The Story of Wayne Casey Stewart

Born in Dayville, Oregon,
November 22, 1896, given January 09, 1953:

My father's name was Eminger (Billie) Stewart, who came to Oregon in 1847 from Licking County, Ohio, as a child of 3 years, with his father, Benjamin Elliott Stewart, and his mother, Ann Crumpacker Stewart, who was from Pennsylvania. They came on the Oregon trail; there was a wagon train of them. They came for the same reason that most of the immigrants came from that section of the country - the stories of the wonderful opportunities present in the West. I believe there were only three children on the trip, Eminger, David, and Orval. Josephine and Frances and Montgomery were born later - and Emelein - were all born in Oregon. That takes care of the family, then.

They arrived in Camp Whitman in Walla Walla, early in the winter preceding the Whitman Massacre, and intended to stay there for the purpose of resting their horses and children, but decided to leave on account of the unfriendliness demonstrated by the Indians, after staying only a few weeks. The Whitman Massacre occurred a few months following their departure.

Arriving in Portland in the winter of 1847, they decided to locate a homestead at the site of Broadway and Washington, but left there after a few months on account of the undesirability of the farming land - (laughing). They then went to the North Yamhill River and established a homestead and dairy farm and later acquired additional tracts of land through pre-emptions and land donations.

In 1872, Grandfather Benjamin Elliott Stewart returned to Licking County, Ohio, and purchased and brought to Oregon, the state's first herd of registered milking shorthorn cattle. Some of the decendants of that herd are now in the herd of the Stewart Livestock Company at Dayville, Oregon. At home I have a stone lithograph - etching in stone - of the original herd. I think they must have come by boat because they were down in the Yamhill country, near Portland.

My father, Eminger Stewart, stayed at home with his parents until he was about 16 years old and then worked on the Oregonian and helped send himself through school in Portland where he attended the Portland Academy, graduating when he was about 18.

He then came to Eastern Oregon, at the age of 19, in 1862, shortly after the discovery of gold in Canyon City, and, after working around the mining community for a few years, heard of a ranching opportunity in the then- unsettled area of Murderer's Creek. He left horseback and went up over the mountains and looked down into the Murderer's Creek basin where he realized that he was viewing a dream he had held since childhood - a haven for livestock operation. He established residence there and built his log cabin, and then went back down to the Willamette Valley where he bought some of the increase from the registered herd of Licking County milking shorthorns from his father, Benjamin Elliott. These he drove up to Eastern Oregon to his Murderer's Creek headquarters where he founded a dairy operation, making butter and cheese which he would pack out over the mountainous route at night and sell to the miners in Canyon City for big prices. The butter brought $5 a pound. He saved the increase from his cattle which formed the nucleus of his livestock herd, which he continued to build into larger numbers over a period of years, until in the '80's he was operating a ranch consisting of several thousand cattle and 30,000 sheep.

Many misfortunes occurred in his early activities, not one of the least important being the Indian wars of 1878, when the Indians - some 3,000 of them - camped for a long period of time at his headquarters in the Murderer's Creek country, and killed practically all of his cattle and stole most of his horses. He sat on the mountain overlooking the valley and watched this disaster occur to his hard-earned start. The Indians cut the hamstrings on the animals they did not care to use and left them dragging their hind-quarters about the plains to die of starvation; these cattle had to be killed to be put out of their suffering.

The history of Murderer's Creek is that in 1863 an immigrant train coming from California to the gold mining camp in Canyon City, camped on the then - unnamed creek, about 40 miles southwest of Canyon City. There were two young girls in the party, recently married, one was Mrs. Emma Hazeltine, mother of Irving Hazeltine, and the other Christie Middlesworth, mother of Mrs. E.J. Bayley. The girls decided to go for a walk after the camp had been made, and walking across a small draw, discovered some strips of shirting tied on the willows bordering a trail that led up the draw. They followed the trail made by the strips of shirting tied on the willows and came upon a dead man who had been shot by the Indians but had lived long enough to escape into the brush, and had left a note telling what had happened to his small party of prospectors. There had originally been three in the party and they had made camp on the banks of this unknown stream, and gone to bed with their heads close under the high rimrock. The indians discovered them there and dropped rocks on their heads. Not killing the one outright, they had shot arrows into him as he fled up the draw where he had later had the presence of mind to leave the shirting and the note. In his note he requested that {the tree prospectors be given a Christian burial, and that whoever found his body should be given the gold dust that the prospectors had with them. The girls received the gold dust as a reward but later lost it in Canyon City when the head of the wagon train disappeared with this and other valuables belonging to that party of immigrants. The young women made this discovery very shortly after the massacre - the bodies were still able to be moved and buried.

My father rebuilt the herd from the remnants that were left and overlooked by the Indians, living up to his often - stated belief that nio man was much account until he had gone broke three times and had come out of it.

Later, as his need for additional range and hay land increased, he went over onto the John Day River near Dayville and acquired through purchase the property of Eli C. Officer - Eli Casey Officer - which he joined with his other holdings, and married the daughter, Sarah Ann Officer.

Eli had come with his father, James Officer, to Oregon from Virginia in 1845, over the Oregon Train. That was one of the biggest immigrations into the State - one of the biggest trains. The Officers settled Mulino and Malala on the Tualitin River, where Eli Officer married Sarah Jane Howard. The Howards built the first flour mill in the State of Oregon at the little town of Malala. Until a few years ago this water-power-driven mill was still in operation, and the mill, though not in operation at this time, still stands on its present site.

James and Eli Officer had apparently been to the John Day Valley before gold was discovered in Canyon City, because they came back - as it is told in his diary - for the purpose of locating on a farmsite they had previously visited on the John Day River, near Dayville. They returned in 1862 and established a cattle ranch at this previously - selected site which is the place known as the home ranch of the Stewart Livestock Company, and our home at the present time - being the same property previously referred to as being purchased by Eminger Stewart.

MRS. STEWART: There was a most interesting log house there and most of the family of Officer children were born in that big old house - when would that have burned?

MR. STEWART: Let's see, our house was started in 1885, and the log house burned the year before that, in 1884. This old log house was quite a noted stopping place for pioneers and travelers on their way to Canyon City, and was used one year by General Howard and his troops in their pursuit of the Indians, during the war of 1878.

Great-grandfather, James Officer, was in the First Congressional Congress that met in Oregon, out of which grew the formation of the State of Oregon. This congress met for the purpose of levying some sort of a bounty or tax for the control of predatory animals which were causing inroads in the sheep and cattle of the ranchers in the Willamette Valley, and, as an outgrowth of the meeting it was realized that the only fair method of assessing ranchers was through taxation, and for that purpose they needed to set up a state government. The next year the state government was formed.

The old diary of James and Eli Officer, in 1862, recounts day-by-day their trips from Willamette Valley up to Dayville - then known as Cottonwood - when they brought their cattle in for the purpose of establishing their livestock ranch, and he tells of the many encounters of the Indians, losing some cattle through attack on the road up, and tells of his building his first cabin and starting to mow the hay.

MRS. STEWART: They always put stone fireplaces in their cabins as they had no stoves. Really, they are good little old rock things - they are good yet, and they draw and don't let out the smoke. When Wayne's father had the big house built on the ranch down there, he had a stone mason - who just happened by from San Francisco - but he said, "Let the fireplace alone, I'll build it," and he did. It throws out heat and was well built. It has the original hearth and original back-stones; they have never been replaced and it was built in 1885.

MR. STEWART: The country was so primitive at that time, that his diary recounts how he had to go get on a horse, and with a pack horse, go back to The Dalles for additional provisions, after being here only for a few days. They were mowing hay with a hand scythe and discovered he had no way of sharpening his scythe except to go to The Dalles again, a distance of 160 miles.

It tells of a few years later, June 1865, of starting with a band of sheep from Dayville, to be delivered to a point in Idaho later known as Boise, and of his daily travels and campsites each night on that long trip with this band of sheep, and relates that when he got to the North Fork of the Little Malheur, the Indians fired on them at sundown. They fought the Indians all night and in the morning the Indians had left. Their camp had been burned, the sheep scattered, and one of his men had been injured by being shot through the bowels by an Indian bullet. The man later died; I think his name was Clock.

They went back to a camp of York & Company and got enough supplies to continue the trip, and later, in July, delivered the sheep across the Snake River into the Idaho line. Father ran both sheep and cattle and stayed out of the sheep and cattle wars, as he believed they ought to get along together. He was in the Indian wars, naturally.

MRS. STEWART: Did he tell in his diary about the Indian raid when Aldrich was killed?

MR. STEWART: That isn't in his diary - there are some of the pages gone. He was in the Murderer's Creek mountains all through the Indian wars and joined with a little group that went in to that area to fight them, and engage them in active battle, in which encounter, their little band of 16 white men found themselves outnumbered by 3,000 Indians, counting men, women, and children. When they discovered their disadvantage, they were practically surrounded by the Indians and in their attempt to escape, one man, Oliver Aldrich, was killed, and one man named "Clark" had his horse shot out from under him. This small party of Indian fighters then returned to the John Day River and engaged the Indians in one or two more skirmishes. In one encounter, Jim Cummings' house was burned and his pet cat dipped in a barrel of syrup and rolled in feathers from a feather bed. While the small band of white men were looking about the Cummings' property they were again attacked by the Indians. Being greatly outnumbered, they retreated at full speed up the road, with Cummings - who had been appointed Captain of the little group - shouting at the rest of his small army to stop and fight the S.O.B.'s or he would shoot them himself! My father said that during these instructions, Jim Cummings' little dog was running right between Jim and my father, and it was hit by a bullet and rolled over dead, after which no more instructions to "stop and fight" were given by the Captain.

During the Indian raids, mother was on Mt. Vernon mountain, which is the large mountain immediately north of the city of Mt. Vernon, where the women from that locality had gone for safety. It is the big hill right straight back of Mt. Vernon and quite high, and the north side of it is a steep precipice rimrock, and that is where the women from that community went during the Indian raids and were guarded there by some of the men of the vicinity.

MRS. STEWART: The women wanted most to save their iron stoves from mutilation, and they had the men dig holes that would hold the stoves, then take the stoves out and put them in, cover with earth, and run the teams over them so that the Indians wouldn't suspect. They had cooked on fireplaces so long that to get a stove was a treat. The women sewed everything by hand.

MR. STEWART: The names of the Stewart children were Benjamin Elliott II, Edna, and Wayne C. Neither of the older children were ever married. To Wayne C. and his wife Jane Quayle - it is a Manx name - was born one son, Eminger Stewart III.

My wife, shortly after her graduation from the University of Missouri, came from Moberly, Missouri with her mother to visit her sister Mary Quayle Bradley and her husband, Captain Omar Bradley, who was stationed at Fort Vancouver, Washington, in 1918. Liking the west so much, she decided that she wanted to stay awhile and secured a position teaching English and Latin in the Hight School at John Day.

MRS. STEWART: In the spring of that year I met Wayne at a masquerade dance at Dayville and we were married the next October in Moberly, Missouri.

MR. STEWART: I was born in the old house where we still live, at Dayville, and my earliest recollections are as a very small boy on the livestock ranch which had very primitive surroundings and very few luxuries. The biggest thrill was the arrival of the wagon freight train from The Dalles with the winter supply for the ranch, the family, the camps, and the men. There were bolts of cloth for shirts for the boys and dresses for the girls. It was possible to identify a family at a community gathering by the print of their calico - father's shirt, mother's dress, and the children's clothes.

In the fall supplies were brought in, in sufficient quantities to last until the road opened up and were free of mud again in the spring, at which time the wool was shipped out by freight train with 6, 8, and 10 horse-teams. Summer supplies for haying and so forth, were brought back as a return load.

In my early days, they were running about 15,000 sheep, which would be about 12 sheep camps, and, two to three cow camps. From the time I was old enough to be of any help I joined the men in working with the cattle on the open range, where we slept under the stars and ate our meals prepared over the open camp fires. We would follow the cattl ein their movements from the lower range to the higher, and brand the calves and gather the beef, having taken our living accommodations for the entire summer with us, and breaking our own ponies during the long rides. Later in the fall - when I was older - I would return and go back with mother to Portland where I attended school, but the greater portions of my summers were spent in the mountains with the cattle and with the sheep.

Mother had children by a former marriage, and she would take the children down to Portland and put us in school every fall. Father would take us to the railroad with a team and it took 5 days to get from Dayville to the railroad. He would put us on the railroad down at The Dalles and mother would keep us all winter in school and bring us back up home in the spring. I graduated from the Portland Academy and then Stanford University, and then attended Harvard, majoring in business administration and economics.

The Grant County Bank was originally founded and set up in Canyon City and in 1904 reorganized and moved to John Day, by Eminger Stewart of Dayville, Charlie Johnson, J.C. Oliver, and Judge John A. Laycock of John Day. Judge Laycock was elected president of the bank and E.J. Bayley cashier and manager, at the time of the reorganization. Mr. Bayley continued as manager of the bank until May 09, 1935 at the time of his death. He was elected president of the bank several years prior to that time. Judge Laycock, County Judge, married my mother's older sister, Josephine Officer, and as my mother's mother, Sarah Ann Howard, died at Emelein's birth and Mother's birth, at the age of 8 she came to live with Judge and Mrs. Laycock on their ranch 4 miles west of John Day. It is now the Joe Oliver ranch.

MRS. STEWART: Judge Laycock was a very colorful old fellow.

MR. STEWART: We had lots of meat to eat; in the summer we killed beef. Deer was very scarce at that time, for some reason or other, apparently it was in a low ebb of their cycle. But, we had lots of beef, beans, coffee, and real thick syrup that came in 50-gallon barrels. It wasn't molasses. It is different from anything you see now days; it was so thick it would hardly pour out of the barrel at all.

MRS. STEWART: He says he still longs for some of it, it was so delicious.

MR. STEWART: Yes, on frying-pan bread, baked over an open fire. That was our dessert - bread and syrup. We very seldom had butter or any of the parishable or fresh vegetables. We had an abundance of trout and game birds. Small boys my age were very good at getting birds with rocks; sometimes we could supply the whole camp with grouse and pheasant that we had killed during the day with rocks thrown by hand. Trout, of course, were very plentiful in all of the streams.

MRS. STEWART: I thought the stories about the schoolhouses were interesting. They would build little frame schoolhouses, and one would burn and another would spring up. Grandma Martin, at one time after the teacher had left, took her two babies on horseback and went to the schoolhouse to teach the children. She came from England and was well versed. Then, her husband taught at one time - John Campbell Martin, from England too - in a little schoolhouse near Dayville.

All ages attended the school from the very youngest to grown young men who rde their broncs to school and came into the schoolhouse still wearing their spurs, and they would go stomping around in their high-top boots (laughing.)

MR. STEWART: School was held for a period of about 3 months only. It was closed during the summer, and during the colder weather in the winter, remaining open for the three fall months only.

By way of completion, the holdings of Eminger Stewart, the livestock and ranch land, were incorporated in 1916 into the Stewart Livestock Company, an Oregon corporation, now owned entirely by me.

MRS. STEWART: This fulfilled a prediction of his father who said when Wayne was a boy: "Wayne will stand by the ranch and hold on to it," and he was the only one, though he was the baby of the family.

MR. STEWART: Eminger Stewart was commonly known by his many Eastern Oregon friends as "Billie," a nickname he picked up in the mining camps in Canyon City, and which was given to him by a French hotel-owner who said that "Eminger" was too hard a word for her foreign tongue to say. She said, "I will call you 'Beelie.'"

MRS. STEWART: Wayne named his only son for his father; his father is Eminger Stewart II, and the boy is the third. The first was back in Ohio.

MR. STEWART: Tom Weaver, an oldtime buckaroo, was telling me about needing a pair of glasses - his first trip to the occulist. So, he went to John Day to see a traveling optomitrist who used to make a circuit through the country. On his return home he showed me his glasses and he said, "You know, I went up there to see that woman about buying a pair of glasses, and before I got out of there she sold me two pair. And when I got home I put on one pair and I couldn't see a thing and I tried on the other pair and I couldn't see any better, and I put on both pair at once, and I couldn't see a great big house if there had been one on that hill. Now, Waynie, she should have fit me better than that, shouldn't she? They told me she was a regular octopus."

MRS. STEWART: He gets off something like that quite often. One time he promised to do something for Wayne out in the hills and he didn't get it done and we were sitting on the porch and he came up with his hands over his eyes like he was ashamed, and said, "I didn't do it; I didn't get it done, Waynie."

MR. STEWART: You asked what we wore at the masquerade when we met? I remember what Jane wore, you were dressed in a gingham dress like a school girl and had your hair down your back.

MRS. STEWART: I had curls!

MR. STEWART: I wouldn't costume; I had jeans and a blue shirt.

The End



1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved


..... Return to Grant County, Oregon Home Page
..... Return to "A Place Called Oregon"