coming to Oregon
compiled by Larry Dean REA
Ed: We were living in Idaho at South Boise when Grandpa (John Michael) MYSINGER took sick. He wasn’t doing very well and the doctor told him he had to take it easy. So he decided if he couldn’t work he would go to Delena and visit with his brother-in-law, Charlie ALSTON. Grandpa died during the visit.
Mom (Lydia Belle MYSINGER) and Grandmother (Frances Cordelia ALSTON) MYSINGER came out to the funeral. Mom liked it at Delena so when she got back to Idaho she talked Dad (Abija Lee REA) into moving to Delena. That was 1919. Dad was working at a small mill in Barber (ID) but we were living at South Boise.
Lex: The mill in Barber was a good sized mill, it had a couple of headrigs and a shotgun feed. It was called Boise-Payette then but it later became known as Boise-Cascade. They also had a mill down at Emmett.
The Rea family owned a Maxwell Touring car but sold it to Lee’s brother, Edmund Rea, and bought a Model T for the trip to Oregon. They came to Oregon as a group in 1919.
Esther: It took us a week the first time we came to Oregon. The roads weren’t very good then. The roads over the Blue Mountains were just trails out through the trees.
Ed: When we came across the Blue Mountains there were just ruts to follow. The dust would get axle deep. When the ruts got too deep they would just move over a few feet and make another set of ruts.
On the Model T gasoline got to the carburetor by gravity flow, it didn’t have a vacuum line or a fuel pump. The gas tank was behind the seat, so you couldn’t get gas to the carbureter going up a steep hill. You had to turn around and back up the hill. Everyone would get out to lighten the load.
Esther: The car tires were made of sponge rubber instead of having inner tubes. Us kids would make a ball out of the sponge rubber..
Esther: We picked up the smallpox some where along the road. We all had smallpox after we came to Oregon. We didn’t know if Dad was going to live for a while but we all survived.
Ed: When we first came to Oregon we lived on the Goad place. That’s just toward Clatskanie from where Chuck and Darlene (PEARCE) built their meat plant at Delena (1980s). I think the house was just a couple of log camp bunk houses pulled together, we didn’t live there very long.
( Lee REA, on the 13 September 1919, bought 40 acres from Charles Lambert, paid $1200, $120 down.)
We all had the smallpox at the Goad place. Edmund and Mabel REA, my Grandpa (Theodore Columbus) REA, they had pox so bad on the bottom of their feet they couldn’t walk. They were practically crippled, they just hobbled around.
Ed: They told us they never had snow in this country but the first winter we were at Delena (OR) we had 3 feet of snow. The second or third winter was so cold the Columbia River froze over. The ice was so thick they brought the ice cutter up to break the ice in the river.
Lex: That first winter was a bad one. It got to 19 below. Some guys skated across the river between Goble and Kalama. When we first moved down there the road over the hill from Rainier to Delena was gravel. They paved it the first year we were there. Then they had a silver thaw the next winter. We were going toward town and here was a guy on ice skates, skating down the middle of the road !
Ed: Noyes-Holland had a logging camp at Delena. That logging camp was still operating when we moved to Delena in 1919. Uncle Joe (Marshall Josiah MYSINGER) and Dad worked for Noyes-Holland. Dad ran the pump station. There was a spring down over the hill and they pumped water up to the camp, up to the
Lex: Edmund (REA) worked there too. He was firing the donkey.
Ed: A fire went through while Uncle Joe was working. Some big guy he had never seen before told him, ” Get over there and fall that tree !” Uncle Joe said, ” Who are you ?” The man answered, “I’m Mr. NOYES !”
Myrtle: I can just see Uncle Joe doing that. Joe was so big I don’t know who would argue with him very long. His eyes could turn so very blue when he was angry..
Lex: I never met Mr. NOYES but when I worked for Mt. Jefferson Lumber at Lyons (OR) Mr. HOLLAND was running the logging site.
Ed: When we first moved down to Delena the country was all logged off and there was lots of fireweed and honey bees. Granddad [Theodore Columbus Rea] spent a lot of time looking for bee trees. He had a box about six inches deep and he would catch bees in it. It was fixed so light came in the top and the bees could get air. He had some sugar water in it and when he would get about a dozen bees he would let one go. He would watch which direction it went and walk that direction. Then he would let another bee go, pretty soon he would find the tree. They all did that, Dad, Granddad and Edmund.
One time, after Edmund moved to Goble, Granddad decided the tree out in the pasture was a bee tree. Edmund told him not to cut it down, the cows used it for shade in hot weather. Granddad waited until Edmund was gone one day and he cut the tree down. I don’t think he got more than a pint of honey. Edmund made him split the tree into firewood for the house.
Ed: Dad, Carl Mysinger, and Uncle Edmund worked on the highway from Rainier, through Delena and Beaver Falls. Carl was a night watchman, looking after the equipment, down by Beaver Falls, he didn’t like to stay down there at night by himself. They used teams of horses and a slip to move dirt. From Clatskanie to Astoria, the people down there would take a contract to build road. A lot of dirt got moved by pick, shovel and wheelbarrow.
Ed: Uncle Charlie ALSTON and Aunt Rosie (SISCO) lived in Delena, that was Mom’s uncle, my great uncle. They were living here when we moved here.
Lex: Charlie ALSTON was a Mississippi river boat gambler for a while. Aunt Rosie (SISCO) had a child already, named Erton. When Erton went into the Army in WWI Rosie told him that ALSTON wasn’t his name, he could have his real name if he wanted it. Erton said ALSTON was all right with him, it was the only name he ever knew so he kept it. I think SISCO was her maiden name because she was related to the SISCO’s living around Rainier.
They had a girl named “Okla” and another boy named “Loy”.
Larry: I found a birth record for Loy Walton Alston born 20 July 1902 in Fort Smith, Sebastian Co., AR.
Ed: Charlie ALSTON delivered milk to the NOYES-HOLLAND log camp. He would sit and play cards until no one would play anymore. He made more money at cards than he did selling milk.
Lex: Aunt Rosie ran a little lunch counter. When someone came in the door, sat at the counter and ordered something to eat, she went out the back door, around to the butcher shop, bought what she needed to fill the order, brought it back and cooked it for them.
Simeon Sylvester KINDALL
married Lydia Phuamah REA 27 May 1909
dau Pearl Esther born 3 mar 1911 Meridian
dau Retha Lois born 13 Feb 1913 Troy
dau Essie Lucille born 21 Mar 1915 Meridian
dau Vada Ruth born 6 Sep 1917 Meridian
son Leslie Loy born 26 Feb 1920 Delena
Lex: Leslie KINDALL was born at Delena, Dr. DITTO delivered him. Vester said Dr. Ditto was a lot better doctor than the one in Idaho. The doctor in Idaho delivered nothing but girls !
Ed: Vester KINDALL (Simeon Sylvester KINDALL) married my Dad’s sister. (Lydia Phuamah REA) My Grandmother MYSINGER’s maiden name was (Frances Cordelia) ALSTON. Charlie was her brother.
Ed: Uncle Charlie ALSTON moved to Delena first, I don’t know when or why.
Uncle Joe (Marshal Josiah) MYSINGER, Mom’s brother, lived in Rainier. Joe and Gertrude (Gertrude Adelade BRANDON) had two boys, Verne and Elmer. Verne still lives here in town, Elmer moved to Reedsport.
Carl (Lydia’s brother) and Grandma (Frances Cordelia ALSTON) MYSINGER lived in Rainier for a long time. He operated the movie theatre. They moved to Portland and bought a place out at Jenning’s Lodge. He moved to Sheridan for a while and then came back to Portland. He moved to St. Helens and operated a movie theatre.
Ed: My folks bought a brand new stove when we first came to Oregon (1919) and lived at Delena. It was in the house that burned. When the house caught on fire Mom sent Omar and me over to Uncle Vester’s (KINDALL) and (Great) Uncle Charlies (ALSTON) to tell them the house was on fire. They lived about three quarters of a mile away. Omar and I were just little fellows. I wasn’t going to school yet and Omar was two years younger than me.
Myrtle: The story goes around that when your Dad got to (Great) Uncle Charlie ALSTON’s he said, ” Aunt Rosie, I want to tell you something! Aunt Rosie, I want to tell you something! Our house is on fire!” They laughed about that many times. It took him so long to tell them the house was on fire.
Ed: Well, she kept on talking. She was glad to see me and was making over me.
When we got there Mr. WEST was out repairing the fence. Aunt Rosie (ALSTON) hollered at him and he threw down his hammer and took off on the run. He was still running when he got to the house.
Ed: Mom decided to save the new stove. She got the stove out to the edge of the porch and she was going to roll it down the steps if nobody came to help her. Mr. WEST came running and yelling. She waited for him and they took the stove down the steps. If I remember right the porch was pretty high off the ground. There was room to store wood under the house.
Myrtle: She often said she didn’t know how she got the stove out to the porch.
Lex: That porch was pretty high off the ground. I fell off it one time and landed on a piece of glass, cut hell out of my hand.
Esther: I was at school when the house burned. Ed, Omar, and Ruth were at home. Grandma ROSS was there. She always kept her false teeth in a glass in the pantry, while the house was burning she went in and got her teeth, put them in her mouth, took the glass of water out to the porch and emptied the glass. Then she took the glass back and put it in the pantry !
The guy that owned the house had the upstairs full of stuff.
Larry: What started the fire ?
Ed: They had built a fire out of a bunch of chips and stuff. They figured a spark landed in the moss that grew on the cedar shingle roof. It was summer time and when the moss was dry it would burn almost like gasoline.
Myrtle: A lot of houses burned in those days. Of course we all had wood ranges. If we cooked or canned we had a fire going. All it took was a cinder.
Myrtle: About 15 years ago we took a drive back to where the house stood. There’s nothing there now.
Ed: No one rebuilt after the house burned.
Larry: What kind of chimneys did they have ?
Myrtle: Mostly just little stove pipes made of tin I believe. It seemed like we were always buying new tins for the chimney.
Larry: Did your folks move from Delena after the house burned down?
Ed: No, Dad bought a place up behind (Great) Uncle Charlie ALSTON’s place. The Noyes-Holland logging camp was up the road a couple of miles. They moved out and left the bunk houses and stuff behind. Dad got three or four bunk houses and pulled them to our place. He pulled them together and we moved into them.
Dad built a barn across the road from the house. He built a shed on one side for the cows. The hay mow was in the middle and on the other side he built a shed for his car. He laid planks inside to run the car on. He put a plank crossways so he would know how far in he could go. The front tire would bump against the plank to give him warning.
Us kids would go over there to play house when the car was gone. We would move the plank and when Dad came in with the car he would drive off the end of his planks. He would have to jack the car up to get it back on the planks.
Myrtle: Did you get spanked ?
Ed: We probably did.
Floy Cordelia REA born 1 Feb 1921
Delena, Columbia Co, OR
Esther: When Floy was born out at Delena they took us down to Aunt Rosie’s (ALSTON). They had just started that little store. I thought, Oh boy, I would get a lunch like Okla (ALSTON) had, candy bars and store bought cookies, but Grandma (Frances Cordelia ALSTON) MYSINGER fixed my lunch at home and sent it down to me.
(Lex) We kids were approximately two years apart until Floy. There were three years between Ruth and Floy. Ruth
says that’s the reason Floy is so slow.
Ed: When we lived out at Delena, what we called the home place, Lex, Ernie, and I suppose Buck although Buck wasn’t there most of the time, they dug a well in back of the house. They would set off dynamite and then dig the loose dirt out, then set off some more dynamite. They dug the well deep enough they had to be let down by rope. They finally hit water. We used that well all the time. Lex was about 12 and Ernie 14. Today I wouldn’t even think about letting a 14 year old kid use dynamite.
Esther: I don’t remember that Buck was around very much. He graduated from the eighth grade at Delena so he must have been at home. I believe Ernie graduated at Delena also.
Lex: I went to school at Delena but I quit in the seventh grade. Ernie graduated from the eighth grade. Ed and Omar went to high school but they didn’t graduate. A big family like Dad had, the older boys hit the mills, worked to help support the family. I started at age 14, Ernie started at 14 but he moved to Portland when he was 18 and started reading meters.
Ed: My third grade teacher at Delena was Gladys Ritchie. She needed some fertilizer so she sent Ernie [Rea] and Orville Curteman to Geiger’s barn for manure. They took a bucket and filled it with green manure. Then they put just a crust of dry manure across the top. When Gladys dug in to get a handful she got into the green stuff. They thought that was pretty funny.
Edgar John REA (age 6 ) started school at Delena in 1920 but finished the third grade at Prescott, OR. (spring of 1923) Abija Lee REA worked for the Beaver Lumber Company, later known as the Clark and Wilson Mill, at Prescott.
Ed: When Dad was working at Prescott sometimes he would load up his rig with mill ends to use as wood at home. One night he went out to the parking lot to get his rig, he noticed a couple of young fellows standing around but he didn’t think it was unusual. While he was loading the wood he could smell gasoline real strong so he walked around to the tank side and here was a siphon hose still running gas ! Those guys were stealing gas and he caught them redhanded.
Ed: Ernie got a single shot 22. It was a Crackshot, I believe it was made by Stevens. When we lived at Prescott he used to put empty 22 shells on the fence between our house and the railroad tracks and shoot at them. I don’t think you have to hit them, I think if you are close they will fall over.
Ed: JOHNSONs lived close to us there at Prescott. They would go into Portland and buy a truckload of groceries, a pickup load. They bought a gunnysack of raw peanuts, whenever they wanted peanuts they would roast some to eat.
Ed: Before Prescott there was a town and a mill up by Jack Falls. It had a school and some vacant buildings. A gang of crooks were supposed to be holed up there and were killed in a shootout. The money was never found.
Ed: The guy who lived next to us at Prescott was always setting fires and looking for gold. He got trapped one time and Omar and I saved him. We heard him holler and put the fire out. A little later he set a fire and burned himself up.
Orville Charles REA born 8 Mar 1923
Prescott, Columbia Co, OR
End of Chapter 3