Pioneer Family Faces Tragedy on the Oregon Trail

Sep 20, 2013

The diary of Lucy Ann Henderson Deady describes a tragic loss of life during her wagon train journey to Oregon in 1846. 

   Her parents had made camp and hung some medicine on the side of their wagon.  Lucy Henderson’s young friends tasted it, hated it and left it alone.  Unfortunately, Henderson’s little sister, Salita, drank the medicine consisting of a whole bottle of laudanum, an opium and alcohol solution.  Salita died the next morning and was buried just three days before the birth of a baby sister. During the rugged trek, her family lost its oxen and finished the trip with six heifers pulling the wagon.   When other wagons joined the notorious Donner Pass route, the Henderson’s and 100 other families took the newly opened Applegate Trail. Henderson recorded how they shivered in the rain near Ashland as their father tried to start a fire with flint and steel.  Following the rocky bed of the Cow Creek River north toward Canyonville, it took them five days to go nine miles. Years later, married to Judge Deady, Jesse Applegate showed Henderson the Ashland tree that marked her camp in 1846.   Source: Lockley, Fred. Conversations with Pioneer Women: Rainy Day Press, 1981. Print.