Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Hammer mss., 1844-1845, consist of the Oregon Trail journal of Quaker Jacob Hammer, 1816-1891, a transcript of the journal prepared in 1983 by Howard and Jane Pyle, and a blue cloth case in which the original journal was housed until the 1980s.

Jacob and Hannah Cox were married in Noblesville, Indiana in October1840. Sometime after the birth of their first son the family moved to Missouri where daughter Melissa and then a second son were born. The youngest child was just 11 weeks old when the family left for Oregon in late April 1844. During the six months it took the emigrating group to reach Oregon's Willamette Valley, Jacob recorded his thoughts about the move, described the daily experience of travel, and wrote comments about his traveling companions. The last daily entry is October 28, 1844.

The journal ends with a sort of postscript or summary, written sometime after February 1845, in which he describes Oregon as "...a rich country... Mountains and valleys with good timber...beautiful plains...well watered with rivers, creeks...this is one of the greatest countries in the world...." Jacob then remarks that he is sending the journal "to Jonathan Hammer [his father] and Asa Bates and the society of friends" and delegates Jonathan "to send copies to many of my relations far and near."

Most of the journal appears as excerpts in This Emigrating Company: the 1844 Oregon Trail Journal of Jacob Hammer. Editorial commentary by Thomas A. Rumer. (Spokane, Washington: Arthur H. Clarke Co., 1990)

Gift. 2001

Collection size: 3 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.