“At this period, as I before remarked, Oregon City existed only in name – being with the exception of a few log houses, (erected during the summer and fall previous, by a few emigrants who had reached here in advance of our party,) a complete wilderness. The appearance of the place, so different from what they had expected to find it, disheartened my worthy friends not a little; and had such a thing been possible, I believe they would at once have returned to their native land. But this was out of the question; there was no help for their oversight now, only by making the best of a bad bargain; and so, after having grumbled to their hearts’ content – wished Oregon for the thousandth time at the bottom of the sea, and themselves back home as many – they set to work in earnest, to provide themselves homes for winter, declaring that the spring would see them on their way to the States.
With proper energy, properly directed, a great deal may be accomplished in a very short time; and in less than two weeks from their earnest commencement, no less than eight or ten cabins were added to the few already here. In these different families removed, Teddy and I taking up our abode in that appropriated to Mrs. Huntly.
Although without any effects save such as had been brought with them, and short of provisions also, yet, by one means and another, all managed to get through the winter as comfortable as could be expected; and instead of preparing to return, spring found the majority of the new settlers entering lands, determined on making this their future residence, be the consequences what they might.
Oregon City I found beautifully located on the eastern bank of the Willamette, and, from what I could judge, destined, at no very distant period to become the great mart of the Far West. Here I remained through the winter, and as it proved open and mild, employed my time in hunting and fishing, and conversing with the only being I truly loved.”
From the conclusion of “The Prairie Flower” published by Stratton & Barnard in Cincinnati as the work of Emerson Bennett.
Later investigation by Nora Moss Clark provided proof that her father, Sidney Walter Moss, had read sections of the book in progress at the Pioneer Lyceum and Literary Club (also known as the Willamette Falls Debating Society) in early Oregon City. Moss sent the manuscript east with a friend and heard nothing more of it. The novel is considered the first work of fiction written in the Oregon Territory. Many characters in the book are recognizable as participants in the 1842 wagon train to the Oregon Territory organized by Rev. Elijah White.
The book is available in electronic formats at the Internet Archive: http://archive.org/details/prairieflowerora00bennrich
Even given the passage of time it is a very, readable interesting book!
Sidney Walter Moss was a member of the wagon train of 1842 – this group was the first major influx of emigrants to the Oregon Territory, many of whom were present at Champoeg when the vote to become a part of America was taken.
Photo “Pioneers of 1842” left to right: Sidney Walter Moss, Francis Xavier Matthieu, Medorem Crawford, James R. Robb, Asa Lovejoy. Members of Elijah White’s first wagon train.