This Road We Traveled (2016)



"Tabitha Moffat was born on May 1, 1780, at Brimfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Dr. Joseph and Lois (Haynes) Moffat. She married the Reverend Clark Brown in 1799, and they had four children... In the spring of 1846, when she was sixty-six years old, Brown set out for Oregon Country with two of her adult children, their families, and Captain Brown."

The Mother of Oregon

Oreg. Hist. Soc. Research Lib., OrHi 53563

"Of the 158 names inscribed in the legislative chambers of the Oregon State Capitol, only six are women. One of those is Tabitha Moffat Brown, named by the 1987 Oregon legislature as The Mother of Oregon. The legislature proclaimed that she 'represents the distinctive pioneer heritage, and the charitable and compassionate nature, of Oregon's people.'"

Teacher and Patron of Education

"After her husband's death in 1817, Brown taught school before moving to Missouri, where her brother-in-law, Captain John Brown, lived."
After her move to Oregon, her love for education continued..
"In time, Brown became acquainted with and visited missionary families throughout Oregon, including the Reverend Harvey L. Clark and his wife Emeline, who had started a missionary school in 1841 for Indian and part-Indian youth. While staying at the Clark home in West Tualatin (later Forest Grove), Brown shared her dream of providing a school for the children and orphans of pioneers. With the assistance of Clark and the Reverend George H. Atkinson, she planned to open a meetinghouse 'to receive all the children, rich and poor.'

"In the spring of 1848, Brown founded the Oregon Orphans' Asylum and School at Tualatin Plains. A boarding house and a teacher from the East were soon added. In the first year, Brown had thirty student boarders of both sexes, ranging in age from four to twenty-one years old. Jane Kinney Smith, one of the early students, remembered the slight but capable 'Grandma' Tabitha Brown kindly managing household affairs.

"In 1849, the territorial government chartered the Orphan Asylum as Tualatin Academy. Five years later, in 1854, higher education classes had been added, and the charter was amended to read Tualatin Academy, which closed in 1915, and Pacific University." 

OregonEncyclopediaQuoted material above from the online Oregon Encyclopedia Project, where you can learn more about Tabitha Brown.

A Heroine’s Letter

In 1846, Tabby wrote in a letter about a portion of her journey through the Umpqua and Calapooia Mountains.  The letter can be seen at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliff College.  The entire collection of Tabitha’s letters can be viewed online. Click here.


Praise for Jane Kirkpatrick's This Road We Traveled

"Kirkpatrick (The Memory Weaver) takes readers back to the 1840s and the westward expansion of the United States. Tabby Brown, the matriarch of the Brown-Pringle clan, is excited when her son Orus returns with news that the family will be making the trip out west to Oregon. This announcement is immediately followed by the pronouncement that the journey will be too much for the aging and infirm Tabby. Defiantly, Tabby makes arrangements and attaches her own wagon to the family caravan. She is provided multiple opportunities to stay behind, especially as she finds that not all of her family is leaving, but she always chooses to continue on. Kirkpatrick does a fine job developing the many family members as they make their way to the Pacific, and the deliberate, halting pace of the story accurately recapitulates the same attributes of the arduous trek across the western frontier. Tabby is a formidable, intrepid force, certain that God still has a purpose for her despite her age and disability. This is more than one woman’s story of courage and faith; it is the story of a family that journeys, grows, and heals together.
Kirkpatrick’s vivid, rich prose willkeep readers in awe and on the edges of their seats."
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Richly researched and remarkably detailed, Kirkpatrick’s novel embodies a true pioneering spirit in its dramatization of gumption, poetry, and loss.”  Booklist Starred Review

“Author Jane Kirkpatrick brought the trail’s pilgrims to life in ways I have never experienced. Reading her novel is akin to immersing oneself in classic literature…. The development of many of the characters is deep and rich and full. I was truly sad when the story ended, for I will miss this adventurous group…. Her style is easy, but rewarding. Her command of vocabulary is masterful; her technique flawless. I cannot praise her writing enough.” Straight off the Page






Writer's Recollections

Tabby's "Heroine's Journey Letter" made me think about all she accomplished despite her age. I also wondered why she never lived with her children? Was she a demanding mother-in-law? A grumpy grandma? Or someone so strong-willed she knew she'd do best living on her own in her own "tiny house" of a wagon. .


2017 WILLA Finalist: Best Original Paperback - Fiction
Will Rogers Medallion Award Winner 2017 Inspirational Western Fiction - Silver Medal