Amelia Stewart Knight

Emigrant Profile

Amelia Stewart Knight started from Monroe County, Iowa, and headed for the Oregon Territory with her husband and seven children in 1853.

In her diary, she is preoccupied with the road and her children — Lucy, Jefferson, Plutarch, Seneca, Almira, Chatfield, and Francis. Chatfield was her youngest; she refers to carrying him at the journey’s end when the Blue Mountains are too steep to travel by wagon. He is also the child who absorbs much of her energy on the journey, getting scarlet fever and twice falling out of the wagon. At one point in the journey, her daughter Lucy is lost, and at another, both Lucy and Almira have poison ivy on their legs.

The picture of the relationship between husband and wife is unusually clear in this diary. When they come to Hot Springs and the road has been dusty, Amelia’s husband took her up the river to a place where the water is cool enough for her to bathe. Her diary shows that the Indians along the way were both much-needed guides and provisioners for the emigrants.

What is not mentioned at all is the fact that at the start of her journey, she is already in the first trimester of another pregnancy. The diary must be read with this unstated fact in mind. Thus, when she tells that she is too sick to cook or sensitive to the smell of the dead oxen slong the road, or that the rainfall has kept them all in wet clothes, or that the mountain passes have forced them to walking and climbing, these details must be weighed in the light of her advancing pregnancy. Amelia Knight delivers her eighth child by the roadside and comes into Oregon with a newborn infant in a canoe and then a flatboat, across the Columbia River. Her first home is a log cabin with no windows. Her diary contains no word of complaint, just enormous relief that the overland journey is done.