Pioneer stories:


Here are some stories of Pioneer life, some tragic, some informative, some full of humor....


Submitted by Barbara Curtis


Children in Runaway  

The Lincoln County Times, Jul 26, 1907

   The escape of two little children of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Beiler from death last Sunday in a runaway mixup seems almost miraculous.  Mrs. Beiler and the two children were driving in a back two or  three miles west of Larene when the parasol they were carrying fell out into the road.  Mrs. Beiler gave the lines into the hands of the oldest child and climbed down to get the parasol.  Child-like, the little one shook the lines and the horses started before Mrs. Beiler could get back into the  rig.  The road was on a down grade for some distance ahead, and the horses were soon traveling at at a rapid rate.  With every jump they became more frightened and they had not gone a quarter of a mile until they were racing at a frightful speed.  Those who witnessed the flying team expected every instant to see the back overturn and smash to pieces.  The two children somehow stayed inside, and it was not until opposite Walton's place that the older one was thrown out, and it is said was run over, but strange to say, except for a few bruises, received no serious hurt.  But the horses kept on until they reached Florin's place, two miles distant from where they started.  Both wheels on one side had been broken off, and the front and hind axletrees were dragging and bumping along on the ground.  When the horses were stopped the remaining child, less than a year old, was still sitting in the rig, having received no serious injury, though somewhat bruised from bouncing around in the bottom of the box.  Mrs. Beiler fainted away when the race was over, as she felt certain that one or both would get killed before the horses could be overtaken.  It was a most extraordinary escape.

Another Runaway...

   Early yesterday morning the dray team of Dick Odgers, attached to the big platform wagon loaded with dry goods consigned to G. T. Logsdon, ran away.  Dan Donahue, the driver, had just finished unloading a hack at John Florin's and in getting back on the wagon the load tipped to one side, scaring the horses.  Mr. Donahue was thrown out and narrowly escaped serious injury, the axle striking his head and cutting it quite badly.  The team turned the corner at Sixth street, striking a telephone pole in front of Selde's store and upsetting the load.  The team was stopped in front of the Columbia hotel and was uninjured.  This is the third time that the team has run away, and Mr. Odgers says it's the last as long as he has them.  He will dispose of them and purchase another.

Another Team Runaway...

   Louie Kirchan's team took a swift race down Morgan street about six o'clock Tuesday evening and raised a streak of dust that obscured the sun's rays for a few moments.  They took fright at a passing automobile, and fled west in a most terrifying manner.  Running about half a mile, one of them fagged out and eased up to a walk.  A large empty barrel bounced out of the rig opposite the McInnis residence, and the hack itself jumped high in the air at the crossings, but kept right side up.  The front axle was sprung, but otherwise no damage was done.


   A team of horses belonging to a farmer named Ziegleman, standing in front of Selde's store got frightened Saturday afternoon and started to run north.  Mrs. Selder, who was nearby, grabbed the team, but was unable to hold them and then horses continued on their way home.  However, they were caught a short distance north of town and brought back.  Outside of taking a wheel off a passing buggy, no damage was done.


   Last Sunday afternoon J. W. Sawyer tied his team in front of the Big Bend Drug store and a short time after the horses broke loose and made a record run down Morgan street.  After circling around the south part of town they were caught....

Thrown on Wire Fence and Horribly Injured

Wounded and Weak From the Loss of Blood Hull Travels Alone on Crude Crutch Twenty-four Hours to Reach Physician

The Sprague Advocate, Friday, Sep. 29, 1916

  Thrown on a wire fence by a wild horse and dragged on the wire until his left leg had been stripped to the bone and three ribs broken on a post, James Hull fell to the ground and laboriously filled the wound in his leg with dirt to keep it from bleeding.

   Mr. Hull was rounding up a band of wild horses on Crab Creek mountain about 25 miles west of Ephrata, and night caught him seven miles from camp.  The horses stampeded in the dark, and in the attempt to hold them Hull's horse threw him into the fence.  Though weak from loss of blood, he finally succeeded in stopping the flow of blood, and then gave up until morning.

   His saddle horse returned, but Mr. Hull had lost the use of his left leg and his internal injuries were such that he could not mount the animal.

   He burned a fence post off at the ground and whittled a crutch from the post with his pocket knife and hobbled seven miles down Crab Creek mountain on this crutch to the nearest farmhouse and was rushed to Othello, only to find no doctor.  He boarded a train and came to Sprague, arriving at Myrtle hospital Thursday evening, 24 hours after the accident.

   Though Mr. Hull was weak from loss of blood and exhausted from exposure, hunger and pain, the doctor said that unless blood poison or other complications set in Mr. Hull has a change to recover.

   Mr. Hull is the son-in-law of Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Logsdon, pioneers of Sprague.

Plight of Trouserless Man

The Lincoln County Times, May 01, 1918

   A certain North side man, had a patriotic garden and it was his habit to get up with the sun, don khaki trousers, drink a cupful of coffee and work until his wife called him to breakfast, about two hours later.

   He rose about five o'clock one morning and dressed completely--all but the khaki trousers, which he kept in the basement.  He descended the stairs and was on the way to the basement when he saw outside a bottle of cream left by the milkman.  Thinking of the effect of sunlight on cream and of his cupful of coffee, he peered up and down the street, opened the door, stepped out grabbed the bottle hurriedly.  Just as he turned to go in he heard a slam--the win had blown the door shut.  He found himself out on the front porch, fully dressed, with the exception of a pair of trousers.  The door was locked.  he looked wildly up and down the street, vaulted the low cement railing and made a bee-line for the garage, the only available place of refuge and seclusion.  He remained in the garage until his wife learned of his predicament, about two hours later , and came to his rescue.

   The story would  have remained a dark secret had not a neighbor--a woman, too-- seen the whole affair and witnessed, the mad scramble for the garage.

Electricity on the Farm

The Sprague Advocate, May 04, 1917

   The writer under the careful guardianship of Milt Miller in an automobile and with W. A. Buckley and Billy Doerschlag along to watch the corners made a trip to the Jas. McCaffery farm last Saturday.

   Mr. McCaffreys farm is somewhat unique among farms in this section as it is really a farm that is kept up to the standard of a real home regardless of expense.  The buildings are all neatly painted and kept in splendid repair.  The house is surrounded by a beautiful lawn and on every side can be seen evidences of successful efforts to make a country home as comfortable and convenient as any in the city.

   The crowning comfort of the McCaffery home is a system of electric lights installed during the past season.  The house, barn and out buildings are all equipped and on this farm, as in the city, when light is needed, all one has to do is pull the chain and an electric light promptly responds. 

A complete gas plant is always ready in the house should the electric light fail and thus the family is always assured of good light.  The system is kept up with  a gasoline engine which charges storage batteries and a few hours running per week keeps the lights up in a good shape.

   Elmer Hansel who recently purchased the Guerin ranch just north of town has also made a beautiful farm home thereby building another story to the house making it nine rooms instead of five.  The house was build modern by the Guerins with the exception of an electric plant which has been added by Mr. Hansel and the comfort of this home is not exceeded by anything that can be found in Sprague. 

   We congratulate the gentlemen on their progressive tendencies and believe that these added comforts will bring them more satisfaction than they could possibly secure from the purchase of another 160 acres of land.


The Lincoln County Times, Nov 20, 1914

  Colfax.--Samuel R. Clemens, aged 60 years, who killed George Boland in western Whitman county 14 years ago, was found guilty of manslaughter, having been charged with second degree murder.  Clemens, then a well known farmer, shot young Boland, who was in company with his only daughter, as they were driving to a dance.  Clemens escaped and was at liberty until about two months ago when he gave himself up to the Colfax police.  He said he wanted to die an honest man and that he had not intended to kill Boland.

   Clemens said he had wandered about in many states during the 14 years, but that he had settled down the last few years.  He refused to give his home address.   T. E. Carter, whom the state claims Clemens intended to kill, was a witness.  Carter and Miss Lena Schreck were in the rig at the time of the murder..

John Wyant Murdered

The Sprague Herald, June 15, 1892


   About 10 o'clock last night D. Harness and Jesse Morris, near neighbors saw John Wyant's barn burning.  They hurried over and got near enough to see a body in the haymow partly covered with hay, but could do nothing as the fire was beyond control.  One horse and saddle are missing.  It was proved that the body was John Wyant's.  It would found that he had been shot through the head and just below the heart.  His throat was also cut.  The body was burned almost beyond recognition.  He was supposed to have considerable money.  He has no relatives in this country.  No clew(sic) to the murderer at last accounts.  The county commissioners yesterday offered a reward of $300 for the capture of the man who killed John Wyant.  The money is to be paid upon conviction.


The Lincoln County Times-Tribune , Jul 19, 1923

  The Northern Pacific weed-burning crew lost control of a fire along the Central Washington tracks near Wilbur Friday, and before the blaze could be extinguished 150 acres of pasture land owned by Milton Dwinnell were destroyed.  Twenty horses pastured in the field were saved by Cecil and Wayne Dwinnell, who were passing and noted the fire.  The boys took off their shirts to fight the flames, and succeeded in driving out the horses which had huddled in a group.  Wayne Dwinnell suffered painful burns about the feet,.  It is reported that a quantity of hay on the Jurgenson, Wilson and Afred Anderson farms, near Govan, were destroyed by fire the same day.  The weed burner has been going along the Central Washington line burning off weeds by pouring crude oil on the weeds and setting them on fire.



 Pioneer Stories from Lincoln County, Washington papers

submitted by Barbara Curtis, 2008.

Typed "as is" by Rella Gleaton.

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