Biography of Jonas P. Lawrence




“Pioneer of the Big Bend Writes of ‘Old Times’.  Everson,Wash., March 24th, 1913. Editor Tribune.—In your paper of the 13th, inst., I am referred to as a pioneer. When I read this I said to my wife, ‘It makes me feel old to be called a pioneer’. Yet I suppose I am. I came from Ohio to Washington Territory in the spring of 1888 and landed at Wallula. After remaining there a few days I went to Walla Walla and spent the summer working on the farm of William Reeser. At Walla Walla I met Hon. Miles Moore and Hon. John B Allen. I had the pleasure of attending the reception given Mr Allen by the citizens of Walla Walla when he was elected to be our representative in congress. In the fall of 1888 I made a trip with a team from Walla Walla via Ritzville, Moses Lake, and Waterville to Davenport where I purchased the NW ¼ Sec 13, Twp 35, Range 36 EWM from the Northern Pacific railroad company, through C C May, agent.  I then drove back to Walla Walla and got my wife and little daughter, six weeks old, and returned to Davenport, arriving about the 23rd day of October, 1888. On the previous day we left Sprague in the morning and drove hard to reach Herman Krueger’s place west of Davenport, but night came on and we got lost on the prairie. We made a bed on the ground and put stones on the corners of the bedding to keep the wind from blowing it away.  It was a new country then and a very small portion was under fence and thousands of head of stock were running on the range. We built a house 12 X 24 on our place three and one-half miles below Davenport and moved into it sometime in December. I remember that the range stock would graze around our door and it was somewhat of an annoyance until we got a fence built.  The winter of 1889-1890 were known as the hard winter. The prolonged severe weather caused the death of thousands of head of horses and cattle in the Big Bend country. Many stock men who were wealthy in the fall were almost penniless in the spring. I recall that the snow was so deep and drifted at my place that for six weeks not a horse could pass along the road and many persons traveled on snowshoes.  Our neighbors were Mr and Mrs Barney Fitzpatrick, Mr and Mrs Herman Krueger, Mr and Mrs J W Earles, Mr and Mrs A Sayne, Henry Waller, Mr and Mrs Jacob Horwege, Jason Rathgens, John Millan, Mr and Mrs J A Hansen, Wm McNew, Mr and Mrs Jenkins Johns, Mr and Mrs Joseph Rice, John Ahlf, and Mr and Mrs Henry Ahlf.  We soon became acquainted with Mr and Mrs Chas Buck, J D Wooden, Mr and Mrs W J Rodgers, Oscar Vanhorn, Mr and Mrs W P Nichols, Mr and Mrs Peter Leighan, Mr and Mrs John Sawyer, Mr and Mrs A D Stroud, Mr and Mrs John L Camp, Mr and Mrs Ed Ramm, Mr and Mrs Peter Selde, Sr, Mr and Mrs Thos Owens, Mr and Mrs Wood, Mr Joseph Hulbert, Mr and Mrs L A Kennedy, Mr and Mrs J W Fry, and others.  When I made my first visit to Davenport in the fall of 1888 it was a mere village of small frame buildings or shanties. I think I am safe in saying that there was not a substantial building in the place. The nearest railroad points were Cheney and Sprague. The Central Washington was completed as far as Davenport in 1888 or early in 1889. I remember that the summer of 1889 saw a wonderful growth in Davenport .  The following were some of the prominent business men of Davenport in those early times: C C May had associated with him Saint Clair Inkster, Jr, Ostroski, Breslauer & Co were in general merchandise and had Johnny Horwege as clerk and handling the mail. Chas Grutt and M E Hay had a small store also. Oswalt & Hughes were the leading hardware men. Johnny Nichols had a store and I think was the pioneer merchant, and began business when the place was called Cottonwood .  Other prominent men were H H McMillan, J A McArthur, Jackson Borck, L A Inkster, H C Keedy, Dennis Moylan, A W Turner, and J P O'Farrell.  Dr H J Whitney had a small frame drug store where the old Big Bend bank building now stands and in which you are now moulding public sentiment.  I had the honor of assisting in the grading of Morgan Street. I was not awarded the contract, but was entrusted with the care of a certain pick and shovel for ten hours per day.  ‘With books or work or helpful play Let your first years be past, That you may give for every day Some good account at last.’  There was no church in Davenport in those days, but the day school, Sunday school, and church services were held in the school house which was later occupied as a residence by Emil Graff.  Rev J A McArthur was the pastor and ex-Governor Hay taught a class in the Sunday School. At that time the saloons outnumbered the churches, but I am glad to know that the reverse is now true. I helped to excavate and haul stone for the foundation of the ME church.  Yes, I suppose that a residence of a quarter of a century in Washington will entitle me to a place among the pioneers. I have seen many changes take place. The wild and raw prairie has been changed into fields of golden grain, the shanties on the homesteads have been replaced by good and substantial residences, the villages of those early days are now cities, there has been great activity in railroad building until almost every section of this state is convenient to one or more roads, and instead of the ungraded school, we have good graded, industrial, and high schools, normals and universities. Our increase in population is almost without parallel, and we are fast becoming one of the most prominent states of the Union . Many of the pioneers to whom I have referred have died and gone to their reward. My wife, who left her relatives and friends and came from Ohio with me to get a home in the then Washington Territory and gladly shared with me the hardships and privations of those pioneer days, has preceded me to that better land. Her body rests in the cemetery at Davenport and our boy by her side.  ‘Can storied urn or animated bust Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?  Can honor’s voice provoke the silent dust Or flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death?  The boast of heraldry, the pump of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, Await alike, the inevitable hour, The paths of glory lead but to the grave. J A Lawrence.” (Davenport Tribune: 4-03-1913) {edit: Apparently this was written by Jonas P Lawrence.  Ella Lawrence, wife of Jonas P, was born in 1861 and died 11-24-1898. Her obituary mentions coming from Ohio and time spent in Walla Walla. Their children were Edna M, Artie F, Ethel V and Lawton K.  Lawton K Lawrence was born in 1894 and died March 6, 1912. Ella and Lawton were buried in Mountain View Cemetery at Davenport, in keeping with the article. Jonas P Lawrence was born in 1859 and died 7-16-1941. His remains were cared for by Bumgarner Funeral Home with burial in Mt View.}

  Submitted January 2013, Marge Woma;ch  

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                                          Submitted January 2013, Marge Woma;ch

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