SKOOKUM: An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore by Shannon Applegate

SKOOKUM: An Oregon Pioneer Family's History and Lore

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An interesting but not completely coherent hodgepodge of history, biography, and excerpts from diaries, interviews, letters, and published works. Applegate comes from an intriguing family whose legends she has lovingly researched. She starts with the three Applegate brothers, Charles, Lindsay, and Jesse, who left Missouri in 1843 to settle in Oregon. Applegate is particularly sensitive, as a family historian must be, to how tragedies are passed along both in the legends and the psyches of a family. The drowning of two small cousins during the perilous voyage on the Columbia River is one of the tragedies that echo throughout the generations to become a kind of founding myth of the Applegates' pioneering settlement of Oregon. Applegate has been blessed in her family's literary legacy, especially that bestowed by one of the cousins, Jesse Applegate, who spent a great deal of time with the Yoncalla Indians, and who recorded his recollections as an old man. Jessie's view of the native peoples was sympathetic and unsentimental. ""Elsewhere in Oregon many a native robbed the white man blind. . .but the reverse was also tree. . .In a manner of speaking, some white men surely got their 'just deserts.' ""There is much meat in Applegate's narrative for historians to chew on--vivid accounts of the hardships and politics of settlement; insights into the lives of the pioneer women who endured all the risks of travel in unsettled territories, along with the additional burden of yearly pregnancies. Applegate's methodology is effective in re-creating the experience of the past. Unfortunately, in the interests of a folksy tone, her writing often becomes sloppy, overusing such devices as colloquialisms, sentence fragments, present tense, and ellipses so that they begin to grate. Still, engrossing and original family history.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1988
ISBN: 0870711199
Publisher: Beech Tree/Morrow