Scenes on Albany Prairie Recalled by Pioneer Before Cayuse War Days


Albany Daily Democrat 9 April 1922

M M Fry of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, aged 80 years, was speaking, and the day he described was 1849, and the scene was Oak Creek, a few miles from Albany. Albany Prairie then was a treeless plain save for the low scrub oaks and small brush, and Mr Fry illustrated the height of the brush by saying that bear and deer could easily be seen above it.

The Fry family crossed the plains in 1849

Mr Fry crossed the plains in 1849 with his parents and settled on Oak Creek at what is now Fry Station on the Lebanon railroad. Mr Fry passed his seventh birthday July 1 on the plains enroute. His father died in 1893. John Geisendorfer was in the same party coming to Oregon.

The Cayuse War Mr Fry recalls with distinct clearness. It was in 1855-56 that the Indians from California came to the Sound and east of the mountains joined in a war of extermination on the whites. Laban, Nathan, Alfred and Richard Fry all were in the war. Nathan who died four years ago in Caldwell, Washington was wounded. These were brothers of Mr Fry, and other brothers and sisters were Mary, Roxie, George, and Olney Junior. All now are dead. Mr Fry describes himself as “the last leaf on the tree.”

Mr Fry’s father, writing to a brother in Rhode Island of the whereabouts of Amherst Fry, his nephew, who settled in Linn, said:

“Here let me say that in all probability he is out fighting Indians, as the whole country has been thrown into a panic far more dreadful than one in a hundred ever expect. Four of my boys started over five months ago since to help quell Indian invasions. They went north–that is east, of the mountains. They have had the severity of a four-days’ conflict with more than double their number, in which many a brave fellow fell a prey to the savage foe. Nathan, our son was severly wounded and lay in a lousy hospital, but thank Heaven has recovered and got home. it is a small portion of the time that they have any bread. Their living has been mostly beef and potatoes, which they took from the Indians, after driving them from the field. If they had failed to drive the Indians out, their food must have been their own horses.
“The Columbia was frozen over and it was impossible to supply them with food. Besides this, General Wool so monopolized the boats before the river froze that the volunteers have suffered shamefully. Wool has disgraced himself in this territory. I will send you this territory. I will send you the last paper, by which you will be much better advertised of the extent of our difficulties than I could write in a letter. The last news from the North they were expecting soon to engage in another conflict.
“Washington Territory is perhaps less able to defend their country than we are ours. The last news says they had a battle at the Sound and killed 50 Indians and had only four men wounded. This was a great luck. The war in the south, that is the Rogue River country, is assuming a worse character every week. In fact, the whole country is thrown into a complete panic., for nearly all the available men in Oregon and Washington are now in the field and more are being immediately called for. Mr Watson, our son-in-law, is North packing for the army. I have our two youngest sons with us.
“You will better understand when I say that the expense is something over $10,000 a day. And all supplies have to be forwarded at the expense of the settlers. Nearly all the horses and many of the oxen and wagons have been brought up to send forward to supply volunteers as could not find horses for themselves. Oats has been sent south all winter for the horses. The grasshoppers have eaten all the grass in the south country.
“We are as safe as anybody in Oregon can be, this being about the center country. Four full companies have been raised from this county. Some have gone north and some south, and now the government is asking for another company from us.
Some doubt whether it can be made up by volunteers. If not, a drafting out will take place next. So you see our anxieties and troubles for the safety of our sons and country is about all we are able to bear. Who or how many will fall next in the contest time only will tell.”


Last week Mr Fry, visiting in Rogue River, saw an old house still standing and kept as a reminder of the Cayuse War which had many Indian bullet holes in its walls.

Besides Knox Butte and in front of the Fry home on the 640 Donation Land claim the elder Fry took up, an old Indian trail ran south. Twice a year bands of Indians migrated over it from Southern Oregon to the Sound country. Sometimes they formed a company half a mile long. They did no harm, and often camped in the grove 100 yards from the Fry house. Here they made hazel brooms, as they were called, the only kind of broom known to pioneer wives. These were made by ravelling out and doubling.

There were no roads through the valley then. The ground was so soggy that a team could not be driven on it it the winter. In coming to Albany, Mr Fry would follow up Oak Creek, then come down the Calapoola to the city.
There were many wild hogs, reverted from domestic swine, and deer and bear. The latter lived on the pigs, and often hearing the pigs squealing, would sally forth and appropriate the pork some black bear had just killed for himself.

The old Fry homestead stands on the Territorial Road running straight south to Eugene, which the elder Fry helped survey. M M Fry attended what was called the Cowan school. The little grove now surrounding the school he set out.

they lived together 57 years

When Mr Fry was 22 years old–58 years ago June 26–he arranged matters with Minerva L Smith, daughter of F B Smith of Cowlitz, who had come here to go to school and was living with her sister, the late Emily Anne Creecy, south of Oak Creek. The matter had to do with marriage. Mr Fry had met the young lady at the Cowan school.
But she was only 15 years old, and so they traveled to Vancouver, where laws were lax, land became man and wife. And Mr Fry is proud to say that they lived together 57 years, until the death of Mrs Fry not long ago. Three boys were born to them. The youngest, Fred L is now 44 years old; Alva L of Bonners Ferry, is 54 and Adelbert C of the same place is 56.

Mr Fry is an enthusiastic Knight of Pythias and wears a veteran’s jewel for 25 years of service. On a recent trip to Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Oakland and many other cities-where he visited the old mines of ’49–he paid calls on the Pythian lodges wherever he went. And, in spite of his 80 years, Mr Fry does not believe in sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch. He will soon leave for British Columbia to join his son, Fred L, and the two will spend the summer prospecting in the mountains. For several years past, Mr Fry has put in his summers that way. In the past ten years he has killed ten grizzlies in Canada–remember, he is 80 years old–and will pack his good old 30-30 Winchester again this season. Many a city-soft man of today would have heart-failure on the trails the old pioneer will follow this summer.

Killed Ten Grizzlies in Canada

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