Hellen Branson 1877-1918
|Yamhill county, the blue line is the Willamette River|
But from 1873 until about 1880, the Willamette Farmer fell in love with a subject that was as far afield from the daily lives of its readers as it was possible to get: Schliemann's excavations at Troy. And the Bransons, in their farmhouse full of seven children, clearly fell in love as well. Read some excerpts of the Willamette Farmer articles, and picture a big family at the kitchen table, reading of this far off time and place at the end of their long days:
Oct. 5, 1872: He is disappointed at finding no trace of Trojan civilization, but intends to continue his search and reach the virgin earth trod by the first inhabitants of the laud, if compelled to dig to the
depth of fifty feet. He hopes to shed light, by his excavations, on "the greatest darkness of pre-historic time, and to enrich science by the discovery of a few curious pages of the most ancient history of the great Hellenic nation."
Dec. 28, 1872: The latest excavations at Troy have led to the discovery of a burnt house at the depth of forty-seven feet, which contained the complete skeleton of a Trojan woman with her gold ornaments. The bones of a child were also found in the original soil.
|Sonya Schliemann, wearing jewels from the find.|
May 14, 1875: (The editors continue the romance, in a piece titled "Aged Beauties") Helen of Troy was over forty when she perpetrated the most famous elopement on record, and, as the siege of Troy lasted a decade, she could not have been very juvenile when the ill-fortune of Paris restored her to her husband, who is reported to have received her with unquestioning love and gratitude.
April 20, 1877: (Alongside an article on Schliemann's latest excavations at Mycene, an article titled "Literature Among Farmers") It is often said of farmers that they are an "illiterate set." This is spoken more in contempt than in candor or in truth. From pretty extensive travel, I am well convinced that the farmers of Oregon, in comparison with other States and other countries, are not "an illiterate set." . . . where does literature shed a bright halo, and leave a brilliant luster in its course? In our homes; around the fireside . . . Literature, in all ages, has been a solace to the weak, a prop to the tottering, a guide to the lost, a shield to the innocent, health to the sick, light in darkness, knowledge to the ignorant.
And so, in 1875, the Bransons have a son, and name him Troy. In 1877, they have a daughter, and name her Hellen. (Schliemann, it should be noted, named his own children Agamemnon and Andromache . . ) All of the romance of a different age, the excitement of the excavation, and their balance of their daily lives and their literature are crystallized in these names.