A Letter from Clara Lureen Womack
To My Dear Family
This Will Be the History of My Two Families
The Hammack’s and Womack’s as to my ability to remember.
Memory is a beautiful thing, but in old age it fails us.
The Hammack family as I was told, were from Kentucky, I don’t know much about my Great Great Grandparents, other than they settled in Union County, in the town of LaGrande, Oregon. I don’t know the dates.
To the bests of my knowledge the children were Nancy, Amanda, and my Grandfather Wesley and Daniel. There were probably more. I remember Aunt Nancy and her family. Aunt Amanda lived in La Grande. I remember going to her house once. Uncle Daniel was a dear man. He lived with us at one time. He never married. I remember him so well.
I don't know much about my grandmother’s family only her name was Sarah Miller. They lived in Indiana. My grandfather went over to Indiana from Kentucky, there he met her and they were married. They lived in Indiana. One son, my Uncle Linze was born there.
When the wagon trains were coming west; they joined one and came to Oregon over the old Oregon Trail. The date I do not know. It seems like it took some time, as they stopped in the State of Nebraska to work to earn money. I had one Aunt born there. Her name was Josephine.
They First settled in Union County, Oregon. Later they went on to the Willamette valley; my Uncle Lafe was born there. Later they came back to Union County settling in Summerville.
They had seventeen children borned to them. Seven died while children, mostly in the diphtheria epidemic that hit Grand Ronde valley.
Later my Grandparents with their family came to Wallowa County from Summerville. I think the date must have been about 1879 or 1880. The Homestead Act was then so they took up a government claim. Later a timber claim and as he prospered bought more land and they were well off.
Their farm was just a mile from the top of Lostine, Oregon, just over the hill as it was called. I spent many times going to see them. They raised ten children and three grandchildren. They are: Lindsey Hammack, Josephine Hammack Cook, Lafe Hammack, Bert Hammack, Effie Hammack Cook, Carrie Hammack Caudle, Marion Hammack, Emily Hammack Womack Gastin, my mother, Floyd Hammack, Hattie Hammack Leonard.
My grandmother was a kind and loving women. My grandfather died when I was about 12 or 13, but I remember him well. I can remember him driving to town in a buggy with his old horse named old Bill. He would bring us girl’s apples to eat as he drove past our home.
He was not able to work, he had asthma so bad, he came to town and he and some old friends, I remember them so well, we called them Uncle Bridwell and Mr. Van Pelt. They would sit on benches that were on the street and spend the time.
My grandmother lived on the farm after grandfather’s death with my Uncles, Marion and Floyd who farmed the land. After Uncle Floyd married they built a little house for grandmother near by. It still stands today on the old farm. She lived to a ripe old age and is buried in the Summerville Cemetery beside grandfather and her children. It is an old Cemetery, sits on a hill overlooking a beautiful valley. I have visited it a few times.
My sisters Gladys and Mina and I loved to go to grandma’s house. I remember she had a feather bed, we probably slept in it with her. She always had her table full of food. I can remember the dried apple pies and the chicken and dumplings she made, company was always welcome.
We had two Aunts who lived on farms near each other. They married two brothers, Uncle Dick and Uncle Mack Cook. We loved to go to their house. I spent more time at my Aunt Effies. She was my favorite Aunt. She had three children, Roy, Grace and Charles who were our ages. One time when I was 15 years old and spending some time with her, she was going to have a picture of Grace taken. She made me a pretty dress and had a picture made of me.
I liked my Great Uncle Dan. I was about 10, when he lived a while with us. He never married; he was a kind man. One time he gave me a pretty dish to put in my playhouse. It belonged to his mother, my Great Grandmother; I have kept it all these years. Now I have given it to my daughter, it will be kept in the family.
Additional Information from Clara