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William Newton Vancil was born in Milton Freewater to parents Samuel and Malinda Vancil on May 08, 1869. He learned the trade of blacksmith on his father's ranch and met Rosa Gibson at the age of 26. Rosa was the eldest daughter of Charlotte and Horatio Gibson. She was born July 29, 1880, in Chanute or Ealton, Kansas.

Will and Rosa were married July 09, 1896. They lived in Milton Freewater and began their family. Having 13 children in all kept Rosa quite busy. First came Dan, born May 01, 1897; then Florence, Feb. 02, 1899; Ray, Jan. 02, 1901; Vernie, Aug. 27, 1902; Alvie, July 22, 1904; Della, Sept. 20, 1906; Delia, Feb. 04, 1908; Hazel, Aug. 20, 1910; and the 10th child to be born was Dallas on July 29, 1915. Misery came twice to William and Rosa when Della died at only 6 weeks old and Vernie was taken by fever at the age of 10.

With the growing of more family, Will made the decision to homestead a piece of land in Bear Valley near Seneca. There he could build his blacksmith shop and run a ranch as well. So in June of 1915, the family packed up and made the move.

At the shop in Bear Valley, Will made wagons and repaired wagons as well as building sleds and coffins. There is a small cemetery where 7 people lay, only one name is remembered, Joe Exworthy. He died of pneumonia one winter after Will and Rosa moved to the area. Rosa and her mother helped take care of him in his illness. His home is just over the knoll from theirs.

After getting settled in their new home, Rosa gave birth to three more boys, Melvin on Jan. 11, 1917, Virgil, Sept. 23, 1919, and Cecil, Nov. 12, 1921. The kids still at home attended school in Bear Valley which served Seneca and Camp 1.

The Vancils decided to pick up one more time and move to Canyon City just in time for Cecil to start the first grade, 1927. Will bought a blacksmith shop located behind the old school on Rebel Hill. The home they bought was the old Estes place, 4 miles up Canyon Creek. The kids remember playing in the pond out front.

Will, continually outgrowing his blacksmith shop, sold and bought another. The next one was located across from the Methodist Church (now being renovated). And then, one last time, he changed locations to John Day where now stands S-M Motor Co. He sold the location to Buck Smith who originally opened the car dealership.

Will and Rose retired as Will was getting too old. He stayed active with his gardening he loved to do. He passed away on Dec. 19, 1943. Rosa stayed in Canyon City, where most of her family still lived, being surrounded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren and remembering the death of another of her boys, Dallas, in WWII. She died Nov. 26, 1954. Both she and Will are buried in the Canyon City Cemetery.

Rosa is remembered by her family as a very caring woman. - Shirleen Vancil Bailey



Daniel O. Vancil

Dan Vancil was the eldest son of William and Rosa Vancil, born in Milton Freewater May 01, 1897. He was a miner on Canyon Creek after he graduated from school and his family moved to Bear Valley.

He married Irene Parks June 12, 1925. They had two children, Vivian Irene and a boy named Lee. Lee died when he was 6 years old of the fever.

Dan joined the army in WWI but never made it to combat due to being caught in a big influenza epidemic in Portland. A lot of people died but Dan survived the bout.

Not much is known about the rest of Dan and Irene's life except he died June 27, 1948 and is buried in Eureka, California.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey


Malinda Florence Vancil


Malinda Florence, known to us as Florence, was born Feb. 22, 1899 to William and Rose Vancil. She was their second child. Florence was born in Milton Freewater and spent the first 16 years of her life there until her family moved to Bear Valley. She, being the oldest daughter, helped her mother with taking care of her 11 younger brothers and sisters.

Florence married John Schouten December 31, 1915. They had a cattle ranch on Shirttail Creek in Bear Valley. Their 2 boys Harlan and Floyd grew up on the ranch.

During the depression, things got pretty tough in the area so the Schouten's decided to change the ranch to a dairy farm which served the community much better. They sold milk to the Camp I area and Seneca.

Tragedy came not too far apart when John died of spinal cancer and their son Floyd with the same affliction in 1947.

Florence stayed in John Day until she moved to Baker where she now lives.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey




Raymond Horatio Vancil


Ray Vancil, born to William and Rosa Vancil on Jan. 02, 1901, their third child, grew up in Milton Freewater and John Day area doing ranch work, mining and some logging. He married Mary Marks in November 1924. They had no children but raised two from her first marriage.

Ray joined the navy for a time and happened to be on Leyte Island when he discovered his brother Virgil had been killed there so he found where he was buried and let the rest of the family know as no one knew where or what had happened.

Ray died at the age of 79 in Anderson, Calif. after a long bout with cancer. He is buried with the rest of his family in the Canyon City cemetery.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey




Harry Alvan Vancil


The fifth child born to William and Rosa Vancil was Alvie, born July 22, 1904, in Milton Freewater.

Alvie grew up in Bear Valley with the rest of his brothers and sisters, thirteen in all.

Alvie was handy with his hands like his father who was a blacksmith. He once made a set of snowshoes for horses and gave them to a fellow named Charlie Brown. They are now in the Herman & Eliza Oliver Museum in Canyon City.

Alvie married Pauline Hoare June 08, 1929. They had 3 children Helen, Alva Lee and Hazel Mae. They lived on the homestead in Bear Valley after Will and Rosa moved the rest of their family to Canyon City. He did ranching and worked with some of his brothers catching wild horses and selling them.

Alvie, Pauline and the kids pulled up stakes and moved to McCall, Idaho. Nothing else is known by this author, of the life of Alvie Vancil.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey


Delia Charlotte Vancil


Delia is the third daughter of William and Rosa Vancil born Feb. 04, 1908, in Milton Freewater. She spent her childhood mostly in Bear Valley and Canyon City.

She married early, at the age of 14, to John Herburger. They lived in Canyon City where they could hunt and fish. John worked as a ranch hand in the summer months traveling throughout eastern Oregon and would come back to Canyon City in the winter months. Illness took Johnny Herburger in 1947 and Delia married Bill Boethin who was a trapper and raised bees to support his family.

Delia and Bill had one son, James Boethin, who was born in 1953.

Again, Delia is widowed in 1978. She remained in Canyon City and is now marred to George Burk.

Jim is married to Georgia and they have two young children Gregg and Tanna Joe. They, too, live in Canyon City.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey



Hazel Vancil


Hazel Vancil married Henry (Hank) Bergstrom May 11, 1930. She had two children Dorothy Elaine and Henry Ernest.

Hazel is the fourth daughter of William and Rosa Vancil born in Milton Freewater Aug. 20, 1910. She helped her mother and older sisters with her young brothers while still at home. Hazel met Hank while she was working on sister Florence's dairy farm out of Seneca, he for Hines Lumber Co.

After they were married, they lived in Seneca, then moved to Madras when Hank began a construction company to build the highway through the Warm Springs area in 1932 or 33. After that job was completed, Hank was employed by Lakeview Lumber Co. They wanted to be self-employed, so after many years at working, they bought the 5 Coines Grocery & Grain Elevator in Lakeview. They made that a very successful business venture until in the late 1970's. They retired to Roseburg where daughter Dorothy lives.

Shortly after they clelebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, Hank passed on. Hazel is still in Roseburg with her family.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey



Samuel Wesley Vancil (Buck)


Buck was the last of the Vancil kids to be born in Milton Freewater Dec. 01, 1912. His parents were William and Rosa who moved to Bear Valley soon.

Buck spent his early years working as a ranch hand on his dad's ranch as well as around the area. He also began a family venture of catching wild horses and selling them to buyers from all around. People even came from Portland. There were a lot of wild horses running in the Balo Mountain area of Bear Valley.

When Buck was breaking the horses one day in the winter, a horse fell with him and broke his leg. It never healed exactly right, so for the rest of his life he had a limp.

When he married Margaret Buchanan Dec. 17, 1944, he changed his job to logging. Margaret had 7 children from a previous marriage and she and Buck had two of their own - Samuel Wesley Jr. (Bucky) and David Newton. They moved back and forth between Seneca and John Day for several years till they moved to Grants Pass. Logging kept the family going till all the kids were up and gone. Buck and Margaret then moved to Bly, where he worked for Loveness Logging Co. They lived there for nearly 10 years then he retired to a watchman's job at a Spray, Oregon ranch.

Failing health drove them back to Seneca where Margaret's daughter lives. Buck was admitted to a San Jose Hospital in April of '79 where he died of a brain tumor May 1. They brought him home to be buried in Canyon City. Margaret is still in Seneca.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey



Dallas Franklin Vancil


Dallas was the first of Will and Rosa Vancil's thirteen children to be born out of Milton Freewater. Dallas was born July 29, 1915 in Athena, Oregon.

Dallas was killed on Leyte Island in the Phillipines during a battle in WW II. He was rather the loner of the family and not much is known of his short 27 year life. He married Vetta Mae Kimbol Oct. 22, 1932 and after having four children, Virgil Lewis, Billie Dewayne, Viola Verdene and Earl Evan, they were divorced. Dallas remarried and had one more son, Daryl Lynn.

Dallas was on furlough when Daryl was born in Feb. 1944 seeing his family for what would be the last time.

The Government sent him out on orders. The family at home was kept in the dark as to his location. One year after seeing his family, his mother Rosa received a letter from the Army stating Dallas was killed Jan. 14, 1945 in combat. He now lies in a Portland Veterans cemetery.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey



Henry Melvin Vancil


Henry Melvin Vancil, born Jan. 11, 1917, in Seneca, Oregon was the eleventh child of Will and Rosa Vancil.

Melvin was in the las senior class to go to the old school on Rebel Hill in Canyon City, before the High School moved to the new place.

Melvin spent his growing up years in the Seneca area where the family was homesteading a ranch. A lot of his time was spent helping out and as he got older, he and his brother Buck, along with some Stratton boys, would catch herds of wild horses to sell to buyers.

As the logging business grew in Seneca and John Day, more and more young people took up logging as a profession. Melvin was no different. He began with driving trucks between John Day and Seneca.

He met Leona Moore who lived in Mt. Vernon and married her April 14, 1941. They had two children - Ken and Alice. Alice lives in Canyon City with her family.

Melvin and Leona lived in Mt. Vernon till he was hut in a logging accident that left him severely crippled for a time. He was then sent to accounting school so as he could learn a new trade. After years of healing, Melvin lives in Lebanon with Leona after retiring from working at the US Plywood office, for many years.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey


William Virgil Vancil


The eighth son, and twelfth child, of William Newton and Rosa Vancil was born Sept. 23, 1919, named William Virgil.

Virgil and his brothers would hunt and fish for fun in the whole JohnDay area. They would bring in meat for the family and have a good time doing it.

Virgil worked mainly in logging, as did most of the Vancil boys, moving from Canyon City to Sheridan and spending time in various other areas throughout Oregon.

His wife, Betty Powell, bore him many children. Two of them live in Klamath Falls such as Betty Mae and Bill, the oldest and youngest of Virgil's family.

Betty was killed tragically in an auto accident in Lakeview at a young age. Virgil was also killed by an accident. Both are now buried in Lakeview.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey



Cecil Oscar Vancil


My father is the youngest child of Will and Rosa Vancil born Nov. 12, 1921 in John Day, Oregon. His parents lived in a Bear Valley homestead ranch until he was six years old. They all moved into Canyon City where Will had a blacksmith shop. They lived in the old Estes place which they bought 4 miles out of town, on Canyon Creek.

Cecil started school in 1927 when the school was located on Rebel Hill. When he was 7 years old, he came down with scarlet fever and was quarantined with only his mother watching him. He almost died of the illness, but lived on to get into more mischief. Once, about the age of 10, he and brother Virgil and some other friends were crawling under the old Grant County Courthouse and found some homemade whiskey that was not there before, so, of course, kids have to try it. One of his friends with him got pickled enough he fell off a wagon and went running to his father. Next thing they knew there was the sheriff taking their treasure.

Graduating in 1939, Cecil turned down a baseball scholarship to marry mother, Judy Johnson at the age of 19. He and Judy were married Aug. 22, 1942. Cecil worked for the State Highway Dept. for awhile, living in John Day. There was a move in 1948 to Calif. So they packed up daughter Judith Dawn born Dec. 08, 1943, and all their belongings; but they didn't stay long. A few years later they ended up in Grants Pass where they had three more children - Shirleen, born July 19, 1956; Carolyn, born April 28, 1957; and Teresa, born Oct. 08, 1959.

The logging business was beginning to fade for Cecil so he got into carpentry. Grants Pass was growing for awhile but they slacked off. The family made one last move - to Chiloquin, Oregon.

Cecil stayed in carpentry for many years. Judy was kept busy taking care of the house and kids. Judith married a rancher's son, Ken Knight, from Fort Klamath. They now have 3 teenage children.

Thirteen years separated Judy and I, so Cecil and Judy had an extra long time raising kids. My sisters Carolyn and Teresa are married and live in Klamath Falls, as am I.

Cecil and Judy are now retired and travel in their home on wheels from warm spot to warm spot.

Shirleen Vancil Bailey




1998 Roxann Gess Smith
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