Genealogy and Ancestor Information, and Personal Memories
of Audrey Doris Jackson Kuhn and Robert Lundquist Kuhn

Ancestor information

Clara Couch Memory, October 31, 1944

I, Clara  Emaline Couch, was born in North Carolina, Guilford County, August 12, 1849.  My father, Bartlett Yancy Couch (1824-1881), was named after the first Governor of North Carolina, and was nicknamed "B.Y. Couch.  My mother's name was Nancy Jane Little (1828-1903).  They were raised in the same neighborhood.  There was a slight shadow or feud between the Couches and the Littles over a tree being felled to make shakes for a Couch roof.  Being a misunderstanding, the old feud lasted.  Father and Mother became sweethearts and planned to get married.  Mother being a Little and Father a Couch, the Littles resented them going together.  Father told Mother that he would be at the crossroads on horseback and signal her and for her to come.  Mother heard the signal and grabbed a sunbonnet and got on the horse behind Father.  They went to Grandfather Couches.  They were probably there for some time. 

My father was a gunsmith and a finished mechanic.  He finished stock barrels and finished guns complete.  Lock, stock and barrel the guns sold for $100 when finished.  Father had a home of two rooms on a mountain.  His shop was in one end of the house and we lived in the other room.  Grandfather Couch had four sons, my father, Uncle Mesh, Milton and Jack.  At that time, nothing was spoke of as North and South.  The boys wanted to go North and get homes.  Grandfather didn't want them to go until he passed on.  Finally he passed on with palsy one day (1853).  I went in to see him, there was a man on each side of him.  I never knew much of Grandmother Couch because she had passed on (1850) many years before.  Her daughter, Aunt Polly Ann, kept house for Grandfather.  When Grandfather passed she took me in where he was laid out and lifted a white cloth for me so I might see him.  They gathered for the funeral.  Father brought a buggy and put me, Mother and brother Jabez in it.  In those days all infants wore long dresses.  Jabez' dress draped on the bottom of the buggy.  I told Mother Jabez' dress would get dirty. 

After the passing of Grandfather Couch, the family scattered.  My three uncles bought land near Wichita, Kansas.  Father and Mother went farther north.  Father took his bellows, anvil and axes with him.  They had a covered wagon.  They were seven weeks on the trip.  After they were out a few days, one of the tires broke.  We were in a wild forest and didn't know what to do.  They finally got out the bellows and mended the tire. 

We landed in Illinois - don't remember the town.  Brother Milt was born then (January 15, 1854).  Father was very sick while we were there.  He didn't like it so we started for Minnesota and landed twelve miles from St. Paul, in a place called Forest Grove, and stayed there for one year.  Father wanted a home, so we moved to the Big Woods in Minnesota. 

We landed in LeSueur County, and in a swamp.  It was almost dark and no sign of life until a light shown in the distance.  Father went to it.  It was getting dark and we waited for his return.  On his return he had a lot of brush that we put under the wheels and got out.  We went to the man's house.  His name was Caldwell.  Years later Father had a mill and Mr. Caldwell was his sawyer.  We passed over Cherry Creek and Father pitched a tent and the snow was deep.  The next morning when he raised the flap of the tent, the snow went all over the bed.  Father wanted land and a home for his family.  At that time there was just an Indian trail from St. Peter to Faribault.  He was sometime finding a place.  He found 160 acres.  There was a squatter on the place.  Father gave him a gun for his right.  There were few whites in all that region.  Don't know how long we lived in a tent.  Finally a few men came and helped us build a log cabin on one room and one opening.  St. Peter was ten miles from our place and was the nearest trading post. 

One Sunday evening two Indians raised the flap of the door and came in.  They were singing their war song.  "Hum, Hum, Hum, " Mother was setting the table, and one Indian helped himself.  Father grabbed him by the collar and his rifle in the other hand and took him to the door and said, "Pochachee," which means "go" and he did.  I fully believe the Lord had His eye on us, or we wouldn't have survived. 

The big woods were full of Indians, the Sioux and Chippeway, and they were fighting constantly.  There might have been four or five families in that settlement.  There came a time when father came in one night and told mother that we must get away early in the morning, saying, "The Indians are on our trail." 

The next morning they loaded the women and the girls in the wagon box.  The boys and men had to walk to St. Peter, the only place of safety, ten miles away.  It was a cold drizzly morning, and we had buffalo robes thrown over us.  We arrived at St. Peter at dark.  At that time I was seven years old (1856).   

Father started a saw mill-got his machinery from St. Paul.  The starting of the mill was a great event and all the neighbors came to the starting.  The engine ran for a few minutes and then stopped.  Father didn't know what to do, as there wasn't enough water in the well to furnish steam.  The men packed snow and threw in the well to melt.  That didn't furnish enough water, so they had to move the mill over to a swamp.  They sawed a lot of lumber after that as time went on. 

Sometime later there was an Irish colony that moved in around us, who came in dog sleds.  Their dogs would go to the mill at night and eat the rawhide strings off of the belts that ran the mill.  One morning Father found a dead dog in his yard and his mill was burned down.  He found another location and built another mill and ran it for several years.  There was another Indian scare and we had a crop in.  Father sent Mother and us children with a man to Faribault.  Father stayed to save his crop.  We settled there and Father built a new home.  We finally lived in peace there. 

We had school there in private homes.  The first public school I attended was three months.  In the meantime St. Peter grew and so did Cherry Creek.  Father became Postmaster of Grandville.  The mill was in operation as long as I was there.  I was eighteen years old when I married Mr. Nichols.  His family moved into our country and I met Mr. Nichols during the Civil War, when he came to visit his parents on a furlough.  My husband attended school at Byron and Stratten, in Chicago, Illinois, for six months.  I was one of his scholars later when he came home and taught school in our neighborhood.  That was in the years of 1872 and 1873. 

An Indian came and warned the whites that the Sioux Indians were going to massacre the whites in New Ulm.  He gave the date and told our people if they would follow him, he would guide them to safety.  We were among that bunch.  I and Mr. Nichols were married prior to this. 

New Ulm was many miles from us, but Mankato was close.  The massacre was terrible.  They tied women and children to trees and cleaned out every one in New Ulm.  The soldiers were sent out to capture these Indians.  They brought forty to Mankato to trial.  There was one who died, and one that favored the whites and was freed.  That left thirty-eight.  They built a high platform, then dug a deep ditch.  They drew up wagon boxes.  The Indians marched up on the platform singing their war song.  One man by the name of Ireland sprung the trap that hung the whole bunch at once.  They cut them down and loaded the bodies in the wagon boxes and dumped them in the ditch and buried them there.  My father attended that hanging, and I have a picture of it here at home.  I now have a relative living in Milwaukee, Oregon, who told me that they erected a monument on their graves.  After that time they never gave us any further trouble. 

I and two sisters and four brothers lived on the old home place until we got married and moved into homes of our own.  Father had a sawmill at that time and my husband worked for him for a while.  We started a store and ran it for some year.  Grandfather Nichols moved his family back to Arkansas.  He sent for us to come back there.  We sold out and went out to them.  My husband went first.  I had never been away from home much.  I had Lee, Maud, Bart and Sam at that time.  We got ready to go.  Mother took me to St. Peter.  We took the Iron Mountain Railroad, the first railroad that connected the North and South. 

We landed in Memphis, Tennessee, and went to the hotel to spend the night.  In the morning we took a boat for Helena.  As I went down the trail to the waters edge in the morning, there were great slabs of pork piled up like slab wood on each side of the trail.  I wondered what it was for and found out later that it was to sell.  There was a great scarcity of meat at that time.  We landed in Helena that night and took the train in three days. 

All our fashions came from Paris.  Bart was six years old.  It was a fashion for little boys to wear white waists with lots of buttons around the belt and a wide pleated skirt which buttoned on.  Bart was standing a few feet from us and the Negro porter tried to help him on the train, but he threw his feet and did a dance.  He didn't want the Negro to touch him.  He wore panties beneath the skirt. 

We got off the train for the night at a place called Marble.  A Negro came in to the room and said, "Missie, I came in to punch de'fire."  Little Maud came up and said, "Ma, he said, 'punch de'fire.'! "  We found a man with a team waiting for us to take us to the Nichols' home.  We found all well. 

Father Nichols had three houses on his place.  In those days they built houses different from anything I had ever seen.  There was two large rooms connected with a passageway between and the kitchen was on the back alone.  In the front yard they had stiles instead of gates.  We could ride our horses up to them and step off.  They had a smoke house and another out-building, a kind of community house.  We moved into one of the houses and Mr. Nichols put in some cotton which was the only crop and even that wasn't much.  The seed was all wasted.  In those days, Mr. Nichols suffered with his feet as a result of his service in the Army.  We stayed there for several years.  Finally, mother Nichols passed on and shortly after, Father Nichols died.  Then, Maud was stricken with the chills and the third one took her.  We laid her by the side of her grandfather and grandmother.  We then moved into the big house.  They had a post office in our home.  It was called Pine Ridge Post Office.  Later they built a railroad past us, they built a stopping place near us, and we moved our store and post office there.  It is now known as Blackton, Arkansas.  The boys and I still lived on the farm.  We left there and went to a place called Woodruff County.  Our post office was Duluth. 

I got a letter from mother in Minnesota.  They outfitted a wagon to come to us.  They were there only a short time when Father passed on (December 24, 1881).  There was no cemetery there, so we laid him in a shady spot and put a tombstone at his head.  My brother, John, made shakes and enclosed the grave.  Mother stayed with us for sometime and then went back to her home in Minnesota. 

One evening a covered wagon drove in with a son at the point of death.  I gave them clean sheets to lay him out on.  They left in a day or two, and I never heard any more of them.  Times got hard and we moved in that place in Arkansas.  Our baby son, Conley, passed on.  We laid him by his Aunt Priscilla.  My oldest son, Lee, left Montgomery County, and took a homestead and got married.  They were not pleased there and went back to Washington--were living on what was called Rattle Snake Flat, which is now called Ralston.  He wrote to his father and said they needed a teacher badly.  Dear Sam went, but only lasted three weeks and he passed.  I was left alone with my three children in Arkansas. 

I went out to Washington--arrived in Ritzville, Washington at night.  My brother, Orrin, was there to meet me.  He took me out to his home.  My mother was there, also brother John, and sister Lucy, and several of his own family. 

We moved into a little house on his place.  Bart helped a neighbor for a while.  The other boys were too young to work.  My brother, John, and Milt had a threshing machine and I ran the cook-house.  One of my nieces, Jeannie Wolf, of Cheney, Washington, was my helper.  We were there a number of years.  I had some money.  We moved to a place called Cunningham.  Here I bought a lot.   

Lee had a place near Pasco and Kenowick.  The train stopped at night-one train a day.  I slept all the travelers that I could accommodate in a two-room house.  I took a homestead myself and being a widow, I only had to stay on it one night.  I sold out but didn't get much.  I raised nice wheat, but lost lots of crops on account of dust storms.  We built on my house and the boys started a store and restaurant known as the Nichols Brothers.  I was a silent partner. 

When my son, Samuel, got out of the Army, he came home on the Deschutes (River).  He had a horse and saddle and went out to find work.  I gave him some money to go on and never saw or heard from his since. 

Before I left Cunningham, my mother died (July 29, 1903) and each of the children received thirteen hundred dollars out of the estate. 

In time Cunningham became quite a village.  Bart took charge of a warehouse.  There was another warehouse there and they gave whiskey to those that patronized them and Bart gave his customers cigars.  There was a lot of whiskey drunk there them days.  My family and the Postmaster's family was the only ones that didn't drink. 

There was a large wheat crop that year.  Bart wasn't very well.  I went down to the warehouse and found Bart layed out on the floor.  That night we sent him to Spokane for an appendicitis operation.  Bart got well and got married and came back and lived there for quite a while.  Cunningham finally went out of existence on account of dust storms.  I sold my holdings there and moved to Central Oregon.  About the year 1907, we moved to Bend, Oregon.  My mother died just before we moved there.  There was no cemetery there and we laid her to rest in Ritzville, Washington.  Bart had gone to Central Oregon before me and we went to a small town near Bend called Laidlow. 

The station was crowded with people.  Mr. Davis and his wife were there.  He had a daughter and a son-in-law in Laidlow.  He went to the register and found out that he was going to the same place I was.  It was late Saturday night and people were standing up.  Mr. Davis came to me and introduced himself and asked me if I wouldn't rather travel than to stay in that station.  I said, "yes".  He went out and hired a two-seated buggy.  It was very cold and I bought an overcoat.  We were several miles from Laidlow.  We took a stage and the mountain was rugged and dangerous.  We drove until noon.  Mr. Davis had plenty of grub in two baskets.  All at once we came to a camping place.  We stayed there and fed the horses and had a warm dinner.  Mrs. Davis was quite frail and sickly.  I got a hot rock and put it to her feet.  We continued the journey until it was getting dark.  We landed in Laidlow. 

Bart took me out to his tent.  At that time there was a bank and a few houses in Laidlow.  Laidlow was named after a man by that name.  I never saw him, but after I saw his effigy one morning when I looked out and a man's image was hanging on a telegraph wire.  It was Laidlow's.  Sometime later they changed the name to Tumalow.  There was a bridge across the Deschutes River and a trail that led to Bend.  I bought a home on the Deschutes in Laidlow, three rooms on the ground floor and an upstairs, a farm and a shed for my buggy, also a hen house and a garden.  The only way I had to go was by buggy but I went where and when I pleased.  I had Sam and Jay with me then.  The boys wanted to farm so I bought a piece of land west of my place.  We moved out there and lived there three or four years.  Sam enlisted in the regular Army.  One night our house caught fire and we lost most of our things with many keepsakes.  I then moved back to my home on the Deschutes.  Jay still worked the land most of the time.  He finally got acquainted with a girl in Bend, and got married.  I lived there for a long time.

I done a washing there one day, and as I finished, there came a rap on the door, and there stood Mr. Davis.  I asked where was Mrs. Davis.  He told me she had been gone a couple of years.  The Davises had holdings out West.  They decided to go to Oklahoma.  The people that bought his place failed to pay, and he came back to settle up.  I asked him in and we talked a while.  Then he said his children was kind to him but it wasn't home and asked me to go with him and make a home for us both.  I almost jumped out of my chair and screamed I hadn't thought of such a thing.  I said, "Why, Mr. Davies, what would our children say?”  He said, "Well, I'm 21 years old, (he was about 70 about that time) and my money is my own, and I have enough for both of us."  I couldn't accept his challenge so he went away.  I thought it over that night and met him again and accepted his proposal.  We were married at his sons' place in Bend and took the train that night for Arizona.  He wanted a home where he could have a garden.  We were in Arizona a couple of weeks, but didn't find anything that suited him, so we took the train for Hitchcock, Oklahoma. 

While there, I got acquainted with Senator Thomas.  He had a sister that called on me quite often.  The blind Senator Gore lived on our street also.  That was the close of the Civil War (Audrey Kuhn: this must be incorrect).  It was a lovely home, but Mr. Davis sold out and bought a place on the other side of the city.  He wasn't pleased with that either and we got a book telling of a home in Pittsburgh.  He went to Pennsylvania and told me to sell out.  After a couple of weeks he came back and we sold out and went to our new home in Pennsylvania. 

Our new home was 90 miles from Pittsburgh.  I was amused at what I saw-nice farms and houses deserted.  Our home was on the highway.  It was a five-room house with an upstairs.  The water came out of a rock in the yard.  We had a basement and a spring also came out of it.  Back of the house was a kind of ravine.  There was a farm and 60 acres of land.  He cultivated the garden and trimmed the orchard.  After we had been there sometime a man came out from Pittsburgh and said he wanted some apples from one tree.  In the middle of the garden we had a cucumber barrel that was lovely.  Many people used to come out for fruit and vegetables.  We were there for three years. 

Then one day, when we were all alone, my husband took sick.  I didn't know what to do.  I sent for his sister and a message to his daughters in Bend.  I also sent a message to his son in Oklahoma.  After my husband passed on my neighbors helped me away.  I was two days and a night on the train.  I had a vault made when I arrived in Hitchcock and met Mr. Davis' son.  My supper was ready so I had a good night of rest.  We laid him to rest by his first wife.  They wouldn't let me start back for three or four days.  They thought I should be under the doctor’s care.  They got me a lunch and put me on the train.  I got awfully sick in the night.  I made my way to the rest room.  When I got to the door I fell and some woman took me by the arm and helped me to the couch.  She took me back to my bed and as time went on, I landed home again. 

It was night, there wasn't anyone who lived near me.  I made my way to a hunter's cabin, there happened to be a man there and he phoned to a neighbor.  The station that I got off at was out on a prairie.  The neighbor came and got me.  I wasn't home long until someone rapped on my door and it was my son, Bart.  We settled our property and had an auction.  We bought a new suitcase and came back to Oregon City. 

Bart went to work there in the paper mill.  We were there during the summer.  I bought a home on S.E. 65th avenue, Portland, Oregon, where I lived for about 12 years.  During the depression, Jay came to live with me.  I traded my home there for a place on 108 Avenue, S.E.  There was one acre on Johnson Creek.  It was covered with fruit trees, flowers and vegetables.  It had a large garage with a woodshed connected and a large hen house and a rabbitry.  We raised chickens and sold fruit for a while, but finally there was no demand for that.  While living there Jay got acquainted with his wife and was married. 

She owned a home across the street.  That left me all alone for two years.  I got so I couldn't keep it up so I sold out.  I made a great sacrifice in selling and came to the Barton Home for Elderly People. 

I was here for two months and then went to live with my granddaughter, Zelma.  She had an apartment house.  The work was too much and so I moved to Bart's about two months.  Bart had to go to the hospital, and his wife wasn't well, so I came back to the Barton Home.  My people were kind to me and done all that they could for me, so here I am today, this 31st Day of October, 1944.  I am now 95 years old, and getting around fairly well and expect to be here for at least five more years and I feel so grateful to all my people for their kindnesses, and may God bless them all.

(signed) Clara Emelin Couch, Nichols, Davis

Information from Audrey Jackson Kuhn, for the reader:

Clara Emaline Couch Nichols Davis died on April 7, 1949, in Portland, Oregon.  She was buried on April 10, 1949, in the Multnomah Park Cemetery in Portland. 

Horace Lee Nichols (1868-1958) and Joseph Bartlett Nichols (1873-1954) outlived her.  Clara Maud (1870-1879), Claude (Jan, 1870-April, 1870), infant son (1871) and Samuel L (1884-1905) all pre-deceased her.  I don’t have death dates for Jay L. or Orin Conley. 

Clara Emaline Couch married Samuel Nichols November 30, 1867, in Cleveland, Minnesota.  They were married by T.P. Brown, Justice of the Peace. 

Samuel Nichols (Clara’s husband) died May, 1898, in Ritzville, WA. 

Nancy Jane Little Couch (Clara’s mother) died July 29, 1903, and is buried in the Ritzville, WA, cemetery. 

Bartlett Yancey Couch (Clara’s father) died December 24, 1881, and is buried in Woodruff County, AR). 

Cynthia Ann Jackson Couch died July 12, 1932, in Minneapolis, and is buried in Savidge Cemetery, Cleveland, MN.


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