Biography of S. B. Williamson
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S.B. WILLIAMSON. – Raising cattle on the hills, and allowing them to fatten in the summer and to starve in the winter, is being superseded by the more profitable as well as more humane method of feeding large bands in the winter to be ready for the market at any time. The Blue-Mountain region is peculiarly fitted for this manner of preparing animals. The range in the hills is good; and the rich bottom lands produce large crops of hay, grain and roots. One of the pioneers in this line is the gentleman whose name appears at the head of this article. He conducts his business in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. R.J. Rogers. They have five ranches, five and one-half miles east of La Grande, on the Oregon & Navigation Company’s line; on Catherine creek, two miles east from La Grande, and on the Grande Ronde river. They ship each month some three hundred animals, of which about two-thirds are sheep. This business finds its chief outlet in the markets of the Sound, and is but the beginning of greater things.
Mr. Williamson is a pioneer of 1862, having crossed the plains in that year with Captain Yount, a veteran of the Mexican war. He was in the same company with Mr. Harvey McAllister of the Grande Ronde. The father of our subject, with his five children, made the trip without trouble except for high water in the streams. They reached the Grande Ronde in the autumn, and found tow clap-board shanties where LaGrande now stands. Taking a ranch near this point, the Williamsons began their pioneer life. In the fall of 1862 they prepared ground for a crop, and the following season raised an abundance of vegetables and grain. The iron for the plow which they used was forged by a smith in The Dalles and cost fifty dollars; but the crop amply repaid them for all expenditures. Potatoes sold readily for ten cents per pound; grain (they had twenty acres of wheat and barley) was twelve and a half cents, butter one dollar a pound, and watermelons two dollars and a half apiece. Gold dust was the only money in use. Time was also spent in the gold mines fifty miles east of LaGrande; and the elder Williamson realized profits. He passed the bounds of his life in 1886, aged sixty-one years.
It was in 1870 that Mr. S.B. Williamson engaged in the cattle business with the success above described. He was married in 1878 to Miss Susan, the daughter of the pioneer H. McAllister, and has a family of three children, Ruth, Thomas, and Louise. In addition to his cattle he has some three hundred horses of improved stock. He uses Shorthorn and Hereford cattle for improving his herds.
Mr. Williamson is a substantial citizen of LaGrande, of the most progressive character. He is one of the men who has made the state and is earnest for improvements of all kind.