Augustus Ripley Burbank traveled overland from Naples, Illinois to Sacramento, California between April and September of 1849. He stayed at Sutter's Fort for a time and built up a business of trading in mules. From July 1850 to March 1851 he lived in Nevada City. He then sold out and returned to Illinois via Panama and New Orleans. In Illinois he was in the "note, land, warrant money trade and land business" in Bloomington. He and with his wife left Illinois in 1853 and came to Oregon by sea, via Panama and San Francisco. They settled first in Lafayette, where Burbank engaged in various businesses, among them agent and treasurer of the Pacific Telegraph Co. In 1857, they moved to Portland, and in 1858 to Monticello, W.T., where they established a hotel.
Burbank was active in politics, serving in the Oregon and Washington territorial legislatures. He was appointed Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue, Second District, Washington Territory in 1863. In 1867, he returned to Lafayette, Oregon and assumed full ownership of a mercantile store in which he had retained half interest. In August 1880, the Burbanks' daughter, Eva, drowned in the Pacific Ocean, and for several years thereafter her memory was the major recurring theme of Burbank's diary. He distributed photographs of her to lighthouse keepers on the north Pacific Coast, received communications from her via spiritualists in Indiana, and was pleased when Charles Bray, Portland, Oregon composer, wrote a song in her memory, "Lost in the Deep, Deep Sea," which was published by Wiley B. Allen of Portland in 1881.
Burbank was an investor in the Oregon Railway Company and in his latter years remained on the fringes of local and state politics, attending conventions and entertaining visiting office holders. He attended the Portland reception honoring President Benjamin Harrison on May 4, 1891.
The original of the first volume of the diary (1849-1878) is in the Henry E. Huntington Library and a typed copy is in this collection. Volumes two and three are originals. The diary has daily entries for the overland journey in 1849. From September 1849 to 1861, the entries are generally weekly; and from 1851 to 1853 there are more annual summaries. No entries appear from 1853 to 1856, and from 1856 to 1879 Burbank tended to write annual summaries, with one or two entries for special events. After the death of his daughter, Eva, in 1880, he again commenced regular diary entries, sometimes daily, more often two or three times a week. He outlived a good many pioneers of Lafayette and vicinity, and commented on the careers of his deceased contemporaries. The diary includes many references to the growth and progress of Lafayette and of Portland, where Burbank held real estate and where he frequently visited. He was especially careful to note all progress in the building of railroads in the Willamette Valley.
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[Identification of item], A.R. Burbank diaries, A 013, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
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