Grit Blogs > Oregon Trails

A step back in time

 I am fortunate enough to live in a family that has kept a lot of old family memorabilia. There are times when it’s over whelming and you wonder what to do with it all. And to be honest some of it is just junk. But my dad made an interesting discovery a couple of weeks ago. It is a journal that his grandmother, known as Mom Hill to the family, kept during 1924 and parts of 1925 and 1926. In 1924 she was married to her first husband Victor and had four little boys Ralph, Donald, Louis (my grandpa) and Eugene. 

Hubby and I just got done watching Ken Burns’ Dust Bowl on Oregon Public Broadcasting. I knew that my grandpa came from Kansas to Oregon (via Idaho) in a wagon at the age of three in 1921. I had always assumed that they came as part of the great migration as a result of the Dust Bowl – the dates don’t quite follow that train of thought. So we’re not really sure why the family came, but one thing Mom Hill mentions is that her sister sold the place in Kansas, and there was no hope of going back (obviously she had harbored that very hope for three years). Seeing what the poor souls on the plains endured I think they were fortunate to sell when they did.


As I read through her year starting in August I marvel at the stamina of this woman to spend the day picking and canning fruit and vegetables, feed her family and then help her husband plow and sack potatoes, cut firewood or slash and burn brush piles in the evening. 

By the end of the fall I am plum tuckered out by the canning, preserving and freezing of bounty for the winter. But this woman puts me to shame. The last page of the journal lists her canning for the year. I’ve copied it below. May we all be so industrious. 

Fruit and Vegetables canned in 1924 

27 qts prunes                                                                       40 qts butter 

32 qts peaches                                                                    08 peach             

42 qts pears                                                                          12 pear 

6 ½ qts strawberries                                                         11 blackberries 

32 qts blackberries                                                            05 plum 

04 qts pickles                                                                       07 apple 

08 qts corn 

49 qts tomatoes 

70 qts vegetable in all                                                                     17 ½ qts jell 

5 qts piccili                                                                             6 qts apple 

6 qts pumpkin                                                                     4 ½ qts plum 

6 qts apples                                                                          1 qt strawberrie preserves 

                                                                                                  6 qts blackberries 

                                                                                                  3 qts apple jelly 

Fruit [and] vegetables canned in 1925 

19 qts peaches                                                                    14 qts beef 

50 qts blackberries                                                            3 qts pears 

35 qts pears                                                                          3 qts strawberries 

12 qts plums 

24 qts beans 

16 qts corn 

4 qts beets 

40 qts tomatoes 

    qts quinces 

Mom Hills journal