John and Margaret McDannald in Oregon Return-->

The McDannald family in Oregon after the 1865 journey

Nim McDannald in front of the old McDannald cabin.

At the time of the 1865 crossing, John and Margaret McDannald had six children with them, George, 24, Malinda Jane, 22, Nehemiah, 15, David, 14, Emma age 10 and Alice age 8.
Malinda was a school teacher in Illinois and soon found work teaching in the Walla Walla Valley of Oregon, in the area now known as Milton-Freewater. She married Isaac Hodgen and had five children. The oldest child, John Edward 'Ed' Hodgen was born in 1869. From 1941 to 1950, he wrote articles for the Milton-Freewater newspaper about the early days of the family after arriving on the wagon train and settling.

After arriving in Oregon in October, 1865, the McDannald family soon obtained a deed to their free 160 acres from the government. The first thing John McDannald did was start building their cabin, which was finished in 1866. Here are Ed Hodgen's recollections of the old homestead:

"I was born in a log house which is still standing and is still inhabited. It was built in 1866. When I was born, grandmother (Margaret Cull McDannald), cooked on a fireplace, but soon afterward got a cook stove. It was used as long as she lived (until 1887). My grandfather, John McDannald, died in 1890 and the place was divided among the heirs. My uncle Nim fell heir to the part that had the house and while he owned it, he got a kerosene stove. He died in 1928. The place is now owned by Dale Kralman who cooks part of the time by electricity.

The cabin is located on the northwest quarter of Section 21, Township 6 North, range 35 east, a little spot of Heaven that dropped from the sky one day, now known as "Fruitvale". My grandfather, John McDannald, was captain of the emigrant train that crossed the Blue Mountains on the old Lincoln Road which had been put across in 1863. He stopped the train about 1 1/2 miles above the spot where the Walla Walla now is, and after forming the wagons in a circle, told them, "now we are where there is plenty of water, wood and grass. We will let the stock rest a few days while you women get caught up on your washing. We men will look the country over and if we don't like it we will move on again."

The next day a man by the name of John Hancock came up from French Town, now known as Lowden. He had been told that there was an emigrant train camped there and he came up and told my grandfather that he wanted a girl to work for him. He was told to come back in three or four days until they had a chance to look the country over. If they made up their minds to stay, he had a girl who could work for him.

Just after John Hancock had left, another man by the name of Bill Sally, who had come across in 1864, came up and sure was surprised to find out that they were well acquainted in Illinois. He told him this was it as sure as you live, so they took a look-see, and in just a few days my grandfather had located on Mud Creek where I was born.

He lived there until he died in 1890, and he is buried in the old Ford Cemetery. He was from Kentucky and was a great hand to hunt. Part of the way he kept most of the train in fresh meat. He had an old horse by the name of Selm, and I have ridden on his back a good many times. After a kill, grandfather would load Selm and they would carry it to the road where the men of the train would pick it up. At camp, he would divide it, and anyone who got a hind quarter one time had to take a front quarter the next time.

I still have the three old cap and ball rifles, one of the Dutch ovens, and candle molds that Grandmother Mac as she was generally called, brought across the plains with her.

When I was born we used tallow candles for light (made at home using the candle molds); then came the kerosene lamps and it is now lighted by electricity.

The logs for the house were hewed tamrac pine that was cut up on Basket Mountain and hauled down by both horse and oxen, but most of the logs on the outside are now covered by shingles. All that can be seen of the old logs is at the front door between the door and window which shows it to be hewed as smooth as if it had been run over with a plane.

The old fireplace which was built out of alkali rock has all been torn down, and the rocks were used for a foot walk until they began to crumble. They were done away with, as were all the old buildings with the exception of some of the log frame work used in the old barn.

The old McDannald orchard, which had the only tree of apples by the name of "seek-no-farther" that was known to be in the country, is now gone. Also the old sweet apple tree is all gone, and the old hop vines which grandmother (Margaret McDannald) used to get hops to make her hop yeast for light bread is gone. Also a hazel bush off of which we used to gather hazel nuts is now gone.

The farms here on or before 1870 were very small. With meager equipment it took a long time to work those farms. Lumber was scarce and most of the houses were of logs with shake roofs. Often times they had only dirt floors; they were poorly lighted and generally were heated by a fireplace. The fireplaces were made of alkali rock which was easy to get; it was soft and could be easily shaped to suit the needs. To make a fireplace which would draw was quite a skill.

We made our own soap by saving the ashes (cottonwood), the best, putting them in a hopper, throwing water on them and catching the drain for lye. That boiled with any kind of fat makes good soap.

Our coffee came in the green stage and we parched it in the oven and then ground it at home. One could get flour mixed at most of the mills, packed in 25 and 50 pound sacks. It was called "self-rising". If you had no tin can to mix the flour in, we just opened the sack, rolled the top down, pressed the flour from the center and poured in the water. One pint of water made two good sized doughgobs. When baked on a camp fire in frying pans, it made the only bread which is fit to eat in my notion.

Most of the old farms had a few vines of sage and lots of them raised a few rows of chickery (somewhat like a carrot only white). When sliced and backed in the oven, like barley, it made a splendid substitute for coffee.

From our old orchards came apples, the Red June first, then Red and striped Astrakhans; in the fall Snow Apples (Fameuse). The Blue Pearmain and White Winter Pearmain. We had no cold storage in those days and most of our apples were placed in pits in the ground. I have seen the later keep until May. The astrakhans and Blue Pearmains were the best for drying.
Peaches were generally seedlings of the white varieties and were good to can, dry or preserve. Preserves were usually put up in earthen jars and jellies in the glass ones. If glass was scarce, we would put a greased string around an old bottle and set it on fire. Then it would be placed under water and hit it a lick, and you had as nice a jelly glass as one would want.

A few months after the wagon train journey finished, my mother, Malinda Jane McDannald, signed a contract for teaching school. This is a copy of the contract:

"Walla Walla, Jan. the 3rd, 1866, School article, Dist. No. 10. We the undersigned each agree to pay Miss Malinda McDannald eight dollars and fuel per schollar per quarter of 12 weeks, 5 days per week for teaching the common English schol, the following branches viz. orthography, reading, English, penmanship, arithmetic, English grammar, Modern geography and the history of the United States, said school to be taught in the Mt Pleasant School House, District No. 10, Umatilla County, Oregon. The school money to be applied by the consent of a majority of the voters of said district on said school."
The signatures, with the number afterward indicating the number of scholars are: Robert Johnson 3; Silas Johnson 2; A. Morah 2; S. Anderson 2; R. Wells 2; O. Brisbo 3; N. Ford 4; Wm Sally 2; John McDannald 2; Pauchamp 1.

You will notice that the contract was signed in Walla Walla, Washington. The reason for that was that there was no other town nearer than Umatilla Landing, at that early date. At that time Milton, let alone Freewater or Umapine had not been thought of.

My grandmother McDannald (Margaret Cull), never studied medicine but almost always had a remedy for almost any disease that came along. For diphtheria she had a small bag of asafetida tied on a string around our necks, and we or any of the many others whom she treated never had the disease. For croup she would give us a few drops of tincture of Lobelia, and for a cold we housed horehound syrup. I well remember how the old kitchen looked and smelled with so many herbs such as catnip, mullein, wild tansy, horehound and many others.

She had brought across the plains one of those old fashioned spinning wheels in which she would spin wool into yarn to make our woolen socks. She also brought two pair of cards to card the wool with, and I have held many a skein so she could wind the wool up on a bell to use when she knitted. If she wanted to color it she would often use sumac berries and boil the juice out and use the juice for a dye to dip the yarn in. This would give a yellow color to the yarn.

In those days our socks and clothes were all homemade, and our under clothes were always made out of red flannel. Our boots were made of heavy leather with red top and copper toes, and one pair was all we would get in a year.

Grandmother Mac could make baskets out of little slips of willow which she would boil in water until the bark would slip off, and she would make this into baskets to use to carry wood, chips and vegetables or anything we needed. I remember my first "lunch box" for school was a small basket she made for me."

(NOTE: Ed Hodgen wrote about the old days in a local newspaper column from 1941 to 1950. He passed away at the age of 82, April 13, 1951).

Map of McDannald Homestead and Cabin - Milton-Freewater, Oregon