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Among those who have toiled and continuously wrought for the development of the resources of Wallowa county in the agricultural portion of the population, we may mention the capable and intelligent subject of this sketch, who has demonstrated in the years in which he has been domiciled in our county his fitness to be classed with the representative men of the county and to take rank among the leading ones whose names appear in this compendium of the builders and pioneers of Wallowa County.
In Union County, Kentucky, on May 3, 1856, J.T. was born to James M. and Mattie (Compton) Willett, natives also of the Blue Grass state. The father was one of the leading merchants and farmers of that county, but in 1899 moved to Evansville, Indiana, where he has retired from business, although somewhat interested with his son-in-law in the mercantile world. In 1891 the mother died in the home place and she was buried at St. Vincent academy in the home county. In August 1876, our subject then being twenty years of age, he stepped forth from the parental roof and entered into life’s activities upon his own responsibility. He soon migrated to western Kansas and three years were there spent in farming. It was in the spring of 1880 that he left that state and came to Oregon, going first to the Willamette valley and for four months explored the country and then repaired to Umatilla County and there consumed three months. He was in Walla Walla, Washington, when the martyred Garfield fell. Finally he came to Wallowa county, the date being the fall of 1884, and here he found the place that he sought, taking a homestead three miles southeast from Wallowa. He at once set to work with his characteristic energy and enterprise to make a home and one of the good farms of the county, and today we may say with assurance that he has accomplished these worthy ends in a commendable manner, and he stands as one of the substantial and influential citizens of Wallowa county, for which he has assiduously labored since its organization.
In the fall of 1879, in the state of Kansas, Mr. Willett married Miss Chatie Pickett, and to them has been born the following named children. Leslie, George, Maggie and Mabel. Mrs. Willett was born in Cass County, Michigan, on February 18, 1861, being the daughter of the late Elder George Pickett and Margaret (Irwin) Pickett, also pioneers of Wallowa county. Mr Pickett passed away at his home near Wallowa, in 1894, after having labored for thirteen years, both to build up the cause of religion in Wallowa County and a home of comfort for his family. Mrs. Pickett now resides in Wallowa.