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ORLEY HULL – The experiences of the early pioneers were severe almost beyond belief; and, were it not for the fact that their hardships were intermitted by times of peace and plenty, it would have been scarcely possible for them to have gotten through. Mr. Hull is a pioneer of 1850, and in crossing the plains, and in the early days of Southern Oregon and Northern California, saw times and circumstances as hard as were to be found.
He was born in New York in 1821, and when a young man went to Missouri, but was deterred from making a home there by the fact of slavery. Going to Iowa, he was a resident of the now populous Iowa county when there were but three men above the required number for jury duty. At Iowa City he became acquainted with and married Miss Mary Clark, the plucky and patient companion of his trials.
They crossed the plains in 1850, the year in which the emigrant trains were scourged by cholera; and the air along the route was infected with the stench of dead bodies of animals. Mrs. Hull fell a victim to the disease, but recovered. The meat and tallow of the three buffaloes which they killed at the Black Hills gave out long before they had crossed the rocky, alkaline stretches of the Snake; and bacon was the sole subsistence until, in the Grande Ronde, they purchased a few potatoes at six bits a pound. A terrific wind near the Cascades brought their boat into great peril; and it was with difficulty that the portages was made.
After reaching Portland, Oregon, Mr. Hull left his family on a farm near by, and went to Yreka, California, where he remained a number of years, mining, prospecting, trading and picking up whatever offered, even fiddling for a time in a gambling house, and finally bringing his family thither and going into the hotel business. In a short time the Indian war swept over Southern Oregon; and the settlers were obliged to protect themselves by stockades. Mr. Hull on one occasion running bullets while her husband was cutting portholes. He took an active part in the campaign that followed, more than once coming within a few inches of an Indian’s tomahawk or bullet, until the final battle at Big Meadows.
After leaving Yreka, Mr. Hull made a home on the Coquille; but the great flood of 1861 swept his house away, compelling him to put his family aboard a scow and live upon a knoll in a cluster of trees for five days, until the storm subsided. This disaster determined him to return to Iowa; but upon arriving in the beautiful and productive valley of the Walla Walla, Washington Territory, he decided to make it his residence. There he has remained as one of the most active farmers of the country, breaking the railway monopoly, and reduce the freight from six to four dollars per ton to tide water. Under his lead, freight to the amount of two million bushels of wheat has been pledged to any competing line; and from this largely results Hunt’s railway.