The Oregon Journal, Portland, OR,, August 29, 1913, page 8
IN EARLIER DAYS
By Fred Lockley
"My husband, John Parker, put up the first building in
Hood River and was Hood River's first store keeper," said Mrs. Aseneth Parker.
"He was born in Yorkshire in 1845. He came to Illinois when he was 19 years
old. We were married on May 27, 1872, at Crown Point, Ind.
"In the fall of 1879 we came to Oregon. After working at his trade of carpenter for some months at Portland, John got work as a carpenter at Cascade Locks.
"After working for the government there a year we decided to come to the town of Hood River, which had just been platted. We arrived here on the last day of June in 1881.
"The original townsite had four blocks and the lots sold at from $50 to $75. The townsite was owned by H.C. and E.F. Coe, sons of Nathaniel Coe, who owned the farm on which the town was laid out. My husband went to Mr. Coe to buy a lot. Mr. Coe said: "If you will put up a good building, I will not only give you the lots for nothing, but I will give you in your choice of all the lots."
"He chose one on what is now Oak street. It is now in the center of the town. In all of the first deeds there was a specification that the deed was would be null and void if whiskey was sold on the lot. My husband put up a two story frame building. A month later, in August, 1881, the Mt. Hood hotel was built.
"In 1886 we sold out to John Middleton. We bought a farm not far from town, paying a dollar and a quarter an acre for it. Land that we could have bought for a few dollars an acre has since sold for several thousand dollars an acre. Personally I think it is a serious mistake to sell land at any such figures. Such prices keep out the thrifty, desirable settler. People have come here with an idea that if they secured a 10-acre tract of apple land their future would be assured. Here is the way they figure: if apples sell for $2 a box and if each tree bears 10 boxes and if there are 80 trees to the acre that means they will get $1600 an acre. They allow a dollar a box to cover the cost and think that they will net $800 an acre, so that on 10 acres they will have an annual revenue of $8000. On the strength of what seems a plain mathematical demonstration, they go ahead and buy their automobile and prepare to enjoy life. They are a kid glove that farmers and, of course, expect to hire the labor done and not callous their own hands or bend their own backs. Hood River needs the farmer with overalls and a straw hat just as much as any other places. Franklin's old proverb, 'He who by the plow would thrive, himself must either hold or drive,' holds good here as elsewhere. I think it is a shame to let inexperienced city people come here and lose their money through lack of the right kind of advice. Hood River is one of the best apple districts in the United States and it is too bad to have it get a black eye because some outside real estate operators want to capitalize our reputation and make a cleanup by selling to inexperienced easterners.
"Hood River owes no debt of gratitude to those who have exploited it but instead to those who have been its real developers. Men like Sears and Porter who have made their money by hard work in raising apples not in raising the price of land; men like E.L. Smith, and Frank Davenport and T.R. Coon. Frank Davenport was the man who had the faith and the energy to put in the west side ditch and demonstrate what irrigation would do for the valley. Mr. Coon used to be principal of the Mt. Tabor school at Portland. He came to Hood River when it was a village of a few stores and a score or so of houses. That was in '83. He bought some land near town and put out some Clarke's seedling strawberries. He was the first grower and the first shipper of strawberries and he helped organize the Hood River Fruit Growers' union. Those berries under the name of Hood River berries are now shipped by the carload all over the United States and they have brought hundreds of thousands of dollars into the valley."
© Jeffrey L. Elmer