The Mt. Adams Sun, Bingen, WA.
Part 1, April 29, 1954, page 1
Part 2, May 6, 1954, page 1
Part 3, May 13, 1954, page 4
Part 4, May 20, 1954, page 6
Part 1 includes portrait - title below
THEN AND NOW - In this issue the Sun begins the pioneer
saga of Ira and Vida Rowland. The above photo, taken on Dec. 12, 1949 shows
how they looked on their golden wedding date at Husum where the picture on
the wall was taken half a century before.
Mr. Rowland is Klickitat county's oldest-living native son. Mrs. Rowland, whose maiden name was Shiell, was a Nebraska girl. They have four children: Warren of White Salmon, Mrs. Claude Sampson (Rachel) of Washougal, Mrs. Alvin Spoon (Cora )and Mrs. C. J. Crouch (page was torn and text was missing )
PIONEER DAYS MUCH BETTER THAN ATOMIC AGE, SAYS IRA ROWLAND
"Yesterday and yesteryear were the best - much of the
best," says Ira Rowland, 8_, of Husum whose life has known of the full savor
of pioneer times and the first-paced tempo of the atomic age.
Mr. Rowland has seen excitement aplenty, hardship, trouble and fun. Although more than the proverbial "three score years and ten" have passed since he and his family fled from Panakanic with the Indians in hot pursuit it seems to him but yesterday, a thrilling yesterday.
The octogenarian, who is still active and raises tomatoes for all his neighbors, finds adventure in each day. He was setting out strawberries last Friday when the Sun called, weilding the hoe with a vigor of a natural born gardener.
Called to the house by the insistence ringing of the phone, he answered in a loud, booming voice "Abraham Lincoln". Later when the phone rang again, he shouted "George Washington. " The call was long distance from Portland. To improve the poor connection he thumped vigorously on the oak box that houses the instrument and apparently with good effect.
"I had the first phone in the country", he said later.
"It went from White Salmon down to the ferry landing. J. W. Taylor and I
ran the ferry between the White Salmon and Hood River. J.W. and I strung
the wires ourselves. That was in 1901 as I remember. After then folks could
call from White Salmon down to the dock to see if they had any freight. It
saved a lot of running.
"The ferry was a scow, 30-ft. long and 10-ft. wide. We towed it with a rowboat. It was sure some job pulling that scow across the Columbia behind a rowboat, later on and we got a sailboat. There were sails on the scow but when and there wasn't any wind and we still have to row We charged 35¢ a trip for folks who lived handy; 50¢ for strangers. We didn't make any trips we didn't have to. If you wanted to cross the river you waved a big flag for service. In foggy weather we used a lantern. Dark night we steered our course by the mountains. At night my wife, Vida, would set by the window and wait until she could hear the paddles.
"One morning after I had been up all night rowing, three men with five horses
were on the Hood River side waiting to cross. When we got into mid-river
the breeze died down and we drifted down stream. I noticed the men were excited.
They had strapped on their guns and were in a great hurry to get across. Pretty soon the wind began blowing again and I was almost to shore when a launch with five men came in sight. They were waving and yelling. About two minutes after I docked, the launch hove to; and the five men turned out to be officers. They wanted to know why I hadn't held up the three men and their horses. They had robbed the express office in The Dalles.
"They had $40,000 with them, pack on those horses. The officers really jumped on me for not holding the robbers. But did they were just faces to me. Anyway in that open boat I wouldn't have had a chance with three armed, desperate men. I was mad and scared, so I just gave the officers a good cussing.
"They never caught the out-laws. It is believed they buried the money on Mt. Adams. It is probably there yet.
"It reminds me of an old pine tree down on Major Creek. It was marked with a big letter "A". We all wondered what it meant. Some thought it was an Indian mark. However, it wasn't.
"Two men had committed a robbery and had been sentenced for twenty years. When their time was up, they went to E.V. Hewitt and borrowed a pick and shovel. Then they measured off a distance of 75 or 100-ft. from the tree and dug up the money they had stolen. They tied it on a pole and it was all they could do to carry it off. Hewitts and the Will Spencers and all my family walked over that buried treasure many a time.
I remember the first automobile that came to White Salmon"
Ira Rowland said, chuckling. "I brought it here. It was a one-cylinder job
that had been shipped to Hood River from Portland by steamer They loaded
it on the scow and we towed it over. The owner said he was going to drive
it to Trout Lake.
"In those days the roads were treacherous and the ruts were deep. When the automobile had gone only a short way, it got in a rut and high centered. A man with a team and wagon pulled it out. The car went a little way farther, ran on a high stump and tore out the transmission. So they loaded it in the back of the wagon and shipped it back to Portland.
Mr. Rowland, who is the oldest native born citizen of
Klickitat county, also rates high in pioneer geological circles for both
his father and mother were western born. His mother, Rachel Warren, was born
in Portland in 1850, his father, James, at Salem in 1851. Their parents had
come west over the Oregon trail in covered wagons with the first wave of
immigrants. They were pioneers even among the pioneers!
Asked if he had heard that White Salmon was once sold for $50 and a sack of flour, Mr. Rowland said, "I sure have. But that was nothing. My grandfather on my mother's side sold Portland for $50, and they didn't get a sack of flour either.
"In those days things weren't done like they are now. When the property was sold, my grandmother never signed the deed. Years later, when things got settled up people had abstracts and titles and such like.
A title company came to Grand mother and offered her $90,000 if she would sign away her interest. She said she would. She had two attorneys. Somehow they made up two sets of papers; one set the way it was supposed to be, and the other assigning Grandmother's interest to them.
"She was old and couldn't see good, and somehow in the shuffling of the papers they got her to sign the wrong ones. So she didn't get anything.
"Later the attorneys got in a fight over the money. One of them shot and killed the other."
WHITE MAN WHIPPED SQUAW AND CAUSED A PANIC AT PANAKANIC
By Ira Rowland
Last week the Sun began the saga of Ira Rowland. Klickitat county's oldest native-born citizen. Here is the most exciting chapter of his life. It might be entitled "Indian Trouble".
"It seems like yesterday," Mr. Rowland, now 81, recalled.
"I was almost paralyzed with fright.
"My father and George Ward moved from Lyle to Panacanic Meadows and took up they land claim. They built a log house and we live there peacefully enough - for a time. Panakanic, you know, is still remote and off the main roads. It lies between Snowden and Glenwood. At that time it was really isolated.
"The big meadow was even more beautiful than is now. The grass was tall and rich and filled with wild flowers. Mt. Adams seem to rise up behind. Everything went well until the Indians came to dig camas. The roots of the blue camas were an important part of the Indian's food. They ate camas like we eat potatoes. The squaws would dig the roots in the summer.
"My folks and George Ward didn't like the Indians digging all over their fields and tromping down the tall grass. So they staked off a place for the Indians to dig and built a brush fence around it. An old squaw kept digging outside the fence.
"She was told to get back inside the fence to do her
digging. But she had been digging where she pleased so many years she couldn't
understand why she must stay inside the fence. Finally, when she insisted
on digging outside George Ward gave her a whipping.
"And it was a real whipping, too.
She went away after that. The next day at a big Indian came with two six shooters. He said to father, "Where's Boston man? Memaloose kill."
"Father could talk Indian as well as anybody, and he talked the Indian, John Wesley, out of killing George Ward. We thought that would be the end of it but it wasn't.
A few days later three big Indian bucks came. They were all dressed up in dear skins and they had eagle feathers in their hair. They have berries stains all over their faces for war paint.
"This time father wasn't home. My sister and I hung on to mother as tight as we could. The Indians told her we would have to meet leave in three days or they would kill us all. When father came home he took a light view of it, and said he was sure they wouldn't hurt us.
"But three days later while father was off in the woods, the same three Indians came back again. They were all dressed up in there fighting clothes. They told Mother if we didn't go before sundown they would kill us.
"I can remember mother getting ready, my sister and I
tagging along behind while she packed the wagon. She caught the chickens,
tied up their legs and put them in sacks. She found the cows and tied them
on behind the wagon. She even cooked up some food to eat on the way and packed
it and what other victuals and bedding we had in the wagon too. She was half
scared to death, but she had the presence of mind to do all these things
and hitch-up too, something few women could do today.
"When father came home to the empty cabin, he said, "What's going on here?"
"Mother told him about the Indians coming back. She thought father wouldn't give up and leave Panakanic.
"I don't care what you do, she said firmly to father, "But if you won't go, I'm going anyway. And I'll take the children."
"That was too much for father, he said he would go.
"We left just before the sun went down. Mother had made
a lot of pitch torches all broomed up with splinters. She brought them along
to light our way through the forest. In those days the woods were pitch dark
at night. There were more trees then and they were bigger. We lit the torches
and traveled as fast as we could go all night. The Indians followed right
behind this, yelling and firing their guns. That was 75 years ago, but I
tell you if I live to be 100, I'll never forget that old wagon rumbling between
the trees through the dark.
"Along toward morning we came upon a little meadow where the Joe Silvia place is. At day-break we stopped near there and warmed up some coffee and ate bread. The Indians left us there.
"We never went back to Panakanic.
"Soon after word my father got a job splitting the rails
for a H. Curtis. We lived in a canyon. We had some cows and they were in
the corral been milked one night when a band of 50 or 60 Indians zigzagged
down the trail to the canyon. They were all painted up, war-whooping firing
"Father and mother turned the calves in with the cows, tied up the dog so he couldn't follow us. They grabbed up us children and took for the woods. By then mother had had another baby, so there were three of us little ones. When it got too dark to see to run anymore we all crawled down in a hole under the roots of a big tree the wind had blown over. We spent the night there.
"Meanwhile the Indians found the dog in the cabin. They let him loose and tried to follow him to us. Once they got within 75 or 100 feet of where we were hiding. I tell you that is something to make your heart beat like a trip-hammer.
"Mother never had much use for Indians. In those days there were some friendly Indians, but she didn't trust them either. Some of them would come to warn folks of another Indian tribe that been on the war path. They would claim to lead you to a place of safety, but instead take you right into the danger spots.
"When we lived on Curtis mountain six miles west of The Dalles we went to school at the Mud Springs. The school house was made of shakes. It was 18 or 20-feet square. My cousin, May Rowland was the teacher and there were eight or ten pupils. Ed Murray of Glenwood was one of them.
"No sir, we didn't get into any mischief at school. Our folks would just pretty near have skinned us alive if we'd got into any scrapes. We were taught to mind. And I mean mind. When my father said "Irie, sit down," Irie sat."
FOURTH CHAPTER IN ROWLAND SAGA RECALLS RUSTLERS, ISLE OF DEAD, KILLER=COUGAR, DANCES
If space permits, this fourth installment will conclude
the saga of Ira Rowland of Husum, Klickitat county's oldest-living native
son. The editors are certain there is enough more material in Mr. Rowland's
memory to write a full-length novel.
Time does not permit such an ambitious undertaking. But with slight exceptions, the Sun has published the highlights of Mr. Rowland's story in his own words, taken down in shorthand by our reporter, Harriet Crank.
* * *
"This is how I remember at. I was born in 1873 at Lyle.
My father, James Rowland worked for J.O. Lyle, who ran a general store where
the town is now. When I was three years old father quit working for J.O.
and went to work on a stock ranch in Oregon. He quit after a few weeks when
he learned he was working for a bunch of cattle rustlers.
"Father went back to work for Lyle after that and work for him off and on for years. Mrs. Lyle was a fine woman. She never had a chance to go to school so she couldn't read or write. One time John Splawn's father went into the store and asked her how much bacon was a pound. "Sixteen and three-thirds cents" she said.
"When we lived on Curtis mountain father farmed and milked cows. Times were good then. The country was full of wild game. There were bear and dear and you could catch all the trout you wanted. Salmon, too. Of course we had coyotes and wild cats, links and cougar, but they only made life more exciting.
"I guess it would be too exciting for Mrs. Charlie Couver. Mrs. Couver was a Snake Indian. Her husband, Charlie, was a white man of Scotch-Irish descent. He was the man who sold in White Salmon for $50 and a sack of flour.
The Covers first baby was a little girl. She was playing
on the hillside back of Rowland Lake now DeBois Lake, and while she was wandering
among the scrub oaks, a cougar caught her and ate off part of her face.
Her mother and father hunted all night with pitch torches for light. It was just coming day when the mother stepped on something soft under the oak leaves. She scratched the leaves away and there was her little girl. The cougar had covered it up, thinking to return. They saw the cougar lurking around in the trees but they didn't have begun to kill it with.
"The Couvers have three other children, a boy, Pete, who is the next oldest native-born citizen of Klickitat County; and two girls, Maggie and Mary, still living.
"I was just a little bare foot kid standing near the
Columbia river one Sunday afternoon when a sad and solemn thing happened
Two river steamers, the Hassalo and the Mountain Queen hove into site. Their
flags were flying at half mast. I watched them stop in mid-stream, off a
Memaloose, The Island of the Dead, below Lyle.
"Now I have been over to Memaloose and I knew what it was like; a small island of about ten or fifteen acres where the Indians took their dead. It was half covered with skulls and bones. It was the Indian custom to wrap their dead and leave them on Memaloose and the possessions they had the most prized in life. The idea was then they would have their things to take with them up to be Happy Hunting Grounds. If it happened to be a fine horse the Indian had valued, the horses were shot and taken to Memaloose with its dead master.
"We never went on the windward side of the island if we could help it. The stench of the dead was terrific. But there were lots of interesting things to be seen on a Memaloose; old flintlock muskets, gold pieces, beads and many other things. But there was always that awful smell and hundreds of skulls staring out of empty eyes.
"Quite a large party of folks got off the river steamers. They let down a coffin. In it was the body of Victor Trivett an oldtime Columbia River captain. His last request was to be buried on Memaloose Island with the Indians. He considered them the most honest people in the world.
"The party from the steamers built a vault of basalt rock and concrete and put Victor Trevitt's body in it. They put an eight foot stone monument on top of the vault. The inscription on it reads: 'Here he lies among honest men'. You can see the monument to this day from the Evergreen Highway, just after you pass Major Creek.
"I visited Memaloose lots of times in the old days before the high waters washed away so many relics and people looted so much of the stuff. There was a big skull there that always interested me. I would sure have liked to have seen the man it belonged to when he was alive. My uncle, Green Rowland, measured it. It was thirteen inches from jawbone to jawbone. There was a bullet hole in the forehead, so we always knew how of the giant died.
"After my folks left Curtis Mountain we moved to Rowland
Lake, where I.A. DeBois now lives. There I first began to play the violin.
I played by ear and I got to be good enough to play for dances, first at
Lyle and then at White Salmon and other places. My brother Herbie played
"Dances were different then. There wasn't any drinking. If anybody was drunk he was sent home. We did square dances, the schottiche, polka, two-step, Trolla waltz, heel-and-toe polka, round polka and lot of other steps.
Dancers came from everywhere. Some of them rode horseback but still a lot of them walked. Often the dances lasted all night. All the old timers came: Jack and Jennie Stump, Olga Lauterbach, Tune Wyers, John and Pete Wyers, Wade Dean, Betsy Shaw, Billy Biesanz, August Lauterbach and lots of others.
"I got my violin in White Salmon from a fellow who said it was 40 years old then That was August 1899. It cost of $12.50. I've been offered $250 for it twice but I wouldn't take $400.
There's the picture of my first wife. " Mr. Rowland said
proudly, pointing to the photograph of a the young lady pasted inside the
The present Mrs. Rowland's who was sitting nearby pretended not to hear. An examination of the photograph showed the pin-up girl's pose was quite unusual. She was sitting in a straight backed chair with her back to the camera. Her thick luxuriant hair in loose waves over the back of the chair and reached to the floor.
"Yep, that's my first wife," Mr. Rowland repeated, and then looking at Vida Rowland, his eyes twinkled happily; "And it's the very same one I've got now."
I'd never have long hair like that again," Mrs. Rowland's said.
Ira tenderly laid the long-silent violin back in the battered case. The picture disappeared as he snapped shut the lid.
"Things aren't the same anymore. Everything is changing. Even in the climate is different than it used to be. I get so lonesome for my fiddle, but I can't play it since I had my stroke.
"Yes, the old timers are gone forever. Folks nowadays don't know what life is."
© Jeffrey L. Elmer