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Talent Farmer Welborn Beeson Keeps Christmas Diary


Talent, Ore., farmer Welborn Beeson’s journal in 1860 mentioned that the valley was cold and foggy, but that it was clear up on the mountain top.

Beeson trimmed his fruit trees, dug potatoes, and hiked with a friend up Wagner Gulch to dig for raspberry roots.  Foggy weather continued. One morning Beeson rode his horse to Gassburg, today’s Phoenix, and bought a newspaper.  He learned that Abraham Lincoln had been elected president and that some of the states were considering secession.  Beeson, in a play on words, guessed that the Southern states’ bluster was “all gass,” with two s’s as in Gassburg.

In mid-December, Beeson’s mother finished embroidering a pair of slippers for his Christmas gift, and Beeson went to Gassburg to have them soled.  He paid some debts after selling 10 pounds of butter. As Christmas neared, cold rainy days kept Beeson indoors with a book.  Finally, two days before Christmas, it started to snow and Beeson’s cows were beginning to come home from the mountains.

On Christmas night, after a day of chopping wood and hunting for his cattle, he went home and enjoyed grape wine and fruit cake with his mother.


Sources: Beeson, Welborn. Welborn Beeson Diaries, 1860-1863.  Talent Historical Society.  Print.

Amy Couture has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon, a master’s in teacher education from Eastern Oregon University, and a master’s in history from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  A former teacher and cross-country coach, she is the author of 14 historical vignettes in the book, Astorians: Eccentric and Extraordinary.