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tv   Eugene Pioneer History  CSPAN  June 4, 2017 2:41pm-2:55pm EDT

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view of downtown eugene. the overlook is named after the city founder, eugene's again or. -- skinner. as we continue our look at the city's unique history, we will hear about its early pioneers. >> at the lane county historical museum, it started off as the lane county pioneer museum. since then, we have dropped the pioneer and talk about things up to and including the current day, but with a perspective on the past. eugene's part in oregon's story is a little more indirect, and it has to do with boosters and the way oregon settlement took place after the first wagon trains of 1943 and night -- 1843 and 1844. the free land was basically given out.
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eugene was at the end of the valley, and the roosters down here wanted more populations -- brewsters down here wanted more population. but it is a mixed bag story, because it was a difficult passage. again, at the southern end, where the settlement pattern was north to south. as we were at the very end, if you will. the museum's collection begins in 1951, when one of the founders of the oregon trail project donated his collection, which became the museum's foundation collection. and you are standing in front of this covered wagon, the oldest in the state of oregon. it came over here in the year 1850 with a doctor's family.
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it came out of the area we today call council bluffs, iowa. it was a doctor's family with six kids, the mother was pregnant, and she gave birth on the side shoulder of mount hood. a little girl, born in the back of the wagon, the yucca -- bianca. when she reached the age of 19, she was married. as a wedding gift, she was given the wagon that she was born in the back of. wagons, first of all, had a tough passage, and second of all, as with this wagon, they tore them apart once they got here. if you were here early, no lumber was useful in building
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any shelter. canvas was useful, and they would strip the wagon down to the running gear and put whatever materials were building your shelter with on the running here to move -- gear to move it from point a to point b. so the wagons did not last. the original pieces of the wagon, they are behind me. these sections date to 1926, the box, that is. and this goes to 1950. >> what i have on display here is part of an exhibit we did about cultures in the 19th century, and with this exhibit what i have done is take some small pieces of hair that were kept as mementos that we actually found during a collection installation last
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year. they are braided, and they would make little works of art at a family member's hair, to remember them and keep them close. it turns out that these fragments of hair actually belonged to members of eugene skinner's family. he was seen as the founder of eugene, so these were collected by his daughter, amelia, who was born in 1850, and it is her mother, mary cook skinner, who married eugene in 1839. mary elizabeth skinner, the oldest daughter, she was the first child born in what was known as the creel county, and then we have a piece of here -- hair from his second daughter, and she was the first child born in lane county. so the two fragments of hair from the sisters were collected by amelia when they passed away, because mary elizabeth died in 1860, leonora, 18 62, most likely in a malaria epidemic.
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-- 1860 two, most likely in a malaria epidemic. there were several during that time -- 1862, most likely during a malaria epidemic. there were several at that time. >> and this watch here has a very, very, very interesting background to it because of where the skinners came from. they did not arrive in a covered wagon, he went to california first. they were there in the winter of 1845, 1846. and where did they go?
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they went to setters mill, which would seven years later would be the site of the discovery of gold, but the skinners were a small group and arrived at sutter's mill in wagons. and then they use packed trains -- packed trains to come up. they were notified by the mexican government that relations with the united states were deteriorating, and they wanted americans gone. sutter was a mexican citizen at that time, but the skinner party was not. so he advised them to leave, and they did. once getting up year and after the skinners made the land claim and whatnot, they said eugene had surveyed the whole city.
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he shows up at a wedding with a very elaborate watch, and it is the late 1850's, so the famous photo of him without -- with all of the weapons stuck in his canvas pants and the other assorted props is a wonderful tin type that was probably made when he was in california doing the same -- during the same visit when he got the watch. he basically bought the watch from john sutter. it then gets commented on as being part of a social event, a marriage, actually, and he is showing off his new watch. the watch is a really interesting piece because it
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really is not an american peace at all. it is the association of eugene skinner. you have to remember that john sutter, who was swiss and had his own story about getting to california, sutter basically had a interesting watch that had apparently swiss workings, an english case, and italian decoration on the face of it. >> these two very small items once belonged to john whitaker's family. he was the first governor of the state of oregon. he was governor in 1859 through 1862, and this is basically an oregon trail or state kit. -- first aid kit. this originally held smelling salts that belonged to his wife. there are still remnants of it, even though it is entirely desiccated. it was a sponge strokes -- soaked in a very strong
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solution, usually a sulfur derivative, that would be used to revive someone if a woman or a man had fainted. the thing about these bottles as they were seen as a sign of being a refined lady. if you fainted a lot, you are very delicate, and if you needed a seller smoltz -- smelling salts bottle, it was a sign of coming from fine breeding. the other item here is a tiny lancet with its own case lined with feltz, and this is a lancet that was developed in the 17th century, and by the 19th century it was old technology. but you hit a little switch on the side, and the blade comes out and makes a tiny cut, and bleeding was used for a lot of different medical conditions. interestingly enough, with bleeding was a treatment condoned by the american medical association until the 1880's.
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so they used this almost into the 20th century. this particular type of lancet could be used on human patients, but we also know from our records it was used on the whitaker family's animals as well. this chair was an example of what people would do when they reached the end of the oregon trail. it was made by the scott family, who came across in 1846, and it was the tiny child's chair made from the yoke of their wagon. this was given to mr. scott's daughter, harriet, and she carried it all the way home with her as she rode on horseback, balancing it on her foot, to use for her daughter. it has its original leather seating, actually made from bits of rawhide. but the reason we have so few oregon trail wagons left is
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because many of the tiny ears had limited resources, so what they did was when they finished, -- pioneers had limited resources, so what they did was when they finished, would that was left over they would turn into pieces of furniture, and this is a rather charming one. this is a spyglass use on the -- used on the oregon trail in 1846 by thomas williams as he traveled across, and it was used when he was head of the party to see if there was any sort of problem or issues ahead. it was used when he was on the lookout duty, particularly a beautiful example and a memento that the family kept before they donated from -- to the museum. you can see it may have taken a tumble or two out of the saddle bag, or he may have dropped it a few times. it had a very colorful life. this rather ornately decorated leather trunk belonged to the snodgrass family, specifically john columbus snodgrass. it was part of his wife's property.
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they came across the oregon trail in 1882, and trunks like this work used -- this were used to carry precious items, like a woman's wedding dress, dishes, find china, jewelry, and a lot of other presses possessions in -- precious possessions in this particular trunk. it also may have been a wedding present, because it is router -- rather elaborately decorated with painting, and it saw quite a bit of used during its day. most of our collection was very well used and loved by its owners. >> what i would like people to think about is that american history has a lot of myth and loss in it, so does eugene represent the wild west? to some degree, yes, but you
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need to get careful with the myth. the way hollywood has played with the movies. >> our cities towards staff -- tour staff recently traveled to eugene, oregon to learn about the rich history. >> we look at eugene's unique history. come into the museum of natural and cultural history were will hear from dr. dennis jenkins about his archaeological work which are located about 200 miles southeast of eugene. dr. jenkins: when i was a student in the 1970's, we were taught people had only been here about 11,000 years. well, as time has gone on and certainly with the radiocarbon dating of human dna and coprolites and the paisley caves, that story begins to come apart.


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