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The list of the real pioneers of Wallowa County would be sadly incomplete, as also the enumeration of the leading citizens of today, were there failure to add that of the worthy gentleman, and capable and patriotic citizen, whose name is at the head of this article and who is one of the prominent agriculturists of our county having wrought here since the earliest settlements and in addition to this, he is one of the immortal number who stepped to the front ranks when the call came from Columbia to her sons for strong arms to defend her honor.
Mr. Henry Ward Beecher was born near Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio, on May 17, 1849, being the son of Jesse and Helen B. Beecher. He was reared on a farm having rather limited opportunity to attend school, which lack has however, been amply made up for in the personal research that he has prosecuted since. In 1858, the family removed to Adair county, Missouri, and the father died in 1861, and the mother in 1865. Although but a lad a few days past fifteen years of age, our subject enlisted in Company A, Thirty-ninth Missouri Volunteers, on August 6, 1864. He was soon plunged into the terrors of war and the spirit that animated him was given ample chance to assert itself, and right nobly did he rise to the occasion. From Hannibal, Missouri, where they were mustered in, they were soon to be thrown into the horrible Centralia massacre, where our subject was one of eight who escaped with life, the entire remainder of the company being killed. He assisted in running General Price out after his last raid. He also participated in many skirmishes, and on July 19, 1865, he was honorably discharged from the service. He is a member of the G.A.R., John F. Reynolds Post. No. 15, in Enterprise. For two years he served as commander of his post. Immediately after the war, he returned to the home place in Missouri and in 1867 he was one who accompanied General Marcia, chief inspector of the United States troops to New Mexico. During this trip they had difficulty with the Indians and on one occasion the Indians succeeded in cutting off the captain of the train and also the wagon master. This occurred between forts Lyon and Dodge and the captain was wounded and with him was one private. In addition the Indians stampeded some of the stock and did other depredations. In the same year, Mr. Beecher returned to Missouri and in 1869 went to Kansas, thence to Arkansas and from that state to Tennessee and then back to his home in Missouri. It was in 1874 that he was stirred by the desire to see the western country, and in that year he came via San Francisco and Portland to Washington County, Oregon. Two years subsequent to that time he came to the Grande Ronde valley and in the spring of 1877 he came to the Wallowa valley and selected his present home place which is two and three-fourths miles south and three-fourths of a mile west from Enterprise. He immediately set to work to improve the homestead and he has steadily prosecuted the related industries of general farming and raising stock since that time. He now has a good farm well improved, having commodious barn and excellent residence with all other accessories to a well-regulated farm. He has also plenty of water for the place. During the Indian war of 1878 he had his share of hardship and suffering from the Indians and stood dauntless in the defense of the settlers.
On March 7, 1872, Mr. Beecher married Miss Margaret Wilson, a native of Missouri, and to them have been born the following children: Thomas L.,: Jessie A., wife of Charles Cowles, near Huntington: Harry F., deceased: James O,: Mary E. wife of John W. Johnson of Joseph: Edna M. and Mary E., twins: Elsie C.: Lelia M: Maggie G.: Nora E. Mr Beecher holds an enviable place in the estimation and confidence of the people of the county and he is worthy of this generous bestowal of approval of his life and ways.