The Hood River County Sun, Hood River, OR, February 6, 1948, page 5
RECALLS 'DOG RIVER' DAYS IN VALLEY
Mrs. Olive English of Hood River is generally believed
to be the oldest native Hood Riverite who was born in the valley and still
makes her home here, according to the almost unanimous opinion of the old
timers dwelling in the valley.
Mrs. English was born at Odell over 70 years ago on the ranch that her father, one of the first dozen settlers, homesteaded.
Her grandfather, Peter Neal, came to the valley in 1860 according to historical records and started the first sawmill here. Neal Creek was named after him, and until his mill was operating, there were no other homes in the valley than the typical log variety.
"Most of the valley was heavy timber in my youth," Mrs. English recalls. "We had no school at all for many years and Mrs. Ada Smith, the first teacher in the county, boarded out at the various homes until an old log school house was built."
Mrs. English remembers well the days when Hood River was known as "Dog River" and was personally acquainted with Mrs. Mary Coe, wife of the first settler, who renamed the city Hood River, thereby doing a service to Hood River's posterity.
"At first, of course, there was no village here at all," Mrs. English recalls. "After the village was started, we used to come in to town once a month or so. It was an all day trip from Odell since there were no real roads, only trails full of stumps and ruts."
Her grandfather, she remembers, told her many times how in the first few decades in the valley they used to take eggs to The Dalles on horseback since there was no one to sell them to here. He also went there and couldn't get to The Dalles each year for provisions.
"One year he got snowed in for provisions," Mrs. English recalls. "The family drank coffee made of burned wheat for the entire winter and lived on corn meal and corn bread."
Mrs. English affirms the statements of Eph Winans and other old timers that the winters are milder now and with less snow. "We use to have heavy snows every winter," she says, "and the river froze over every year, too."
There were no doctors in the valley in the early day. Mrs. John Henrichs was known as "the Angel of the Valley" because she was always ready to help anyone who was sick or in need," Mrs. English recalls. "She would get on her little pony and go any place to help someone."
Mrs. English has a three volume history entitled, "History of the Columbia River Valley to the Seas" by Fred Lockley, which gives a good summary of the early days in Hood River and mentions her grandfather, father and uncle.
Mr. English died in 1928. Two of her sons still live in the valley, and their children represent the fourth successive generation in the valley.
When asked what she thought of the present Hood River, Mrs. English quoted her cousin, the late Pete Odell: "I believe that we had the best of it." But she is quick to add: "Of course, I still think Hood River is a wonderful place."
© Jeffrey L. Elmer