Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail

Friday, April 27, 2012


Charlie Augusta MAYES was my maternal grandfather and was lovingly referred to by his daughters and grandchildren as “Papa”.  This story documents the early life of a very interesting man. 

Charlie Augusta MAYES was born May 6, 1887 at Sheridan, Yamhill, Oregon to Isaac Preston MAYES and Augusta RICHTER.  Isaac was born in Missouri in 1855 and migrated to Oregon with family, possibly an uncle.  Augusta was born in 1856 in Indiana and came with her parents, Charles Christian and Catherine Christine (ERNEST) RICHTER to Oregon. Isaac and Augusta married on August 8, 1886 at Sheridan, Yamhill, Oregon.  Augusta died a year later giving birth to Charlie, apparently the same day.

About a year later, Isaac married Lydia who also died as a result of the birth of another son, Ecil Lydia MAYES on March 24, 1889 in Sheridan, Yamhill, Oregon.

Shortly after his second wife’s death, Isaac was diagnosed with a terminal illness (possibly diabetes or cancer).  He was in a dilemma as to how best secure the future of his sons.  My Richter great grandparents, Christian and Catherine Richter  were enthusiastically willing to take and raise Charlie.  However, Ecil was not their grandchild and would not be taken.  Since I have no knowledge of Ecil’s mother or her family, I do not know how they felt or if any family existed.  It did not matter.  Isaac did not want the boys split up; he wanted them raised together as brothers.  The Richters were determined to have Charlie since they had been able to be near him to this point.  He apparently spent a great deal of time with his mother’s family.  At the risk of the boys being separated, Isaac sold his material goods and left Oregon with his sons under the cover of night.  They took the train from Oregon to Texas. 

Isaac’s oldest sister, Zenilda Issabelle and her husband, William ORR had migrated from Missouri with the ORR family some years earlier.  They had settled in the Cross Plains community of Callahan County, Texas and had begun farming.  It was to this family and area that Isaac chose to bring his sons.  He bought land, farm animals, implements, wagons and horses for both sons.  Aunt Belle and Uncle Bill were to raise the boys and care for their farms until they were old enough to take over their own care and finances.  They also promised Isaac that they would never allow Charlie’s grandparents to know where he was or have contact with him even though he was told of them.  Isaac Preston MAYES died about 1900 in Cross Plain, Callahan, Texas.

In 1908, Charlie was an extremely eligible bachelor and he convinced Alice Anmesure THORN of Cross Plains to marry him.  She convinced him to contact his family in Oregon.  With Granny Alice’s assistance Papa Charlie began trying to contact the Richters in Oregon.  It was about 1911 that his letters finally reached his mother’s younger brother, John Ernest RICHTER, who was the Postmaster and Sheriff of Polk County, Oregon (Polk Co. had been split from Yamhill at some point).  An excited Uncle John quickly responded to Papa’s letters.  Charlie learned how his grandmother Richter had mourned the lose of her “Little Charlie” and had attempted to send him letters, cards and gifts.  In the beginning many of them were returned.  Later, there was no response at all.  The Richters did not know if he had arrived in Texas or if Charlie had lived to adulthood.  When Papa’s Richter grandfather died, the family had Charlie declared died in order to dispose of property which had his name attached to it.  Papa learned from Uncle John that his Richter grandmother had just died the year before in 1910.  John Richter was able to share with Papa photographs of his mother and grandparents and some memories before he passed in 1929.  I have the letters that John wrote to my grandparents and they are heartrending, loving and precious.  One of my sisters has Augusta’s autograph book and it is beautiful to read.  It is my opinion that this contact with his Richter family had to have meant a great deal in helping form the man Papa became and there will be more stories later on that man…suesue