Fort Umpqua Days

Elkton, Oregon, puts on a big Fort Umpqua Days event every year on Labor Day Weekend in celebration of the town’s history.This year it’s Saturday and Sunday, August 30 and 31.the fortThe British Hudson’s Bay Company built Fort Umpqua in 1836 near where Elkton sprouted a few years later. It was the company’s southernmost fort in the Oregon Territory in the days when they essentially ruled the area, chasing the lucrative fur trade–before all those American pioneers started trekking west over the Oregon Trail.

The first fort burned in 1851, and a flood in 1861 washed away what was left of it. A few years ago citizens of the area decided to reconstruct the fort on a site just downriver from the original, and the work continues today with new buildings going up inside the wooden palisade walls, with considerable effort made to keep things authentic. Now the HBC flag flies again.

DSCN0434So, during Fort Umpqua Days we celebrate with a parade and a history pageant, a craft fair, and other events. I’ve enjoyed serving on the writing team for the pageant the last few years, in which the history is told with a bit of humor and a bit of truth. And this year I’ll have an outdoor booth for selling and signing my book about one of those intrepid American pioneers–my own ancestor Martha Poindexter Maupin.

DSCN0429Last year kids came into the fort grounds to learn how people at the old fort cooked and kept gardens and washed their clothes, which was probably a whole lot more fun for the kids than for those guys at the original fort. Inside, there are furs and stories aplenty to whet the imagination.

The event is open to the public and fun for kids of all ages. If you enjoy taking a step into the past, here’s a great place to do it.  🙂


Back to Missouri Roots

While in the Kansas City area with my daughter and granddaughter, I returned to the Ray County Museum in Richmond, Missouri, at the invitation of the wonderful people there who gave me so much help researching my book about Martha Maupin. Four years ago I visited this museum and genealogical library, where we looked for material about my Maupin ancestors in Ray County.

573.Jenne intro Ray Co

Recalling the delightful days we spent together on the project, Jenne Sue Layman introduced me to a welcoming crowd at their monthly genealogical group meeting.

Jenne is one of three ladies who worked with me in Ray County, and this time I finally got them together for a picture, out in front of the big old brick building that houses the museum, as well as the genealogical library. The old building, which was once the county poor farm, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

594.Ray Co ladies

From left to right: Carol Proffitt, Lisa Smalley, and Jenne Sue Layman.

During my earlier visit here in 2010 the most thrilling item they found for me was an 1839 ledger for Isaiah Mansur’s store that showed lists of items sold and people who bought them. I was thrilled to thumb through the frayed, age-darkened pages and find many listings for various Maupins.

I was pleased to see some more familiar faces at this Saturday event. Glen Hill Jr., who helped me with research in next-door Carroll County was there. Glen came to the event at River Reader Bookstore last weekend, and returned for this one.

591.Glen @ Ray Co

Glen Hill Jr.

Also, quite a few members of the Frazer family came. The Frazers now own the property once owned by Garrett Maupin’s father, Perry.

In fact, I made a small discovery on that 2010 visit when researching land documents in the Ray County Courthouse to see what happened to Perry’s property after he died. The property was divided among Perry’s wife Rachel and their children because Perry didn’t have a will. All the old deeds are written by hand in the florid style of the day. Between that and the legalese, I struggled to follow what had happened, but ultimately all the Maupins appeared to be selling their property to a John Wollard.

The same day I learned this, Jenne took me out to the old Maupin homestead to meet David and Marilyn Frazer. They told me the place had been in their family a long time. When I asked if it was a Century Farm they told me their family had owned it much longer than a century—since their ancestor John Wollard bought it. I knew that name, having seen it so many times that morning.

“Oh, my goodness,” I said. “Do you know who John Wollard bought the place from? He bought it from my ancestors, the Maupins.” So we had a link.

And on Saturday not only David and Marilyn Frazer came to the meeting, but their son and his wife, and two other family members.

588.Frazers Ray Co

From left to right: David and Marilyn’s son Jason, Jason’s wife Misty, David’s sister Karen McBee, his cousin Virginia Miller, David, and Marilyn.

578.speaking Ray Co

At Jenne’s request I talked to the group about my search for my ancestor Martha for the book I wrote about her, A Place of Her Own: The Legacy of Oregon Pioneer Martha Poindexter Maupin.

Afterward we enjoyed a terrific spread of food provided by Carol Proffitt. The members take turns, and this was Carol’s day. It was a good day to be there.

All in all a lovely day.


Missouri Welcome

Returning to the Missouri roots of my Maupin ancestors, I enjoyed a friendly welcome at the River Reader Bookstore in Lexington, Missouri, last weekend. Proprietor Pat Worth arranged a reading and signing for me during my trip when I drove east with my daughter on her move to a new teaching job at Kansas City Art Institute.

But the welcome was much more than I expected.

Pat and her husband Gary had a big surprise for me. “Robbie Maupin and his friends are riding over here on horseback,” she said when we got there. She asked, “Do you know who Robbie is?”

Delighted, I smiled. “Yes, I know.”

One of our more colorful cousins, Robert “Robbie” Maupin is a Civil War era reenactor, well known in the area. Here he is with his wife Debra and another reenactor. And they were coming to my signing party.

Robbie’s in charge of a big Civil War reenactment of the Battle of Albany this October in Ray County, Missouri, depicting the death of local hero Capt. Bill Anderson in this Civil War battle. And he has another big reenactment of a bank robbery by Frank and Jesse James set for Outlaw Days in September.  I had considered attending the October event, but then this opportunity came up to drive east with my daughter in August. Now it looked as if I would get a chance to meet Robbie after all.

Word came that he was ten minutes away, so I went ahead with my reading, prepared at any moment to put the work down. I was especially happy to see a couple of people there who had done so much to help me with my Missouri research for this book—Jenne Sue Layman from Ray County and Glen Hill Jr. from Carroll County.

I completed the reading, and enjoyed some Q&A with the friendly group of listeners, before we all heard the excited announcement.

The riders had arrived.

Dressed in full Civil War era regalia—long hair, full beard, and all—Robbie strode into the store, hand extended to greet me.

After saying hello he asked if I would please sign his copy of my book, which I gladly agreed to do.

We Maupins take pride in the accomplishments of our cousins, whether close or shirttail.

I haven’t sorted out Robbie’s line yet to see where he fits on the family tree.

Outside, he introduced me to his horse Toby. The picture shows the beautiful Lafayette County Courthouse behind us.

Lafayette County is just south of Ray County where my great-great-grandfather Garrett Maupin grew up. Lexington borders the south bank of the Missouri River, which runs between the two counties.

Robbie and Toby pose to show off Robbie’s copy of my book, A Place of Her Own: The Legacy of Oregon Pioneer Martha Poindexter Maupin.

A company of riders had joined Robbie to visit our event, all decked out in authentic mid-1800s period dress, including a young boy. They attracted quite a crowd outside the River Reader Bookstore on Lexington’s Main Street. It’s a pretty town with a historic Southern feel. Just think away the cars and you could easily imagine yourself back in time.

Finally it’s time to put the book in the saddlebag and get ready to ride.

That’s proprietor Pat in the purple shirt looking on.

A tip of the hat and they’re on their way, having given me a delightful book event like none I’ve had before. A bit of the Maupin flair for sure. Martha and Garrett would have loved it. What a fun afternoon! And for the horse Toby’s efforts on this warm day, there’s ice cream waiting at the next stop. Toby loves ice cream cones. 🙂



That’s our newest crop on the farm and this is what it’s all about. Hazelnuts! Tasty, crunchy filberts! The fruits of our labors. nuts 2We planted 700 of these babies. And that in itself was a big job. Our first challenge was to square a section of the field, then stake out the rows before digging a lot of holes and planting the nursery stock. (More on that nursery stock here.) The trees are little more than long, spindly twigs when you get them, with a wisp of roots along a J root where they’ve been cut from the mother tree. After planting in the winter months, you wait until spring to see a bushy tuft of green at the end of that spindly twig.hazelnut orchard

They’re about three and four years old now, most of them. We planted half one year and half the next.

Our biggest jobs now are watering and flailing.

My son-in-law Robin Loznak does the flailing, which is a serious form of mowing. The flail, drawn behind a tractor, cuts and chops the grass and weeds close to the ground.

And in the summer I water. We haven’t been able to put in a water system yet, so I’m the water system. We have a waterline that feeds out to the edge of the new orchard. So from that I attach about 300 feet of garden hose, with which I can reach about half the orchard. Then I attach the hoses to a long plastic hose running down the center to get the rest.

robin's other officeIn previous years I’ve watered at least three times during the summer. But this year most of the trees are old enough that they don’t need watered as often–which is fortunate because it’s been a busy summer for me with all the book events. However, we do have a few new babies we planted last winter to fill gaps where we had a few losses, and we needed to add some more pollinizer varieties. Robin brought out the big guns to help out, using a spray tank behind the tractor to give those brand new trees some extra water. He calls this his “other office.” He took this photo of the tractor and tank with his cell phone. And in one of his other lives he’s the photographer who did the wonderful farm photos for my book.

It’s a pleasant field tonuts work in, with the river flowing alongside, the rapids whispering with a steady wash.

We won’t have enough of these nuts to harvest for another three or four years, but they’re scattered throughout the orchard, and we might find enough for some good munching.


Portraits of a Century Farm ~ Reflections

I’m announcing a new blog category, “Portraits of a Century Farm.” Photographer Robin Loznak has kindly agreed to let me use selections of his wonderful photos taken on our family farm. With each photo I’ll do a little word-painting to share a bit of what’s special about this place Martha Poindexter Maupin bought for her family almost 150 years ago, a place we love to call home. The first I call “Reflections.”


dog reflections

Photo by Robin Loznak

Warm brushstrokes scatter across the river’s cool depths,
Shimmering like an impressionist’s vision,
A living palette stirring beneath curious steps.
Whispers of summer ebbing?

Images glance back,
Hiding timeless secrets in dim hollows far below,
While a ruffled likeness of her own face teases,