OLD TRAILS..........AND NEW
Column by Raymond Thompson
THE ALMIRA STORY-"Road to the Lewis Bridge"
“About one mile east of Almira, a graveled road leads off U.S. 2. A half mile further east, the county road forks. One branch continues east and north past the (pioneer) MANCHESTER family farm, for a distance of another half mile, where it crosses U.S. 2 again.
The south fork of the farm road passes “Tule Lake” (called “Southard’s Lake” when I hunted ducks and trapped muskrats there as a boy.)
From that point, the original pioneer road followed section lines due south for a mile, past the “Charlie” PERKINS farm, then swung east for another mile along the southern
A boundary of the same farm. Continuing, across another section of land owned by the PERKINS family, the road crossed marginal land down into and out of Wilson Creek valley.
The descent into the valley was winding and in places, too steep for me to rid my bicycle uphill, on the way back to Almira from a fishing trip.
At the foot of the hill, the Lewis bridge spanned Wilson Creek. The bridge was named for JUDGE and Mrs. J. A. LEWIS, who lived on the south bank of Wilson Creek below the crossing. Both were found murdered at their home on a Sunday morning, early in January, 1903.
I remember well the eerie feeling that came over me, when my chum, Cliff Knowles and I stepped inside the empty “haunted: Lewis ranch house, a few months after the tragedy. Many wild tales as to why the old couple had been killed, had circulated throughout the area. One of the most fantastic yarns insinuated that JUDGE LEWIS and his wife may have been murdered, because they had warned the authorities that the outlaw, HARRY TRACY, had been in that vicinity, the day before Tracy showed at the EDDY farm, near Creston.
Since the HARRY TRACY manhunt had ended almost a year and a half before the LEWIS murder, there seemed no plausible connection between the two tragedies. The theory that one or more of Tracy’s ex-cronies, killed the LEWIS couple, out of revenge, seems rather absurd.
Judge Lewis was a money lender and known to keep considerable sums in cash, at his isolated ranch home on Wilson Creek.
The Wilbur Register, January 4, 1973, notes that (70 years before in early January, 1903) “Judge and Mrs. J. A. LEWIS, an aged couple living a few miles southeast of Almira, were found clubbed to death at their home, Sunday morning. Officers say they have four suspects on their list as the possible murderers”.
Five months later, on May 3, 1903, the Wilbur Register reported “Lincoln County authorities think they have found the assassin of C. S. THENNES of Govan, In SI VICTOR, who is incarcerated at Davenport. “Find the murderer of Mr. THENNES and you place your hands on the murder of the LEWIS family”. Is the opinion of most people, the Wilbur paper added. (We have no information that this murder was ever solved. R. T.)
CLIFF KNOWLES, my boyhood hunting, fishing, and trapping pal, lived about three miles downstream from the Lewis Bridge, on Wilson Creek. Cliff would ride into Almira and pick me up on the return to the Knowles ranch. It was on a weekend trip that Cliff and I fished upstream as far as the Lewis ranch and on that occasion, visited the so-called “haunted” house where Judge Lewis and his wife had been murdered.
A year ago, we drove to the Lewis Bridge. The route from Almira, except for the first half mile or so, is identical to that I traveled as a boy, 70 years ago.
My wife RUBY, and our photographer, JUDITH WALTERS, looked over the area where the Lewis home had been located. All they discovered was the caved in remains of an old root cellar!
The road itself, continues south from the Lewis
Bridge on to farm lands in what we called the Finn District.
This road was never used for grain hauling in pioneer days, as a much
better and more direct route to Govan warehouses was available.”
copied from The Wilbur Register, Wilbur, Lincoln County, Washington 99185
in 1889; Number 33; Volume 85 Thursday, September 12, 1974
Submitted by: Linda M. Thank,3/21/2004, granddaughter of Raymond Thompson.
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