The Wolf in 1853 Salem, Oregon

As told by Anne Kemp Gowdy

When I was about ten years old – 1853 – there was no school near where we lived in Salem, Oregon. So I went to stay with my married sister, Mary, or Mollie, as we called her. She was living somewhere near the Santiam River.

There I went to school in a log house with a mud chimney. I had to cross a creek, sometimes on stepping stones, and go by a path through the pasture. But when the stones were under water, we crossed on a foot log. My mother said that I must not cross the log by myself, for fear I would fall in, so I always waited for the other children that crossed.

One evening, my sister and her husband went to a neighbor’s, but I stayed at home with Ellen, the cat. When it began to get dark, I got lonesome and thought I would go to meet them. I crossed the log all right, and was picking flowers by the path, when Sister Mollie and her husband saw me. Mollie said she was going to scold me for crossing the log by myself. But her husband said to look closer and she would see something worse than falling in the water.

So she looked, and saw a big gray wolf who was looking at me so hard that he did not see or hear them.

Mollie’s husband ran toward the wolf, shouting and throwing stones, and the wolf ran. I never even saw him. Sister Mollie ran to me, and picked me up, but she did not scold me that time. As they had never seen a wolf before, they thought hunters with their dogs had run this one out of the hills.

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