Reardan History in the News
Submitted by Marge Womach
“A History of the Early Days in Reardan and the Reardan Country—1826 to 1900. Being a Paper Read Before the Open Meeting of the Reardan Women’s Club Tuesday, April 15. Written and Read by Mrs. Albert Reiha of Waukon. You well understand that it is difficult—yes quite impossible for one who had no part in it to create a true picture of Reardan’s infancy. It is rather for them, who, like Caesar, came, saw and conquered, to tell the story of those first eventful days, which are the background of her history. To be sure, all who came early did not become pioneers. While they might have had the imagination, the courage, and the lover for adventure, to inspire the coming, they lacked the backbone and stick-to-it-iveness to remain. It surely can not be put of place to add here a few words in spiritual tribute to the faithful wives who, by their counsel, their tender sympathy, and their patient endurance, made the pioneering possible. Without them there would have been no homes—without homes no history. The Big Bend country lay to north of the route traveled by Lewis and Clark when they crossed the country in 1805 and so it is that it is not mentioned in their reports. It was left for the fur traders who came purely for selfish reasons, and with no thought of developing the country, to make the earliest settlement in the state of Washington. It was probably Finlay and McDonald in the employ of the Northwest Fur Trading Company who made the settlement at Spokane House in 1810 at the mouth of the Little Spokane River. This was the first white settlement within the state of Washington. And the first American white settlement was made by David Thompson and David Stuart in the employ of the Astor Fur Trading Company at the mouth of the Okanogan River in 1811—Fort Okanogan. Both settlements were outside of the Big Bend but the route between them runs through it—so for the next forty years the fur traders were frequently through this country and there was a good deal of travel from Fort Okanogan to Spokane House and the forts beyond to the east. The first white child—Marcel Berniel—born in Washington was born at Spokane House of French-Canadian parents. Governor Stevens records the Indians having told him that the last buffaloes had been killed in the Grand Coulee in 1825. The Indians had adopted the practice of burning over large areas in order to crowd the game into smaller space and so make hunting easier. This, in time, killed most of the timber and drove the game into more sheltered places. The first white men found the Indians living mostly along the Columbia River. They came to the bottoms in the spring to dig camas and in June and July gathered about Moses Coulee to collect duck eggs. Moses Coulee gets its name from the old chief of that name. The Scotch botanist, David Douglas, after whom the big firs of the coast are named, visited the Big Bend in 1826. The Indians called him the Grass Man. It was not until 1853, when Washington Territory was created out of the old Oregon country, that real development began. President Pierce named Isaac Stevens first governor of Washington Territory and required of him that as he journeyed to his post he should investigate routes for a trans-continental railroad—which did not become a reality for thirty years. The Governor traveled the Colville road to Walla Walla. This road, too, is historic, having been first an Indian trail, it afterward was used by Government for the movement of troops and so acquired the more dignified title of military road. Traces of it may still be seen although they are faint. Several years ago it could be seen for a short distance running parallel with the road—just over the fence—near the old McDowell place. It is crossed by our present highway beyond the home of O A Stevenson, just this side of what used to be the George Meyers place. It passed through Willow Springs near Waukon, which was a famous camping ground in the early days, and on from there to Sprague and Walla Walla. (Note:-This interesting bit of the early history of Reardan will be continued next week.)” (Reardan Gazette: Thursday, April 24, 1930)
“History of the Early Days in Reardan Town. Paper Read Before the Reardan Women’s Club by Mrs. Albert Reiha. This lengthy introduction has seemed necessary to get the proper background. And now we should try and see if we can imagine how it looked to the first settlers who came into the Reardan country. The lakes were much larger, probably covering all of the low land to the north of the present town and extending to the bluff beyond the Capp’s place, which has probably not changed much in appearance. Dueber’s pasture was pretty well covered with scrub pine and box alder and other soft woods—and running down Spring Creek canyon was a good stand of fir and tamarack. None of this large timber to be sure, but large enough to furnish fencing, logs for cabins and fuel for the early arrivals. The land was unfenced and as at present, green throughout the long springs with many wild flowers and then with the coming of the hot, dry summers, all would quickly become gray and brown. Nothing to suggest that its eternal peace had ever been broken by the tread of a human being except the Indian trail that came in from the east following the low places through the O. A. Stevensons' ranch, across the Lavender place and passing near the Harder farm and along the north of the present site of Reardan. This was the route traveled by the Indians between the Spokane country and their settlements to the west and afterward was followed by the first stage route on which was located our post office—owned and operated by Mr. Capps. The place was occupied by Will Hobart until it burned. This stage route was the main line of travel between Spokane and Fort Spokane, passing through Cheney. Horses were changed at a station maintained by a man named Courtwright on the Dueber farm—being the first change after leaving Spokane. Cottonwood Springs, now called Davenport, was also on this line. The earliest arrivals in whom we are interested seem to have been John Wicyham, a bachelor, and Henry Harder with his wife and three children came overland from California in 1878. Mr. Harder settled a mile east of town. In 1879, in the fall, Gus Lutzhoft, his brother, Jake, and Fred Mahrt came from Wisconsin. Mr. Lutzhoft, settled on what is now the Henry Mahrt ranch; his brother northeast of Pete Tramm’s; and Fred Mahrt southwest of town. Very soon followed Tom Stevenson, Andrew Gray, Peter Haeck (on the Brommer place), John Mahrt, John Davidson, Peter Weisse, Peter Tramm, Fluellin, (Kemp place), G. L. Buchanan, Ed Ensor, and Chris Sieman. All these and more until in ten years this was a very busy, thrifty settlement. Mr. Buchanan came from Ohio and was on his way to the coast but on the train became acquainted with Mr. Ensor who induced him to get off at Spokane and so they both came to Reardan in 1885—took the land now occupied by Roy Koeller and engaged in cattle raising. While Mr. Buchanan was building the home his family dwelt in Fairweather of which I shall soon speak. The first of these settlers were obliged to go to Colfax for supplies. Even earlier ones packed supplies from Walla Walla. Soon however, a store was opened at Deep Creek by Mrs. Eads and Perkins Brothers, but these places for a time probably did not carry large stocks and so Colfax was still visited. In 1882 W. Still of Cheney and W. F. Hooker, a capitalist from Georgia, purchased a quarter section of land ten miles west of Deep Creek and laid out the townsite of Fairweather—named after W. H. Fairweather, at one time prominent official of the Northern Pacific railway. But Fairweather soon passed into oblivion. The buildings in Fairweather were a store, hotel, blacksmith shop, and saloon which was never occupied as such, an unfinished residence and the school house which was located on the west side of the road to the cemetery and opposite the place now occupied by Mrs. Hendry. With the coming of the Northern Pacific in 1888-1889, Fairweather was abandoned. The N P plotted the town of Reardan just west of Fairweather, Mr. Capps moved the post office to Fairweather and Mr. Olsen reopened the store and hotel. It is now that part of Reardan lying to the east of Aspen street. At this point Mrs. Reiha read the following letter from Mrs. C. F. Reardan of Berkley, California, relative to the early days in Reardan. It was after Mr. Reardan that the town took its name. ‘Feb 15, 1927. My Dear Mrs. Driscoll, I have just received a letter from my brother (Mr. Hoblitzier) enclosing yours of Feb 5 and I assure you it will give me great pleasure to give you the information you are seeking—Mr. Reardan was the son of Judge L. B. Reardan, a pioneer of California. He was born in Marysville, California, July 2, 1854 and received his early education at home, later he was sent to St Mary’s College in San Francisco and graduated from there in 1873 and entered the University of California and received his degree in 1877. His first practice at Engineering work was for the Union Pacific RR from then he went as locating engineer in 1880 for the Northern Pacific, we were married in that year, and went to Yakima from there Mr. Reardan located and later was put in charge of construction work of the main line clear through to Portland and most of the branch lines, his most important work was the (at that time) ‘switchback’ on the Cascade Mountains which was operated during the construction of the tunnel, which required more than two years to build. In the fall of 1888 he went to Spokane and located the CWRR in Coulee City and the next year active construction work was started with head quarters at Cheney. Their headquarters were moved to Almira, and the construction work was finished to ‘Reardan,’ the pride of Mr. Reardan’s heart. He had great faith in the Big bend country he predicted great things for his town as he said its location was the best being right in the heart of the wheat belt. He severed his connections with the Northern Pacific in 1890 after ten years service and accepted a position with Southern Pacific as chief engineer of the Maintainance (sic) of ways Dept which position he held at the time of his death, March 1914. Thanking you for your interest in the ‘Founder’ of Reardan, I am, (Mrs.) C. F. Reardan.’ (to be continued next week)” (Reardan Gazette: May 1, 1930)
“History of the Early Days in Reardan Town. Continuing the Paper Read by Mrs. Reiha Before the Reardan Women’s Club. In the fall of 1889 Mr. Olson built and occupied the building which we knew as Finrow’s store and which burned about fours years ago. The first building in Reardan however was the N Elevator which burned more than twenty years ago. Then the depot was built and the agent, whose name was Pearce, built the first residence in Reardan; now known as the John Meyer house. These were all built in 1889 and the PO was moved, Mr. Capps still holding office. The same fall James Brand built the store occupied by the telephone company and Ed Childs opened the first drug store, and A. Lutzhoft an implement house. John Wickham and James Warren soon followed suit with general stores and then a harness shop, furniture store, two hotels and a barber shop came. In short, nothing seemed lacking to make a modern city. This was in 1891 and Reardan was two years old. From then on until the ‘bumper crop’ in 1897 there was an era of hard times throughout the Big Bend—following that came a period of great prosperity which continued till the outbreak of the World War. In 1899 the Washington Grain and Milling Company erected the flour mill under the supervision of M. Moriarty, an expert mill man who managed it successfully until his death in 1911. In the same year the Reardan Exchange Bank was established as a private concern with Mr. Olson as president and cashier. Reardan was incorporated in 1903 and M. Moriarty was elected the first mayor. John Raymer, John Wickham, Tom Stevenson, Charles Warren and J C Driscoll were the first councilmen. Frank Garber was named clerk, Harvey G. Burns, treasurer, L. A. Dale, marshal and Rev W. D. Barnhart, Evangelical minister, police judge. The first school house in this vicinity was located on the Peter Walsh ranch near the corner where the school house now stands. When Fairweather was built this was abandoned as a school house and was purchased by Mr. Huston who moved it to the east side of the road between the Harder and Seeman farms. The first teacher of this school was a Miss Sneider who came from farther west in the Big Bend. Beside the few children from this vicinity who attended, four Strong boys came from the ranch now occupied by M. W. Ahern which goes to show that schools were not plentiful here fifty years ago. The Fairweather schoolhouse served the double purpose of church and school for some years. Among the teachers who labored there were Anna Waterhouse, Lila Miller, who afterward married a Mr. Rummer and continued to teach, Miss Bowman, Miss Hull, Marshal Hall and a Mr. Beck. Note this story will be continued in next week’s issue.” (Reardan Gazette: Thursday, May 15, 1930)
Reardan History, Reardan, Washington, submitted to the
WAGenWeb January 10, 2006, by Marge Womach
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