Crossing the Oregon Trail

Learn more about Little Belle and her journey to the West at a lecture at the Seaside Public Library.

Join the Seaside Public Library Thursday, July 16, at 7 p.m., for “Little Belle Crosses the Oregon Trail” with Nancy Bell Anderson. The event will take place in the Community Room.

This story is taken directly from the journals of Arvazena Cooper and tells of the family’s five-month journey, from Missouri to Oregon, in 1863. Life in Missouri had become unbearable due to unrest and lawlessness, so the young Cooper family headed to Oregon. They traded their land for a covered wagon and ox team, and along with other family members, began the perilous trip west. Their daughter, Little Belle, was only 16 months old when the expedition began.

Arvazenea’s account of their trip tells of monotonous days traveling the plains, learning to make meals in uncomfortable circumstances, childbirth on the trail, dealings with Native Americans, and the challenge of caring for a young child in harsh traveling conditions. Their new life in Oregon was everything they had hoped for and Little Belle grew up the oldest of 15 brothers and sisters. She eventually became a medical doctor and received her degree from the University of Oregon in 1897. She had a successful medical practice and co-founded The Dalles Hospital.

Author Nancy Bell Anderson is a direct descendent of “Little Belle” and had the journals of Arvazena Cooper passed down to her. Anderson’s re-telling of her ancestors life on the Oregon Trail is a glimpse into the founding of our state.

The Seaside Public Library is located at 1131 Broadway. For more information call 503-738-6742 or visit and

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