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1862 highly important illustrated Oregon Wilderness History, 1st Applegate trail-maker tells of and draws life in the west!
Siskiyou Mountains, Oregon, May 25 - June 1, 1862. 7.75" x 9.875". "Oliver Applegate of Applegate Trail discusses bear, salmon, wolves, and "polatics" in Ashland, Oregon in 1862 -- outstanding content and drawings!4pp of unlined cream paper inscribed in Applegate's delicate script and embellished with over thirty miniature drawings and poems, and many interesting examples of phonetic spelling. Letter begun on Sunday, May 25, 1862 and continued on Sunday, June 2, 1862 and addressed to "Harriet Applegate, Yoncalla, Umpqua County, Oregon" from "You Efectionate Cousin O.C. Applegate" in the Siskiyou Mountains near Ashland, Jackson County, Oregon. In very fine condition, with expected wear including folds. Minor loss to paper edge on two of four pages. Each page measures 7.75" x 9.875".Oliver Cromwell Applegate (1842-1938), a seventeen-year-old teacher-in-training, pens a light-hearted letter to his younger cousin Harriet Applegate (1845-1862). The cousins exchanged unique hand-illustrated letters decorated with "paintings" that delighted each other and other readers. This way of corresponding through "'sketchicism' and 'emaginatinism'", as Applegate called it, was unconventional to say the least. At the close of his letter, Applegate writes, "I have you will discover attempted some illustrations - if they are not according to the rules to be followed in letter writing, you will of course excuse both me and them". Applegate scatters over thirty minutely detailed drawings of figures and vignettes throughout the text of his four handwritten pages. His drawings include human figures like Indians, settlers, tumblers, and messengers, but also many animals like whales, owls, bulls, and bees. In some contexts, Applegate's drawings function as rebuses, but in others, they interrupt lines and adorn blank spaces. Two patriotic poems, studies of soldiers and admirals, and an incredibly detailed drawing of his mountain homestead illustrate the end of Applegate's letter. "I have here attempted a hasty 'hen't' ink sketch of the Toll House + vacinaty but it don't suit me - The New House (A) is twice as big as it should be so as to be in proportion with the Toll House (B) and the Barn (C) is too low". In addition, Applegate embellishes his script with flourishes, double dots, and underlines, and employs different text size and font to create a graphic and aesthetically pleasing missive.Applegate's minute drawings are interspersed throughout content of similar high quality. He mentions wild animals that miners, frontiersmen, and other hunters encounter on a regular basis, including deer, bear, wolves, and salmon. Applegate observes: "Two weeks since Bear were plenty at the Salt Spring Valley 1 mile east from here, and the boys made a few hunts in that direction, and although one evening they saw five or six, they only succeeded in 'bagging' one black one. They were out again today and report many 'Bars' in the range ... " Applegate was possibly employing backwoods hyperbole when he describes a 12' long black wolf that was recently spotted in the forest, or an abundance of deer that enabled two deer to be killed with one bullet.Applegate discusses at length the environment, which continues to be explored. "Yet there will probably be a way explored direct from this part of the country as soon as the snow and mud will permit, and we will then be a hundred miles nearer to the famous [drawing of whale scavenged by men with pickaxes] then even the Portlanders themselves". Applegate also mentions plants and seeds that he tried to cultivate as gifts or even for export to the East Coast. Democracy flourishes even in the wilderness, Applegate explains. "Polatics: Tomorrow is the day of the election. May every patriotic voter be at his post, and may the 'coon hunting arosticracy' be absent 'frum hum' in one of their favorite excursions". The Civil War raging thousands of miles to the east is not mentioned in this correspondence.Oliver Cromwell Applegate was the sixth son of Lindsay Applegate, one of the pioneers who gave his name to the Applegate Trail. This wilderness trail extending west through modern day Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and California was a safer way to reach the Oregon Territory as it was further south of the Oregon Trail. In 1860, the Applegates relocated from middle western Oregon, where Applegate's correspondent Harriet Applegate still lived, to southwestern Oregon near the modern-day California border. Lindsay Applegate became the owner of the toll road that replaced the trail through the Siskiyou Mountains around the same time. In the winter of 1862, a season that the teenager described in his colorful letter as "8 months ... [of ] ... horror", Applegate earned his teaching certification. That spring, Applegate rejoiced in a changing season that promised plenty and prosperity. Sadly, his creative cousin and correspondent Harriet would die about one month after Applegate wrote this letter, at age sixteen. Applegate taught at Ashland, Oregon during the mid-1860s but then transitioned into Indian affairs. Around this time, Applegate became a scout and assisted his father, then a U.S. Indian Agent. In 1873, the year following the Modoc War, Applegate was appointed a U.S. Commissioner. Twenty years later, Applegate helped restore a Delaware-sized portion of land to the Klamath Indians as federal Indian agent.A remarkable letter by a future Indian agent that captures the spirit of the early Oregon wilderness!"
      [Bookseller: University Archives]
Last Found On: 2017-08-14           Check availability:      Biblio    

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