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Biography of Richard W. Deal

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RICHARD W. DEAL. – This old-time freighter of the mining days was born in Ohio in 1838, and was the son of a stock dealer. He remained at home assisting his father until twenty-two years of age, having secured in the meantime from two weeks to three months log-cabin-school education per annum. Soon after attaining his majority, he began life on his own account, seeking his fortune upon the Pacific coast, finding himself in San Francisco about the first of June, 1862. Having taken a look at the mining district of California, he sailed for Oregon in July of that year, and in the autumn was hard at work at the Granite Creek mines in the John Day district of Eastern Oregon. Subsequently, having ranged over the country somewhat, he traded off some horses which he had secured in various mining speculations for immigrant ox-teams, and then and there entered upon his renowned career as leading freighter on the Umatilla road. In this capacity he was known by everyone, and still carries with him much of the same old-time luster that gathered about the head of the successful conveyer of miners and gold dust on the old route across the Blue Mountains.

In 1867 he owned 380 work oxen, all of which were employed in drawing freight, such as machinery for quartz or stamp mills, and supplies for the Idaho mining district. He is full of reminiscences of these old, semi-barbarous times, when privations, hardships, incalculable labor and constant perils from the Bannack Indians were the order of the day. In 1868, in making a trip to Camp Harney with a train, he was attacked by a mixed marauding band of Indians, and having corralled his “bull schooners” (by which pleasing appellation the enormous freight wagons of those days were called), began with his men a desperate fight, routing at length his assailants without losing anyone of his party. He remarked to the writer that he “knowed the nature of the varmints,” and was usually prepared for their funny business.

In 1875 he took a drove of three hundred horses from the Grande Ronde valley across the plains to Iowa, improved the occasion by a visit to the Centennial exposition held the following year, and subsequently dealt in fine horses in the Middle West. In this business he is engaged at the present writing.

In 1868 he married Miss Lizzie Williamson, who crossed the plains from Pennsylvania in 1862. They have four children.


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