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Biography of Alex Furgason

ALEX FURGASON. – One of the earliest pioneers of Union county, and one who has been a real pioneer of the pioneers, the subject of this sketch is eminently worthy to be represented in a work of the character of our volume, since also he has always maintained a bearing of uprightness and manifested principles of truth and probity, and has wrought during all the years of his domicile here for the development of the county’s resources and for the interests of all, while he has prosecuted successfully his private business enterprises. Mr. Furgason was born in Rouse’s Point, New York, on March 26, 1826, and there he was reared on a farm until he was nineteen years of age. He was well educated in the common schools of his native place, and at the age mentioned he departed from the parental roof and migrated to Pilot Mountain, in the Iron mountains of southwestern Missouri. In that place he assisted in establishing the Iron Mountain Works, where he wrought for three years, then returned to New York on a visit, whence he went to Portage, Wisconsin, and there engaged in lumber business for about fourteen years, or until 1862. In that year he was led by an adventurous spirit to join the Davis train, which was bound for Oregon and across the plains to Union county. While en route they frequently saw the gruesome signs of murdered people who had been slain and robbed by the Indians. Providence smiled on the train with which our subject traveled, and they made the trip without molestation from the savages. They arrived...

Biography of Thomas H. Gilham

THOMAS H. GILHAM. – Although born in another state, the subject of this sketch is practically a product of Union county, being educated here and here achieving the success that has attended him in his labors, while he has ever manifested a stanch and unswerving integrity and adherence to the principles of uprightness, laboring for the advancement and upbuilding of the county, as well as prosecuting with vigor and sagacity the private business enterprises that have occupied him. Thomas H. Gilham was born in Siskiyou county, California, on February 13, 1858, being the son of Calvit A. and Almeda (Howell) Gilham. His father was a “Forty-niner” to California from Iowa and while the son was still young came with his family to Josephine county, Oregon and later migrated to the Willamette valley and as early as 1863 was a resident of the Grande Ronde valley. He was a blacksmith by trade and opened a shop in Lagrande, where he beat the anvil to the time of industry and honesty until 1868 and then removed to Island City and there opened the first shop in that town. He bought one hundred and sixty acres of land and supervised a general farming industry until about 1888, when he returned to Iowa and is living in his early home state at the present time. Our subject attended school in Lagrande, gaining, a good education and when he had arrived at sufficient age, rented his father’s farm, working the same until 1882. He also served two years as apprentice in a drug store in Island City, and in 1885 purchased his present place,...

Biography of Edgar E. Bragg

EDGAR E. BRAGG. – With what pride the American people can view the progress from Plymouth Rock to the position of leading nation of the world! But the keen observer is not satisfied with that: he will seek the cause, the principles put in force that brought about this gratifying result, the powers that have operated to bring this desired end. From the first little log school house that graced the bleak shores of the northern colonies, to the stately universities that are flourishing in every portion of the land, there has been the proper attention paid to the education of the masses, and the foundation of our free institutions have been laid, and the super-structures reared in the light of these same institutions, while the very material itself has been produced by them. No more important institution is today seen in the United States than the same little brown school house in the center of every community, and the educator that has done faithful work there has materially aided in the advancement of the Republic. The care of this system has been a source of no small effort, and no more important personage is in each county to-day than he who is at the head of the school system. Such a one is the gentleman of whom we have the privilege to write at this time. An educator from his early years, he has passed every portion of the long course of practical experience in teaching and now brings to his work both a fund of knowledge that is wide and deep but also that indispensable experience that...

Biography of James G. Anson

JAMES G. ANSON – Enterprising, industrious and capable, the young man of whom we now have the pleasure to speak is eminently worth of a place in the history of Union county, since he has shown in the years in which he has striven here that he is made of material which is bound to win success and since he has also shown that he is possessed of the sagacity and energy that is capable of grappling with the problems of life that are to be met with here in his native place. And especially, it is pleasant to recount the career of one who has been born in the county and has here spent his life, gaining here also his prestige and accumulating his holdings within its precincts. James G. is the son of Joseph Anson and was born in Island City on the old parental homestead on February 16, 1875. The common schools furnished the educational training that he received, which he gained in the winters, his summers being spent in assisting his father on the latter’s farm. This continued until he had arrived at his eighteenth year, then he spent two years more working his father’s farm and in herding. He rented his father’s cattle, one hundred and twenty-five in number, and for four years gave himself to the attention of them and then he had gained fifty for himself. At this critical time an unknown disease swept away many of the cattle of the county and our subject sold his fifty for twenty dollars per head and invested the money in land where he now...

Biography of James A. Russell

JAMES A. RUSSELL. – A well-known and esteemed member of the business world of Island City, where he operates a butchering establishment and also handles much stock, the subject of this article is deserving of representation in this volume, since he is not only now one of the prominent men of the county but has spent practically all of his life in this valley and has labored with zeal for the advancement of its interests. James A. was born on September 23, 1861, in Linesville, Iowa, being the son of Thomas J. and Savannah C. (Atha) Russell, who started the following spring to the western country, arriving in Lagrande in August of the same year. Mr. Russell was the first blacksmith in the valley, and he labored here for the building up of the country. Our subject was reared in the vicinity of Cove, receiving his education in the village schools there, studying until he was sixteen, and then commencing soon to teach, continuing for four terms in one district in High valley. At twenty years of age he took a course in Bishop Scott’s academy, and when he was twenty-three years of age he took charge of a surveying outfit in the mountains for five months. The next year he was engaged to handle Dr. Hill’s ranch of two hundred and forty acres, and continued in that capacity for three years, and then sold the ranch for the doctor and served as post-master at the Cove, in Cleveland’s administration, for one year. Later he contracted on railroad construction until 1892, then started a butcher shop in Cove, operating...

Biography of William G. Peach

WILLIAM G. PEACH. – There is no doubt but there should be special mention in this volume of the abiding chronicles of Union county, of the capable and venerable citizen, whose name appears at the head of this article, and it is with pleasure that we accord to him space for the epitome of an interesting and eventful career, since his abilities are worthy of such, and since his success has been achieved by meritorious effort, and since his character is upright, stanch, and worthy to be exemplified. Mr. Peach was born in the Green Mountain State, at Newbury, Orange county, on October 15, 1833, and there were spent the first nineteen years of his life. The school facilities were limited, and so our subject had the opportunity to attend school but three months in his life, which lack, however, he has amply made up for in personal research and extensive observation. At the budding age of nineteen, in company with two cousins, he embarked at New York for San Francisco, going via the isthmus route. The cost of a steerage ticket was one hundred and sixty dollars, while they paid ten cents per pound for transportation of their baggage across the isthmus. September 7 was the date they sailed from New York, and October 5 the day when they slipped through the Golden Gate, and beheld the Mecca of the world at that time. Immediately they took boat for Stockton, and soon were in the mining district, and had a property which they worked for seven years, clearing a number of thousand dollars apiece out of the transaction....

Kail, Mary Braughton – Obituary

Mary Kail of 1208 11th St. died Sunday, June 3 at Grande Ronde Hospital at the age of 80. Mrs. Kail was born Feb. 23, 1893 at Boring, Ky., the daughter of John and Lavicia Braughton. She came to Wallowa County at the age of nine and was a graduate of Eastern Oregon College. She began teaching in Wallowa County at the age of 17. She taught in Wallowa and Union counties for more than 50 years. She taught all grades and was principal of Island City and Perry schools. In 1940 she ran for county school superintendent. She began 4-H leadership in 1926 and in 1961 was presented with a citation for Outstanding Service to 4-H. At that time she had led 95 groups with a total project enrollment of 1,077. She served as president of the Union County 4-H Leaders Association on three different occasions, chaperoned county delegates to 4-H summer schools at Corvallis six times and for 10 years served as 4-H home economics chairman at the Union County Fair. In 1954 she was selected to attend the National 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. Mrs. Kail was active in the Union County Historical Society, Three Links Club, Rebekah Lodge, American Association of University Women, Young Women’s Education Association and the American Association for Childhood Education. She was a member of the First Christian Church of La Grande where she was a deaconess, and was general chairman of the Sunday school for 13 years. In addition she acted as a substitute teacher in the junior high department. She also taught crafts in the Vacation Bible School for...

Blokland, Emma L. Mrs. – Obituary

Enterprise, Wallowa County, Oregon Pioneer Mother Dies at La Grande Mrs. Emma L. Van Blokland, of Island City who crossed the plains by wagon train with her parents, Daniel and Sarah Henderson and several brothers and sisters, and homesteaded on Alder Slope, passed away in La Grande on Monday, January 13, 1964. She was born at LaPlata, Missouri 89 years ago, and had made her home in Island City for many years. She was a member of the First Methodist church, and a 50-year member of the Eastern Star. Survivors include three sons, Milo and Clifford Van Blokland, both of Island City, and Walter Van Blokland, of Redding Calif.; four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; and a brother, Charles Henderson, of Anaheim, Calif. The late James Henderson, who sold his farm on Alder Slope to Mr. and Mrs. Homer Eads, was a brother. Memorial services were Thursday, January 16, at 2 p.m. at the Dempsey’s Funeral Chapel in La Grande, with Rev. Boone White officiating. Burial followed in the Island City cemetery. Source: Wallowa County Chieftain, January 23, 1964. Contributed by: Sue...

Down, Melvin C. – Obituary

Joseph, Wallowa County Melvin Charles Down, 55, of Island City, died Friday, May 25, in Baker. Mr. Down was born Aug. 8, 1923 in Joseph to Roy and Ethel Stanford Down. On April 29, 1950 he married Peggy Waddingham in La Grande. In 1969 he moved from Milton-Freewater to La Grande. He was a World War II veteran and a member of La Grande Eagles Aeri No. 259, La Grande Elks Lodge #433 and the American Legion. He was a logger and former member of the Oregon Log Truckers Association. Survivors include his wife of Island city: sons, Kenneth, stationed in Hawaii with the Army, and John, La Grande; brother, Eldon, Union; three nieces and other relatives. Services were Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Daniels Valley Funeral Chapel, with the Rev. Ronnie Stricklan of Trinity Baptist Church officiating. Internment was at Summerville Cemetery. Source: Wallowa County Chieftain, June 21, 1979 Page 12 Contributed by: Sue...

Bull, Muriel Lovisa – Obituary

La Grande, Union County, Oregon Muriel L. Bull, 85, formerly of 1403 6th St., La Grande, died Friday at a local hospital. Mrs. Bull was born on Sept. 21, 1885 at Island City, the daughter of Charles D. and Mary Bay Goodnough. She moved to La Grande when she was four years old and lived her entire life here, except while attending Holmes Business College in Portland. Mrs. Bull worked in the office of the La Grande Investment Company which was owned by W. D. Sargeant and J. K. Wright. After a few years she went to work in the county clerks office as stenographer and was working there when she was married to Charles C. Bull on April 23, [24] 1907. The were married in the first Episcopal Church built in La Grande which had been moved from the south part of town to the location of the present church and 4th and O ave. Mrs. Bull was a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, belonged to the Grand International Auxiliary of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, and the Union Pacific Old Timers Club. Survivors include her son Paul C. Bull and his wife, Marie of La Grande; grandson Robert C. Bull, La Grande; granddaughter Mrs. W. R. Garrison, Union; sister Mrs. Bessie Walnum, Island City; sister-in-law Mrs. Effie Goodnough, La Grande; five great grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband Charles on Dec. 8, 1969. Funeral services will be held at 2 PM, Monday at Daniels Valley Funeral Chapel with the Rev. Clarence Kopp officiation. Concluding services will be at...
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