought and spoken of Fort Kearney as if it were their destination, and nothing beyond it, but now they regarded it as a starting point. Beyond lie the Great Platt River Road, the Great Plains, with its endless level horizon and strange treeless ness.
Leaving Fort Kearney they followed the Platte River which was described as "a wide sheet of water only 3 or 4 feet deep, running over a vast level bed of sand and mica, continually changing into offsets like the shingled roof of a house". One Wilson wagon was lost attempting to cross the Platte River together with a great deal of their supplies. The monotonous trek with endless waves of sand hills occasionally produced spectacular sights such as "Court House Rock", the giant spire of Chimney Rock and Scott's Bluffs. On to Fort Laramie, with Laramie Peak looming to the west marked the transition from the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains. .
At Fort Laramie they took a short rest over. Supplies were available from the post sutler at Fort Laramie for high prices: 12 to 20 cents for bacon, $20 per hundred pounds for flower, smoking tobacco $1.
They then pressed on, the trail west of Fort Laramie immediately became more rugged and bifurcated because of hills, canyons and a more tortuous North Platte, a condition which would worsen toward South Pass and beyond. They arrived a week later at Fort Bridger. The trail went on to Fort Hall, Pocatello and Twin Falls. By this time it was very warm and dry, the dust was terrible and the water poor. The Wilsons still had their cow to supply milk and butter, which helped a lot. Broken down wagons and discarded household furniture were strewn along the way.
There was much sickness along the trail. Graves became closer and closer together. Roughly one out of ten of the pioneers who started the migration west would perish on the trail, many to accidents with firearms, but mostly due to illness. Cholera or "colery" took many lives during the 1852 migration. A pioneer could feel fine one morning then suddenly become violently ill with the cholera symptoms of bloody stools, sudden, overwhelming dehydration, large vomits, great prostration and could die before the end of the day. The disease was transmitted through water, of which clean water was scarce.
The following account is from Articles written by Hope Wilson Clark and Emerson J. Wilson and published in "The Sou' Wester", a quarterly published by the Pacific County Historical Society of South Bend, Washington.
Early one evening after a hard day's journey, George Wilson said he would take his rifle and see if he could bring down an antelope, as they much preferred that meat to the buffalo. Some distance away, he came upon a lone man camped by the side of the trail. They began talking. The man had been to Oregon and was returning to the East. He told George many things about the Oregon lands, which were hard to believe, but proved later true. He asked just what part of the Oregon territory George was bound for to which he received the reply: " Portland and the Willamette Valley. That is, if we don't all die before we reach that promised land. The water is so bad that the situation is getting serious." The old man replied, "I think I can help you. Take that path yonder, go down the side hill a piece... you will see a spring. Bring me a bucket of water and I will show you something." George got the water. The man then said: "Now you take this axe and go cut down some of those bushes over there and bring it to me." George obeyed the old man and cut down a two-foot length of the scrubs, trimmed off the side branches and carefully peeled the bark from it. Then, placing the stick in the bucket, he began stirring. In a few minutes he stopped. " There, young man, take a look and see what you think of it." The water had been muddy brown, but now it was clear, with all the sand settling in the bottom of the pail. The stick was covered with slime and muck. "Now", he said, "You won't have any more trouble with water. Always remember that God never created a wrong but what he created a remedy." When George and the old man parted, it was a feeling of real friendship. From that time on, the Wilson family had no more trouble with bad water along the Oregon Trail.
There was the fear of unfriendly Indians. The Indians, however, were generally no more than occasional curious observers to the spectacle of seemingly unending stream of wagons. The Indians often extended a helping hand, as they were eager to trade food to the hungry pioneers for articles of clothing, blankets, firearms, etc.
Over and above the difficulties there was Daniel's resourcefulness, an abiding faith in God and the firm conviction that they would find "brighter skies and more indulgent plans. "On they went...to Fort Boise, Lewiston, Baker and over the Blue Mountains to Pendleton and The Dalles. Immigrants arriving at The Dalles had to choose between floating their wagons on rafts or riverboats the rest of the way down the Columbia River or paying a toll for continuing by wagons via the Barlow Road. According to George Wilson's family account of the story, the Wilsons apparently choose the treacherous Barlow route, climbing up and over the shoulder of Mount Hood. This final leg of the journey was the most difficult. There was little grass for the live stock to graze on, the road was rough and there was the infamous Laurel Hill, where wagons had to be wenched by ropes down a steep rocky incline. The weather was starting to turn cold and the rains became constant. The Wilsons finally arrived in Oregon City on the 25th of October 1852. They made camp there to rest a few days then sold their wagons and animals, hired some Indians to take them by canoe down the Willamette River to Portland. One of the canoes capsized and again more of the Wilson family's precious supplies were lost.
Their first home in this new western frontier was near what is now Old-Town Portland's 1st and Stark Streets. Few buildings were near them, mostly uncleared land and stumps. That first winter, the George Wilson became employed as a carpenter. There was much building being done in Portland at that time. Wages were $1.50 for a long 10-hour day. Food was selling at exorbitant prices. The price of flour was $50 a barrel.
Daniel and his son William set out making their way by boat down the Columbia River. They landed at a place called Chinookville, located on the north bank of the Columbia River near what is now called Baker's Bay, Washington. Chinookville had been a thriving Indian village, home to the Chinook Indians, which later became the first county seat of Pacific County Washington. Daniel was one of the first County Commissioners of Pacific County.
Some evidence suggests that the Wilson family may have split-up at some point along the trail. This is supported by a somewhat different account of the journey from The Dalles onward which is given by Van Marion Bullard, son of Martha Elizabeth Wilson. His version of the story, apparently given to him by his mother, who made the trip is as follows:
" Grandpa Peg and family after arriving at the Dallas, had the misfortune of a hard winter to loose all his stock at The Dalles. In the spring of the year in order to got down to the Columbia River in Chinook, Washington they built a raft, and placing their entire holdings of household goods on the raft they started down the Columbia River for Chinook, Washington. At the falls in the Columbia River they had the misfortunes of losing all their household goods except what they had on their backs and arrived in Chinook stranded and pennyless. Captain Hilliar, sea captain gave them a sack of flour to keep from starving. However, as Grandpa Daniel Peg Wilson was an industrious man, and our government which is the best government in the world, were issuing deeds to property, you could have a Homestead, a Preemption Claim, and a Timber Claim, which he secured and put him back on his feet."
Daniel Pegg and his son William C. Wilson explored the wild areas north of Chinook and probably thought they had found great potential in the Shoalwater Bay area. The area had abundant wildlife, timber and a mild climate. It is around Shoalwater Bay, which is now called Willapa Bay, that the William C. Wilson and his wife Lobia obtained a 320 acre Donation Land Claim on the Bear River on the southernmost part of Shoalwater Bay and afforded assistance to the travelers going or coming on the portage from Shoalwater Bay to the Columbia River. James G. Swan in his book, "The Northwest Coast" described how the Wilson family afforded assistance to travelers going to or coming from the Shoalwater Bay area. James Swan mentions the name "James' Wilson in this account, however, the location and circumstances indicate that he was in error. The name "James Wilson" should be in fact William Wilson.
Daniel Pegg Wilson became associated with an industrious man named Joel Brown. Daniel, with others including his son William C. Wilson, Job Lamley, Samuel Woodward, Henry Whitcomb, Job, Mark and Seth Bullard and Captain Jackson had cut a wagon road on the portage, crossing from the Columbia River to Shoalwater Bay (now called Willapa Bay). Joel Brown intended to plat a town site and erect a store at the Palix River. Joel Brown died before he could finish his dream of developing the Shoalwater Bay area, so Daniel Pegg Wilson and his associates carried on where Joel Brown left off. Their intention was to induce a large immigration of pioneers from Portland to settle on Shoalwater Bay. Job Lamley ran an advertisement in the Oregonian newspaper in 1853 describing their route to Shoalwater Bay. They solicited settlers to travel aboard the U. S. mail boat "Union" from Portland to Astoria. The settlers would then cross the Columbia River on their boats to Chinook, then up the Wappalooche or Chinook River to William McCarty's Landing, thence by their wagon road to William C. Wilson's Landing and Hotel, then via the Bear River to Shoal water Bay. "Having the best of sea boats on this line are prepared to take passengers and freight safe and with dispatch from Astoria via Chinook, Shoalwater Bay, and back the same route. Accommodations rough and charges high"..... Quite an interest was excited among immigrants of Oregon to make Shoalwater Bay their home.
George Wilson, Daniel Pegg Wilson's oldest son also traveled to Chinookville. He had learned in Portland of the oyster business on Shoalwater Bay and wanted to see that area for himself. George went north to the Bear River, where he obtained an Indian burial canoe and continued north on to Shoalwater Bay. Exploring further to the north, he came to "Goose Point," or what is now called Bay Center. He landed on the east bank of the Palix River, across from Bay Center, Washington and built a log house. George there obtained a 320 acre Donation Land Claim at the mouth of the Palix River and became engaged in the oyster business.
Daniel Pegg Wilson took up a claim on the south fork of the Palix River, and the Indians called it "Yeomstead", and by that name it was known for years.
Daniel Pegg Wilson and the rest of his family lived on his son George's claim for a while which became known as Wilsonville. They had a hard time of it in the beginning, as their supplies depleted before the garden they planted started to yield. But it was then that they realized what a wonderful spot they had found. Oysters, clams, ducks, geese, and fish were there for the taking. For dessert they had salmon berries, thimble berries, and the fruit of the Salal. The location and natural resources of the area must have convinced these early pioneers that this was truly like a garden of Eden capable of becoming the San Francisco of Washington State. Only hard toil and careful planning separated themselves and their descendants from prosperity and happiness.
Many Indians lived in that area but they posed no hazard to the Wilsons as a mutual respect was developed between the Indians and the Wilson families. Pioneers survived by their skill in living off the wild and unforgiving land.
There were few roads in Washington's early days and most transportation was by water. Money was seldom used in the early years. Goods were instead traded. James G. Swan, a neighbor of Wilsonville, described in his noted book "The North West Coast", the early settlers of Shoalwater Bay as: "some of the most hospitable men that could be found in any part of the world. Their isolated position far from any other settlement, the nearest being Chinookville some forty miles distant, seemed to knit them together in a common bond of brotherhood and each seemed to vie with the other in acts of kindness to every stranger that might visit the Bay, either from motives of curiosity or to become permanent settlers."
Daniel Pegg Wilson gained the nickname of "Cougar" for his skill as a hunter and clever entrepreneur. Daniel Pegg decided oystering was not his line of work, so he scouted around for a while, finally settling on a claim on which he filed an "intention", located three miles above the settlement of Willapa, Washington Territory, South of then John Louderback's place near the later Sylvandale School. Then with others, including Job Bullard, he built a sawmill on the creek which got it's name from that installation. Daniel Pegg Wilson's mill was the first sawmill built in this region. In 1855 the mill was operating by waterpower and sawing by means of a rip saw in a up-right frame operated by an eccentric, or crank. An old description of this type of mill: " it was one of those up and down affairs--up today and down tomorrow. Grand pap used to start the saw in the log, then go away, sometimes catch a fish, then, after a while, go back to see what effect the saw had on the log." Lumber from this mill was used in the old homesteads, and the entire output was for local consumption. The trees had to be chopped down and then chopped into logs, there being no saws for the purpose at that time. Logging was by oxen or logging jack.
Daniel Pegg Wilson and his daughters moved with him to Willapa and they all married prominent pioneers. Marry Jane married John S. M. Van Cleave. The Van Cleaves lived in Willapa for a while and then moved to East Portland, Oregon, then back to Wilsonville. Sarah married Job Lambley who was the first sheriff of Pacific County. Martha married Job Bullard. The Bullard family is still well known in and around Menlo, Washington. Nancy married John Louderback. The Louderback boat business continues to this day in South Bend, Washington. Annlisa married William Mills, a brother of Mary Jane Mills who was the second wife of William C. Wilson. William Mills became a prominent oysterman, farmer and merchant of Bay Center, Washington.
The rugged frontier life took its toll, especially on the women. Sarah Frances was the only daughter of Daniel Pegg to live longer than Daniel Pegg himself.
Daniel Pegg's son, Daniel Fuller married Millie Cox and settled on a hill overlooking the Willapa River, now called the River View section of Raymond, Washington.
William C. Wilson's wife Lobia died about 1857 after which William moved to Milwaukie, Oregon and was remarried to Mary Jane Mills in 1858. William and Mary Jane lived in Portland from about 1861until about 1864. William and Mary Jane then obtained a large farm near Damascus, Oregon living there until 1871. William established a horse and wagon drayage business in Portland and the family lived in East Portland until about 1887. William then moved his family to his large 1608 acre ranch near Roseburg, Oregon.
George's W. Wilson's Wife Ann Eliza passed away in 1865 and he was remarried to Elizabeth Goodpasture, whose family had been neighbors to the Wilsons long ago in Illinois. Daniel Pegg Wilson continued to supervise the operation of his mill in the Willapa Valley while living near his children. Many are the stories connected with this old mill. Some of the stories, not necessarily in the order of their occurrence are:
When Charles and Myra Johnson came to Pacific County from Jefferson County, Kansas, by way of Aberdeen, he went to work for Wilson on Mill Creek. A log shortage soon threatened and some of the moor ambitious of the mill crew went into the woods to "do something about it" and after this Johnson was a faller. Green Berry Riggs gives this account of the Wilson mill: "We met Daniel Wilson who owned a sawmill at what is known as the Wheaton (later Leske) place. George Wilson had it rented. We hired to work for him, cutting saw logs. I worked for him a month for $40. Christmas day Lauderback and I went hunting. I killed a deer and Mr. Wilson gave me $1.50 for it. "Timothy Adams, his son, John, Samuel P. Soule, and Captain Dodge agreed with Daniel Wilson to take over the saw mill situated on Mill Creek, also the claim on which it stood. The four lived together for nearly a year, and the property was then rented to Charles Soule. Ray Wheaton tells the story about the time Ed Soule was superintendent of the night shift. " A water power mill operated continuously, day and night, and of course more lumber could be produced when there was a log under the saw. Ed stayed at the mill, and he would snooze away until the clatter of a slab dropping woke him up---he would rise up, pry the log over, and dive back between the blankets. "The bright prospects in and around Shoalwater Bay attracted a young couple named Lewis H. Rhoades. A short time after their arrival in 1862, Lewis and his father, Alphonso Rhoades, secured employment operating a sawmill, on the property of Daniel Wilson, on Mill Creek, a tributary to the Willapa. The daily output of the mill, if kept in perfect trim and condition, was about 2,000 feet of unplaned lumber. The rough boards and planks were rafted, poled down the creek to tidewater, and loaded onto boats to be carried to Bruceport, Oysterville, and other points of settlement. The price of this lumber was $25 per thousand. About two months of labor with this old-fashioned "up and down" convinced the Lewis Rhodes and his father, Alphonso, that a great waste of time and energy was involved. Premise of financial aid was secured, and they began preparing for the building of a mill to be equipped with machinery of an up-to-date nature. The lumber for the original steam-power mill in South Bend, built by the Riddell Brothers, John and Valentine, was cut in "Cougar" Wilson's mill. It was about 1868 that Van R. Wheaton came to the Willapa River area with his family. Mr. Wheaton obtained employment helping to erect the Riddell Mill at South Bend, using lumber from the Wilson Mill. Mr. Wheaton liked the Wilson's old mill site, and decided to make it his home. He did what was necessary to "prove up" on the claim, and became the first true owner of the land. A large, fine home was moved from the Soule place, the lumber for which had been cut out in the little mill and the siding all hand-dressed. For a time a man by the name of Dedro, a hunchback living on the Giesy farm, ran the mill on shares for Mr. Wheaton. Then A. S. Bush operated it in the 1870's, but the little mill was by now hopelessly out-dated. It's main usefulness being over, the mill was idle for a few years, and then was converted to a gristmill. In it they could make a coarse graham flour, using the local wheat. And the farmers found it handy for grinding oats for their own cattle, or to sell to the logging camps for the oxen. The end of the story came when a freshet took out the dam and demolished the mill.
Daniel Pegg, over the years traveled much of Washington and Oregon, speculating in lands. He built another lumber mill near his son George's place on the Palix River. He built various dams in Pacific County for the loggers.
Daniel Pegg Wilson got the gold fever in the 1880's and ventured into a gold mine in southern Oregon with his son William C. Wilson. The mine was located on a tributary of Cow creek near the town of Azalia, Oregon. It was called the Green Mountain Mine. Daniel and son William invested a great deal of money into the mine.
Daniel Pegg Wilson spent his last years living near his oldest son George W. Wilson in Wilsonville. Daniel Pegg Wilson passed away on 14 November 1890 at the age of 85 years due to the complications of cancer and smallpox. He is buried in the Wilson family cemetery across the Palix River from Bay Center, Washington. Daniel died intestate, that is he left no will when he died. His large estate and the resultant probate dispute may have been the cause of an apparent rift between his sons George W. Wilson and William C. Wilson families.
George W. Wilson continued in the business of oyster harvesting in Willapa Bay, cattle ranching on his land and being the patriarch of Wilsonville. George in the following years took up other lands adjoining his original claim until at one time he had a thousand acres. George became a prominent Pacific County citizen, twice elected as County Commissioner. George died in 1911 after which Wilsonville gradually dissolved until now George's land appears much the same as it did when he first laid claim to it.
William C. Wilson's speculation in gold mining in Southern Oregon caused him to loose almost everything he owned. William the father of eleven, then disappeared in about 1900, never to be heard from again by his family.
Sarah and Job Lamley were divorced but later remarried and lived there last years in Tacoma, Washington.
There are few things left to remind us of the old Daniel Pegg Wilson mill on Mill Creek. Today the Milwaukee bridge near Menlo crosses Mill Creek at almost the identical spot where the old Daniel Pegg Wilson mill once stood and of the mill and most of it's owners, we may say, " the place that knew them shall know them no more". William C. Wilson's land claim on the Bear River is now part of a National Wildlife Refuge. The last descendant of Daniel Pegg Wilson to carry on the surname of this once prolific pioneer family has assembled this historical narrative as a labor of love for all persons who are proud to be descendants of the Daniel Pegg Wilson family.
The information presented here was obtained from the following sources:
*Information from the Daniel Pegg Wilson family Bible.
*Articles written by Hope Wilson Clark and Emerson J. Wilson and published in "The Sou' Wester", a quarterly published by the Pacific County Historical Society of South Bend, Washington.
*The Wilson's mill story in Menlo, Washington was from the Pacific County Historical Society, written by Mary B. Lilly, with additions from interviews and research by Mrs. Harold Dixon.
*Additional perspectives of the Wilson pioneer story was obtained from an article published in "Told by the Pioneers", written by George W. Wilson Jr. and "The Great Platte River Road", by Merril J. Mattes.