Regarding Bristow Notes:


1847  (ca. 33-34 y.o.)

Dec. 27     Legislative Act written up

1848  (ca. 34 y.o.)

Jan. 6

Feb. 24

      Oregon Spectator.   vol. 1, no. 2   “Pleasant Hill”                                             so-named.

                              vol. 2, no. 4  (ditto)


      Bristow Family leaves on train. 

Includes Wm. W.; Elijah L.; Able King;

James Hendricks and wife ___________________

Robert Callison and wife  __________________


According to note in OHS [genealogy] file:  Susan Bristow’s Company (1848) consisted of 4 wagons and teams.  Notes: “she had very much bravery, pluck and energy, to make the attempt for so long a journey.”

Remembrance note in this OHS file adds: 

Casswell Hendricks & Hull Team

Abel Russell–3 wagons and teams

Wm. Bowman–1 team

Wm Adam–1 team

Alman Buttles Holcomb–1 team and a wagon.

Bristow Company:

Jacob Consor

Mrs. G.J. Baskett

Jim Wallace’s Team

Warren Goodale’s Team

Grandpa Coffey & sons, sons-in-laws

The Pervines with 4 wagons, 4 drivers

Jack Vandervert (the Dutch Team)

      [Ewing Pervine, Buckhannan, John Meceters (sp?)]

George Graham with seven men

Dan Dobbin by horseback

Hooker and three sons, 4 wagons.

John Barrows and two men

Thos. Clark and John Morgeson

Farley Pierce, Pliny Richardson and Daniel Cushman (3       bachelors)

The Sweagles, with 4 ox teams, 2 on horseback (one a woman), and a buggy with old gentlemen in it.

Mr. Ball, one team.

Walker Bors., 4 teams

      [Bolivar Walker, Captain of the Company]

McAllister’s three teams

Holmes’ three teams

The Walker and Bradshear team

and Ben Wilson Blaine–two teams

SUM:  three dozen teams including a buggy.

ADDED Comments by self:

This team left in April 1848, months before the second epidemic of cholera would strike.  In late December 1848, passenger-bearing ships entering the ports in New Orleans bore the next major choelra epidemic.  Landing in December, it took about two weeks (?) for cholera to enter the cities, carried by a set of travellers not quarantined in New Orleans.  Cholera made its way up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and next along its tributaries. The exact calendar and context for a map for this is provided in the medical journals [see cholera bibliography for PSU summer course for details on these articles; many are in possession of the medical school library on the hill–in Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, ca. 1849-1855.]

Diarrhea cases during this time are more likely diarhhea, the effects of saline water intake (i.e. as a mineral spring substitute perhaps), and most likely, dysentery.   


      Left behind:      John Kennedy, Henry Gabbert,

                        sister?  _____________________

Note By Self:

When Susannah and the rest of the BRistows left for ORegon, need to determine why did Henry Gabbert Bristow and John Kennedy Bristow remain behind?


HENRY was employed as a engineer in later years in Quincy, any relation to why?  [i.e. was his career established?]

Henry Gabbert and __________(sister?) were living in the same abode

JOHN K. Bristow had responsibility to his own nuclear family? 

1. he was married to Emeline Hatch

2. they had a first son Elijah(?).

3. was Emeline again pregnant; if so what stage?  was she breast feeding. 

TOXIDROME (def):  A term invented by Toxicologist Dr. Howard Rosenbaum, of Nassau County Medical Center, Poison Control Center, an Affiliated teaching institution of Stony Brook University Teaching Hospital/MEdical School.  Mofenson derived the term toxdrome from “toxic syndrome” which referred to a class of symptoms that resulted from introduction of a particular class of toxins into the human body.  For example, many nightshades bear belladonna alkaloids and therefore induce similar symptoms: i.e.  Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), Nightshade (Solanum nigra, not the more common S. dulcamara), and Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger).  Example 2: Foxglove (Digitalis purpureum) and Lily-of-the-Valley (Convallaria majus) possess Digitalis Glycosides, and are capable of exerting the same toxic effect.  Convallaria is the worse of these two.  Other trail plants with Digitalis glycosides can be found: for ex. Pleurisy Root (Asclepias tuberosus) a popular herbal medicine during this period of medical history.  

[Inforamtion above on toxidromes are from Personal Communications with Dr. Mofenson, and Regional and National Poison Control Center Conferences attended seasonally annually by self between 1981 and 1984.]

Regarding toxidromes on the Trail:

With the nation near the end of a drought period, it is possible that forage on the trail might have poisoned cattle.  More importantly, these toxic plants would have had an increased likelihood of passing these toxins on.  Certain weeds such as Eupatorium rugosum continue to grow in drought periods, and without graminae to conflict with them in the ecosystems, are more likely to present themselves to the herbivores.  Their foliage would no doubt appear greener in comparison with dry brown grasses, and they may have even concentrated toxins into their foliage.  Subsequent feeding frenzies by starved oxen and cattle could be debilitating not only to the animal, but also to whomever drank the milk.  [See “Milk-Sickness” articles noted in Trail Flora and Medicine notes and in the course Bibliography.]   The toxins in Eupatorium rugosum are capable of being introduced into the mother’s milk and then to the newborn.  This would most likely be would quite toxic to the underdeveloped livers of newborns.   Recall, Bristow’s youngest child died soon after his second wife Josephine [Massie] Bristow did, for which see Elijah Bristow, Sr.’s letters in the OHS Gabbert(?)_____ files.  

Additional First Impression: Although it is commonly stated that women travelled the trail in spite of their pregnancy, the year in question is 1848–quite early–travels across the American may not be as likely in 1848 as they were in later years; i.e. compare 1848 travel lists with 1852 lists, which document entire families from a single region leaving for the Far West.  This is explainable in view of the medical history of 18 51, one of the worst cholera years with cholera striking Upper Prairie lands (the earlier epidemics stuck close to riversides, onto the lower prairielands near major waterways, and within the boundaries of major water-bound cities.)

4.  Could Dr. Bristow have remained behind because he was establishing a career or improving his wood-working skills?  (1. Is a wood-working career a convincing enough reseason for him to remain in Illinois?  2. Alternatively, if he were planning or taking medicine, this might have been enough of a reason to remain behind.)

Data working against this last hypothesis (#2) in parentheses: He would have had to make this decision between 1847, or soon after his father’s letter arrived from the Far West during pre-winter of 1847/8.  Susannah left about April 1848.  The Bristows’ first born Elijah was quite young; born on October 31, 1847 according to one note in the file cabinet at the Forum.   Thus: Did John and Emeline opt not to leave due to the stresses they feared they would encounter during such a journey? and perhaps a feeling that rushing to the Far West was not necessary during this stage in their lives together.  They married and resided in Warren County, near the tri-county border just a few miles away from Elijah-Susannah Bristow’s former mainstay. 

5.  Dr. Bristow’s plans to learn medicine come from whom and at what point in his life?

a.  His uncles and cousins had or were learning medicine.  [See notes elsewhere on Michael Gabbert, and kin.]

b.  An agreement was made with his family (his mother) that he’d learn medicine and then move to Pleasant Hill where he could make a living as one of a very few doctors in this part of Oregon Territory.  [A rather romanticized, flowery theory.]

c.  He and his neighbors had the same goals in mind?  The introduction of Physio-medicine to the Midwest a decade earlier by Alva Curtis was enticing.  Especially once news of it hit Illinois.  Alva Curtis initiated his program in the first physiomedical school by about this time (actual year?_____)

d.  Thus follows this series of questions:

1) By 1847, Illinois-Iowa had how many schools?

2) How many schools were available for Bristow to attend?

3) When was the Memphis, Tennessee School opened (initiated and in part directed by Michael Gabbert)?


1) By 1847, Illinois-Iowa had how many schools?

2) How many schools were available for Bristow to attend?

3) When was the Memphis, Tennessee School opened (initiated and in part directed by Michael Gabbert)?


From Pickard-Buley notes, and separate notes on schools:

I.   College of the Physicians and Surgeons of the Upper    Mississippi, Rock Island, Ill./Davenport, Ia./Keokuk,   Ia.

Note: Historian Donald Parker noted this Physicians and Surgeons College in Keokuk, Iowa in a discussion with me (date? ___________).  He tells me it required six weeks of training to obtain a medical license.  A few classes into schooling, and individuals was also tested for reading and writing skills.

Organized 1848, Madison Medical College in Wisconsin. 

Seven professors and a dissector.

1849–Only one course in Illinois at Rock Island County; twenty-one students graduated in February 1849. 

1849/50–New charter–Davenport,Ia., Fall, 1849.  One session, winter, 1849-1850. 

Spring 1850–Medical Department of the State University of Iowa, Keokuk.

Summer 1850–Bristow began practice.

Journal Options for review:  NONE????

Packard & Buley, p. 160, note one professional journal in Iowa–Iowa Medical Journal. (1853-1869)–which was published in Keokuk, and lasted for only 5 volumes.

                  [Perfect Timing–too close to June?].

                        For Full Argument, see file: SCHOOLG.NTS                      (“Schooling Notes”) and SCHOOLS.ILL


3) When was the Memphis, Tennessee School opened (initiated and, in part, directed by John’s Uncle–Michael Gabbert)?

Summer 1848 

NOTE By Self:  recall, West Coast Climate is considered healthy, and a cure or preventative measure against disease, esp. for Tuberculosis (consumption).       Signs and symptoms [S/S] for TB: Coughing up blood, pulmonary hemorrhage–fatal usually.

Need to check stages of TB.        


Deaths along the trail that may have been faced by Susannah  Gabbert: Mountain (Tick) Fever

      How was weather for harboring ticks?

            Was winter 1847-8 too cold to cause an                      infestation of the Trail?

            See Bristow Genealogy File, OHS

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