Longsworth, Basil Nelson

From Lane Co Oregon

Basil Nelson Longsworth, Junior was born on May 14, 1828 in Guernsey, Ohio from Basil Nelson Longsworth, Sr. (1795-1853) and Elizabeth Boyer (1800-1887). His siblings were Lucy (1817-1888), Mary Ann (1819-1885), Elizabeth (1821-1925), Peter (1823-1893), William (1825-1900), Warner (1830-1902), Cornelius Shelter (1833-1898), Jesse Thomas (1835-1920), Nancy Catherine (1837-1895), Rebecca Cornelia (1839-1920). He wrote a diary of his crossing the United States to Oregon in 1853.

July 30, 1853 - “Raft River is a very deep and rapid stream and runs north to Snake River. After leaving the river we ascended a hill and found ourselves on a strange plain which, I think, has been the scene of volcanic action.”

August 4, 1853 - “...our camp being on a high bluff with the river lying half a mile distant and six or eight hundred feet below us with very bluff banks.... This is a remarkably strange place. The ground is level to the very edge of the bluffs, which are two miles apart and perpendicular ... with rocks ... tumbled down in wild confused masses. ... Through this the river flows with a rapid current and in places considerable falls.”

August 7, 1853 - “Along the river for four miles there is a vast quantity of crystal spring water pouring down the rocky cliffs into the river. In many places it falls down from one to three hundred feet and nearly covers the rocks for hundreds of feet together, forming a most pleasing and sublime spectacle. The water falls in such large quantities that for miles along the river the water is perfectly clear for from thirty to sixty yards from the shore.”

August 8, 1853 - “This morning by daylight our wagons were crossing the river. We had to load and unload our wagons, row the skiff and then pay $4 per wagon and 50¢ a head for swimming cattle by the side of the boat. By 8:00 o’clock our wagons were all safely over ... but the wind was high and we did not swim our cattle until in the afternoon.... Three men whom we had employed swam to the island and drove our cattle across the remaining part of the river. They also swam three other lots of cattle, for which they received $2 per lot....” [A freight road from Salt Lake City to Boise, opened in 1863, and was greatly improved in 1871 by the establishment of a ferry three miles upstream at what is today Glenns Ferry.]

August 18, 1853 - “This morning early we ascended a long hill and after driving three or four miles, one of us saw Boise River ... which is a beautiful river.... The water has a rapid current and is as clear as crystal and quite full of fish....

August 20. "...a very dusty and sandy road which was covered with sage ... and struck the river on the west side of the bluff.... There is very good soil along Boise River, the bottoms being from two to four miles wide and mostly covered with a heavy growth of grass. There might be thousands of tons of pretty fine hay made here.”

August 22, 1853 - “It was night when we arrived and James did not cross until morning when we both ran our wagons on the boat and in a few minutes were safely on the other side, for which we paid $16. This money was made by the ferryman in half an hour. This is the way to wring hard-earned money from the starving poor.” (Memorandum of Thoughts, Reflections, and Transactions as Transcribed by Basil Nelson Longsworth on His Journey from Washington Township, Guernsey County, Ohio, to Oregon in the Summer of 1853)

He was married to Martha Armenia Cook (April 10, 1843 to January 23, 1930) on August 5, 1859 in Lane County. Their children were Elizabeth (1861-1936), Elma Melvina (1865-), Union Grant (1868-), and Sherman Nelson (1874-1883). He died October 8, 1893 in Jefferson, Oregon.

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