This research was done for enjoyment and in the hope that it will be of value to future generations. It is in no way intended to be a history of Grant County. It is however; intended to be a pretty thorough outline of public officials in Grant County since its inception on October 14, 1864.
All of the information was obtained from records filed in the office of the Grant County Clerk.
I have endeavored to indicate how officials came to office (election or appointment) and their reason for leaving office (retirement, defeat, recall, etc.). This was not always clear, as the powers that be, at the time these records were being made, apparently didn't realize that some 125 years later, there might be an interest in the matter. Many times just a signature in the Commisioner's Journal indicates that a person is serving in an official capacity. Nothing to show how or when they gained the office. When an election race is indicated, the figures shown in general election only.
In doing this research, many interesting items came to my attention. To make this material a little more palatable and less monotonous, I have included some of the interesting tidbits that made Grant County what it is today.
Grant County was organized on October 7, 1864 and approved October 14, 1864. It contained what we now know as Grant County plus a portion of what is now Wheeler County, Crook County, Lake County and a very large portion of Harney County. All of this area had been previously included in Wasco County. The present boundaries were established in 1889.
The first meeting of the County Court was held November 7, 1864. (Location unknown). Present for this meeting were appointed officials; County Judge, W. Laird Hill and, County Clerk Thomas H. Brents.
When first established, this very large county was broken down into districts. Each district was to have a Justice of the Peace, a constable, a road supervisor and an election precinct. The following districts were in existence in 1890:
Lower Canyon City, Upper Canyon City, John Day, Marysville, Union, Olive, Burnt River, Monumental, Burns, Elk Creek, Rock Creek, Vincent, North Fork, Harney, South Fork, Willow Creek, Middle, Granite Creek, Warner, Long Creek, Donder & Blitzen, Alvord, Silvies, Warm Springs, Corn Cob, Catlow, Shoo-Fly, Camp Curry, Rosebud, Drewsey, Diamond, Waterman, Susanville, Mountain Creek, Hamilton, Austin, Fox, Beaver, and Strawberry.
At no "time was there a full contingent of officials.
The first County Court purchased Dunker Hall from Ernest Dunker for $1,114.00 for the first courthouse. It was located on Rebel Hill in Canyon City (Near the present Emma Carson house). They then purchased the adjoining lot from E. E. Cannon for construction of a jail.
The first courthouse burned August 12, 1870. Court was held on August 17th at Sheriff Thomas Howard's house. The sheriff then built a temporary structure near the stone vault of the old courthouse for use as a jail. John Schmidt and James Pellet then contracted to build a new courthouse, 20' x 48' x 12' for $1,692.00, to be built just east of the original Dunker Hall Building. The original lot was sold in 1870.
November 8, 1870, a contract was awarded to John S. Haguewood for $740.00 for construction of a jail, 12' x 15'. Two cells with 6' x 8' walls, the floor and ceiling to be 12" thick (solid timbers). The Haguewood proposal was withdrawn and the bid awarded on November 28, 1870 to John H. Jurgen for $697.00.
It seems that friction in the county court is nothing new. In March of 1878 the Sheriff, with consent of F.C. Sels, built a privy and walkway, for use by the county, on F.C. Sels property. Mr. Sels was given the right to stop use at any time. The court approved this with County Judge M. Dustin objecting because of Mr. Sels' claim to the land. Mr. Dustin was quite adamant with his vote.
In 1880, T. J. Smith agreed to construct jury rooms 14' x 80' x 12', divided into two rooms with a hall between. One room having two windows and one with only one window; a porch, and sawdust in the ceiling and walls for $500.00.
Following a second fire, the county, in 1885, purchased a lot for $400.00 from T. J. Smith (present site of court thouse). An additional lot was acquired from F.C. Sels in a trade. They also paid Frank L. Fleischman $30.00 for his squatter's rights and later bought an additional lot from Catherine Kelly for $225.00.
In May of 1885, the county contracted with William Donaldson to build a new courthouse, vault and jail for $10,770.00., Mr. Donaldson transferred this contract to F. J. Butz and M.E. Stansell. With the decision to build on the new location, $3,500.00 was added to the contract for ground preparation and foundation work. The final cost was $16,469.61 due to the addition of jury rooms.
January of 1887, the court ordered that dancing, band practice and other amusements could no longer be held in the circuit court room.
The treasurer's office was not located in the courthouse until July of 1896. There is no record, indicating where it was located.
The modern age was really upon us in 1937 - Inside plumbing was installed in the courthouse. Considering that the county allowed telephone poles to be set along county roads as early as 1895, (Pacific States Telegraph and Telephone Company) seems the plumbing was pretty slow in coming. It is undetermined when electricity was installed, however, the courthouse was completely rewired in 1927 at a cost of $250.00.
A central furnace was installed in 1939. The courthouse Law Library was established December 2, 1937.
The courthouse again burned on November 17th of 1950. (In 1972 the old timers were still telling the story, that on the night of this fire, the firemen were pouring water and the elected officials were pouring kerosene. This is not gospel, just a tale I've often heard). The present courthouse was then constructed at a cost of $250,000.00. It was completed in 1952.
It appears, from the records, that the main business of the court its first few months of existence, was to issue liquor licenses. Following are names of persons issued liquor licenses during the first few months of Grant Countys' existence: P.T. Sharp; Shutz & McNally; I. Sery; Noble Kenedy; John Jergins; E. Wicks; E.C. Hardy; John Johnson; John Glennon; John Caverly; James M. Brackett; John Stahl; George Spalding; Mary A. St.Clair; R.B. Board; S.J. Boardman; George Robinson; A. Stinhausen; W.H. Abell; George Clayton; E. Walker; Charles Tobino; John N. Craig; W.F. Hooper; Henry Scott; Mrs. Flagelette; Sargent & Co.; W.B.A. Burnell; Dan Berry; Cox & W.M. Knight; F.C. Sels; Wm. Sterms; W.A. Wilkinson; Ed C. Bulheley; Thomas Fine; M.O. Rourke; L. Likes; D.B. Conger & Co.; J.A. Bonner; G. Merrill; Fennesey Clark; John Ausley; J.W. & G.W. Heillman; Raphaello Driago; W.B. Davis; Neil McNulty; and Michael Goodwin. It would appear, from this list of license4,that there was at least as much liquor as gold in 'them thar hills'.
In the early days of Grant County there were many Chinese among the miners. The Chinese miners (and only the Chinese) were required to buy a mining license. The sheriff was bonded for $1,000.00 and appointed to collect this license fee. He was then paid a percentage of the fee for collecting same.
Following is a list of established voting precincts in existence during the late 1880s and early 1890s:
Malheur, Long Valley, Trout Creek, Drewsey, Shoo-Fly, Long Creek, Ottis Valley, Stinking Water, Dayville, Indian Creek, North Fork, Rock Creek, Upper Valley, Silver Cr., Prairie City, Haystack, John Day City, Monument, Mt. Vernon, Lower Valley.
Kahler Basin, Harney Valley, Round Basin, Pea Valley, Mt. Creek, Ruby Mill, Diamond Valley, Boston Lake, Warm Springs, Middle, Willow Creek, Harney City, Waterman Flat, Susanville, Canyon City, Granite, Wild Horse, Riley, Waldon P.O., Silvies,Dorman, Union, Strawberry, Beach Creek, Rosebud, Burns, Camp Watson, Caleb, Hamilton, Wager P.O., Stewart, Homer, Fox Valley, Happy Valley, Marysville, Long Gulch, Middle Fork, Wagontire, Trout Creek, Austin, Blanton, Antone
You can count on it, the news media has always been with us. The official newspaper for Grant County in 1871, was the "Bedrock Democrat". In 1893, the Grant County News was the official newspaper and was challenged by "Living Issue", a reform paper, but their records were deemed fraudulent. The official newspaper for Grant County in 1895 was the Long Creek Eagle, which moved to Canyon City in 1890.
Some readers must have taken offense at some of the written word, as the building housing the newspaper known as "The Ranger", in Long Creek, was blown up with dynamite on February 7, 1904.
The Blue Mt. Eagle first became the official newspaper for Grant County in January of 1897. (It was still located in Long Creek at that time).
In 1934 the John Day Valley Ranger became the official paper, as it had a larger circulation than the Blue Mt. Eagle. No record was found of when the Blue Mt. Eagle again became the official paper.
Following are some bits of information which show how much things have changed in the past one hundred and twenty five years.
In 1876, a safe was purchased for the Treasurer's Office for $267.68 and in 1883 $70.00 was paid to Peter Kuhl for a safe in the Sheriff's Office. Both of these safes are still in use.
Two electric adding machines were purchased for the Sheriff's Office in 1934 for $50.00 each.
Wood for the furnace was always a big item; some prices were as follows: 1878; $7.45 per cord; 1892; 30 cords for $111.00; 1896; 30 cords for $97.50.
Kerosene was used for courthouse lighting and in 1896 was purchased for $4.35 per case.
Grant County purchased the Golden Eagle Hotel (renamed the St. Nicholas Hotel in 1882) in Canyon City in 1877 for $2000.00. The intent was to use it as a hospital. It was never used by the county. It was immediately leased to John Lembqrger,for $25.00 per month for six months to house and care for the county poor. The court continued to lease this building to different parties until it was sold in 1883 for $750.00. (Had sold in 1880 for $1500 but buyer defaulted). A newspaper was being printed in this building during a portion of this time.
The Grant County Hospital was being operated in Prairie City in 1927 by Dr. David J. Lawson.
Bids for gasoline for 1949-50 were $.22 per gallon for regular and $24.6 for premium.
County offices were open for business on Saturdays until October 5, 1955.
In the 1800's, a county buildings watchman was paid $5.00 per month.
A county attorney was hired in 1884 for $420.00 per year.
In July of 1883, Grant County paid $150.00 for a subscription to Canyon City Water Works and in 1886, purchased water rights from W. P. Gray for $250..00.
Fire Insurance for the Courthouse was first purchased in 1886. $10,000.00 worth of coverage was purchased for $223.55 per year.
One dozen coffins (four each, mens, womens, childs) were authorized to be built by C. A. Pushee in 1931 for a total of $283.00.
At various times in the history of Grant County, bounties have been paid in an effort to eliminate predators. In 1886, the following bounties were being paid: Panther or Cougar, $5.00; Bear, $2.00; Wildcat or Catamount, $1100; Blacktail Rabbit, $.05; Wolf or Coyote, $1.00
In spite of the tremendous number of liquor licenses issued following the formation of Grant County, there was apparently an element of the population who felt that all this liquor wasn't really necessary. A vote for prohibition keeps cropping up in the records.
The first record of a prohibition vote is November 1904. The vote was 498 for prohibition and 904 votes against prohibition in the county as a whole, however, North Fork precinct had 40 for and 35 against, Middle precinct had 35 for and 25 against, Fox Precinct had 19 for and 18 against and Willow Precinct had 18 for and 10 against. the vote for jurisdiction in North Fork Precinct was revoked January 1, 1905 as, according to the District Attorney, there was not proper jurisdiction. Another prohibition election was held June 1st. of 1908 with different results, 695 in favor and 673 against. This didn't suit some people so another election was held in November of 1910. This time the vote was 456 in favor and 673 against. At this time precincts Middle, North Fork and Fox voted in favor and prohibition was declared in those precincts.
In 1912, three precincts held prohibition elections. Hamilton, 43 in favor 25 against; North Fork, 40 in favor and 46 against; City of Prairie City, 45 in favor and 69 against. In 1914, a prohibition election was held in the Town of Monument; 22 in favor and 14 against.
In the year 1880, P.W. Carris had a ferry on the North Fork. He paid a license fee of $20.00 per year and was bonded for $300.00. His fees were as follows:
Horses, cattle, mules and asses, 25 cents per head.
Man and Horse, 25 cents each.
Footman, 25 cents.
Vehicle (not exceeding 4 horses) $1.50 (25 cents extra for each extra horse).
In 1898, there was a tax of 1/2 cent per head for sheep crossing the North Fork Bridge and in 1900 a tax of 3 cents per head was added for horses and cattle.
The county appointed an inspector of sheep in the late 1800's. First appointed was James Small and upon his resignation, H. T. Davis was appointed; later William Willey, William Small, John C. Luce, Charles Riley, Joe B. Edington, John C. Luce, W. H. Johnson, F. H. Curl, Walker W. Hinton, G. H. Kimberland, M. D. Cameron, William Wallers, M. M. Brierly, Earl Blinn, F. M Pearson, J. B. Jackson, William Wyllie, John Ambrose, George Irwin, and Robert Hall. These men became known as stock inspectors, rather than sheep inspectors. There appears to be a little matter of discrimination among cattlemen and sheepmen. It was determined in 1905 that too much stock at a time at too fast a pace was being moved over the North Fork bridge. It was agreed that twenty head of cattle, horses or mules and 200 head of sheep was all the bridge could safely handle at one time, however, the court ordered that only 200 head of sheep could cross at one time and did nothing regarding cattle, horses or mules.
In 1879, a poll tax of $1.00 per head for every male aged 21 to 50 years, was levied to pay taxes due the state. A road poll tax was created in 1901. This tax was collected by the road supervisors and required to be paid in cash.
WAGES - THE AGE OLD CONTROVERSY - OVERWORKED AND UNDERPAID:
In 1864, the County Judge, Commissioners, Sheriff and Clerk were paid $4.00 per day for their attendance at County Court. This was raised to $5.33 for the Judge and Commissioners, and $6.66 for the Sheriff in 1865. W. Laird Hill, first County Judge was paid a yearly salary of $300.00. The Clerk's pay remained at $4.00 per day of attendance. All received mileage of 10 cents per mile. The County Judge's salary in 1885 was $1,000.00 per year. In 1894 the Deputy Sheriff was paid $100.00 per month and Deputy Clerk was paid $75.00 per month. A courthouse janitor was hired in 1898 for $27.50 per month. This was raised to $30.00 in 1899; $50.00 in 1920; and $75.00 in 1922.
In 1915, Road Supervisors were allowed $2.50 per day per man and $2.00 per day per team, for road work. In March of 1926, this was raised to $3.00 per day per man and $3.00 per day per team. In 1947, road employee wages were increased from $50.00 per month to $75.00 per month.
The county first begin paying the bond premiums for elected officials in 1939.
In 1949, county employees first received sick leave and vacation pay.
NOTE: The author of this work was hired as a deputy tax collector in 1972 at the rate of $380.00 per month. It was only in the late seventies and eighties that wages begin to inflate.
Budgets have really undergone a change over the years. Following is the county budget for 1921:
Circuit Court $6,000
County Court 1,000
Justice Courts 600
County Judge 1,200
Sheriff's Office 4500
Clerk's Office 3,000
School Super. 1,600
Widow's Pensions 1000
Institute Fund 400
State Taxes 35,000
Roads & Bridges 19,500
Est. Exp. to end of present year 8,000
County Physician 600
Care of Co. Poor 7,000
Courthouse & Jail 1,500
St. Board of Health 1,500
Juvenile Court 300
Bounty on Wild Animals 2,000
Forest Protection 200
District Seals 150
Auditing Books 200
Grant Co. Fair 750
County Schools 16,500
Unredeemed Warr. 5,000
Total ----- $122,155.00
As a comparison, it is noted that the 1991-92 Grant County approved budget totaled $47,398,132.00.
The county Board of Equalization once consisted of the County Judge, County Assessor and County Clerk.
DO YOU BELIEVE THIS? IN 1924, A VOTE TO REPEAL THE INCOME TAX WAS A TIE VOTE IN GRANT COUNTY!
On April 16, 1906, a petition was filed with the County Court to move the county seat to Prairie City. The court ruled that there were insufficient signatures and denied the petition.
September 14, 1914, a petition, signed by over 500 registered voters, was presented to the County Court. The petition asked for the formation of WANA COUNTY. (Basically the N.W. quarter of Grant County). In November of 1914, an election was held on this matter. The vote was 580 for and 1134 against this formation.
Following is some information from the records regarding incorporation of some of the cities in Grant County:
JOHN DAY: An incorporation election was held in April of 1900. The first officers elected were: Mayor, E.J. Bayley. Councilmembers: C.P. Johnson, H.M. Barford, C.H. Timms, W.H. Geiger, E. Hall and F.I. McCallum. Recorder, J.W. McCulloch. Treasurer, Frank C. Hagheny. Marshall, Charles Angell.
GRANITE: Incorporation election held in April of 1900. Officials elected: Mayor, Grant Thornburg. Recorder, W. L. Brow . Treasurer, W. A. Schluter. Marshall, Paul Wilson. Counjilmembers: A. Bockman, L.L. Forrest, G.L. Lindsay, Neil Nive , S . P . Shutt and J. W. Tabor.
MONUMENT: Incorporation election held February 6, 1905. First officers: Mayor, H.A. Murphey. Recorder, G. W. Rex. Treasurer, W.E. White. Councilmembers: J.H. Anderson, B.W. Bass, E.C. Keeney, L. Sweek, J.R. Wagner and F.E. Westerbery.
AUSTIN: Incorporation Election held February 3, 1908. Vote was 55 yes and 4 no. First elected officials: Mayor, N.L. Taliaferro. Recorder, U.S. Jackson. Treasurer, John L. Sullivan. Marshall, Julius Wick. Aldermen: A.L. Courtway, T.J. Conger, Frank T. Chamberlain, Henry H. Flood, Bert Lively and M.W. Sullivan.
DAYVILLE: Incorporation election held November 25, 1913 with a vote of 63 yes and 20 no. First elected officials: Mayor, J.E. Snow. Recorder, Edith Wyllie. Treasurer, Clara J. Carroll. Marshall, William Wyllie. Aldermen::, W.E. Carroll, F.F. Cook, W. L. Greenwell, D.C. Morin, C.B. Mealey, H.L. Munjar.
MT. VERNON: Incorporation election held March 20, 1948. 63 in favor and 20 against. First councilmembers elected; Lee Williams, Holbert E. Glover, George Post, Carl Edwards, Charlie McKenna, Tom Negus (tie vote). This tie required that the two (McKenna and Negus) draw straws at the first meeting.
SENECA: Incorporation Election held March 30, 1970. First Councilmembers elected were, Phyllis Lissman, Ross Smith, Donald Thompson, Glenn Findlay and Gerald Beil. NOTE: Glenn Findlay was extremely instrumental in getting Seneca incorporated and in later years worked hard on the sewer system, streets, etc. which made it possible for the City of Seneca to continue even when the mill and railroad moved out:
WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE: The vote for women's right to vote as shown in Grant County; June 1, 1908, 561 yes, 711 no; November 8, 1910, 531 yes, 305 no; November 5, 1912, 545 yes and 451 no. This was the year it passed nationally.
I am now ready to formulate the material for which this research was originally begun. ELECTED OFFICIALS IN GRANT COUNTY. I will attempt to cover one office from 1864 to the present, before tackling another office or position. Where possible, I will try to give any background (personal or otherwise) information available on these officials. obviously there is very little to be found on the earlier officials.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
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