A pleasant task, indeed, it is to chronicle the outline of the career of the doughty pioneer and prominent citizen of Wallowa County, whose name initiates this paragraph, since in the affairs of the nation, when the fierce attacks of seceders were bringing consternation to all, and the western frontiers were laid open to the raids of marauding bands of savages, our subject played a prominent part in serving the country that he loved; since also in the noble work of the pioneer he has done a goodly share, and has done it well: and since in the affairs of his county he has ever been prominent, not fearing savage foe, nor the hateful attacks of unprincipled men, who would have brought upon the defenseless heads of the settlers, except for the daring acts of our subject, the cruel savages in war array. These things, with many others, which we regret that we have not the space to mention justly, entitle Mr. Tulley to prominent mention in any volume that has to do with the history of Wallowa County.
Mr. Tulley was born in Piatt County, Illinois, in 1838, and after eighteen years spent under the parental roof, he stepped out into the battlefield of life for himself. Going to Kansas, he remained a short time and returned to the place of his birth, and after a brief period there he again went to Kansas, where he was at the breaking out of the Civil war. He was at once stirred by a loyal and patriotic spirit to enter the service of the government and defend the flag. His fearless courage, excellent judgment, activity, and goodly store of information regarding the frontier ways and dangers, eminently fitted him for the position of scout and he was installed straightway in that place. Until the struggle ended he was in constant service, and left a record of which any man might be proud. His service was largely on the border and he was in all the terrible Missouri and Kansas difficulties. He was one who formed the company that routed Quantrill and his band of desperadoes from Lawrence after they had burned the city. He made a number of trips to Denver, Colorado, and in 1865, started on his seventh trip across the plains, this time having the determination to reach Oregon. He came with mule teams and settled in the Cove in Union County, purchasing one hundred and twenty acres, and also taking a government claim on Catherine creek of one hundred and sixty acres. He took up the combined occupation of tilling the soil and freighting until 1868, when he turned his attention to the mines above Baker and there operated for two years. Subsequent to this venture he went to southern California, and also to Arizona, returning, however, to Union county in 1872, and the same year he came into the territory that is now embraced in Wallowa County. In July of that year he came to the place where he now lives, three miles south from Wallowa. Taking a quarter, he purchased betimes until the estate is now of the generous proportions of six hundred and eighty acres. Here he has given his undivided attention to farming and stock raising and he has gained a plausible success, being today one of the leading men in the county in these industries, while in his personal standing he is one of the most prominent. Mr. Tulley was married in 1881 to Miss Bessie Lent, a native of Iowa, and to them have been born four children. Walter, Pearl, Clara, and Olive. During the Indian wars, Mr. Tulley was very active in the interests of the settlers and he did noble and intrepid service. Also in the matter of the separation of Wallowa County from Union he was a prominent figure. It is of note that Mr. Tulley was instrumental, in a very praiseworthy manner, in naming Whiskey creek. Some unprincipled men, who seemed to care little for life and death or the welfare of the laboring settlers, took a cargo of whiskey to deliver to the Indians. Hearing of it, Mr. Tulley at once knew the massacres that would follow the dastardly act, and he was quick to put into execution his determination. Being well acquainted in frontier ways and intimate with some friendly Indians, he, in company with others, repaired to the spot, laid the matter before these Indians, and in company with them as their leaders, he seized the whiskey, poured it into the creek, and thus averted an Indian outbreak. The creek has since been obliged to bear the name of Whiskey creek. Thus is kept fresh before us the base acts of beings unworthy the name of man, since they would have brought bloodshed, on the heads of the defenseless women and children, and also the heroic and noble deeds of those who, at the risks of their own lives, averted the danger and freed the settlers. Mr. Tulley is highly esteemed by his fellows and beloved by all.