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~ Kathy M.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sepia Saturday #95: Melinda Miller Applegate and The Applegate House

It is that time of the week once more, time for Sepia Saturday .  This week, Alan has chosen a sepia photo of women marching for social justice; making their voices heard in government.  

Yoncalla, Oregon.  Source: Wikipedia

For this post, I chose the setting of Yoncalla, Oregon. The little city of Yoncalla, was the first city council in the United States to be made up of all women.  But, you know me, I always seem to think outside the box a bit and come up with something on the fringes of the suggested topic.  I decided to tell you about Melinda Miller Applegate and her interesting personal protest in 1852.

As I was looking through the books that I have on hand that might have something to do with women protesters, I noticed a book on my shelves that is a personal favorite, "Skookum:  An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore" by Shannon Applegate, c. 1988. 

Married to Melinda, Charles Applegate brought his family to the Oregon Territory in 1843.  On that trip, his brother Linsday's son Elisha, and his brother Jesse's son Edward, both perished as the group crossed the mighty Columbia River.  After that, Charles, Jesse and Lindsay, surveyed and created the famous Applegate Trail.  This became a safer, southern route of The Oregon Trail that did not mess with the Columbia.

The family eventually settled in the Yoncalla/Drain area in Douglas County, Oregon and were friends and kissin' cousins with my family, The Hedricks (Hardscrabble), The Letsoms (Yoncalla), and The Putnams (Tin Pot/Putnam Valley).

Thumbing through the book, I noticed the picture below, of Melinda Miller Applegate, wife of Charles and mother of Lucy (1830), Susan (1831), Ellen (1832), Julia (1833), James (1834), Mary (1836), Lisbon (1837), Irene (1842), Albert (1843), Harriet (1845), Thomas (1847), Jane (1848), Frances (1850), George (1852) and Milton (1854).  That is fifteen kids, folks.

Source:  "Skookum:  An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore" by Shannon Applegate

Melinda's parents were James Miller (b. 1784, d. 1846) and Susannah Basham (b. 1796, d. 1842).  Melinda Miller Applegate was born May 27, 1812 in Powell Valley, Claiborne County, Tennessee.   Melinda married Charles Applegate in Cole, Missouri on July 30, 1829.  She died on January 29, 1888 in Yoncalla, Douglas County Oregon.  Source: Find A Grave Memorial

So, what was Melinda Miller Applegate's great protest?  Her house.  It seems that Melinda felt that 15 children was enough. When Charles got to work on their home, he built what was essentially a huge duplex.  A wall in the middle separated the men's side from the women's side.  The only way that you could go in to either side was through the front door of each separate side.  Their last baby was born in 1854, two years after the house was built.  It seems to have worked!

There were probably other reasons for this division than not wanting more children, however.  The Applegate home was an early destination point in the region.  The men's side was often full of men discussing politics; it was more like a lodge and meeting place. The women's side was for more womanly pursuits and interests.  Eventually, the kitchen was moved from the women's side to a new addition off the back of the home for greater convenience.

Source:  "Skookum:  An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore" by Shannon Applegate

Source:  "Skookum:  An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore" by Shannon Applegate

 Source: The Applegate House Website

The Applegate home has been refurbished, and is now an arts and education center.  For more information about The Applegate House, please "CLICK HERE". 

So, there you go, my friends.  A tiny bit of Oregon history, with a few leads to find out more about the settling of Oregon and the interesting Applegates.

Oh, Horace and Aurilla Hedrick Putnam (my great-great aunt), in their large home on The Putnam Ranch, also had a separate staircase with a divided upstairs (only the upstairs) in their home.  This was to divide the sleeping quarters from overnight lodgers and ranch help from the family.  It makes me wonder if others did that too when designing their homes back then.  But only Charles and Melinda were noted for having no access except for the front doors to either side of their large home.

Take care,

Kathy M.

P.S. - On Memorial Day 2013, we visited the Applegate Cemetery between Drain and Yoncalla.  Here are some of the pictures that I took:

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Bob Scotney said...

The mind boggles at 15 children. What at a tribe to bring up. Melinda Applegate was quite a woman and her daughters outnumbered the sons. I've gone boggled eyed trying to work out whether the divided house was bigger on one side.

Liz Stratton said...

Kathy, What an amazing story! Can you imagine having to go outside and back in to talk to your husband or male children?! Fascinating post the takes us all the way from Tennessee along the Oregon Trail and into divided houses.

Arkansas Patti said...

Poor Melinda. She looks exhausted. Think after 15 kids, I'd have wanted separate quarters also.
Very interesting post.

Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

How have I missed seeing your blog somewhere along the line all this time?? Interesting stuff...and I'm especially drawn now, as I'm interest in all things Oregon these days. My only daughter and her family have moved from the East Coast (6 houses down from me!) to the Portland area.

So, about your must be a charmer to get the deer to be so cooperative while "shooting"...great pics!

PattyF said...

Wow! 15 kids! Was she becoming a grandmother while she was still having children of her own? And what a house! I can't say I blame her for wanting to keep the menfolk on their own side, but a bit inconvenient, if you ask me. Does this mean Charles had more responsibility for the younger boys since they were on his side of the house? Great post!

Grammy Goodwill said...

Oh, it's hard to even imagine 15 children, even though on of my grandmothers had 11 and the other had 10. I had to giggle about the divided house. I think she was quite a progressive thinker. Thanks for this look back.

mary said...

I love this story. I think the real purpose was to avoid more children. She was a strong woman.

Alan Burnett said...

Like so many others I am forced to comment - what an amazing story. A story like that deserves to be told with the skill and care : just like the skill and care you use to tell it. Fascinating Sepia Saturday territory.

Postcardy said...

It makes me wonder whether any unusually large families now occupy a duplex instead of a single family residence.

Anonymous said...

I think after 10 kids I'd have put a lock on the women's door lol!

Little Nell said...

No wonder Melinda looks worn out in that photo. I expect she was beautiful when young....before the onslaught of at least fifteen pregnancies.

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