From An Illustrated History of Umatilla County by Colonel William Parsons and of Morrow County by W. S. Schiach, 1902.
....Chapter XX "Reminiscent"
Possibly some ambitious son or daughter of Umatilla or Morrow county will in the future win fame by making an exhaustive collection of pioneer incidents and presenting them in a graphic and fascinating form. Could such a work be properly prepared it would be read with profound interest. The long, toilsome journeys across the wide, sky-bordered buffalo range of the prairies or over the towering mountains and through the rugged passes were rich in adventures of the most thrilling nature, while the constant menace of the red men, the intrigue, diplomacy and chicanery resorted to by immigrants to avoid trouble with them, the frequent forays of these depredators upon cattle, horses and even children, the hot pursuits and occasional battles with them throw around the days when the plains were populated with ever advancing prairie schooners a rich glamour of romance.
But the days of adventure were not over when the pioneer safety ran the gauntlet of ten thousand dangers on the plains and in the mountain fastnesses and eventually came to a halt in the far away "west most west." He was still in the midst of savages, and moreover he was in a new environment and confronted with new conditions so that it became necessary for him to work out for himself a thousand economic problems. It is probably that could all the adventures of the pioneer people of Morrow County be collected and set in order a marvelous array of tragedy, pathos and humor would be the result. The limits and province of this work and limitations of its author render an attempt to embody any extensive collection of incidents herein decidedly out of the question, but realizing that a few anecdotes might better preserve the spirit and flavor of early times than pages of descriptive history, we will give two or three simple stories of "the brave days of old."
In the year 1866 the population of that part of Umatilla now known as Morrow county was not very large and as may be guessed a man could count up all his near neighbors without much difficulties. Thomas W. Ayers then resided upon Butter creek, and on the lower fords of Willow Creek, twenty-seven miles away, dwelt his nearest neighbor, John Jordan, now deceased. In the fall Mr. Ayers found himself the possessor of a magnificent crop of oats, so magnificent, indeed, that he was unable, without outside assistance, to harvest it all in time to prevent great loss. While he was considering what was best to do under the circumstances, Mr. Jordan, en route to Walla Walla, passed a night at his home. Mr. Ayers asked his guest to send him hands from that city, but after a short absence Mr. Jordan returned, no one accompanying. He had tried to comply with his host's request, but found himself unable to do so owing to the scarcity of men. Being a very accommodating gentleman, he would gladly have himself assist his neighbor, but he was without a family and had no one to leave in charge of his stock at home. Eventually he decided to help in spite of all disadvantages. He could not, however wholly neglect his home, so there was nothing to do but to make the trip back and forth each day. What time he arose from his bed nobody will ever be able to say, but he attended to his own work, mounted his horse, rode the twenty-seven miles and arrived at Mr. Ayers in time for a six o'clock breakfast. He then cradled about four and half acres of heavy oats, mounted his horse and returned. He kept this up for seven days until Mr. Ayers' oats were harvested, then rode twenty-five miles per day and return for five days longer, assisting Mr. Scott on Rock creek in the same way. This feat could not be accomplished except by the aid of a very excellent horse, and even with this equipment there are not many men to be found who can ride fifty or fifty-four miles and do a large day's work in twenty-four hours. That Mr. Jordan did so is two well authenticated to admit of doubt.
A Ride for Life.
During the Indian war of 1878 a band of
fifty hostiles in war paint rode up to the residence of John S. Vincent, brother
of the well-known Morrow county pioneer George W. Vincent, and seeing a barrel
in the yard close to the well jumped to the conclusion that it contained
whiskey. Of course they demanded
some to drink, and while Mr. Vincent was procuring cups for them they formed a
ring around the barrel and danced in wild delight in anticipation of a glorious
spree. Upon delivering the cups to them Mr. Vincent took to the
brush, procured and saddled a horse and began a ride for his life.
When the red skins found that the barrel contained vinegar rather than whiskey their disappointment and vexation knew no bounds. They gave vent to their savage rage in shouts, yells, howling and curses, and would have dispatched their deceiver with pleasure could they have got their hands upon him. He, however, was riding pell mell for Pendleton and safety. Quickly mounting, the redskins gave chase and Mr. Vincent had the most exciting ride of this life, but his steed proved at least the equal of any possessed by the braves, so he got within the lines of the white soldiers defending Pendleton in safety after a made race of thirty miles. The Indians pressed him hard, following as far as they dared. On the same day on which this memorable race occurred another band of warriors fatally wounded Senator Jewell and killed Messrs. Nelson and Skelley , on Buttercreek....
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