Pendleton, County Seat, Umatilla County, Oregon


The county seat of Umatilla lies on the river of that name, just below the mouth of Wild Horse creek, a point well chosen for beauty of location and commercial ad-vantage. It is on the edge of the reservation, a few acres of which have recently been granted by the Indians and added to the town site. It is at present terminus of the Baker City branch of the O. R. & N. Co., from Umatilla City, and forwarding point for all freight and passengers across the mountains. Stages run from here to Boise City and thence to Kelton on the Central Pacific road. Others leave for Heppner, and for Walla Walla by the way of Centerville, Weston and Milton. It is not only a county seat, but the business center for a large section of farming and stock grazing land. Its assessed valuation is more than one-third that of the whole country, and its business men are among the most substantial and enterprising to be found in Eastern Oregon.

     The manner in which it was founded and named has been related in describing the county seat removal. In April, 1869, besides Judge G. W. Bailey's residence, Pendleton contained a little shed hotel kept by M. E. Goodwin, a small log store by Lot Livermore, both on ground now occupied by the Pendleton Hotel, and the court house partially completed and partially occupied by the county officers. From that time to this its growth has been steady and permanent. No disasters have occurred to cheek its progress or paralyze its industries. In the summer of 1869, the county officers who were compelled to reside here, built houses, and these were followed by a blacksmith shop, meat market and an improvement in hotel accommodations. A post office was located here, and mail was brought by stages running from Dalles and Umatilla across the mountains, connecting for Walla Walla at Cayuse Station. In 1870 a jail was built, and several business houses were added that and the following year, so that in 1871 the town contained four stores, two hotels, several saloons, two livery stables, one barber shop, one harness shop, a market, several blacksmith shops, a school, the county buildings, the post office, an express office, about thirty dwelling houses, and a population of over 200. An effort was made in January, 1875, to secure a woolen mill. The Pendleton Woolen Manufacturing Co. was incorporated by Jacob Frazer, Jeremiah Despain, Henry Bowman, Elijah Welch, and John S. White, but the project was not carried out.

     The Pendleton Mills, whose flour is to be found throughout this whole region, were built in 1875 by W. S. Byers, at an expense of $15,000. It had then two burrs, but now has five and two sets of rollers, giving it a capacity of 175 bbls. per day. It is run by water taken from the river, furnishing almost unlimited power. The capacity will soon be increased to 500 bbls. daily. W. S. Byers & Co. are the owners. That year, also, the East Oregonian began its prosperous career, and in every way the town was improved. A steam saw and planing mill had been added to the industries of the place, which was burned on the thirteenth of October, 1876, entailing a loss of $2,500 upon Luhrs & Watson, its owners. The steam mills of J. H. Sharon & Co. are now doing an immense business in sawing, dressing and working lumber into sash, doors and furniture.

     In 1876 Pendleton Cemetery of two and one-half acres was fenced and improved, money being subscribed by the citizens. The progress made by the town during the first eight years of its existence is revealed by the following statement of its condition in 1877: three general stores, one drug store, two furniture stores, one hardware store, two hotels and boarding houses, three saloons, one brewery, two meat markets, two livery stables, one wagon shop, two blacksmith shops, one flour mill, one planing mill, one newspaper, one school, two churches, four lodges, post office, express office, stage office, about fifty dwellings and a population of 332. Another paper, the Idependent, now Tribune, was started in 1878. The Indian "scare" in 1877 and the war in 1878 have been fully described elsewhere. The efforts to secure a railroad have been given in the chapter on "Transportation." In the fall of 1880 citizens agreed to secure the right of way from Umatilla to Pendleton for the O. R. & N. Co., and gave a bond of $10,000 as security for the agreement which they fulfilled in due time. Completion to this point of the road followed last summer, and trains began running daily in September. The grading towards Baker City is progressing rapidly, and next year Pendleton will probably have railroad and telegraphic communication with that point. The completion of the Oregon Short Line a year later will place the town on a direct line of railroad from Portland to the Eastern States. In the spring of 1880 a hand engine and a hook and ladder outfit were purchased, and Protection H. & L. Co., No. 1, was organized. An engine house was built, the money being subscribed by citizens.

     In August 1880, a public meeting was held to consider the question of incorporating. A committee was appointed to draft a charter and petition to the legislature. This resulted in the Act of October 25, 1880, incorporating the "Town of Pendleton," with boundaries "commencing at the north-east corner of Jacobs' addition to the town of Pendleton; running thence north to the north bank of Umatilla River ; thence down said bank of said river until it strikes the north line of section ten in township two north, range 32 east ; thence along said section line to the north-west corner of the north-east quarter of said section 10 ; thence south through the center of said section to the north bank of said Umatilla river ; thence easterly up and along said bank until it strikes a line continued from the westerly line of Arnold and Raley's addition to the town of Pendleton ; thence southerly on said line to the line of the Umatilla Indian Reservation ; thence easterly along the line of said reservation to the east line of Jacobs' addition ; thence northerly along said line to the place of beginning." The government was placed in the hands of a mayor, six councilmen, recorder, marshal, treasurer, and commissioner of streets. The city election occurs annually on the third Monday in December. The town was prohibited from creating a debt of more than $1,000, or levying a tax to exceed five mills on the dollar. The first election occurred December 30, 1880, and resulted as follows: Mayor, Lot Livermore ; Councilmen, John Watson, S. Rothchild, M. E. Folsom, Jeremiah Despain, W. M. Beagle, J. H. Raley; Marshal, B. F. Gray ; Recorder, J. A. Guyer; Treasurer, G., W. Webb; Street Commissioner, N. Daughtry. The officers chosen December 18; 1881, were: Mayor, Lot Livermore; Councilmen, W. F. Matlock and G. W. Webb; Recorder, M. F. White; Marshal, P. R. McDonald; Treasurer, I. Hathaway; Street Commissioner, H. Bowman.

     In March, 1882, Pendleton Pioneer Water Works Co. was incorporated by Jeremiah Despain, J. L. Sperry, G. W. Webb, and D. K. Smith. Pipes are laid from a spring some distance away, to a reservoir near town, from which water is distributed by a main and supply pipes. Umatilla County Agricultural Association was incorporated in August, 1882, and grounds were procured and laid out, one and one-half miles from Pendleton, but no fair was held this year.

     Pendleton today contains eight dry goods and grocery stores, one furniture store, one drug store, one jewelry store, one crockery store, two hardware stores, four variety confectionery and tobacco stores, two saddlery stores, four millinery stores, two agricultural implement houses, four hotels, two restaurants, eleven saloons, one bakery, three meat markets, four livery stables, six blacksmith shops, two breweries, two barber shops, two shoe shops, one photographic gallery, a bank, post office, express office, telephone office (line to Umatilla), stage office, two newspapers, railroad depot and ware-house, flouring mill, planing mill and factory, county buildings, city hall and engine house, sixteen attorneys, five physicians, two dentists, an opera house, three churches, a school house, a population estimated at 1,500, and an assessed taxable valuation of $1,064,165. There are a few substantial brick buildings, and cheap wooden structures that were at first erected are gradually being supplanted by more permanent and commodious brick ones. The future of Pendleton as a business town of importance is beyond dispute. At present it is the railroad terminus and has a forwarding business and a class of trade that it soon must lose ; but in their place will come a steady and continuous trade of the country tributary to the town, and when the reservation is thrown open to settlement, a majority of settlers on its vast expanse will become sup-porters of this place. Few inland places in the north-west have better prospects for the future than has Pendleton and the country immediately surrounding it.

     The Episcopal church was completed in the spring of 1876. It is 24x36 feet, a neat frame structure, and capable of seating 150 people. A few weeks later the Methodist church was finished. It is 30x40 feet, and will hold 350 people. The citizens subscribed liberally to build these structures. The Baptist church was erected in 1878, giving, with the others, devotional facilities for a larger town than this.

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