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Pioneer Artinecia Riddle Chapman Appears on Film

Few pioneer women in the 1850’s began their cross-country journey to Oregon as widows. And even fewer appeared on film.  Artinecia Riddle Chapman lost her husband five days before they were scheduled to join a wagon train, but she carried on. Accompanied by her parents and 1-year-old son, John, Artinecia led her wagon hitched to six oxen to Southern Oregon in 1851.

The following year, her future husband, William Merriman, left Illinois for Oregon with the Isaac Constant wagon train.  His wife and son died on the way, leaving him only his daughter Letta.  Artinecia and William married in Riddle, Ore., in 1853.  Artinecia learned enough of the Chinook language to serve as an interpreter during the Rogue River Indian wars.

From 1854 through 1874, Artinecia bore 15 children. She and William bought a farm north of Medford, on the current Merriman Road, where he opened a blacksmith shop. He died in 1877, leaving Artinecia a widow for the second time. She died at 88 in 1917, outliving Merriman by 40 years.

Artinecia told interviewers stories about pioneer days, and appeared in a film about pioneers at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.


Source: Merriman, Janette. “Artenicia [sict] Riddle Merriman”, Southern Oregon Heritage Today, July 2000, v. 2, no. 7, p. 16. Print.

Pat Harper is the archivist for the Southern Oregon Historical Society, where she digitizes records, manages websites and learns more about regional history from the SOHS volunteers. After receiving her Master’s Degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1980, Harper worked as a reference librarian, then as a library administrator. From 1994 to 2005, she was the Siskiyou County library director and lived in the country near Hornbrook, California.