Cynthia Ann Richardson1

#1121, b. 11 August 1826, d. 28 April 1887
Father*Caleb Richardson2 b. 1799, d. 28 Sep 1870
Mother*Celia Humphries2 b. 8 Mar 1802, d. 28 Jul 1893
     Cynthia Ann Richardson was born on 11 August 1826 Rush County, Indiana.2 She was the daughter of Caleb Richardson and Celia Humphries.2 Cynthia married George Ballard W. Parks, son of Robert Parks and Polly Hardwick, 26 July 1845 Tipton County, Indiana.3,4 Cynthia Ann Richardson died 28 April 1887, in Colton, Whitman County, Washington at age 60 years, 8 months and 17 days and was buried Colton Cemetery, Colton, Whitman County, Washington.
     ( Syntha.) As of 26 July 1845, her married name was Parks (Richardson).

In 1853, Bal, Cynthia and the family made the long journey from Indiana to Oregon. According to their Donation Land Claim application, they arrived "in Oregon" 20 October 1853. They would have left Missouri in the early spring, just as soon as the grass was up for the animals’ forage. We do not know exactly when they left, but by August they were in Fort Boise, facing the last long and arduous journey over the Cascade Mountains. Most trail pioneers went northwest to the Snake and Columbia rivers but there was budding an alternative, called the “Free Immigrant Road” and the Meek route. The new combination route had been scouted, but not finished, when Elijah Elliott went to Boise to meet his family in Ft Boise. To make it worse, Elliott did not go east on the road he was planning to bring the wagon west on. The Elliott route ran from the Idaho border, the "Elliott Cut-off," across the desert, crossed the Cascades, down the Middle Fork of the Willamette River to "Skinners" which later became known as Eugene. His bragging about the new route, which would cut 300 mile off the trip, caused a vast number of immigrants to choose to follow him. A good route, plenty of forage, mild climate, easy mountains. . . how could they lose? Leaving the first of September, the more than 1000 people, with thousands of stock animals, set out to the west. Although at first the going was ok, they soon came to the great desert, which had to be crossed. Because it was so late in the year, the streams were mostly dried up. It was very rough going. Some cattle walked away, people had to off-load furniture, food became scarce. The road they expected to find up the eastern slopes of the Cascades never appeared. It hadn't been built. So, they hacked their way up the mountain. Eventually they were exhausted, so Elliott sent ahead a scouting party to bring help on 16 October. Luckily, one of the scouts, Martin Blandling, was found by a farmer in the small village of Lowell. The villagers took food and water to the travelers who eventually made it to Lowell, and on to Eugene. Whether the 20 October date of “arrival” was entirely accurate, it served its purpose. The group had actually been in “Oregon” for close to two months by the time they landed.
Although records haven't been kept of the names of the 615 men and 412 women, by the process of elimination, some have been identified, as they were known to be in the area by the end of that year, and had not checked in at the Indian Agency on the northern route. They also were not known to have come up from the south. For this reason, the Parks family is included in the group.

Shortly after arriving in the area, the family went south to Roseburg, where GBW and Cynthia took out a Donation Land Claim for 135 acres in Township 27S Range 6W. This property is just west of Roseburg proper, on the side of a hill. Probably it wasn't the best place for a farm. The Abstract of Donation Land Claim reads: 818 Parks, George B. W., Douglas Co; b 1817, Greenup Co, Ky; Arr Ore 20 Oct 1853; SC 8 Nov 1855; m Syntha 25 July 1845, Tipton Co, Ind. Pat del 10 Jan 1874.

Sometime between 1865 and 1869, the family moved to Union County, where GBW again took out a claim, this time for 160 acres in Twp 3 south, range 38 east. Before 1880 the family moved again, this time to Whitman County, Washington, where several of the sons took out claims.
George, or Bal, as he was called then, had an orchard at the base of Steptoe Creek, now under water, and property extending up into the canyon. One of his brothers, Charles Rice Parks, and his family came and stayed with them sometime around 1887. I'm sure Bal's brother Robert Harrison Parks and family also visited, having moved to the Grande Ronde area around that time as well. Cynthia's youngest brother, Caleb Richardson, moved to Whitman County as well, having trekked from Indiana, through Kansas, to Washington.

After the death of Caleb Richardson, Sr., (1799-1870), Celia (Humphries) Richardson also moved to Whitman County. Both Cynthia (1826-1887) and her mother Celia (1802-1893) died in Whitman County and are buried in the Colton Cemetery. Bal was "getting on" and apparently became incapacitated, causing daughter Mary Ann (Parks) Palmer to go to court to obtain guardianship. She then moved Bal to the Mount Angel area of Marion County, Oregon, where she and husband Wash (George Washington Palmer) were growing hops. He died there in 1898, and was buried with members of the Palmer family in the Miller Cemetery. His daughter Lottie, who had married Henry Laramie Palmer, was buried there as well, although she died in Elk City, Oregon.

In an article for The Oregon Native Son published in 1901, pioneer William W Fiddler, who traveled to Oregon with his family at about age nine, describes the journey.

The pioneer immigration history of Oregon has been voluminously dealt with by practical pens from time to time, but no one, so far as I am advised, has ever yet found occasion to delineate the hardships and privations of those belated Argonauts who, in the fall of 1853, sought to find their way into the head of the Willamette valley over the new route.
For some years the plan had been incubating in the minds of the older residents of that section to divert some of the overland travel by way of Diamond Peak, down the middle fork of the Willamette into Lane county. This plan became sufficiently matured in the summer of '53 to result in the cutting out of a very indifferent wagon trail over the route mentioned, across the Cascade range to the DesChutes river. Thus far the carrying out of their plan was altogether justifiable and unobjectionable, as the bringing in of the immigrants by that route would introduce them not only to the heart of as fine a valley as ever nature willed for man to inhabit, but to a region that had not already been wholly absorbed by previous settlers with their 640 acre ranches.
The grievous mistake that was made consisted in sending a man named Elliott out by way of The Dalles and up the Columbia river instead of over the route he was expected to pilot the immigrants through on, to head off his victims.
It was near the last of August, I think, when our train, in its western journey, reached the crossing of Snake river at what was called Fort Boise. Though just why it was called a fort I am unable to specify. No evidence of a fortification was there at that time. A little shack, or wigwam, furnished shelter for some adventurers who were running a flimsy ferry and working the immigrants for all that the traffic would bear. The Kline train, with which I was identified in a feeble way, concluded it could save time and expense by doing its own ferrying. Two wagon beds were fastened together and well corked for the experiment, and the experiment readily developed into a practical success. The live stock were made to do their own ferrying, encouraged thereto by the persuasive yells of numerous naked savages hired for the occasion. This crossing is well known in immigration annals as the place where many a luckless white pilgrim found a watery grave.
During the delay incident to crossing Snake river, the new cut-off fever, imported by way of The Dalles, had ample time to develop its pernicious influence. Our train was caught in the right condition to bite blindly at such a proposition. We had been afflicted with the cut-off mania, to our injury, nearly all the way the plains across. Then, too, we had the easily-acquired habit of lying by and resting when we should have been pushing on towards the setting sun. These two causes had already relegated our train to the rear of the column, while our provisions were reduced to a minimum. But here was a chance, so Elliott's emisaries told us, to get to the big Willamette three or four weeks earlier than by the old-traveled route. It was not in human nature, under the circumstances, to resist the tempting bait. The human fly generally "walks into the parlor" when the invitation is brilliantly alluring.
In due course of time we reached the turning-off place, on Malheur river, and —"followed the crowd."
It was lucky for us, however, that we were a little behind the rush, for it saved us some unnecessary digressions from the direct route. No sooner had our would-be guide gotten himself thoroughly launched upon his mission than the natural difficulties of the situation began to beset him. He hardly knew "where he was at." As a consequence, the front wagons took many experimental excursions through the sagebrush country and around the alkali lakes, only to come to the starting point and try again. All of this meant wasted energy and food for worn-out immigrants who had no surplus of either to squander. The country, though well supplied with grass, was fearfully short on water, and where there was water it was often of the alkali variety. Where some of the lakes were dried up their bottoms were white as the whitest of snow from deposits of sal soda. The route sometimes followed the old Meek trail in a general way. I don't know how many times we crossed that trail; for he showed considerable aberration of movement as well as ourselves, in his effort to do the same thing we were striving to do, i. e., find a new route to the head of the Willamette valley. The hardships and privations of Meek's crowd were well known to our company, as were also the sufferings of the Donner party in 1846, and this information, it is needless to say, was not of a reassuring character. But what could we do but press blindly and wearily on?
Soon we brought up against an unusually dry part of the desert, where it would be fifty miles to the next water. Considering the jaded condition of our teams, this was a serious problem for us to face. Fresh oxen might make twenty miles a day, but in the condition our teams were in, ten miles corresponded better with their capabilities. Such supplies of fresh water as the trains could conveniently carry were laid in and a commencement of the journey was usually made in the evening, so as to have the cool of the nights as much as possible in our favor. By this method the crossing was made in safety, with the exception of the loss of some loose stock. But we had, long ere this, become accustomed to this kind of sacrifice.
We managed next, in some mysterious manner, to cross the Blue mountain, or "out-flanked" them, I'm not sure which. A circumstance overtook us now, however, that is always remembered with the readiest ease. The long-dreaded contingency of being wholly out of provisions came with crushing reality upon us. True, we had some very poor and tired-out cattle as a dernier resort; but people who have never tried living on such diet, cannot understand how unsatisfying it is in its results. We could eat it continuously, almost, without being cured of the pangs of hunger, and all the time feel so weak that one could hardly drag one foot after the other.
We were now coming in sight of landmarks that should have pointed the way clearly to our destination. From a long distance we could see those tall, white spires of the Cascades, known as the Three Sisters. A little further south was Diamond Peak, which should have been our Mount Pisgah, from which to view the promised land. And soon, too, we came in sight of timber—a real sensation for people who had traveled thousands of miles of uninterrupted prairie stretches. When we did reach the timber belt —alas, for many of us—it was of the pitch species. In ignorance of its proper utility, many of the folk commenced using the sticky resin as food. For while it is perhaps true that none of us had a "heart for any fate," we all had appetites for any reasonable emergency. Since that time, in accordance with the established usages of the country, I have done my full share of chewing gum, but my first introduction to Oregon pitch is anything but a happy remembrance.
Instead of getting out of the wilderness, we were now getting into the more serious part of it. This saved us some trouble in the way of gathering fuel for campfires, for sagebrush and buffalo chips became things of the past, but our difficulties in the way of finding a route for the wagons were perceptibly increased. But what added to our other discomfitures almost the weight of despair, was the knowledge that another fifty-mile stretch without water lay between us and the DesChutes. That those wearied wanderers all withstood this trying test of supreme endurance, is still to my mind a marvel and a mystery. But our route was strewn with the swollen hulks of perished cattle. And now we had reached, at fearful cost, seemingly our last goal. The Cascade range rose up in rugged and precipitous grandeur, an almost impassable barrier to our further progress.
Long 'ere this, it should be said, our confidence in our guide to lead us anywhere but into difficulties was extinguished; and there were persistent threats flitting through the various camps to extinguish the guide himself. Really he was not what you might call criminally to blame, for he did the best he knew, but people do not reason calmly and considerately under such circumstances. But there were tired men in that earnest collection of homeseekers who would not give up the game without an earnest struggle worthy of the historical character of American pioneers. A systematic search, ranging up and down the turbulent DesChutes and far up the mountain's side, was instituted, to try and find the alleged pass and wagon road. Dr. Brooks and Capt. Keith rendered efficient aid in this endeavor.
Finally, on the eighth or tenth day of the search, word came drifting around among the camps that they had found the blazes. A few slight marks on the bushes up the river, evidently made with a knife, pointed the way to a future deliverance, and opened up a world of hope to despairing pilgrims. Escape was yet possible 'ere the deep snows of winter, already seen to be whitening the higher ridges, had engulfed our starving community. The next day witnessed the necessary bustle of a forward movement. Through arduous, toilsome marches we "treked" our way over the summit and painfully picked our desperate course down the rock and timber- lined water courses that ran into the "Beautiful Willamette." We were in the veritable "frozen gorges" so charmingly mentioned by Oregon's gifted poet; but we were not
"Leaping like a child at play."
However "Limpid, volatile and free" the rushing waters were found to be, for we were struggling against double chances of certain death—struggling as only human desperation will enable men in their rapidly-expiring energies to struggle.
But our cloud of despondency was vouch safed a sudden uplifting. Just about dusk, one evening, as we were wearily wending our way adown the canyon, a couple of men on horseback and leading a pack animal hove in sight. They were the avant couriers of our deliverance. They had supplies only for the sick and the feeble, but gave us the assurance that ample relief was close behind, and then pushed on through the darkness of the night to the relief of others. Never was "the word of promise" more loyally kept both to the ear and "the hope," and this is the way succor was secured: Some stragglers, who had left the trains long before we reached the Cascades, to try and work their way over the mountains afoot, had, by living on snails, decaying salmon and like dainties, found their way to the outposts of the settlements and announced our critical condition. The citizens of Lane county rose en masse and responded with a readiness and an alacrity worthy of the loftiest praise. It was the gospel of human benevolence in its purest and most practical form. Day and night they rushed out into those mountain fastnesses with supplies for their fellow-creatures and with no thought of any reward, save the consciousness of a noble act of charity generously discharged, thus giving, for once, a good, strong negative to the oft observed rule, that "self-interest is the only motive to human action."
Not only provisions, but fat, stout teams of lusty oxen were sent out to expedite the rescue, and, by the end of October, the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue river valleys had received an accession to their population of from one to two thousand inhabitants as a consequence.
The older members of that ill-starred expedition over the new route have, long 'ere this, no doubt, taken the old route to the "final encampment," but their numerous descendants, scattered all over the Pacific Northwest, may glean from this imperfect sketch a faint idea of some of the hardships endured by those who first laid the foundations of our prosperous state.

Cynthia and George appeared on the census of 1860 Douglas County, Oregon; George Parks, 43, KY; Cyntha, 34, IN; Mary, 14, IN; William, 12, IN; Robert, 10, IN; Charlott, 8, IN; Kalope, 5, OR; Elizabeth, 2, OR; James, 6/12, OR.6

Cynthia and George appeared on the census of 1870, La Grande Precinct, Union County, Oregon,
GBW Parks, 56, Teamster, 1000/10000, KY
S, 46, keeping house, Indiana; Wm, 22, Teamster, IN
R R, 21, IN; Caleb, 15, at home, Oregon; Jas, 10, OR; George, 6, at home, Oregon; Flora, 1, OR.7,8
In 1876 Cynthia and George relocated to Whitman County, Washington.9

Children of Cynthia and George

Last Edited=2 Sep 2020


  1. [S140] _____ Parks Family Bible owned by Caleb Parks or wife , Listed as Syntha Parks, also mentioned as Cynthia Listed as "Family Reckard of Geo. B. W. Parks Family." Was with family items in household of Carl Andrew Parks, Spokane, Washington, 2000.
  2. [S140] _____ Parks Family Bible owned by Caleb Parks or wife , Syntha Parks was born Aug 9th 1826 Listed as "Family Reckard of Geo. B. W. Parks Family." Was with family items in household of Carl Andrew Parks, Spokane, Washington, 2000.
  3. [S114] Jordan Dodd, Marriages, Indiana to 1850 (Provo, UT: Operations, 1997), Parks, George B. W. married Richardson, Cynthia on 26 Jul 1845 in Tipton County, Indiana BK 1 P 31.
  4. [S163] Timothy M Parks, "Timothy M Parks Family Discussion," e-mail message from e-mail address (California) to Pat Dunford, 6/23/1999, George married Cinthia Mary Richardson, daughter of Caleb Richardson and Celia Umphries on 26 July 1845 in Beech Grove, Indiana.
  5. [S346] W W Fiddler, "The Elliott Cut-off", The Oregon Native Son and Historical Magazine II, p 111 (April 1901).
  6. [S472] 1860 US Census Population Schedule, Washington, District of Columbia, US National Archives, Census Place: Cawley Valley, Douglas, Oregon; Roll: M653_1055; Page: 121; Image: 248; Family History Library Film: 805055.

    Mary 14 F Ind
    Wm 12 M Ind
    Rbt 10 M Ind
    Charlotte F 8 Ind (spelled Charlott)
    Caleb 5 M Or (spelled Kalope)
    Elizabeth 2 F Or
    James 6/12 M Or; Douglas County #426 13 July 1860 Cawley Valley Precinct - Post Office Roseburg.
  7. [S73] Lineage application of GBW Parks & Cynthia Ann Richardson, Oregon Pioneer Certificate, Although sources are same as other books, some spellings and such have been changed. Check primary sources.
  8. [S9] 1870 US Census Population Schedule, Washington, District of Columbia, US National Archives, Census Place: , Union, Oregon; Roll: M593_1288; Page: 397A; Image: 111; Family History Library Film: 552787.
  9. [S33] Obituary, 1934, Caleb Parks, Mr Parks came to the Palouse country in 1876 with his father, George B. Parks, and four brothers and three sisters.
  10. [S140] _____ Parks Family Bible owned by Caleb Parks or wife Listed as "Family Reckard of Geo. B. W. Parks Family." Was with family items in household of Carl Andrew Parks, Spokane, Washington, 2000.
  11. [S73] Lineage application of GBW Parks & Cynthia Ann Richardson, Oregon Pioneer Certificate, Although sources are same as other books, some spellings and such have been changed. Check primary sources, p 14; 1860 Census.
  12. [S40] Ruth Parks Durham, "George Ballard W. Parks", Celebrating Families of Whitman County: George Ballard W. Parks (ca 1988).
  13. [S110] Mary Stapleton Lavlor, Excerpts from Lincoln County leader, Toledo, Lincoln County, Oregon (Eugene, Oregon: M. S. Lawlor, 1988), Mary S Lavlor
    2250 Tyler Street
    Eugene, Oregon 97405
    503-484-0009, "Died at Elk City, Thursday, June 17, 1897, Mrs. Lottie Palmer, with bilious calucli......"; p 49 (6/24/1897).
  14. [S154] Unknown author, Isearch-cgi 1.20.06 (File: melrose.txt) (n.p.:, unknown publish date), Row 7
    Margaret I. Parks
    Born Sept. 23, 1854
    Died Oct. 23, 1854
    Children of G.B.W. & C.A. Parks.
  15. [S154] Unknown author, Isearch-cgi 1.20.06 (File: melrose.txt) (n.p.:, unknown publish date), Row 7:
    9. Eliza E. Parks
    Born May 27, 1857
    Died May 27, 1863
    Children of G.B.W. & C.A. Parks.
  16. [S73] Lineage application of GBW Parks & Cynthia Ann Richardson, Oregon Pioneer Certificate, Although sources are same as other books, some spellings and such have been changed. Check primary sources, 1870 Union Co., Census, La Grande Precinct., 8 jul 1870: James 10; p 14.
  17. [S73] Lineage application of GBW Parks & Cynthia Ann Richardson, Oregon Pioneer Certificate, Although sources are same as other books, some spellings and such have been changed. Check primary sources, 1860 Census of Douglas Co., Or 13 jul 1860.
    James 6/12 mo; p 14.
  18. [S73] Lineage application of GBW Parks & Cynthia Ann Richardson, Oregon Pioneer Certificate, Although sources are same as other books, some spellings and such have been changed. Check primary sources, 1870 Union County Census, Oregon: Flora 1; p 14.