Living in the Past

Oakland, Oregon, will take a bow to its vibrant past tomorrow, Saturday, September 17, from 9 am to 5 pm when the historic town celebrates Living History Day with a focus on the 19th century.

I’ll be there with a table selling my books The Shifting Winds and A Place of Her Own, both set in the 19th-century West. People will get into the spirit of things by donning the typical garb of the day, as shown in these pictures I use to illustrate my characters from Shifting Winds.

25-jennie-brushed-2-titleThat’s m15-ft-vanc-alan-titley protagonist Jennie at right, whose face you can imagine yourself. The young woman’s father brought the family west over the Oregon Trail in 1842, much against her wishes.

The dapper fellow in frock coat and top hat represents the British Hudson’s Bay Company clerk who asks to court her despite rumors of war between their countries.

RawScan.tif, Mon Aug 24, 2015, 9:41:36 AM, 8C, 9000x12000, (0+0), 150%, Repro 2.2 v2, 1/20 s, R60.8, G31.1, B45.6The mountain man, a painting used by permission from artist Andy Thomas, represents the American who aims to shatter Alan’s plans for Jennie and British plans for Oregon.

Their clothing would be typical for the period Oakland plans to celebrate tomorrow.

Oakland history as a town goes back to 1846 when Rev. J. A. Cornwall came west and with another family took refuge from a fierce storm. They built a cabin on Cabin Creek near where Oakland grew up, then left in the spring to continue to their destination in the Willamette Valley.

The town of Oakland was laid out in 1849, first surveyed town in the Umpqua. When the railroad bypassed the old town in 1872, Oakland moved closer to the rail line and the new town became a commercial center.

When my great-great-grandparents, Garrett and Martha Maupin, moved to Douglas County he became a hauler, carrying goods by wagon from Oakland to Scottsburg, where things could be shipped out by boat. Garrett had just left Oakland on one of these treks when a load of wool turned over on him and smothered him. The details of that fateful day are told in my book, A Place of Her Own.

Morning Dresses Sept. 1803Somehow the small town of Oakland always kept one foot in the historic past, even before the reviving of historic structures across the country became popular. So it seems fitting for Oakland to celebrate its colorful past with a Living History Day. Oakland has been living its history for as long as I can remember. I have an Oakland address, although I confess I don’t often visit the town. It’s a little out of the way to get there.

Bypassed yet again, the second time by the Interstate Freeway, Oakland was left to dream of bygone days. The old buildings were maintained, perhaps for lack of need to create bigger and plainer and infinitely uglier new ones. You can walk down the street and feel the past all around you as the charming structures of an earlier time smile back at you.

So pull out the best representation in your closet of something folks might have worn in the 19th century. Ladies might choose something from the slimmer skirts of the early years to the simple calicos of pioneer times to the wide hoops of Civil War and later days.

1800s-wide-skirtsGentlemen, you could choose anything from frock coat and tall hat to buckskins, to jeans and shirts–and yes, they did wear jeans, sometimes called “janes,” even before Mr. Levi came on stage.

Come live in the past with us. I do that often when I walk into my stories. Such an intriguing place to explore, the past. Oakland will have spinning and weaving, blacksmiths, a trapper encampment, Fort Umpqua muzzle loaders, butter making, chuckwagon cooking, children’s activities, and more.

Abe Lincoln will be there. Who’d have guessed? And what’s that? Can-can dancing? Oh my.

Minter, Harold A. Umpqua Valley Oregon and Its Pioneers. Portland, OR: Binfords & Mort, 1967.
Except for Andy Thomas’s painting of the mountain man, all photos on this post are from antique fashion plates.


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. 🙂


Lovely Bookmine Event

The friendly atmosphere at Cottage Grove’s The Bookmine set the stage for a lovely signing and reading event yesterday evening. Relatives came, cousins I didn’t know at all, one who’d just made contact a week or so ago. Alerted by the big story in the Register-Guard about the book and me, they made a point of attending this event to get books firsthand and to meet me. What a pleasant surprise to find more cousins.

Bookmine crowd smilesGail, the proprietor, even gave me a beautiful corsage. In the photo above where we’re sharing a pleasant exchange, that’s Gail standing in the back, wearing bright blue. The man nearest the camera is a second cousin, Gary, going back to Martha’s daughter Mary, our great-grandmother. Below, from a slightly different angle you can see his sister, Joan, near the camera on the right. More of Martha’s great-great-grandchildren. In this shot I’m reading a short segment from Martha’s trek over the Oregon Trail.

Bookmine reading

Bookmine making pointThere were points to be made, and I’m evidently making one here on the right. You can see the prominently displayed Register-Guard story by Randi Bjornstad with photos by Paul Carter.


And there were more relatives to meet. Juanita, with me in the photo below, would be a fourth cousin, I believe, going back to Garrett’s sister, Lucinda, who came to Oregon with her husband Parker Bryan in 1851, the year after Garrett and Martha came. The common links for Juanita and I are Perry and Rachel Maupin of Ray County, Missouri, Garrett and Lucinda’s parents.

Bookmine with JuanitaSuch a pleasant evening. Quite a few others from Cottage Grove also came, and from as far as Drain to the south and Eugene to the north. Gail served wonderful refreshments. And afterward my daughter and granddaughter and I walked up Main Street and had a delicious dinner at a sidewalk table at Jack Sprat’s.

Thank you to my daughter, Christiane Cegavske, for taking these pictures.