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Notes and Stories

Happy Birthday, Sherman County!ArticlesStoriesBooksThe Oregon EncyclopediaOld Occupation Names

February 25th!
Happy Birthday, Sherman County!
See: Our County is Formed by Patty Moore
Sherman County: For The Record, vol. 1, no. 2, 1983 & 
Other stories in Sherman County: For The Record 1983-2015.

 Imagine the history and the stories of our handsome historic county courthouse! Imagine the pride, anguish, trials, joy, excitement and frustration of the years…of public service, justice, weddings, mortgages, deeds, county business transactions.

It is a bit curious that, while Sherman County was carved from Wasco County in 1889, the courthouse was not built until ten years later. E. O. McCoy petitioned the legislature for formation of the new county in 1889, proposing to name it Fulton County for Col. James Fulton, a prominent pioneer legislator. In a political move because Col. Fulton opposed a visit to the state house by General William Tecumseh Sherman, the new county was named Sherman. Governor Sylvester Pennoyer signed the modified bill on February 25, 1889, and the new county was named for General Sherman.

The governor appointed officers to serve the county until the next general election: Col. James Fulton, county judge, [who declined, and Owen M. Scott was appointed]; John Medler and Dayton Elliott, commissioners; V.C. Brock, clerk; E.M. Leslie, sheriff; Levi Armsworthy, treasurer; C.C. Meyers, assessor; and C.J. Bright, school superintendent. On March 12, 1889, the newly-appointed officers and constituents met at the Oskaloosa Hotel in Wasco for the official swearing-in. Wasco was declared the temporary county seat. The new officials rented a rock and concrete building in Block 6 on Lot 7 in Wasco to be used by the sheriff and clerk. County and circuit court business was conducted in the school building.

During the 1891 Oregon legislative session, a bill was introduced to expand the county 18 miles south, taking in Townships 3, 4 and 5 South. This new boundary followed Buck Hollow and an 11-mile east-west boundary across the south.

Selection of a county seat resumed in earnest. Three towns were selected for the ballot: Wasco, Moro and Kenneth [a hamlet once located near DeMoss Springs]. Strong emotions led up to the vote for Moro, influenced by the county’s southward expansion and new residents. In 1892 the county contracted for construction of a temporary building to house the clerk, sheriff and a vault. Records were moved to Moro. In 1893 a jail was added and the vault was rebuilt. A flag pole and flag were ordered in 1895. In 1896, a deputy clerk and deputy sheriff were hired.

When the county began construction of the new courthouse on Block 23 in 1899, the temporary house on Block 23 in Moro was moved across the street to the south where it remains today. Charles Burggraf of Salem designed the handsome brick structure with Queen Anne architectural features, varied wall surfaces and a corner tower. It was built by contractor, A.F. Peterson of Corvallis, of thrifty material – brick manufactured in the brick yard behind it. The bell-shaped cupola was originally painted alternating bands of dark and light paint.

In a story written by Patricia [French] Moore and published in Sherman County: For The Record in 1983, it is noted that the Grass Valley Journal reported completion of the new courthouse on November 3rd. On the 10th the Journal editor observed that, “Everyone who has seen the new courthouse wonders how such a house could have been built with so little money [$6,665]. On November 22nd, 1899, Sherman County’s handsome, new courthouse was turned over to county officials.”

In 1905, the Observer reported that there was a pot-bellied stove in each office and a complex of chimneys in the attic. Will Raymond was commissioned to produce ten large photographs of Sherman County scenes for the county’s exhibit at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland and later for the courthouse walls, where they may be seen today. A jail and related supplies were purchased for $3,847 in 1905 and was located in the room the assessor now occupies. The assessor worked in the front room next to the clerk’s office.

Moore’s story continues. “Major changes took place in 1934…the decision to dig a basement, construct walls, install a furnace and chimney for central heat and to put in a vault…work done as a relief project…under the leadership of county engineer, Hal White.” In 1941, the clerk’s vault was extended and the jail was moved to the rear of the courthouse. The brick on the south wall shows evidence of this move and brick replacement with matching windows. Upstairs remodeling accompanied construction over the jail, with chambers for the judge and jury. The handsome cupola was removed because of wind and storm damage by 1963 when Lee Gunnels painted the courthouse trim.

MORE CHANGE. Modern carpeting, tile ceilings, computers and glass doors joined delicate wooden ornamentation, filigree knobs and round-topped windows. The white picket fence is long gone; the jail is a museum artifact. New sidewalks and landscaping in 1999 marked the 100th anniversary of the county’s seat of government.

~ The Sherman County Centennial Committee, 1989.

Barbed Wire
by George Lindsay,
The Dalles Chronicle, Oct. 2, 1968.

The cemeteries of the county tell intriguing stories and led me down a path of discovery. After transcribing information on tombstones I shared the information with county elders who offered to connect the dots – Giles and Lela French, Bea Richelderfer and Helen Bruckert. This 1965 survey of Sherman County cemeteries was published in Yesterday’s Roll Call by the Genealogical Forum of Oregon.

“Just why a young matron would want to take her four boys on what amounted to a summer tour of cemeteries might be puzzling to some, but it shouldn’t be. She has her reasons. Some of them came to the attention of Sherry Woods (Mrs. Larry) Kaseberg of Wasco when she saw the story here [The Dalles Chronicle], of the Jewish grave outside the boundaries of any cemetery.

“Queried about her cemetery tours, Sherry said back in 1965 she decided on a project to record grave markers of her county to obtain added background information on the area’s development and its families, including Kaseberg and Woods. Then Sherry learned that the Genealogical Forum of Portland was gathering data for eventual publication and added that, ‘I believe Sherman County is the only one with completed, type-written records of its cemeteries.’

“The young matron sent copies of her reports to the Oregon Historical Society and to Sherman County’s local historian, Giles L. French of Moro. With the help of ‘some of Sherman County’s elders,’ she said, ‘I was able to make notes on relationships of families buried here.’ Then last winter with the help of Giles and Joe DeMarsh, administrator of Sherman High, ‘we made a recording as a beginning of a local tape history for the school. Giles has since made additional tapes.’

“Sherry said some of her neighbors enjoyed themselves talking about her unusual project, but ‘my sense of humor grew in the process, and I met new friends. Our sons, though young, began to show an interest in history.’

“Did you know, for instance, that Sherman County has an even dozen cemeteries plus a number of identified individual graves? The cemeteries: American Legion in Moro, formerly IOOF; unnamed cemetery south of Kent on the Phil von Borstel property; Michigan Cemetery, out of Grass Valley; Kent IOOF; Grass Valley IOOF; Rose Cemetery east of Moro; Daugherty family plot on the Luther Davis property southeast of Kent and inaccessible; DeMoss Family Cemetery near DeMoss Springs Park; Emigrant Springs Cemetery; Wasco Methodist Cemetery (across the road next to Sunrise Cemetery near Wasco, and Rufus Cemetery.

“Of these only Sunrise Cemetery has a perpetual program with sprinklers and mowed green grass. However, Sherry said cemeteries of sagebrush and native grasses had a lot of charm for her, “cared for and smiled upon by God.”

“One of the more interesting cemeteries has a marker in the Croatian language which she had translated by the language department of Portland State College. Most have just names and dates common to such markers, but a few have epitaphs, and at least some added information such as birthplace.

“For example, ‘Here rests Humbert Osellene killed accidentally by an explosion near Youngs. Erected by his cousin and friends,’ this in the Grass Valley Odd Fellows Cemetery.

“Though she is proud of her cemetery project now completed, Sherry has numerous other interests. During the summer she was the swimming coach for Sherman County boys and girls on The Dalles Swim Team. Also is the Sherman County Red Cross Water Safety chairman and a water safety instructor, giving instruction using the Kaseberg private pool and other private pools in the county. She has been serving as the advisor to the 4-H Empire Builders, a high school age personal development and civic service group. You’d think those four boys aged four to nine, would be challenge enough. Perhaps like the French philosopher Voltaire, she’s found the only way to be happy is to be very busy, by George!”

Early Day Stockmen and Their Departure
A.J. Price

At quite an early date several men had large bands of stock on the range between the Deschutes and the John Day River. Col. Fulton had the first large band of horses in about 1863 or 64. Thomas Gordon had horses there in 1865. With Gordon was a half-breed Indian boy named Pierre Cacherre. Gordon was very sarcastic, and about the first lesson that he gave the boy was this, “Pierre, I have no use for anything that is not useful or ornamental, and as you are not ornamental, you had better make yourself useful.” Which he evidently did, for he lived with Gordon until he was about grown. He was one of the best riders of his time. He stayed in that country until it settled up, he then moved to the Yakima Indian reservation and married a half-breed Indian woman. He died there a few years ago. In about 1875 or 76 the Walker boys took up a ranch near Gordon Butte. They had sheep and some horses. There were six boys. Morgan and Elmer were deaf mutes. Joe Walker and young Tom Gordon had a shooting scrape over a fence. Joe lost an arm and Tom was killed. Joe was tried for murder, but was finally acquitted. George Reeder had a horse ranch near the Walker place. He came there soon after the Walkers did. Two or three years later Dave Daugherty was with Reeder. They each had some horses and they gathered up all the stray horses they could find and left the country between two days. I think Reeder sold his place to old man Bash. Dave stole Ida Bash. They were married at Walla Walla. They went to Montana. Bill Walker went with the outfit. He was the only one of the lot that ever came back.

Mat Engleman came in about 1869. He had a small herd of horses and a bunch of cattle. He never had a permanent home. He made his headquarters with Henry Barnum, and he also stayed at the Finnegan ranch. He finally sold his cattle, and drove his horses to Montana.

Louis Davenport, J.E. Dickerson, Jake Minton, Tim Baldwin, Al Betengen, Billy Wagerman and several others had cattle on the range, and did not provide feed, and a hard winter just about put them out of business. Orv Donnell bought what they had left, and later sold to Lang and Ryan, who trailed them to Cheyenne. Several herds were taken this way by eastern buyers. The Pearsons took a thousand head to Foster Creek in northern Washington. Many thousands of good horses were taken north, east, and south. Col. Fulton sold to J.D. Cooper, who took them to Livingston, Montana. The Gordon horses were sold and taken to Nebraska. Watson and Doc Helm took three hundred and fifty head to Silver Lake, southern Oregon. Wat Helm, Doug Stone, Will Lancaster and Ben Andrews went with them. John Young also started with them, two days later John’s father, Cal Young, was killed near Grants by a runaway team. Frank Hulery over-took them with the sad news at Antelope, and John came back.

C.I. Helm bought horses from William Lair Hill, Jim Jenkins and John Graham, seven hundred head, and took them to Moses Coulee, in the Big Bend country. Charley Helm, Jasper Garrison, Eugene Diggs, Gene Everet, Ralph Helm, Dick Johnson, and Jay Price went with that outfit.

Helen White Bruckert
by Sherry Woods Kaseberg

1-1 and 12-2

It’s often heard that we should bloom where we are planted! That’s just what Helen White Bruckert did! And she influenced others to do the same.

Historically, women’s influence came from behind the scenes, behind the teacher’s desk or the store counter, through their men and children, and from their homes. Helen White Bruckert was reared by her teacher parents, Professor Henry Harrison White and Cora Hudson White, to be a remarkable woman! She was born and reared in the Grass Valley country except for two years when her father taught at Dufur. Her father was among those who instituted the Field Meet long so popular in the county. Leadership, teaching and innovation were the examples she witnessed.

A memorable day, in Helen’s eyes, was the day she bought a pencil tablet and a bright red pencil at the drug store in Grass Valley. She started to school and set the pace that took her through college. She loved reading, travel and learning, and made it her life-long habit.

When she married Walter Bruckert, she was teaching school, and one of his friends observed that Walt was pretty smart to marry someone who could support him and his farm! His wounded pride led Helen to leave her teaching position and make a new career, a cooperative venture with Walt. As wheat farmers, they were leaders in soil and water conservation. They supplemented their income by raising livestock. They worked hard! They traveled, saw the country, and bought a farm in Canada. They shared interests in geology, botany, agriculture and geography. Their priorities were one another and their community.

When I first knew Helen in the 1950s, she had already taught school, milked cows, raised lambs, calves and gardens, trained horses, fed harvest crews, learned the fine points of cooking, sewing, tailoring and canning, and was charging into the future. She influenced the advent of OSU Home Extension and with bringing tailoring classes to Sherman County. She took young Extension Service Agents under her wing. She taught herself and others to decorate cakes and was featured in the Farm Journal magazine. She was as skilled with microwave cooking as she was with bummer lambs.

She patiently taught me a thing or two about sheep, plants, people and local history. After I surveyed the county cemetery stones in the sixties, with a twinkle in her eye, Helen offered to share stories about families and events noted therein. Not one to gossip, now and then she came close to disclosing information best left untold. My 4-H Outdoorsmen may remember hiking in the canyon below Walt’s and Helen’s house.

In the early years of the Sherman County Historical Museum, there was so little money the insurance and heating bills could not be paid. She was asked to pitch in with just enough to cover the winter bills. She sent ten times more than was asked, setting the museum on a course of improved financial status. She was a facilitator, the sort of person we might associate with “seed money,” although Helen’s money isn’t all that grew.

When she and Walt sold their Sherman County farm and retired to Goldendale, true to character, they made the decision based on sound research: weather, temperature, wind and medical and educational resources. In this new setting, they continued with their generous interests, setting new examples! Blooming where they were trans-planted!

She was a fine listener, a thoughtful, intuitive woman of uncommon energy and an enormous thirst for knowledge. Oh, and, yes, she was a feisty character determined to have her way.

She loved her Goldendale flower gardens but not neighborhood cats that visited her flowerbeds. She dealt with them! As I remember her story, she used a humane live animal trap to capture the offending cats. She gave them a little bath, and set them free, convinced they would never return. On one occasion, having caught a cat, and with no patience for the deposit left in her flowerbed, she decided to relocate the cat to the country-side, not knowing its owner had noticed. She loaded the cat in the trap into her car, opened the garage doors, backed onto the street, and headed out of town. Stopped by a local law enforcement officer, she was most embarrassed, convinced she had been arrested, and fearful of losing her license to drive. When she was ready to laugh about it, we did.

Into her nineties, a widow, still driving, she was still learning, teaching and reaching out! Needing knee replacements, she opted for two at once! Her zest for living, her hearty laughter and a bit of an argument now and then were contagious!

She continued to positively affect the lives of others. Large in spirit and heart, she’s the benefactor for many young people she and Walt supported through college and now through scholarships, an inspiration to those who enjoyed their mentoring, and a treasure for those who enjoy the expanded library in Goldendale and the Museum in Moro. Her strong beliefs led to a generous legacy.

See Helen’s family stories in Sherman County: For The Record volume 1, number 1 and volume 12, number 2.

Sherman County History Books and Publications
Oregon Heritage Commission

The following are books written during the past 50 years that deal primarily with Sherman County history or communities in Sherman County. This listing is merely to inform people of some of the available history books. It is not an endorsement of any or all of the publications.

Belshe, Bertha. They Paved the Way. Portland: Archetype, 1976. Photographs, index. 303 pages.

A thematic amateur history of Sherman County from settlement through 1976, with an emphasis on the earlier period. Topics include towns, schools, sports, churches, health care, transportation, wheat farming, and changes in life ways between 1889 and 1976. A full chapter is dedicated to family histories as told by those who lived the experiences and their descendents. Index is to family names.

Due, John F. and Giles French. Rails to the Mid-Columbia Wheatlands: The Columbia Southern and Great Southern Railroads and the Development of Sherman and Wasco Counties, Oregon. University Press of America, 1979. A scholarly study of transportation and economic development in the Mid-Columbia area with maps, graphs, photographs and local stories.

Due, John F. and Francis Juris Rush. Roads and Rails South From the Columbia: Transportation and Economic Development in the Mid-Columbia and Central Oregon. Bend: Maverick Publications, 1991.  The authors describe the exploration, geology, water, rail, and road development of the region, including their relationship to economic development of the area.

French, Giles. The Golden Land: A History of Sherman County, Oregon. Portland: Oregon Historical Society, 1958. Notes, appendices. 237 pages.  A thematic history of Sherman county based on oral histories. Topics include settlement, Native Americans, schools, towns, and industry. No table of contents is provided. Notes located at the end of each chapter are discursive and do not include sources.

French, Giles.  These Things We Note. Portland: Binford and Mort, 1966.  The contents include quotations from the column of the same name and selected editorials published in the Sherman County Journal from 1931-1966.

Kaseberg, Sherry Woods. Sherman County Place Names (third edition). Self-published, 2009. 182 pages.  An alphabetical account of the origin of place, street and road names in Sherman County with reference to sources.

Nielsen, Lawrence E. and Deanne M.  Roads of Yesterday in Northeastern Oregon. Bend: Maverick Publications, 1990. Maps, photographs. 143 pages. The history and maps of roads from The Dalles to Walla Walla, and of northeast Oregon.

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Sherman County entries:

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Old Occupation Names

  • Accomptant – Accountant.
  • Advertisement Conveyancer – sandwich board man.
  • Ale Tunner – employed by the brewery to fill ale casks (tuns} with ale.
  • Almoner – Giver of charity to the needy.
  • Amanuensis – Secretary or stenographer.
  • Artificer – A solder mechanic who does repairs.
  • Bailie – Bailiff.
  • Barker – tanner.
  • Baxter – Baker.
  • Bellman – employed as a watchman or town crier or who worked for the post office and collected letters for the mail coach by walking the streets and ringing a bell.
  • Bluestocking – Female writer.
  • Boatman – worked on a boat, predominately on rivers and canals also the name given to a boat repairer.
  • Boatswain – ship’s officer in charge of riggings & sails.
  • Boniface – Keeper of an inn.
  • Brazier – One who works with brass.
  • Brewster – Beer manufacturer.
  • Brightsmith – Metal Worker.
  • Burgonmaster – Mayor.
  • Caulker – One who filled up cracks (in ships or windows or seams to make them watertight by using tar or oakum-hem fiber produced by taking old ropes apart.
  • Chaisemaker – Carriage maker.
  • Chandler – Dealer or trader; one who makes or sells candles; retailer of groceries, ship supplier.
  • Chiffonnier – Wig maker.
  • Clark – Clerk.
  • Clerk – Clergyman, cleric.
  • Clicker – The servant of a salesman who stood at the door to invite customers; one who received the matter in the galley from the compositors and arranged it in due form ready for printing; one who makes eyelet holes in boots using a machine which clicked.
  • Cohen – Priest.
  • Collier – Coal miner.
  • Colporteur – Peddler of books.
  • Cooper – One who makes or repairs vessels made of staves & hoops, such as casks, barrels, tubs, etc.
  • Cordwainer – Shoemaker, originally any leather worker using leather from Cordova/Cordoba in Spain.
  • Costermonger – Peddler of fruits and vegetables.
  • Crocker – Potter.
  • Crowner – Coroner.
  • Currier – One who dresses the coat of a horse with a currycomb; one who tanned leather by incorporating oil or grease.
  • Docker – Stevedore, dock worker who loads and unloads cargo.
  • Dowser – One who finds water using a rod or witching stick.
  • Draper – A dealer in dry goods.
  • Drayman – One who drives a long strong cart without fixed sides for carrying heavy loads.
  • Dresser – A surgeon’s assistant in a hospital.
  • Drover – One who drives cattle, sheep, etc. to market; a dealer in cattle.
  • Duffer – Peddler.
  • Factor Agent – commission merchant; one who acts or transacts business for another; Scottish steward or bailiff of an estate.
  • Farrier – A blacksmith, one who shoes horses.
  • Faulkner – Falconer.
  • Fell monger – One who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for. leather making.
  • Feller – woodcutter.
  • Felter – worker in the hatting industry.
  • Flaxdresser – prepared flax prior to spinning.
  • Fleshmonger/Flesher – butcher or one who worked in a tannery.
  • Fletcher – One who made bows and arrows.
  • Fuller – One who fulls cloth; one who shrinks and thickens woolen cloth by moistening, heating, and pressing; one who cleans and finishes cloth.
  • Gaoler – A keeper of the goal, a jailer.
  • Glazier – Window glassman.
  • Hacker – Maker of hoes.
  • Hatcheler – One who combed out or carded flax.
  • Haymonger – Dealer in hay.
  • Hayward – Keeper of fences.
  • Higgler – Itinerant peddler.
  • Hillier – Roof tiler.
  • Hind – A farm laborer.
  • Hooker – Reaper.
  • Hooper – One who made hoops for casks and barrels.
  • Hostler – A groom who took care of horses, often at an inn or One who moves locomotives in and out of a roundhouse; also : one who services locomotives.
  • Huckster – Sells small wares.
  • Husbandman – A farmer who cultivated the land.
  • Jagger – Fish peddler.
  • Journeyman – One who had served his apprenticeship and mastered his craft, not bound to serve a master, but hired by the day.
  • Joyner / Joiner – A skilled carpenter.
  • Keeler – Bargeman.
  • Kempster – Wool comber.
  • Lardner – Keeper of the cupboard.
  • Lavender – Washer woman.
  • Lederer – Leather maker.
  • Leech – Physician.
  • Longshoreman – Stevedore.
  • Lormer  -Maker of horse gear.
  • Malender – Farmer.
  • Maltster – Brewer.
  • Manciple – A steward.
  • Mason – Bricklayer or stone worker.
  • Mintmaster – One who issued local currency.
  • Monger – Seller of goods (ale, fish).
  • Muleskinner – Teamster.
  • Neatherder – Herds cows.
  • Ordinary Keeper – Innkeeper with fixed prices.
  • Pattern Maker – A maker of a clog shod with an iron ring. A clog was a wooden pole with a pattern cut into the end.
  • Peregrinator – Itinerant wanderer.
  • Peruker – A wig maker.
  • Pettifogger – A shyster lawyer.
  • Pigman – Crockery dealer.
  • Plumber – One who applied sheet lead for roofing and set lead frames for plain or stained glass windows.
  • Porter – Door keeper.
  • Puddler – Wrought iron worker.
  • Quarrier – Quarry worker.
  • Rigger – Hoist tackle worker.
  • Ripper – Seller of fish.
  • Roper – Maker of rope or nets.
  • Saddler – One who makes, repairs or sells saddles or other furnishings for horses.
  • Sawbones – Physician.
  • Sawyer – One who saws; carpenter.
  • Schumacker – Shoemaker.
  • Scribler – A minor or worthless author.
  • Scrivener – Professional or public copyist or writer; notary public.
  • Scrutiner – Election judge.
  • Shrieve – Sheriff.
  • Slater – Roofer.
  • Slopseller – Seller of ready-made clothes in a slop shop.
  • Snobscat / Snob – One who repaired shoes.
  • Sorter – Tailor.
  • Spinster – A woman who spins or an unmarried woman.
  • Spurrer – Maker of spurs.
  • Squire – Country gentleman; farm owner; justice of peace.
  • Stevedore – laborer who unloads and loads ships’ cargoes.
  • Stuff gown – Junior barrister.
  • Stuff gownsman – Junior barrister.
  • Supercargo – Officer on merchant ship who is in charge of cargo and the commercial concerns of the ship.
  • Tanner – One who tans (cures) animal hides into leather.
  • Tapley – One who puts the tap in an ale cask.
  • Tasker – Reaper.
  • Teamster – One who drives a team for hauling.
  • Thatcher – Roofer.
  • Tide waite — Customs inspector.
  • Tinker — Am itinerant tin pot and pan seller and repairman.
  • Tipstaff – Policeman.
  • Travers – Toll bridge collection.
  • Tucker – Cleaner of cloth goods.
  • Turner — A person who turns wood on a lathe into spindles.
  • Victualer – A tavern keeper, or one who provides an army, navy, or ship with food.
  • Vulcan – Blacksmith.
  • Wagoner – Teamster not for hire.
  • Wainwright – Wagon maker.
  • Waiter Customs officer or tide waiter – One who waited on the tide to collect duty on goods brought in.
  • Waterman – Boatman who plies for hire.
  • Webster – Operator of looms.
  • Wharfinger – Owner of a wharf.
  • Wheelwright – One who made or repaired wheels; wheeled carriages,etc.
  • Whitesmith Tinsmith – worker of iron who finishes or polishes the work.
  • Whitewing – Street sweeper.
  • Whitster – Bleach of cloth.
  • Wright – Workman, especially a construction worker.
  • Yeoman  – Farmer who owns his own land.

The settlers on the Sherman County hills developed an independent streak shortly after getting located … The spirit of independence… ownership of land… led to a desire to have a new county all of their own. — Giles French