Among the very earliest pioneers whose courage and activity led them through the hardships of the journey across the plains to face danger and endure pain and deprivations meanwhile, is the venerable and highly esteemed gentleman and veteran of many conflicts in life’s battles, whose name appears at the head of this article, and whose uniform faithfulness, uprightness, ability, and stanch qualities have constantly been manifested.
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Mr. Fitzpatrick was born in Pennsylvania in 1820, receiving there his early education and remaining under the parental roof until twenty-six years of age. He then came to Illinois, a new country, and engaged in farming until led to cross the plains in 1853. He gives some interesting items of their journey. The train consisted of five wagons drawn by oxen, and twelve men and eight women. Their first trouble with the Indians was at a toll bridge some distance from the Missouri, but the savages were deterred from making an attack by one of their number eating too much dog meat and dying from the effects. In crossing the south Platte they hurried to keep from sinking in the quick sand and inadvertently ran into a herd of buffaloes that stampeded their stock, which was gathered the next day. At Steamboat Springs they tarried, and soon after crossed a desert of thirty miles without water. Once they were obliged to ferry across a stream with their wagon boxes. At Laurel hill, on the western slope of the Cascade mountains, the emigrants hitched trees to their wagons which dug out a trench six feet deep, and things had to be tied in the wagons when they descended the hill. In the Willamette valley, the subject of this sketch settled on Silver creek and one year later went to Sacramento, and wrought there for eighteen years. Following that period, he came to Wasco County and engaged in raising stock, and because of his industry he was rewarded with success.
At the age of twenty-six, Mr. Fitzpatrick was married to Miss Margaret Veight, a native of Ohio, and to them were born the following children: Charles, a resident of Wallowa county: John, buried in California: and two infants buried in the same state. Twelve years since, Mrs. Fitzpatrick was called by the messenger of death to leave her home and family and enter upon the realities of another world. She was an estimable woman, possessed of excellent qualities and beloved by all, and her demise was attended by sincere mourning. After that sad occurrence, Mr. Fitzpatrick sold his property in Wasco County, and came to Wallowa County purchasing a quarter section here. He has now passed the advanced age of fourscore years and is hale and hearty for one so long in the pilgrim way. At the present time Mr. Fitzpatrick is living with his only surviving son, Charles. He is quietly enjoying the fruits of his faithful labor and is spending the golden years of his life in happiness amid friends, and relatives who esteem him for his worth and goodness and by whom he is beloved.