Around the County with Jim Reavis

Contributed by Jim Reavis

Shaw's Variety Store, built in 1919

     In 1919, this was one of the most modern buildings in the community.  This is the S. D. ____ Bldg. Which is now Shaw’s Variety.  The wooden structure at the rear of the building was the old News Record which ran competition to the Chieftain around 1906.


Ready for the Road

      Now-a-days the wool goes out of Wallowa County by railroad.  Before the branch line was built in, however, freight wagons hauled the clip to Elgin.  A string of wagons was gathered and moved out in a long caravan.  The picture here shown represents the wagons around the barns of the town place now owned and occupied by Fred W. Falconer.  This is the old Gardner place and at the time the photograph was taken it belonged to Jake Bauer.

Glen Russell

In this early photo Glenn Russell is shown standing beside his mowing machine with arm and hat aloft to show how high the rye hay was growing in his field.  The hay is higher than his upstretched arm indicating that it must have stood at around nine feet.  Date of picture is not known.

First County Court Action Rejects Petition For Bounty On Squirrels

     The first official act of the county officials of Wallowa County was a preliminary meeting at Joseph, the temporary county seat, on April 1, 1887, of the county court.  The first regular session of the court was held on April 6 and the first officers of the county were: county judge, Peter O’Sullivan, commissioners, J. A. Masterson and J. A. Rumble; Sheriff, R. H. Coshow; Clerk, D. B. Reavis; assessor, R. M. Downey; treasure, E. J. Forsythe; superintendent of schools, L. J. Rouse; surveyor, George T Vail; coroner, T. G. Dean. These were appointed by the governor.

     The first business, outside of routine work, to come before the county was on the important subject of ground squirrels.  The court records read:

     “In the matter of the petition of Chris Miller, et al., asking for a bounty on ground squirrels’ tails or scalps taken in the months of April and May, 1887, being examined by the court was rejected for the reason of the small number of petitioners and the inability of the county in its present condition to pay the same.”
     At the October 1887 session of the county court a petition was presented on behalf of the bachelors of the county asking that they be allowed an exemption from taxation equal to the value of household goods.  The court considered the matter favorably and allowed the claim.

    The tax levy for that year was fixed by the court as follows: “For county purposes fourteen and nine-tenths mills; for school purposes, four mills; and for support of the state university one-tenth of one mill.

                  Kooch Family Settled Farm 100 Years Ago

ENTERPRISE—The fourth Century Farm in Wallowa County, according to Oregon Historical Society records, is owned by the Kooch family.

     David Kooch emigrated west from Tennessee by way of Missouri and Kansas.  The family settled first in Union County in 1875.

     In April 1877, Kooch traded a “painted” colt for 160 acres on Alder Slope from an unidentified man.
     During 1877, settlers in the Wallowa Valley were uneasy for fear there would be trouble with Chief Joseph’s band of Nez Perce Indians.  Many women and children were sent out to the Grande Ronde Valley and the men formed a volunteer militia, know as the Captain D. B. Reavis Volunteers, was never put to the test.  The Nez Perce left the valley without fighting and did not return.

     David Kooch is buried in the Alder Cemetery near the home ranch.  The ranch is presently owned by Kenneth, Donald Raymond (Cy) and Boncycle Kooch.

     Charles Wellman, administrative operations manager of the Oregon Historical Society, said the next Century Farm the Oregon Historical Society, said the next Century Farm award period will be 1990.  Families whose farms will qualify then may request applications by calling 1-222-1741.

     Wallowa County’s other three Century Farm’s were featured in last Thursday’s Observer.

McFetridge Family

     Mr. and Mrs. J.C. McFetridge and children held a family reunion in the summer, when every member of the circle was present.  The family has contributed much to the development of the county.  Those in the group are Mr. and Mrs. McFetridge, the parents and the following children:  Mrs. Locke Rutter, Mrs. Cordelia Wagner, and William H. Millard.  Fred, Alvin, Elmer, John, Chester McFetridge and Mrs. Effie Mullen.

     Mr. McFetridge was born in 1844 in West Virginia and moved to Tennessee when he was 15 years old.  Proceeding on to Kansas in 1870.  He crossed the plains in 1881, arriving in Wallowa county Aug 5 of that year.  He was married Oct. 10 1869, in Union county, Tennessee, to Martha J. Johnson, who was born in Tennessee Oct. 10, 1853.



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