Wallowa county owes her prosperity and prominent position today more to the intelligent, progressive and capable farmers and stockmen within her borders than to any other class of individuals. She was especially fortunate in that there assembled here men and women from all parts of the country who were wide awake to the advantages offered and of courage and vigor sufficient to endure the hardships and develop the resources that nature had so lavishly bestowed here. Among this enterprising class there must not be failure to specifically mention the capable gentleman whose name introduces our article and to whom we desire to accord representation in this volume of Wallowa’s history, commensurate with the prominence that he holds in the county, and with the ability and integrity that he has displayed in his eventful career.
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Thomas N. Estes was born in Arkansas, in the year 1846, and when but sixteen years of age, he entered the employ of the government as teamster, continuing in this until the close of the Civil war. While to one thus occupied there is not generally given the credit in the popular mind that is accorded to one in the heat of battle, yet by the experience at San Juan Hill there was demonstrated, as well as in numerous other instances, that to the bravery of and faithfulness of the teamsters is much honor due for the victories that were achieved, and they were found to have endured as much hardship and been exposed to as severe danger as those in other portions of the field, carrying a musket. After the close of the serious conflict, our subject returned to Arkansas and remained until 1878. Then he was led by the reports of the wealth of the western regions to come hither. He did so, and when he came it was his determination to make a home in the place selected, and to do this he was willing to put forth the necessary effort to accomplish it successfully. He selected a homestead in Wallowa County, not far from Joseph, and immediately turned his attention to farming and raising stock. He has steadily prospered since that time and he is now one of those classes of well to do and substantial agriculturists that form the backbone of our county.
Mr. Estes was married to Miss Julia Tucker, a native of Kentucky, in 1870. To them have been born ten children, as follows: James, Mary, William, Cora and Nora, twins, Oscar, Lela, Ina, an infant, deceased, and Hugh. In the early days Mr. Estes was every active and influential in organizing the Christian church, as he was also much interested in the spread of the gospel and the instilling of right and good principles. During the years of his residence here he has always registered himself on the side of the faith that he espouses, and has been a potent influence in setting forth the same, while his practical life has always been a light to the community in which he has lived. Mr. And Mrs. Estes are valuable members of society and have the esteem and confidence of all who have the pleasure of their acquaintance.