Bertha’s Correspondence: The Oregon Folks

By Julie Hunter, Collections Manager

(See “What Bertha’s Correspondence Tells Us” for an introduction to this series of posts)

Early in William’s letters, on June 6, 1892, he dropped the line, “I suppose that the folks went to Oregon on a visit or for a recreation.”  And that is all he said about this subject.  This leaves the questions, What folks?  Why Oregon?  Another group of eight letters, written between 1898 and 1904, “From Your Loving Cousin/Artie Eva Lene Hanks” provides the likely answers.   The first is dated August 8, 1898, and was written on the day after her twenty-first birthday.  Artie wrote about her fifteen-month-old son, being lonely while her husband was away from home, and mentioned a couple of her sisters and an uncle. She lived seven miles from church, so seldom attended.  She wished “Auntie” would come out to visit. “Auntie” was most likely Martha Stewart Bush, Bertha’s grandmother.2

Martha Stewart Bush and John Bush, circa 1870s

Martha Stewart Bush and John Bush, circa 1870s

Over the course of her letters, Artie sent factual information about her life as a young wife and mother on a farm in Perdue, Oregon. The community no longer exists, but it was in Douglas County.  The settlement was in the general area of Canyonville, which is still a city, located on I-5.  Using the list of her sisters still living with their parents, as given in her letter of March 21, 1902, I was able to pinpoint her as the daughter of Robert Smith Stewart II and Margaret Brown.  Robert was one of Martha Stewart Bush’s many siblings, and the Stewart family had lived in Oregon since 1852, when they arrived there by wagon train.

The first clue to the source of Artie’s connection to Bertha, beyond the general “cousin,” was Artie’s name.  Martha Stewart Bush’s mother was named Artimesa [sic].  None of the scant records that I have found for Artie show her as having the more formal name, but the connection to her grandmother’s name is clear.  Artie’s letters, with their comments about Stewart relatives coming and going and questions about Bushes, demonstrate that the Oregon Stewarts stayed in touch with the Bush family over decades and generations.  In December of 1900, she wished that Bertha and Mattie (Bertha’s aunt, Martha Alice Bush) could spend Christmas with her.  In March of 1902, she wrote of having had a little girl, who was yet to be named.   When Artie wrote again, in February of 1904, she reported that “we named our baby Emily Evelyn we call her Eva she was two years old the 30th of Jan.”   She shared more family news—“two of my sister’s are married Ella was married the 18th of Oct. her man’s name is Claud McCarty and Emma married my brother in law Charlie Hanks so I have only two single sisters Ethel is at home and Pearl is working out we went to a dance the fourteenth of this  month we had a fine time.”

In Artie’s final letter in the group, dated September 13, 1904, she wrote about a major adventure.  “We took a trip down on the coast Dennis’es sister and Mother and one of my sisters went with us we had a nice time it was the first time any of us had seen the Ocean.”  She had been living approximately one hundred miles inland for her entire life.  Artie was 28, and her mother was 48.  Today the trip takes about two hours by car.  Being fairly laconic, she made no further comment about the trip or the ocean or anyone’s reaction to the sight.

The Bush Sisters: Samantha Bush Wold Prue, Mattie Bush, and Emily Bush Darst,

The Bush Sisters: Samantha Bush Wold Prue, Mattie Bush, and Emily Bush Darst,

From the number of times that both family and friends sent along love and greetings to Bertha’s grandmother, Martha Stewart Bush, and aunt, Mattie Bush, we can infer that Bertha was close with these members of her extended family.  There are far fewer such mentions of her mother.  This may reflect a couple of factors.  Bertha’s mother, Samantha, is not remembered as a pleasant woman, so she may not have had the social ties that her mother and sister did.  Because of the way Samantha’s life went after she left Peter Wold, she did not always have her daughters with her. Five years after her divorce, Samantha remarried, to Paul Prue, in 1888.  It is very possible that Bertha lived with her grandmother and aunt for portions of her childhood, and she is shown living with them in the 1900 census, age 23, two years before her marriage.

Next: The Estate of Tom Cherry

Previous: Peter & Sarah Wold

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2. In addition to Ancestry.com, I used some specific Oregon genealogy sites, which have much information not on the bigger site. For instance, on an Oregon grave index, I found that Artie Hanks is buried in the Canyonville Odd Fellows Cemetery.   Neither she nor half the other Hankses on that list show up in the FindaGrave listings.  From the Oregon Pioneers web site (http://www.oregonpioneers.com/1852_RZ.htm) I learned that Martha Stewart came west with her parents and nine of her ten (one had already died) siblings by wagon train in 1852.  Her parents were living in Douglas County by 1880, as were some of their descendants.   Martha married James William Bush in 1854 in Corvallis, Oregon.  They were living in Seattle by 1859, and they were farming in Squak Valley in 1864.

See the web site http://roadsidethoughts.com/or/perdue-xx-douglas-genealogy.htm  that acknowledges Perdue’s existence in the past and gives MANY links to Oregon genealogy.  Perdue was named after John Perdue, an early settler of the area.  He was grandfather to Artie’s Husband, Dennis William Hanks.  Although the Hanks genealogy is not specific to Issaquah, my attempts to find Artie, for whom I found neither birth nor death record—just marriage and tombstone—led me to a basic knowledge of the family she married into.

Dennis Friend Hanks m. Sarah Elizabeth Johnston  John Perdue m. Mary Francis Margaret Mills

1799-1892                            /              1807-1864                            1818-1901  /        1822-1902

John Talbot Hanks                           m.                           Eleanor Ellender Perdue

/

Dennis William Hanks m. 1895 Artie Eva Lena Stewart

1868-1952                              /                            1877-1923

William McKinley Hanks, b. 1897

Emily Evelyn Hanks, b 1902

Dennis W. Hanks remarried in 1939.  At the time of his death, his obituary in The Eugene Register-Guard listed both of his children, his current wife, and his living descendants and siblings.  No mention was made of Artie. Like her, he was buried in the Canyonville Odd Fellows Cemetery.  A copy of the obit is in our paper file for 2015.10.

Artie’s family is easy to find on Ancestry once you know which Stewarts you are seeking.  Her siblings included Ella, Pearl, Emma, Ethel, Eva, Jacob, Edward, and Hubert.  Her father, Robert Smith Stewart II, was listed as a day laborer in 1900, but her 1902 letter says that her parents were about to move to Canyonville to run a boarding house.  He was the youngest of his siblings, and he was the one given his father’s name.  His wife was Margaret Brown.  Since most of the genealogy records do not use the “II” designation, it is important to look at the wife’s name to be sure of the generation of Robert Smith Stewart.

At least one of Robert Smith Stewart I’s brothers moved his large family to Oregon, as well.  He took the Oregon Trail in 1845 and shows up in records for Corvallis, which is where Martha and James Bush were married.

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