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~ Kathy M.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Early Oregon: Oregon Pioneers John and Louisa Hedrick of Drain

This post is being submitted to Sepia Satuday.  To find similar stories on Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy, please type "Early Oregon" in the search bar on the top left hand corner.  To see more old photos and read more old stories from around the world please click here: Sepia Saturday.

These two folks are my Great-Great Grandparents on my Mom's side.  This is a very long post, but just in case some long lost relatives are trying to find this info, I am going to put as much info as I can into this one spot. Plus, I think it is very interesting reading, and not just because it is part of my family history.  I hope that you will enjoy it too! 

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
 John Hedrick

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
 Louisa Jackson Hedrick

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews

The following two newspaper clippings were forwarded to me via email from our cousin Becky W., in February, 2006.  Becky thinks they must have come from the local newspaper, the Drain Enterprise.  I left the spelling and grammar exactly as the articles were written.

Going by the math, this one was written in 1904:


"On June 26th the friends and neighbors of John and Louisa Hedrick assembled at their home to celebrate Mr. Hedrick's 78th birthday.

John Hedrick was born in Tennessee June 26, 1826 and Louisa, his wife, was born June 23, 1833, so their good friends celebrated both their birthdays on the same day. They were married in Missouri in 1852 and started across the plaines in April the same year. They first settled in the Willamette Valley, but some time in the fifties they moved to Douglas County. Nine children were born to them, all of whom were present and joint in the celebrating of their birthday.

These old people have led an exemplary life and have seen this country in the various stages advance to the forefront of civilization. They have had many adventures and can tell of many things that would make a volume of interesting reading.  Mrs. Hedrick has been a good mother to the entire neighborhood and was never to tired to wait upon the sick and administer to their wants and relieve their sufferings if it was in her power. John is a man whose honesty and integrity has never been questioned. It made these old pioneers very happy to be so kindly remembered by their many friends. They are passing down this hillside of life and will soon be numbered with the silent majority, but when they do go they will find a home that has been well earned by a life of toil and will be like the scarred oaks in the forest, no one can fill their place."

This one was written in 1902:

(1852 - 1902)

"Mr. and Mrs. John Hedrick, two of Douglas County's honored pioneers, celebrated their golden wedding at their home near Drain, March 26. The old folks were most pleasently surprised when their children, grandchildren and a few neighbors, who arranged the celebration arrived with well-laden baskets and announced thw purpose of their unceremonious visit.

Mr. Hedrick was born in Tennessee Jun 26, 1826.  Mrs. Hedrick, whoes maiden name was Louisa Jackson, was born in Iowa, June 23, 1833. They were married in Missouri March 18, 1852 and soon thereafter, with a small company of immigrants, started for Oregon. The arrived at Oregon City in the Fall of 1852 and spent their first winter near that place. In 1865, Mr. Hedrick and family moved to their present home six miles west of Drain, where they have lived since.

Mr. and Mrs. Hedrick have nine children and 22 grandchildren. The children are Henry C. Hedrick, Matthew M. Hedrick, Mrs. Aurilla Putnam, George W. Hedrick, William M. Hedrick, John F. Hedrick and Benjamin E. Hedrick, of Drain; Mrs. Jessie Delauney of Comstock, Oregon and Charles Hedrick of Divide, Oregon."

This excerpt from the book "Historic Douglas County, Oregon" copyrighted in 1982, can be found on page 159. 

The Hedricks Of Hardscrabble

John Hedrick, father of a numerous Oregon family, became the first citizen of Drain before the town was founded. He and his wife Louisa came to Oregon by covered wagon with the Charles Drain party in 1852. Louisa was related to the Drains.

Both families settled first in the Willamette Valley; the Drains near Lebanon and the Hedricks near Halsey. The Hedricks moved south in 1854 to a Donation Land Claim that included much of the present town of Drain. Later they traded it for the Drain property near Lebanon. The town was established after Charles Drain gave land for the railroad right-of-way and station.

John Hedrick (1826-1905) was born in mountainous Jefferson County of Eastern Tennessee. Little is known of the family background. The Tennessee Hedricks were very poor, and their children were not sent to school.  John, the ancestor of many teachers, was taught to read by Louisa, after their marriage. (Hedrick Junior High School in Medford is named for a grandson, Ercel Hedrick, a distinguished educator and Medford Superintendent of Schools for over 30 years.)

While there was almost no money in the Hedrick Home in Tennessee, food was plentiful enough so that John grew tall and powerfully-built. He ran away from home when about 13, and thereafter was on his own. He was working as a boatman on the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers when a fellow crewman named Jackson invited him to visit his home in Van Buren County, Iowa. There John met Louisa (1833-1910) eldest of the seven children of Augustus Jackson, a minister of the United Bretheren church. They were married in 1850.

When Charles Drain was organizing a party for Oregon in 1852, he offered young Hedrick the expense of passage, and perhaps small wages, to help handle the herd of loose cattle to be driven west. John and Louisa happily accepted. Their first child was born shortly after they arrived in Oregon. Their family was:

Henry: born 1852, married Gertrude Putnam, died 1930
Aurilla: born 1854, married Horace Putnam, died 1935
Matthew: born 1856, never married, died 1841
George: born 1859, married Susan Putnam, died 1842
Jessie: born 1861, married Roger DeLaunay, died 1916
William: born 1863, married Louretta Boots, died 1938
John: born 1866, married Myra Wagnor, died 1937
Charles: born 1868, married Edna Youmans, died 1913

Benjamin, born 1871, married Clara Ward (who died after bearing son Hobart), and then Ben married Talitha Letsom, and they had John, Florence and Homer.   Ben died in 1957.  Here are their children:

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
 John, Homer and Florence

When the Hedricks lived at present Drain, John was charmed by a small nearby valley, particularly by the farm of a German-born settler. He asked if the property might be for sale and was told no. He told the German to let him know if there should ever be a change of mind.

After several years in the Lebanon area, the Hedricks moved south to present Merlin in Josephine County, but again were not satisfied. John received word that the German immigrant wanted to sell, and he hastened to Drain to make a deal. The family's last move followed. 

John's birthplace in Tennessee is said to have had the local name of Hardscrabble --- perhaps because of making a living there was such a hard scrabble. Not far from where the Hedricks lived near Lebanon, a hill was named Hardscrabble, probably by John. The little valley near Drain where the Hedricks spent their remaining years had no name, so John named it --- Hardscrabble.

Neighbors who didn't like the name succeeded in getting the now-vanished school named Eureka in the early 1900's. The name Hardscrabble remains for a small stream that runs into Elk Creek about three miles west of Drain.

Louisa's parents, Augustus Jackson, his second wife Melinda Jane, and their two children crossed the plains to Oregon in the 1870's. They settled in Drain, where Augustus died in 1882.

John and Louisa Hedrick remembered the United Brethren Church when Philomath College, near Corvallis, was founded in 1865. They had little money, but their gift of $400 was quite substantial for those days. Their eldest daughter, Aurilla, later attended Philomath, and became the first Drain teacher.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
 The Drain Normal School
Drain, Oregon 

(Submitted by John L. Hedrick.  Prior to typing this, I was re-reading the chapter called "From the Tennessee Hills" in Tin Pot Alley by Wilfred Brown.  I think Uncle John got a lot of his information from that book.)

The next two portions of this post contain some duplicate information, but I decided not to rework it at this time:

The Children of John and Louisa Hedrick

Their father was John Hedrick from Dandridge, Jefferson County, TN.  He was born on June 26, 1826. He died on June 29, 1905 in Drain, Oregon.  He was married to Louisa Jackson and they had nine children. John and Louisa were my Grandma T.'s grandparents.

In alphabetical order, these are his kids (Benjamin is my great-grandfather).

1. Aurilla Maria Hedrick was born on July 11, 1854. She died on May 28, 1935 in Drain, Oregon. She was married to Horace Putnam. She was the first teacher in Drain.

2. Benjamin E. Hedrick was born on October 14, 1871 in Drain, Oregon. He died on July 24, 1957 in Drain, Oregon. He was married to Clara Ward and then to Talitha Letsom. He had four children: Hobart (with Clara) and John, Florence (my grandma) and Homer.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews
 Ben Hedrick farming at Jack Creek Ranch

3. Charles Augustus Hedrick was born on March 30, 1868 in Drain, Oregon. He died on January 11, 1913 in Cottage Grove, Oregon. He was married to Edna Youmans.

4. George Washington Hedrick was born on January 12, 1859. He died in 1942 in Drain, Oregon. He was married to Susan Putnam.

5. Henry Clay Hedrick was born on October 31, 1852 in Halsey, Oregon. He died on February 19, 1930 in Drain, Oregon. He was married to Cynthia Gertrude Putnam.

6. Jessie Hedrick was born on March 4, 1861. She died in September 1916 in Cottage Grove, Oregon. She was married to Roger DeLauney.

7. John Franklin Hedrick was born on January 30, 1866.  He died on November 8, 1937 in Drain, Oregon. He was married to Myra Wagner.

8. Matthew M. Hedrick was born on November 24, 1856. He died on September 15, 1941 in Drain, Oregon. He never got married.

9. William M. Hedrick was born on May 3, 1863. He died in 1938 in Ashland, Oregon. He was married to Louretta Boots.

I got this information from this website:  Or: Bloemker/McDonnell Pages 293 of 800.  I did this research in February 2006, and I hope the website still connects.


John Hedrick (1826-1905)
Louisa Jackson Hedrick (1833-1910)
Their Nine Children:

1. Henry Hedrick (1852-1930) married Gertrude Putnam

2. Aurilla Hedrick (1854-1935) married Horace Putnam

3. Matthew Hedrick (1856-1941) never married

4. George Hedrick (1850-1942) married Susan Putnam

5. Jessie Hedrick (1861-1961) married Roger DeLaunay

6. William Hedrick (1863-1938) married Louretta Boots and had the four kids in bold:
Ercel Hedrick married Helen Norcross from Central Point, OR
(Helen was a professional writer who wrote short stories for The Atlantic Monthly and the Saturday Evening Post. She published a book in 1942 called "The Blood Remembers", a novel about whites and native Americans set in the mountains of the Oregon-California border. Ercel is the accomplished educator mentioned in the post below that the Medford junior high was named after. Their children were:  Eva Hedrick, William Hedrick, Lola Hedrick and Caroline Hedrick.

Ray Hedrick married Millie and had a son named Jack
May Hedrick had a son named Thomas
Opal Hedrick

More of John and Louisa's kids:

7. John Hedrick (1866-1937) married Myra Wagner

8. Charles Hedrick (1868-1913) married Edna Youmans

9. Benjamin Hedrick  (1871-1957), married Clara Ward and had Hobart. When Clara died, Ben married Talitha (Lithia) Letsom. Ben and Litha's had 3 kids that are in bold:

John Hedrick ( - ) married Signa. When she died he married Mary. No children.
Florence Hedrick Traylor (1912) married Floyd Albert Traylor.  Florence and Floyd were my (Kathy) grandparents.
Homer Hedrick ( - ).
Homer married Dorothy, and had no children together, though Dorothy had a son from a previous marriage.  Homer lived and died in Drain, Oregon.


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Bob Scotney said...

What a fascinating story. I've read it more than once and find something new every time. They must have had hard life. And they died within a day of one another five years apart.

A photo of a covered wagon is all that's missing.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Bob, you know, they had an interesting life and worked hard, but I don't think they had a "hard life". None of their kids died young, and they themselves lived to a good old age. I really wish that I had a picture of their covered wagon too!

I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks so much!


LV said...

A wonderful family history. Great old photos and stories. I love post like this as I can relate to some part of it.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi LV, thank you! I am reading Laura Ingalls Wilder "Little House" books right now, and it is fun to see how they tie into some of my families history too. I would love to hear some of your family stories.
God bless!

Pamela said...

It WAS interesting. Loved seeing all the old pictures, too. Sometimes we look at these old pictures and forget they are real people whose descendents live today. Or we glorify the times as beautiful and simple. It was a hard life they lived compared to ours today.

Donnie said...

I tried to do ancestry on my side of the family but evidently my tree doesn't fork. I love reading all your family history though.

Marilou of Lulu's Lovlies said...

Kathy Your blog is on PinK Saturday and if you want you need to put yours up as I featured you, thanks and Hugs Marilou

Crystal Mary said...

I find it fascinating to read stories like this. Their photos are so clear, almost like pencil drawings. What a life! I pity that lady giving birth to nine children in those times. She was wonderful.
A great post. God Bless.

Alan Burnett said...

I always think that it is so important to get such information recorded and placed out there on the web. Whether you know the family or the area makes no difference, this is a fascinating story and so typical of that unique American spirit. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Well I read the entire post and all details and enjoyed it very much. In the first two photos I noticed their eyes, they both were so intense looking and so similar in their eyes. I did not see those eyes in the photo of the youngsters. Loved the name Hardscrabble. Certainly there is a lot of family history here in one spot!

Kodjo Deynoo. said...

It was a long post, but very captivating and I enjoyed reading it

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, everybody. I so enjoy reading all your comments!

Louisa's eyes kind of freak me out ... I had to move her photo out of our room because it was like she is always looking straight at you!

Karen S. said...

Oh my goodness what a great group of photos and such interesting well organized info this is very well done!

Tattered and Lost said...

How lucky you are to have so much personal history, not just names and dates.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you, Karen and Tattered and Lost!

Anonymous said...

You couldnt be more on the money!!

No Copying!


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