Hearts that were brave and true and hands that were strong wrought out the development of our beloved county, making here the abodes of civilization from the wilds of nature and the haunts of the savages, and among this worthy number, must be mentioned the subject of this sketch, who, although he was not among the first to break sod here, still so identified himself with the county’s interests and with the worthy men who labored with him that he was really one of the builders of Wallowa county, and it is befitting that we grant him this memorial in the volume that traces the history of this section and portrays the lives of the leading men in it.
John Fleming was born in Perry County, Illinois, in July, 1857, being the son of Thomas and Eliza Fleming, who were numbered among the agricultural population of the Prairie State. His early training in educational lines was received in his native state, as also the princi0les of uprightness and integrity were instilled into his character by the faithfulness of the parents. When he had reached the years of his majority he commenced a tour of inspection and exploration that took him to different states and finally he settled in Kansas, in 1881, purchasing a quarter section of railroad land. Five years after this date, he sold this land and came to Oregon, taking a claim first in the Crow creek district, which he sold later, and then came to Wallowa County in 1890. Here he took a homestead where the widow resides at the present time, two and one-half miles northwest from Joseph. He set to work with energy to make the place one of the best in the county and his skill and labors are everywhere in evidence on the estate. On April 29, 1895, the angel of death bade him depart, and accordingly he slumbered, to wait the waking of the resurrection morn. His remains rest in the Odd Fellows’ and Masons’ cemetery in Joseph. Mr. Fleming was beloved and esteemed by all and his friends were many and warm.
On December 23, 1884, the subject of this sketch contracted a marriage with Miss Elizabeth, daughter of John and Harriett (Lloyd) Gwillin, and they became the parents of the following children. Thomas W., Herbert L., Homer R., and Harriet E. Mrs. Fleming is a native of England, being born July 31, 1858. Her father was a miller and farmer in Herefordshire, England, and during his long life was also a preacher in the Primitive Methodist church, maintaining activity in this work for sixty years, surely a commendable record. In 1876, Mrs. Fleming, then a lass of about sixteen, came to America, being accompanied by two sisters and three brothers. They settled in Allen county, Kansas, where two brothers, John and William reside now. Another brother Thomas lives in Tacoma. One sister married Albert Crow, of Washington, and the other sister lives with Mrs. Fleming. Her parents died in England and she has two brothers, Robert and Edwin, who reside in England now. The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Fleming was one of the pioneer ministers of the Methodist church in England. Mrs. Fleming has borne well the added burdens that fell upon her at the death of her husband, and she is handling the estate with wisdom and skill, while also she is highly esteemed by all and is a very valuable member of society.