Friday, January 15, 2021

Mulkey Family of Benton County, Oregon

Maude Cauthorn Keady recounts Mulkey family stories in a manuscript in the Benton  County Historical Museum's collection.  Maude's grandparents, Johnson and Susanna Mulkey emigrated to Oregon from Missouri in 1846 along with their 8 children. Martha Madeline Mulkey, Maude's mother, was just one year old at the time. Maude notes:

“The only event of the trip that my mother used to tell time the oxen were stuck in the mud and before the driver had time to speak to the oxen, mother called out –'Get up, Boz.' Boz moved and she was always told that her first words got the wagon out of the mud-hole.”

The family settled on land west of Corvallis that Johnson Mulkey had claimed the year before. Maude continues her recounting of family stories from the years following. 

“Grandfather... [Johnson Mulkey] was very strong for education, sending the older children to schools at considerable expense of money and, what was needed more, their time and services.  He built a school house on his place and hired a teacher, inviting the neighbors to send their children free of charge....One year Grandfather (hired) Father Fisher, a South Methodist preacher, whom mother spoke of as a very fine old man, to teach the children at home.  I think this was after the row at school that mother [Martha Mulkey] was more or less to blame for. The row, that made such a disturbance in the whole that time,...was quite serious. There had been a district school established and Mr. Emery Allen, a northerner, was the teacher.  Most of the children were from Southern families, such as the Johnsons, Hornings and Mulkeys.  The Withams were northerners.....[A]t the time when feeling ran high between northerner and southener [sic]  Mr. Allen forbid the children to yell for Jeff Davis on the school grounds but allowed them to yell all they liked for [President] Abe Lincoln. One day enthusiasm ran high for Abe Lincoln.  There had been lots of cheering, so mother did not wait until she was off the school grounds until she began yelling for Jeff Davis. One of the younger Horning boys followed her lead. The next day, Mr. Allen called them up and threatened to whip them but finally let them go without the whipping.  However, the school board, who were Uncle Charlie Johnson, Mr. Horning and someone else, discharged Mr. Allen and payed him off in greenbacks, which were at a considerable discount at that time.” 

 Martha Mulkey Cauthorn circa 1874

 Martha Mulkey Cauthorn circa 1885

Maude continues:  “My other must have been a rebel, more or less, all her life....When she attended the old St. Mary's school in Portland, where so many Corvallis girls were educated, she was always asked why she did  not conform to the rules.....[One] time, there was some sort of public examination during which wreaths of flowers were placed on the heads of the girls passing the examinations.  Mother passed all right but when the bishop, who was a very short man, came to place the wreath on her head, she refused to bend her knee or kneel, as some of the church girls did.  She held her head as high as she could.  He could not reach high enough to crown mother, so one of the sisters had to take the wreath and place it on her head.  This she did in no very gentle manner....At the reception held afterward, mother carried her wreath on her arm while the other girls still wore their on their heads.”

Martha Madeline Mulkey later (1874) married James Cauthorn.  She died in 1924 and is buried in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Corvallis, Oregon. 

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon