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As It Was: Pioneer describes journey from Illinois to Southern Oregon

Oregon lumberman and rancher George Washington Riddle crossed the plains as an 11-year-old boy in 1851.

It took the family six months to travel from Illinois to the Cow Creek Valley south of Roseburg. Thirteen members of the Riddle family and three hired hands left Illinois with four covered wagons, 12 oxen, four horses and 40 head of cattle herded by the children. Sixty-five years later, Riddle described his adventures in a booklet, titled “History of Early Days in Oregon.”

Riddle wrote, “We had encountered floods and deserts. We had endured heat, dust, thirst and hunger. We had run the gauntlet of hostile Indians, but we had arrived at our destination without loss of any of our family or suffering any serious illness.”

His father secured a 320-acre land claim by the established method of placing four logs on the ground in the shape of a house.

George Riddle won election in 1890 as Douglas County judge and served several terms in the Oregon Legislature. He died at 87 as superintendent of the Oregon State Soldiers Home in Roseburg. His younger brother, John Bouseman Riddle, founded Riddle, Ore., in 1893.

Sources: Riddle, George W. History of Early Days in Oregon. Riddle, Ore.: Reprinted from the Oregon Enterprise, 1920. Print; "Oregon Pioneer Dead." Morning Oregonian 23 Sept. 1927 [Portland, Ore.] : 10. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.