MRS. RACHEL KINDRED. – The experience of mothers in crossing the plains is one of those historical wonders which will never be forgotten. It adds much to the value of this volume to incorporate within its pages the story of one of these women, and to present her portrait.
Miss Rachel Mylar was born in Kentucky in 1821, and is a grand-niece of Daniel Boone. While quite young she removed with her parents to Missouri, and there was married to Mr. B.C. Kindred in 1842.
It would quite naturally seem that a mother with a child of a year old should not be obliged to endure the severe hardships of a journey across the plains but in making this trip there was no alternative. Thus on the lonely heights of the Blue Mountains, where the cattle were nearly exhausted, and the road was simply a rocky bed of a cañon, or wound around the stony ridges, it was necessary for her to perform the crossing of the divide on foot. Also at the Cascades, where everything must be transported, she was obliged to walk from the upper to the lower landing of the portage. Her clothing had grown thin and ragged, and her shoes were worn out. Hose were the only covering for her feet; and these were soon cut to pieces upon the rocks and gravel. The simple, ordinary, every day wear and tear of the trip, and the care and anxiety of mind, would seem astonishing enough; and numberless were her shifts to make scanty food and apparel perform the offices of necessity. Her boy, however, born at the end of the trip, the Christmas gift of 1844, seemed no worse for the time of his advent, – nor was his mother.
After reaching a permanent home on Point Adams, near Fort Stevens, Oregon, her labors were not diminished. There fell to her a large if not the larger share of making a home. Her husband’s business made frequent absences necessary; and the care of a farm as well as that of the house were hers at such times. Many were her experiences there. The following was characteristic: Going down to the beach in front of her house one day, she found a soldier cast away on the shore and apparently about to die. She got the poor fellow to her house and recognized him as a discharged veteran who was then living with the Indians. He had been cast away by them in his sickness, according to their custom. Mrs. Kindred, however, nursed him back to life through a severe fever. He had no money, and gave her a shotgun as his only way of discharging the debt. Recovering, however, and going back to the Indians, he began to want his gun once more, and while his benefactress was gone from home entered her house and stole it. Incensed at this outrage and breach of gratitude, Mrs. Kindred upon her return took her little boy, and Mr. Schwatka’s little girl, and with this escort repaired to the Indian camp, explained matters to the chief, and upon his requisition recovered the piece. The Indians highly disapproved of the soldier’s way of doing.
On another occasion, when the Woodpecker was wrecked on the bar, the flour and provisions with which the schooner was loaded were drifted by the tide up stream. Mr. Kindred being away, his wife put out with a rowboat, securing barrels enough of the articles to last her three years. Some of her neighbors, however, happening by with a wagon, supposed it was a “free haul,” and helped themselves to a portion while the lady was still out in the stream getting more. This is not an altogether pleasant commentary upon the early times; but we may suppose that the neighbors made the seizure in full innocence of heart.
It was amid the scenes of such a wild and solitary life, surrounded by good but not enchanting Indians, that Mrs. Kindred made her home, reared her family, and created the conditions for her husband from which a competency has been drawn. Women such as she have been the mothers of the state, and deserve no less credit than its fathers.