Forgeys on the Oregon Trail

George Forgey one of the five brothers who took the Oregon Trail
James Forgey, in an interview printed in the Asotin, Asotin County, Washington Territory newspaper, The Sentinel, on November 11, 1892, recounted the tale of the journey of the five Forgey brothers and the others. The group departed Henderson County, Illinois on April 19, 1852, and crossed the Mississippi River at Burlington, Iowa. ( It was reported in another article that they swam the cattle across the Mississippi, and held on to the tails of the oxen in order to be pulled across the river.) They encountered very muddy conditions during the first part of their journey, making it necessary to use 4 to 5 pair of oxen to pull a wagon through some of the mud holes, and some of the party were considering abandoning the venture at that time. As they traveled farther West in Iowa conditions improved and the party continued. They crossed the Des Moines River at “Pelley, Iowa” (Pella? South East of Des Moines). They continued West to “Cainsville”, near where Council Bluffs now exists. There the joined up with a wagon train headed by a Dr. Russell, who they knew. They crossed the Missouri River there by River Boat, and on the 15th of May headed West in a wagon train of 72 wagons.
The route they took led them on the North side of the Platte River as far what is now Columbus, Nebraska, where they crossed the River at “the Loop Fork of the Platt River”. Here the river was a mile wide, and the oxen pulling the wagons needed to be led across the river so as to stay in motion and avoid sinking into the quick sand in the bottom of the river. Dr. Russell, their wagon train leader, died of cholera in this stretch of the trail, along with many others. The wagon train had split up, and the Forgeys were now traveling with a group of 10 wagons. They passed Lonetree and Chimney Rock, and arrived at Fort Laramie on June 13. Jane Milholland became sick of what was diagnosed as “mountain fever”, but the Doctor in the group indicated that they should continue on, and that she would recuperate. They did, and she recuperated without incident.
After about five days more of travel part of the wagon train wanted to stop and rest, but the rest of the group wanted to continue on. John and James Forgey had apparently purchased a wagon together, and were traveling together in that wagon. John was part of the group that wanted to continue traveling, and James was in the group that wanted to rest. They resolved the dispute between the two of them by sawing the wagon in half, and each taking a part and constructing single axle carts from their portion.
(The August 1986 issue of National Geographic, on page 174, mentions this incident. “Two brothers grew to detest each other so much that they sawed their wagon in half, then fought over who would get which end. Finally one hitched up to the tongue and drove off with his cart, leaving his brother “on the prairie 10 miles from timber with one yoke of oxen & the hind wheels of a wagon .... This trip is not boy’s play”. The source for this data was not given.)
James and his group arrived at Independence Rock on June 23rd, and Devils Gate on June 24th. They crossed the Continental Divide, (at about 7500 feet in elevation), on June 30th and arrived at the Sweetwater River on July 3rd. It was cold enough there that it snowed on the 4th of July, and they had a 1/4 inch of ice on their water barrels in the morning. This group of the original wagon train met up with the advance group of the wagon train near Soda Springs, Idaho.
The wagon train reached Fort Hall, near present day Pocatello, Idaho, on July 16th. They followed along the South side of the Snake River part of the way, then crossed it, and crossed overland to the Boise River, following it to Fort Boise, where they crossed the Snake River again into present day Oregon.
The wagon train reached the Burnt River, North of present day Farewell Bend, Oregon, on July 30th, and the La Grande area on August 7th. They crossed the Umatilla River at present day Pendleton, and saw an abandoned cabin there, the first house that they had seen since crossing the Missouri River. The train followed a route away from the Columbia River until dropping down into what is now Dalles, Oregon. From there they traveled South into the Cascade Mountains, and then West around the South side of Mount Hood, taking the (recently opened but very rough) Barlow trail down towards what is now Sandy, Oregon. They arrived at Oregon City, the end of the Oregon Trail, on September 6th, 1852. Apparently they did not all arrive on the same day, with land records indicating that John arrived on September 5th, and Elias and James on September 6th, 1852. (In spite of the deaths in the Wagon train from Cholera, and that James indicated that he had become deathly sick from it for a period of time, it appears that all of the Forgey group survived the 4 month ordeal.)
The Forgey group turned South at this point, heading down the Willamette Valley. They located land at the area known as the Forks of The Santiam River, in the area where Scio, Linn County, Oregon, now exists."
 It appears that John, James, and Elias all filed for Donation Land Claims. John, Claim # 4384, James Claim #1940, and Elias Claim #1941. Old land maps show Elias’s name on land that was next to the West line of Hamon Shelton’s land, several miles East of what is now Scio, Oregon, and on the North side of Thomas Creek. All three of the Forgey’s are listed on the tax records as having paid taxes on their land in 1854.

John Forgey another of the five brothers who took the Oregon Trail.