Let us begin our history by welcoming you to the Wallowa County Heritage Society.
Wallowa County is located in the beautiful state of Oregon.We may not be the most well known county in our state,but rest assured we are definately the most interesting.At least us Wallowa County residents think so..:)
For any of you who don't know where Wallowa County is.It's in the far northeast corner of Oregon.One of the many beautiful parts in the state,with some of the most beautiful wilderness your eyes will ever see.
The history here is very unique compared to other parts of the country.It's wasn't until the 1870's that the first white settlers arrived.Then about 17 years later we became an official county.Since that time many historical events took place that made the history books.
At present day many of us still look back with alot of unanswered questions,or perhaps frustration in ourselves as a human race why things unfold the way they do.It makes a person wonder will our history be just as interesting to others in a 140 years from now,and will they gasp when they see the wrongs committed?
One piece of history that you will find in the history books is the event of Chief Perce refusal to relocate to an Indian Reservation in Idaho in the year 1877.There were many battles here in the area,and it ended in Montana after 1200 miles of pursuit from the U.S. Regiments.It's a fascinating piece of history that should be made into a motion picture.
Chief Perce to many of us is one of the most famous of Indian Chiefs of all time.He passed away,while still in exile from his homeland.The diagnoses from his Doctor was he died of a broken heart.
The County Of Wallowa
We don't have the largest population compared with the other counties here in the state,but there are 7000 of us residents with a lot of stories to tell.
For starters,lets check out the museum,and the heritage center that we host here in the town of Wallowa,and of course we boast about them as well.Community spirit at its best you could say,and find the heritage worth it..:)
For some good insight & understanding about the logging history up this way,you couldn't find a better place than the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center.
There you'll find heritage from the cultural aspect of the times.Can you imagine the nationalities of those who have contributed in some way,or another in the creation of the communities that are still here today as living proof?..Native Americans,Chinese,African American,European settlers,and not to leave out those who made there way east from the Pacific Ocean that may have worked on the ships,and out seeking a little adventure and change of occupation.
This is one thing our county is proud of.We really take not just our own personal heritage,but every heritage from every individual in our community seriously,and we believe all of us are a piece of the puzzle when it come to the heritage & history of Wallowa County.
Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center
211 E. 2nd St. Wallowa, OR 97885
Another Interpretive Center we're proud to share with you is the Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center.Talk about in depth history of the Native American Culture that is truely Award Winning History and told by the decendents of the Nez Perce Indians themselves the history,or perhaps the struggle they faced to keep their roots in Wallowa Valley.
Here they tell the story of the people who once resided in what is now Wallowa County.They wanted to trace, clarify, and explain the story of the Wallowa Band Nez Perce expelled from the area in 1877.
Wallowa Valley was the Nez Perce Indians home.They traditionally gathered fish, game, and wild plants. They followed changing seasons to headwaters of rivers and high mountains of the Wallowas in the summer and returned to deep canyons of the Snake River and its tributaries in winter.
In 1855 Indians from many Northwest tribes, including almost all Nez Perce chiefs and sub-chiefs signed a treaty leaving the Wallowas and large chunks of land in the present states of Idaho and Washington to the Nez Perce. In 1863 gold was discovered,and then with the constant stream of settlers things unfortunately changed for them.So if you make it up this way.Please stop at the Center and let them tell you their story.
Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center
209 E. 2nd St.,Wallowa OR 97885
The Heritage & History here makes one appreciate being able to walk the same ground,and share the story with others on one took place here at one time.
Last,but not the least important of some of the history & heritage centers is the Wallowa County Museum.
If you're into the complete history of our county this is the place to learn it at.You'll really enjoy the Indian artifacts that they have on display.This is really a must visit when coming to Wallowa.
Wallowa County Museum
110 S. Main St. , Joseph OR 97846
Wallowa County Cemeteries
My wife & I were visiting some of the cemeteries in the county.Let me tell you,if you want to see cemeteries with diverse heritage,then pay a visit to one of the cemeteries.
Popular Surnames In Wallowa County
The surnames in the area are as diverse as the heritage here.The genealogy research here is a very challenging task at time.So please continue to check for updates on our surname list.
We will be adding a section to the site with some surnames of the Nez Perce Tribe at another date,until more complete.This has been a very challenging task that we've had in the works for some time now,and we're very excited when it's complete.
There are several genealogy buffs in the county,and they do help others when they have the time to spare.We will be setting up a section here at the site with more detail in some of the family surnames & some who have allowed us to post their family tree.Sometimes cross-checking names to those who marry,or perhaps have a possible name change.Name changes were not an uncommon thing back in those days.The problem is you just don't here about name changes really,and that's an oddity in itself,but there are many reasons for changing your last name,so we'll just leave it at that.
We would like to ask for some help with the following surnames.It's a needle in a hay-stack of a chance,but when researching genealogy,we use several approaches to finding this information.I call this the "desperate-last-straw-with hope" approach.Just keep talking about it,and asking around.The information certainly won't come to us.
One area we have a lot of unanswered questions in,or let me rephrase that using the word "era".The lumbering days from way back had many folk pass through this way.They'd work some,and then move on,or move onto to another adventure.Every direction help adventure,and the possibility of making a good income.With the various opportunities to the gold rushes in this part of the country,lumbering,fishing...the ports,the railroads springing up.It was a time of growth for business & the residents of the communities.There was certainly a lot of work available,and that's what created the immigration to this part of the state,and with that came a culture diversity that just alone is worthy of the history books.
So with all this came cold cases.What I mean by that is,the last time somebody heard from so & so was in 1898 in the town of johndoe.They called him this,or they called him that.His last name was spelled this way,but he could of changed it,or perhaps this is a female they are seeking.She could have married in so & so,but there are no records,or don't know the township etc....
1887-1993 Wallowa County Marriages
Now here is probably one of the ways to track past relatives.Especially the female half of the marriage.This is one of our main sources when it comes to looking into the queries we get.So if you're tracking down a past relative,this might be a jackpot of information for you,that is if it pertains to Wallowa County.
Let us talk a moment about some of the towns here,or some of the communities that were once a thriving place at one moment in time.Some interesting stuff here..:)
We have many communities here pretty much left on their own,not yet swallowed up by a city.Just communities in the county we call them,and each of these small communities are very special in their own way.
Let us start with the town a little more well known,and incorporated.
Enterprise : A town known for making great quality beer.Something to sip on while discussing some of the history in the area in one of the local pubs.A beautiful town with about 2000 residents.
Joseph : This is another small town,and with a lot of small towns across the entire U.S.,there are good times,and then the hard times.After the lumbering business went down the tubes,the unemployment sky-rocketed.Thanks to the broad foundries that opened up,things have gotten a lot better there.There is some rich history in the Indian Culture here,and one town that a person could discuss for weeks on the history that took place there.
Lostine : Now this is your typical VERY small town.I'd be very surprised if there were more than 300 residents there,but rest assured they have everything one needs if making a stop.
Wallowa : As mentioned above,here is where you'll find the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center.I love all the town here in Wallowa County,but this one is my favorite because of the Interpretive Center,and the Nez Perce Trail Center.So if you really want to get a good taste of the history,and the heritage in Wallowa,then this is a must stop while in the area.
Now here are some of the even smaller communities,or communities that once were.
Flora : In 1910 it had a population of 200.Today it's considered a ghost town.There are some historical structures there like the Old Flora School built in 1915.We assume the great depression ended this community.
Imnaha : This small town is the gateway to the Hells Canyon Lookout,and the Snake River.There is a lot of history here.One incident that comes to mind is when a large group of Chinese gold prospectors were massacred by a bunch of cattle thieves.A horrible part of history with injustice that took place even after the crime,and the memory of this still exists today.
Maxville : This is an old ghost town that once had the largest population here in the county.With the logging ending,and the depression the town couldn't stay alive.A great place to sight see,and look at some history.
Minam : This is some really pretty country,and rich in Native American History.
Paradise : Another small gem of a community known for its campground,the great fishing,and of course the wilderness setting.
Troy : Troy in no other words is a fishing paradise. We've received a couple requests looking into some family heritage in the area,so we'll be sure to update this a little more when our research is complete.This is a popular area for those into river fishing.
Past Residents of Wallowa County Who Served In The Civil War
We're so grateful to have records of the Veterans who served in the Civil War,who later on in life became residents of Wallowa County.Many of these Civil War Veterans played crucial roles in the history of the county,and we take the time remember them.
Residents Of Wallowa County Who Served In The Civil War
Arba N Adams - Amos Amey - Henry Amey - Nathan B Applington - Moses Austin - George W Barnes - Henry W Beecher - Charles C Beggs - John W Blankenship - Bernarn B Botts - William Hopper Brock - John Calvin - Augustus Cannon - Samuel D Cole - James Covington Conrad - George Washington Cook -Simeon Taylor Dagget - Alexander Reed Dawnson - Theodore R Day - Burr Dexter - Mark Evans - William Evans - Addison Fite - George W Frazier - William A Galloway - James D Halsey - Lemuel L Hambelton - James Hays - Mark Homan - William Holloway - John S Horner - John Jenkins - William Kernan - David Kooch - Joseph H Landrus - Louis Lathrop - Thomas M Thahrop - William G Locke - John C McFetridge - John Martin - Frank Mason - John Wesley Nedrow - Peter O'Sullivan - Courtland Phillips - John Rogers - J.A. Rumble - Micheal Russell - Anderson C Smith - C.C. Stanley - James J Stanley - Jessee Surber - John B Taylor - A Levi Tulley - E.H. Tulle - James A Tulley - Joseph P Wall - William Harden Weathers - William C Wilsey - James Wilson - Gideon Wolfe - John Zurcher
We will be adding to this page as we go along,and sort out the information,and will update with the Veterans of both World Wars sometime next month.
So keep checking back.We're always updating this page.
Feel free to contact us with comments or suggestions.