The Lost Love of Clara Fleming Birdseye
Friday May 20, 2005
By Dawna Curler
Welcome to As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson
Clara Fleming thought she'd spend her life with Wesley Hobbs in Wellsburg, Virginia. But her father…and fate…had other plans.
In the early 1850s, Clara was in love and wanted to marry, but her father insisted she move with the family to the Oregon Territory. Secretly engaged, Clara and Wesley had different ideas. Wesley would meet Clara in St. Joseph, Missouri, where wagon trains started on the Oregon Trail. As the family got on their way, he would rescue Clara and take her home. When Wesley didn't arrive, brokenhearted Clara made the westward journey as an empty, bitter and lonely young woman.
In 1853, still pining for her lost love, Clara married David Birdseye, a packer and trader. They built a log house near Rogue River in Southern Oregon and had five children. Her marriage was unhappy, with the shadow of what might have been with Wesley always looming. David was frequently gone. In spite of David's absences, and her hardened attitude, Clara made a go of their homestead. She spent her life in the hand-hewn log house, which today houses fourth and fifth generation Birdseyes.
David died in 1898. Some years later, Wesley Hobbs appeared and again proposed. By then, a lifetime had passed and Clara turned him down.
Today's episode of As It Was was written by Dawna Curler, the program engineer is Raymond Scully. I'm Shirley Patton. As It was is a co-production of JPR and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. To Share stories or learn more about the series visit asitwas - dot- org
Birdseye, Effie and Nita Birdseye. Clarissa - Her Family & Her Home. No publisher. Printed by Springs Printery, Inc., Rogue River, OR.