From the Federal Writers'Project of the Works Progress Adminstration, under the OREGON FOLKLORE STUDIES, writer Sara B. Wrenn interviewed Mrs. Sarah L. Byrd on March 3, 1939. The interview took place at Mrs. Byrd's home in Portland, Oregon. Mrs. Byrd was 96 at the time, small, wiry and active, with weather-beaten, wrinkled skin, bright eyes and plenty of gray hair. As "chipper as a little chipmunk."

"I ain't no hand for dates, so don't bother me about 'em. I do remember though when we came to Oregon. We came from I-O-WAY in 1848. That's a long time ago, aint it? Joe Watt was captain of our train. Bein so little, I don't remember how many wuz in the train, but I've heard 'em say it wuz a big one. Every night when we camped the wagons wuz pulled in a circle an' hooked together with chains an' oxen yokes. The folks camped inside that circle, an' close along-side wuz the stock, an' a guard wuz se up for the night.

"The Indians wuz peaceable when we cum across. We didn't hev eny trouble o' any kind. Oh, once, I b'lieve the Indians stole a cow or somethin'. But the biggest excitement I c'n remember is a herd of stampedin' buffalo thet almost got us. It was dusk, an' we'd gone into camp, when, all at once, 'way off in the distance we see a big cloud o' dust. It cum near'r an' near'r an' perty soon somebody yelled, "It's buffalo--looks like a million of 'em, an' thery're comin' this way." Mebbe ther wuzn't a fuss then. Everbody wuz shoutin' to everbody else, an' givin' orders, an' rushin' 'round like crazy people. Some o' the men got out on horses, an' some way or 'nother, what with ther yellin' an wavin' whatever they cud get hold of, they kept the buffalo from comin' thru the camp. I c'n remember it all ez plain ez day, seein' them buffalo tear by, with their tails up an' ther heads close to the ground. ther must ' ve ben a hunderd or more. That's a long way from a million, but the ground jest shook as they went by. Some o' the men got some good shots, and we had plenty o' buffalo meat for awhile."

If you'd like to read more of this story, you can find it at

or you can come to hear The AAUW Reader's Theater present this and other womens voices from the past at either the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in the Baker Bldg. (ne.LLI) at 10th and High in Eugene on February 20th from 1:30 to 3:00

or on Saturday, February 21 from 10:00 until 11:30 at the Westminister Presbyterian Church 777 Coburg Road, Eugene (Use the Harlow Rd. Parking Lot.)

2009-01-31 00:31:42 GMT
Jo-Brew is now a columnist for the Creswell Chronicle.

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