California Here We Come

A Feature Story by Marge Bonds:

At the beginning of the depression, my mother, Edithe Cameron, her 9 siblings and her parents and new sister-in-law, drove from Iowa to Eureka, California. They had two ModelTCars-wrk2Model T Fords with wooden boxes mounted on the back to hold necessities and only three drivers. Think how uncomfortable they would have been, crammed into the cars and loaded down with belongings. In 1927, there were no paved roads to follow—mud tracks were the norm. This family slept when necessary, often on the ground with someone guarding their belongings during the night and cooked as if they were on a camping trip.

From gathered information, I learned that the family ran out of money twice, were low on food several times, and managed to go through many tires on this trip. But, they all managed to come to Eureka, California, settle in that area to be close to my Grandmother’s sister, and build good lives for themselves. The trip took nearly three weeks to complete!

Learning about my mother’s family, the Camerons of Iowa, is something that I have always been curious about. My grandfather wasn’t an educated man so he earned his living doing odd jobs as he could find them, working for the railroad as a track maintenance man, a farmer, a poultry farmer, a mill man, and others. With so many children to feed, clothe and support, things were not comfortable for this large family. My grandmother always had a vegetable garden, raised chickens, a cow or goat for the milk, and even rabbits. She was able to trade or sell her harvests for some of the basic needs of the family, such as butter, flour, and cheese.

“One of the stories an uncle wrote about makes me smile,
but also breaks my heart.”

Click below to hear the story.

As I mentioned, there were 10 children in the family—3 girls and 7 boys. Out of all of those children, my mother was the only one to go on to college and receive her degree and Cameroncredential in elementary education. She went to Humboldt Teacher’s College in Arcata (known as Humboldt State University now), working her way through school and graduating with top academic honors. She taught first and second grades for 25 years in Eureka, 15 of those also serving as vice-principal in the small, rural school. She was an incredible woman who not only kept a large household running for our family of 5, but she also was active in civic and church related groups.

When Kevin Mittge and several other members of the genealogy society here in Florence, decided to start a writing group, I jumped at the chance. I knew right away that I would research and find out more about this family’s journey to a new location during the worst of the depression and how they survived as a family and as individuals. It was a great experience for me and helped me understand just what made my mother, aunts and uncles and grandmother such special people.


Marge Bonds has been a member of the Siuslaw Genealogy Society for more than 10 years. During that time, she has served as both President and Treasurer of SGS. Marge was a grade school teacher for 25 years in the Oak Grove School District in San Jose, CA and continues to utilize her teaching skills as an instructor for the Beginning Genealogy classes. Her genealogy research experience has been a rich and rewarding one, and will be shared in an upcoming Feature Story.

About siuslawgenealogy

The Siuslaw Genealogical Society of Florence, Oregon is a member supported, non profit organization. Researching genealogy and family history is our passion.
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