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LEE MOORHOUSE. – It was some years before the Inland Empire realized its own wealth. The hills were formerly accounted worthless. Mr. Moorhouse was among the first to dissipate that notion. The Prospect Hill farm, of four thousand acres, eighteen miles west of Pendleton, of which he was superintendent, during his incumbency of four years, produced two hundred and fifty thousand bushels of wheat.
The Moorhouses were from Iowa, Lee having been born there in 1850. They came to Oregon in 1861, locating in Umatilla county, near the present site of Pendleton, and when the country was so sparsely settled that no more than fifteen families could be found within a radius of twenty-five miles of that point. The father bought a squatt4er’s right near Walla Walla; and Lee, at the tender age of fourteen, set off for a tour of the mines in Idaho and British Columbia. Despite his youth he met with fair success.
Returning home he attended school at Walla Walla for some years, and studied civil engineering under Horace Hurlburt on the Oregon & California Railroad. Coming to Pendleton, he was appointed county surveyor by a Democratic board of commissioners, although he was himself an ardent Republican. Four years passing away, he engaged in business with the pioneer merchant, Lot Livermore, and subsequently with John R. Foster at Umatilla. The Bannack outbreak of 1878 now required his services; and he received the appointment of assistant adjutant-general of the Oregon state militia, with the rank of major, holding that commission for four years.
In the meanwhile a company of Portland men – John R. Foster, H.W. Corbett, C.H. Lewis, T.A. Davis, J.H. Kunzie, Charles Hodge, and Lee Moorhouse – had formed a company of buying and running a large grain farm. The Prospect Hill farm, already mentioned, was bought and equipped, and was run at a total expense of one hundred thousand dollars, but with a large profit. Moorhouse was the superintendent until 1883, when he re-entered the merchandising business with Lot Livermore at Pendleton.
He has been a very active member of the Republican party, having been a regular delegate to the convention since he was twenty-two. He is now chairman of the county central committee, and a member of the state central committee. He was mayor in 1885, and was city treasurer up to the time he entered upon the duties of Indian agent upon the Umatilla Indian Reservation, to which he was appointed by President Harrison in 1889. He is an enthusiastic believer in the future development of Pendleton, believing that it will have ten thousand inhabitants in the near future.
In 1876 he was married to Miss Ella, the daughter of William Willis, a pioneer of 1852, and a wealthy farmer and prominent politician of Umatilla county. There are now four children in the family, – Lessie, Gussie, Mark and Lavelle. The career of Mr. Moorhouse, although highly flattering to himself and useful to his community, has not yet reached its perihelion.