Read the manuscript edited by David Duniway here.
An Unpublished Project
In 1985, David Duniway (former Oregon State Archivist) sent a manuscript out in hopes of publishing. The project was an edited transcription of the 1852 Oregon Trail Diary of Esther Bell McMillan Hanna, a new bride who set out to Oregon to help found a Presbyterian Colony with her husband the Rev. Joseph Anderson Hanna. Portions of the diary had been published, but Duniway felt that full and annotated transcription, with an additional introduction would provide much more context to Hanna’s story. In cataloguing the David Duniway Collection at the Willamette Heritage Center this past year, volunteer Lola Hackett came across a typewritten manuscript for the project. She was enchanted by the story and since we could not find that Duniway was ever successful in publishing his version, she decided to painstakingly transcribe it (errors and all) so that we could make it public here on the web.
According to David Duniway’s introductory comments, the original manuscript was written in a bound leather booklet. It was borrowed from an A.H.Blaker in 1960 (by whom the text is a little vague) to be transcribed and microfilmed. It appears to be from this transcription and microfilm copy that Duniway based his manuscript. By 1985, the whereabouts of the original booklet were unknown.
Portions of the diary were published previously. Serially in nine installments 1853 in the Presbyterian of the West and in 1946 by Eleanor Allen under the title Canvas Caravans (Portland: Binfords and Mort). Duniway believed that these publications were overly edited and hoped to provide a copy as close to the original document as possible.
Esther Bell McMillan Hanna
Esther Bell McMillan was born 24 June 1824 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Within a month of marrying Rev. Joseph Anderson Hanna, the couple were traveling to Oregon. Rev. Anderson’s dream was to form a Presbyterian Colony in Oregon. Esther Bell McMillan died 6 Aug 1878, leaving two young daughters.