Impressions of the Journal Man, Part 1 (Flora Savage Richardson)

Mrs. George W. Richardson, who has lived in Oregon 85 years, lives with her daughter, Mrs. Sadie McKee, at Division street and 170th avenue.

“I was small for my age, as a child,” said Mrs. Richardson, “But when I finally got my growth I was 4 feet 10 inches high. For 70 years my weight has varied from 75 to 95 pounds.

“I was born at Dayton, Or., October 14, 1851. My father was Charles Savage. I don’t know when or where he was born, in fact, I know very little about him. My mother’s maiden was Phoebe Walling. She died when I was 4 and my brother Charlie was 2 years old. My father, shortly after Mother’s death, married Lois Hull, and they went to Jacksonville. My brother was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Enos Williams of Amity. They were very good to him. They had none of their own, and they adopted a number of children. I went to Jacksonville with my father and stepmother, but when an uncle, Albert Walling, came to Jacksonville to see how I was getting along he took me back to Portland with him.

“William B. Taylor had started a paper, The Oregon Farmer in Portland, and my uncle was its editor. Later my uncle published a number of county histories and for many years was in the printing business.

“By the time I was 17, I had lived with a good many families. In those days women were hard worked and had few conveniences. Money was scarce, and they felt that it was their duty to make anyone staying with them earn her way by working hard from the time they got up till they went to bed. So I had little or no playtime.”

“Uncle Albert bought a place in South Portland, near the penitentiary. They were then building the Harrison Street schoolhouse. I went to school there a while. Later I attended the Portland Academy and Female Seminary near William S. Ladd’s beautiful home. There were no Willamette bridges in those days, and only a few farms in East Portland. Occasionally we would cross the ferry to attend a funeral at Lone Fir cemetery. I attended Sunday school at Taylor Street Methodist church.

“My uncle had a place on the Willamette between Oregon City and Oswego. Each spring we would move out and spend the summer. If we went to Portland it was by steamboat. His children were younger than I,, so I did most of the chores. One was to row down the river at 5 o’clock each morning about a mile to get our supply of milk.

“My uncle George Walling had a farm about half a mile above Uncle Albert’s place. He had an orchard and a nursery. Mr. and Mrs. Bullock had a place about a mile from us, not far from Oswego, where a that time there was a big iron works. One of Uncle Albert’s children took sick, so Aunt Sarah sent me to ask Mrs. Bullock to come. Mrs. Bullock said, ‘How did you come?’

“I said, ‘by the trail through the woods.’ She said, ‘The boys are out in the woods hunting a panther, so we had better go to your place in a boat.’ When wild blackberries were ripe I would stay at Mrs. Bullock’s place to gather and dry them. One day I reached out over the river to pick some particularly fine berries, lost my balance and fell in I climbed on a rock and waited a long time. The girls came with a boat and took me off.

“When I was 17, my father thought I could do the work at his house in Jacksonville, so I went there. I had had very little pleasure when I was a girl, but I nearly had a good time when I was in Jacksonville. My father told me I could go to a dance, so I made myself a dress and looked forward to the dance with great anticipation; but the very day the dance was to be given someone broke out with black smallpox and the dance was called off. The town was quarantined, schools and churches dismissed and a pesthouse established. One doctor died and the other left. The Catholic priest had already had smallpox, and he and the sisters visited the sick and dying.”

Source:  Oregon Daily Journal, August 2, 1936.

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