Biography of John William Womack
John William Womack, son of Jacob and Lurreene Bougher Womack, was born in Unionville, Missouri, He, and a cousin Crawford Wallace Womack, made an early trip into Wallowa Valley, camping along Bear Creek. During the night their horses wandered away from camp and were found the next morning at what is now the town site of Wallowa. They both returned again in 1877, when they both filed on homesteads. John filed southwest of the town of Wallowa, building a log cabin at the foot of the west slope of Green Hill. He named his homestead “Cove Ranch.” Crawford Wallace Womack and John McCubbin spent the first winter with John on his homestead.
In 1881, a wagon train left Saint Joseph, Missouri, heading for Oregon, with Russell Thompson as wagon master. Russell and Catherine Hedges Thompson’s oldest daughter, Martha Jane, drove one of the teams and wagons across the plains. Traveling with the Thompson wagon train were Edna and Chella Pickett, also James (Tom) and his wife, Chata Pickett Willett. The train made a one-day layover about the location of Meridian, Idaho (about 10 miles west of Boise), where the Willetts son, Leslie (Leck), was born. The Willett family stopped at Union to spend the winter and the Thompson’s came on to the Wallowa Valley.
John Womack married Martha Jane Thompson and they and their eight children lived in the little homestead until 1900 when their new house was built. This is now the home of Roland and Inez McCrae. John and Martha Jane Womack are buried in the Lostine Cemetery. Their children were: Pearl 1882-1954. Married John Richards and lived in Cove, Oregon.
William (Bill) 1884-1959. Left Wallowa in 1910 and homesteaded near Wilder, Idaho. He married Nellie Mae Pack.
Fannie 1886-1963. Married John (Jack) Gillaspey, homesteading on Marr Flat then moving to Minam where John worked for the Forest Service, running a pack string up the Minam River to a logging camp. Later moving on to the farm on Diamond Prairie previously owned by Fannie’s brother Osborne. This is now the home of Wilma (Womack) Hawkins.
Berthe 1888-1965. Taught school first at Sunnyside, then at the Promise school. Later leaving Marr Flat. She married Max Mink who also had a homestead. Later leaving Marr Flat and moving to Joseph.
Henry 1890-1951. At the age of 17 left Wallowa Valley for Idaho. He married Crystal Victoria Goodall and they raised their family at White Salmon, Washington.
John 1893-1955. Served with the Marines in World War 1. Received the Congressional Medal of Honor, also medals from the English and French Generals and from General Pershing.
Marion 1895-1947. Married Olive Tulley and lived most of his life in Wallowa, later moving to work in the mill at Medford, Oregon.
Osborne 1899-1972. Served with the U.S. Army from 1917 to 1918 in World War 1. He returned to Wallowa and farmed a place on Diamond Prairie for a few years, then sold the farm to his sister and brother-in-law, John and Fannie Gillaspey. He moved to Klamath Falls and married Lucille Swan, living there until his death.
Source: From the book The History of Wallowa County, Oregon, Published in 1982, Page 383
Transcribed by: Gary Jaensch