2 minutes reading time (351 words)

Memoir of Oregon Trail Journey

The book, Into the Eye of the Setting Sun is an exceptional memoir available for the first time in an indexed, softcover book. The author Charlotte Matheny Kirkwood, was a precocious five-year old in 1843, when some 1,000 men, women, and children climbed aboard their wagons and steered their horses west out of the small town of Elm Grove, Missouri. The train comprised more than 100 wagons with a herd of 5,000 oxen and cattle trailing behind. Dr. Elijah White, a Presbyterian missionary who had made the trip the year before, served as guide.

More than eighty years later with a keen mind, a sharp wit, and a delicate sense of humor, Charlotte forever set down these poignant memories so that later generations could experience them, too. She tasted life on the frontier as few others did. Hundreds of descendants from the Oregon Trail live in the Northwest, yet, today. Come enjoy hearing the story of families who thrived after they crossed the nation in the first train of the Great Migration of 1843.

The Oregon Trail was an epoch era in American history and wonderful insights continue to be drawn from journals and memoirs. Some are newly discovered while others have lingered in family cabinets unread and unpublished for years. The Pacific Northwest legacy of those early American pioneers lives with us today through our legislative organization, land ownership, school districts, and the legal rights of women and men. Opening the Oregon Trail was the beginning of families venturing west to new lives, to build homes and towns, and to wrestle with law and order. Cultural changes faced the pioneers as they met Native Americans across the land and their new foreign neighbors, such as the well-established British Hudson's Bay Company headquartered at Fort Vancouver with prominent fur trading posts along the Columbia River.

The book was transmitted orally by Charlotte Matheny Kirkwood (1838-1926) to Mona K. Matlock, and edited by her great, great, great, great grandson Roger Shipman, who will be presenting and talking about the book.

The photo of Charlotte Matheny Kirkwood is used with permission of the publisher. 

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