A man of ability and executive force, as is manifested in the results of his faithful endeavor, in the industrial world: a pioneer in at least two different counties of our state: a builder of Wallowa County, and a stanch and upright citizen of the same today, the subject of this article is eminently worthy to receive proper representation in this volume that purports both to chronicle the history of Union and Wallowa counties and makes mention as well of the early pioneers, as the leading citizens of today: and it is with pleasure that we accord the same to him, while also there should not be failure to mention the estimable moral qualities with which he is endowed and which he has displayed in a long career of commutative achievement.
Joshua A. was born on January 5, 1849 (?), in Lafayette, Stark County, Illinois, to James T. and Margaret C. (Smith) Downing. While still a child he was removed by his parents to Knox County in his native state, and on April 24, 1862, they joined Captain Dempsey’s train and turned their faces from the scenes of home and civilization to the lands of the settling sun. Forty-seven wagons comprised the train until they reached the station known as Fort Hall, and then twenty-seven came over the balance of the way to Sublimity, Marion County, Oregon. The family settled there and our subject was a member of the home circle until 1868, when he took as wife Miss Katie Ashby, a native of the state of Illinois, and to this happy union, there were born two children: Charlie A., who served three years in the United States navy, beginning with the Spanish war: Katie A., wife of K.L. Davis, in California. In 1870 they removed to Umatilla County and there he wrought until 1878 when death invaded the happy home and snatched, thence the loving mother and wife, and her remains sleep in Marion County. After this sad event, Mr. Downing remained in Umatilla county until the fall of 1887, when he sought out a home place in Wallowa county, the same being located two and half miles west from Leap. His first location was a quarter section, which has grown to the large estate of five hundred and ninety acres. This fine farm is nearly all tilled, well fenced, embellished with excellent residence and large barn and supplied with all the necessary machinery needed on a first class farm. In addition Mr. Downing owns a fine bunch of sheep, a herd of cattle and a band of horses and he is numbered with the leading stockmen of the county.
On November 7, 1880, the marriage of Mr. Downing and Miss Ellie A., daughter of Orrin W. and Catharine A. Zerba, of Athena, Umatilla county, was solemnized and they have become the parents of ten children: George O., Frank A., Zelnie R., Joshua A., Guy W., Harvy Z., Clark B., William McKinley, Wilma A. and Roy. In political affairs Mr. Downing is associated with the Republican party and takes the part of the intelligent citizen in these matters, besides being a supporter of good educational facilities, as well as in the progress and development of the county. Mr. And Mrs. Downing are devoted members of the Methodist church, and are active in the promulgation of their faith, while there upright walk and untarnished reputations give a bright and commendable example for others. Mr. Downing is also associated with the I.O.O.F. Lodge No. 154, of Wallowa. Mrs. Downing is a native of Wisconsin and was born on July 13, 1862.