Milton-Freewater, Oregon

In the 1800’s, the towns of Milton and Freewater incorporated; Milton in 1889 and Freewater in 1892. Lying in the southern part of the Walla Walla River Valley, hearty pioneer families found an ideal climate and plenty of ‘elbow room.' Milton and Freewater merged in 1950 as the town that today bears the name Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Located on Oregon Highway 11 in the northeastern part of Umatilla County, it is 27 miles northeast of Pendleton, Oregon and 10 miles south of Walla Walla, Washington.

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Umatilla County, Oregon

Looking back at Milton (now Milton-Freewater) in 1882

The town of Milton is situated on Walla Walla River, in the extreme northeast corner of Umatilla County, and but a few miles south from the line of Washington Territory. It lies just within the southern edge of the great Walla Walla Valley, and on the line of road now being constructed from Walla Walla by the O.R. & N. Co.. The narrow gauge branch from Whitman Junction, built two years ago, passes within a mile of the town. By it all freight is now received, and large quantities of grain are forwarded. In its life of ten years Milton has become a town of considerable prominence, and the next decade will probably witness a still more substantial growth than the last. Two good general stores indicate the amount of trade that now seeks this place from surrounding farms and the mountains. When a new county is created in this region, Milton expects to press its claims to the county seat with prospect of success. A "V" flume belonging to the Oregon Improvement Co. runs through the town and dumps at the Railroad station. It is twenty-one miles in length, with a branch in the mountains seven miles long, and was built in 1881. Large quantities of wool and lumber are sent down it daily.

W.S. Frazier settled here


W.S. Frazier settled on a portion of the town site in the fall of 1868, buying the land claim of Thomas Eldridge who had taken it up about four years previously. William McCoy located on the river just below him in 1869. In 1872 Mr. Frazier laid off a town site and gave a man named Woodward one and one-half acres of land to come with his wife and keep hotel. He also sold John Miller fifteen acres of land and water power for $Q125, and that gentleman began the erection of a mill which was completed in 1873. It has three run of stones and is still owned by Mr. Miller. The same year H.L. Frazier put up a barn to accommodate the traveling public. The hotel built by Woodward now forms part of the residence of Ulysses Jarred, who settled in the county in 1860. Woodward sold it to I.W. Quinn in the fall of 1872, who pretended to keep hotel and had a small stock of goods. SP. Whitley, an old settler of 1860, is now proprietor of the only hotel worthy the name that Milton has ever possessed.

The town becomes Milton


In the spring of 1873 M.V. Wormington came to town and erected the first residence on the town plat. The same year William McCoy laid off a portion of his land as an addition. A petition was prepared in 1873 for the purpose of obtaining a post office, and by general consent the name Milton was inserted, and thus the infant village was christened.

In 1874 Riley Koontz opened a store, and with a blacksmith shop, a number of residences and a school house, the village began to present quite a thrifty appearance. From that time on Milton has grown slow and steadily. A planing shingle and chop mill has been added to its industries, built by Tolbert & Brown, and now owned by W.S. Brown. A fine two story frame school house, 45x55 feet, stands at the extreme lower end of town, built in 1879, and costing as it now stands, about $6,000. The small schoolhouse erected on the same ground in 1872, has been remodeled and converted into a church. It belongs to the Methodists and United Brethren, and had previously been used by all denominations for church purposes. The Seventh Day Adventists built a church two years ago. In addition to these the Campbellites, or Christians, Baptists and Southern Methodists hold occasional services.

Milton may be briefly summed up as follows: two general stores, two drug stores, one variety store, one millinery store, three saloons, one hotel, one restaurant, three livery and feed stables, one meat market, one shoe shop, one barber shop, four blacksmith shops, one undertaker's shop, a picture gallery, flour mill, planing, chop, and shingle mill, a hall, flume, railroad station, schoolhouse, two churches, post office, express office and a population of about 400. Stages pass through the place daily each way, between Pendleton and Walla Walla.

Milton Fraternal Organization


Milton Lodge, No. 61, I.O.O.F. Dispensation granted November 13, 1877. Instituted December 1, 1877. Charter granted May 22, 1878. Charter members: Jonathon Tolbert, N.G.; Nathan Pierce, V.G.; William Tolbert, R.S.; Andrew Spence, T.; and I.W. Quinn. Hall built in 1882, cost $2,200; size, 26x50 feet, frame. Membership forty. Meets every Saturday night. Present officers: J.H. Wright, N.G.; E.S. Weston, V.G.; J.H. McCoy, R.S.; George Church, T.

From "Historic Sketches of Walla Walla, Whitman, Columbia, and Garfield Counties, Washington Territory and Umatilla County, Oregon," by Frank T. Gilbert, Portland, Oregon 1882

Milton-Freewater Rotary History
Frazier Farmstead Museum
Milton-Freewater in 1922



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