Biography of Mrs. Harriet Jewett
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MRS. HARRIET JEWETT.- A mournful personal as well as historic interest lingers about those who survived the dreadful affair at Waiilatpu in 1847. Many of these feel that those who died were the happier; and no sympathetic friend, as every reader of this book must be, will care to inquire more minutely than is given in the pages of the general history of this work. But all will be glad that these sufferers from Indian atrocity outlived their great sorrow, – the butchering of a husband or father or friend, – and have for all these years been useful and contented citizens.
Mrs. Jewett was born in Lower Canada in 1809, and at the age of twenty moved with her parents to the United States, where she was soon married to Nathan Kimball. The young couple removed to Indiana, and in 1847 joined a company bound for Oregon. Mr. Kimball was ambitious, a good mechanic, and had considerable money. Purchasing an excellent outfit, two ox-teams, milk cows, and clothing for two years, the journey was undertaken with high hopes and good cheer. What extra money was on hand was sewed up in belts, and worn by the older members of the family.
On the journey misfortune overtook the family (there were seven children) in the death of a girl of three and a boy of fourteen. On no place than the plains is death more gloomy. The loved ones must be buried and left. The graves must be guarded against the prowling of wolves on the scent of blood, and of Indians ready to rifle even the dead of their clothes. In this case the children were buried in the road; and the wagons were driven across the spot to obliterate all traces of the sepulture.
Upon arriving at Doctor Whitman’s in the autumn, the Kimballs were attracted by the pleasant mission station, by the school which the children might attend, and by the endless pasture of the hills. As the teams were worn and the weather was growing cool, and as Mr. Kimball himself had a chance to work on some buildings which the Doctor was erecting, he concluded to remain until the following spring, and then drive through to the Willamette, with what fatal result is but too well know. We will not here dwell on the dreadful scenes of the massacre, nor of the sorrows of the captives.
Upon the release of the survivors in December, through the efforts of Peter Skeen Ogden, of the Hudson’s Bay Company, Mrs. Kimball came to Oregon City. After a residence there of some time, she was married to Mr. John Jewett, who then removed to Clatsop Plains, where they lived for many years. They improved their place, and reared and educated their family, – the five children of Mr. Kimball, and two others born after their arrival.
Mrs. Jewett survives her husband, who died some ten years ago; and, although in very advanced age, she enjoys good health. She has never been reimbursed for her losses in the Cayuse war, and feels that she has a just claim on the government. She certainly has suffered very severely from a massacre against which the government should have protected its citizens.
Of her children, Mrs. Susa Wirt, who was born in 1831, is living with her husband, A.C. Wirt, at the pleasant village of Skippanon, doing a prosperous farming, gardening and merchandising business. Mrs. Munson, the wife of J.W. Munson, well known as a pioneer shipbuilder and light-keeper, resides at the government station at Point Adams, where Mrs. Jewett now lives. Mrs. Meglar is the wife of the well-known proprietor of the Occidental Hotel at Astoria, and of the salmon cannery at Brookfield. Nathan Kimball is a farmer in Clatsop county. Byron Kimball is likewise a prosperous farmer.