W.P. Vandevert
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Indian Meadows
As told by Claude Vandevert (the elder)
March, 1971

       (This is a transcript of a recording made by Claude Vandevert.  He picked “Indian Meadows” as the name for a boys and girls camp he once had the idea of running.  He didn’t open the camp but he always liked the name. – ed.)

Parents and Grandparents

        To introduce you to our family, my father and mother were William P. and Sadie Lee.  There were eight children, seven of whom lived out here:  William, Jr., Mittye Grace (who lived in New York), George, J.C. (Clint), Grace (she died in 1918 with the flu and is buried in the last timber grove near the river), Bush (real name is Arthur and he is now a doctor in Indiana), Maude, and myself.

       Three of the children were born in Texas, two in Arizona, and two in Oregon.  Bush was the only one born in the house on the homestead and, of course, I was born in Powell Butte.  A sister, Grace, was born in New York State. Actually three of the boys became doctors – George, J.C., and Bush.  Maude (Catlow) taught school.

       My father was in the Southwest a lot, but finally he went to New York to see Mother’s sister and other relatives.  The family stayed a year, then they loaded their stuff on the train in New York, and came to The Dalles.  My uncle met them there and took them to Powell Butte.  He had two brothers and his father there at that time.

       My Grandmother, Grace Clark, was from England.  She was my father’s mother.  She was in what is now known as the Clark Massacre at Snake River.  She was shot on their way out here.  They were all from England. They got to Fort Hall in Idaho and started out from there and Indians attacked them at Hell’s Gate.  Grace Clark was 18 and she and her mother and brother Hodgson, who was 17, were in a lighter rig driving ahead. 

       The men saw some ducks and game and told the women and Hodgson to find a campground.  Before they were there more than a few minutes the Indians came and started shooting, and the first bullet went right through Hodgson, killing him instantly. They kept on shooting and Grace reached up to get her mother down, and she was shot through her wrist and her mother was killed right there.  Then she was shot under the arm.  They started to scalp her, but ran off when they saw a cloud of dust coming and thought the men had gotten help.  They pounded her head with rocks and left her for dead.

       She did recover and married Grandfather Vandevert, but she always wore the scars until her death at about age forty or forty-one.

       Ben Southwell was a six month old baby in the massacre but, of course, he did not remember it.  I talked with him many years ago when he was living in Klamath Falls.

       Dad went with my mother’s brother, Thomas Clark, to Mendocino and to Texas.  My father actually came through Modoc carrying mail in 1873 (possibly witnessing the end of the Modoc War – ed.).  He went from Fort Bidwell toward Lakeview, and then he went on to the Valley. When Dad got to Texas he went on his own.  Mother went to teach school there from Louisville, Kentucky, and they were married.  They lived in Texas, Arizona, and a year in New York, then decided to come to Oregon.

The Homestead

       The original homestead house was one story, built in 1892, after my father came from Powell Butte.  He homesteaded all the west half of the place.  Scoggins homesteaded the east half of the place several years before.  Scoggins got title on his homestead on July 19, 1891 but he mortgaged it in 1889 so he had it sometime before.  Uncle Charlie bought that piece from Scoggins because he knew my Dad wanted it.  His initials are on a tree somewhere on the place, bearing the date 1885.  (William Vandevert had to build his house on the land he was homesteading.  The line between the 160 acres he purchased and the 160 acres he homesteaded ran right along the front porch of the new house. – ed.)

       Charlie was the third brother of my father, who along with their father (my grandfather) migrated from their old home east of Cottage Grove, Oregon.  Charlie bought this land ahead of time and sold it to my Dad for just what he paid for it - $600.  Mother went down in the trunk and gave the money to him.  (The money was in a trunk they had brought from New York to Powell Butte. – ed.)

       Charlie contracted the summer care of a band of sheep from a larger operator.  His trips into the mountains took him as far as the Wickiups in the mid 1880’s and it is my belief that he was the first one to call it the “Wickiups”.

       To go back to the house – mother stopped in Powell Butte at Grandfather’s place to await my birth, which was on January 6, so after I was born we all came up here in May.

       Scoggins had a good big house up on the hill and we lived in that while Dad was building this house.  He had to build it before winter, so he went out and found what they called shake trees, to cut boards and lots of shakes.  When he got the fireplace in the old log house he sealed it with hand smoothed (pulled? – ed.) draw knife, and that kind of thing.  (Claude’s children cannot say what this means.  Claude, the son, notes that the rock in the fireplace was largely pumice and could be cut with a saw.)

       He knew he was going to move out of the other building and make a barn out of it, so he took the flooring out of that, and hauled it with some of the old rough lumber for the floor.  The first lumber he had in here you had to go either to Silver Lake or out to Sisters for.  I don’t remember the name of the sawmill at Sisters.

       There was just a big room, but he partitioned off a bedroom on the north side.  The fireplace was on the south side.  (An error has crept into the transcript.  The fireplace was always on the north side and the partitioned bedroom was on the south. – ed.)  Then, of course, the dining room and the kitchen were in the “L”.  He got some of the doors from the old house and he made some by hand.  Scoggins left bedsteads and mother had furniture from the east, too.  The only heat we had was a fireplace in the living room and the wood range in the kitchen “L”.

       Three years later, in 1895, they attached more to the house and made it two-story.  It was done because they were going to have company from New York, but they needed it anyway with the children growing up.

       They were here for a year for my Uncle’s health and Mittye (my sister) came with them and went back with them.  They had a drug store in New York City.

       My dad kept his homestead – it was a five year term you had, but they extended his time for two years and he took advantage of it, because you didn’t have to pay taxes if you were proving it up.  They only amounted to $17.00 but that was money they needed in those days.

       When Dad bought from Uncle Charlie for $600 there was a complete blacksmith shop sitting where the house is now – and I mean it was a complete blacksmith outfit with forge and carpenter shop – and that was all included in the price.

Family Nearby

       The rest of Dad’s brothers had homesteads to the south.  They, Dick and Walter Vandevert, lived on their ranches and ran horses and cattle until the time of World War I when Columbus Johnson from Prineville bought them out.

       Dr. Clint Vandevert (Claude’s brother – ed.) took the homestead to the south right next to this and it had some yellow pine timber on it.  In 1907 Marion Weist Coe filed on it for him, so no one would get it ahead of him, because he wasn’t quite twenty-one.

       Bill (Claude’s brother – ed.) had 80 acres on the southwest side of our place which he homesteaded in about 1911 or 1912.  He decided not to prove it up but there is his old cabin there.  Otherwise all we had was during the period of timber claims when they were available.  Dad, mother, and J.C. had one but they were way up in the woods.

       Now, to go on, toward the fall of 1892 Dad knew he was going to have to have some transportation for utility on the ranch so he built a set of bobsleds in the shop.  In fact, he did that for about everybody in the country.  He got some money for his work but most of it was for trade – not much money exchanged hands in those days.  Settlers even borrowed quarters of beef and paid back when theirs was ready.  There was a lot of that going on and I don’t know what they would have done without trading in those days.

       We had the Davis ranch rented in 1902-3-4 and we went down there in the bobsled.

       Dad’s brothers had come over here to raise horses – Dick and Walter especially, and he got all the horses from them, and they didn’t cost very much.  They ranged them up at Long Prairie where La Pine is now.

       My grandfather came from Powell Butte and lived in the little cabin that was the school house here and he died here in 1910.  (Claude’s children cannot identify the cabin he is referring to here. – ed.)   

Trips to Prineville and Eugene

       There was no such thing as a town of Bend when my family came.  There were two families there – Sisemores and Staats.  All shopping was done in Prineville and that was a five day trip.  My Grandfather lived at Powell Butte at that time, so we would go as far as Farewell Bend and stay at the Sisemore place and then the next day we could make it to Grandfather’s place at Powell Butte.  The place was just about where the road goes now.  It was eight miles to Prineville from there and quite often we would go in for one day, load the wagon, and go back to Grandfather’s. 

       If you had $40 to go after a load of food it would bring back a wagon load.  They bought a barrel of flour (200 pounds) for $4 and they got dried apples, prunes, dried peaches.  Once in a very great while dried apricots but they were a little higher.

       We went to Eugene and Cottage Grove on the old MacKenzie pass for fruit.  Dad was born and raised in Cottage Grove so we would go there every three years probably.  They took me along in 1895 and I remember so much about that trip.   (Claude was three years old. – ed.)

       From here we got to what is now Bend on the first night, then to Sisters the second night, to Mountain House the third night, and then we camped two more nights along the way to Eugene.  There was only one place that was really dangerous and that was Windy Point.  There you could barely get around the turn and there were a lot of rocks jutting up.  Wagons tipped many times on that turn.  There was a little sign put up, “Hell – one-fourth mile,” pointing downward into the canyon.

       It was quite a drag on the horses coming back, although it was a four horse team.  There was a heavy load.  Lots of times Mother would put up fruit in glass jars and bring that back.  

Lewis and Clark Centennial

       In 1905 we went to the fair – Lewis and Clark Centennial.  We just loaded up two wagons – one a four horse and the other a two-horse team.  It took five days to Salem and two more to Portland from Salem.  We stayed at Barlow and it rained so hard they let us put our beds in the barn.

       We camped at Guilds Lake (in the Vaughn Street area it would be now).  We stayed a week and took in all the fair and everything and still had a little money left.  So we went to the wholesale houses, filled the wagons with food, and came on home.

       Dad filled the wagons.  Then, because there was no road from Hood River to The Dalles, he decided we would ship out of Portland on the boat.  You had to leave early in the morning so we drove our wagons to the warehouse the night before and slept there.  At 5:00 AM we loaded them on the boat, “The Dalles City”, and pulled out of Portland at 7:00 AM.  We got to The Dalles at 5:00 that afternoon.  They took the two wagons, six horses, and all the family on that boat trip for $24.50. 

       We stayed all night and came back by way of Dufur.  From there we came back in five days.  We always camped in Bend before coming home.

       After coming up with the wagons through all those hills it really irritates me to hear people say “up” to Portland or The Dalles when you are really going down that way and “up” to Bend

Cattle Ranching

       Cattle range was free land when we first started in the ‘90’s.  There was no government regulation whatsoever and there were quite a few fights about it even in those days.  By 1903-04 the Forest Service had not actually organized but it was when they commenced to regulate things and we did get to go up to Crane Prairie through the efforts of John Ryan.  Of course he benefited too because Clint (the one who became a doctor) had to go up and watch cattle for him.  So he wasn’t hurt.  John Ryan came here from the Middle West as a forerunner to Shevlin.

       We had at most maybe 70 head but the Upper Deschutes Livestock Association was formed where all the cattle grazed together and there were as many as 1,700 at one time.  That was maybe in 1915.  The first year we had to leave Crane Prairie was 1924 because they were turning in the water.  It had taken them from 1921 to 1924 to build the dam.      

Neighbors and Post Office

       Our nearest neighbors were a mile from us, the Allens, down where the little airport is (on Crosswater’s land, on the southwest corner of South Century and Spring River – ed.).  He is buried in the little graveyard here, as is Joe Whitfield, another neighbor to the west.  He was an Englishman who painted the sign at the Old Homestead.  The graveyard is there in the first field this side of Sunriver.  You can see the white fence around it as you go by.  Besides Allen and Whitfield there is a Pringle, Mrs. Gowdy (who was Court Allen’s sister) and a baby of an emigrant family.    

       Uncle Walter Vandevert was to the south.  That is the place Charlie Montgomery had.  Dick and Walt both had pre-emption places of 320 acres each.  All these early homesteads had pre-emption rights.  (Pre-emption rights allowed a homesteader to simply buy the property from the government rather than improve the land enough within five years to get it for free. – ed.)

       The first post office was after 1898 and my Mother was from Kentucky and a Democrat and she got the post office.  She named it Carlisle.  (The post office was actually established at the ranch in 1893 when Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, was president.  John Griffen Carlisle, from Kentucky, was Cleveland’s Secretary of the Treasury. – ed.)  We didn’t get mail unless someone went to Prineville after it and then she would distribute it in the little rack Dad had built for her.

       When the Aldridge family moved where Sunriver is now, they wanted the post office and a little store.  Mother was glad to be rid of it because it was a nuisance more than anything else.  Wes Aldridge wanted to name it Lava and that was alright.  But he moved within a year or two and it reverted back to us and we continued to go by the name of Lava.  We built a little room on the other end of the porch and put up some places for mail.  That was in 1902.  There was only mail three times a week then and we thought that was pretty good.  My uncles had the mail contract from Prineville to Silver Lake.  The ranch was also a stage coach stop and I have one of the old stage coach lanterns.

       This country was all used by the Indians but they were friendly.  Their main camp was a little farther down but they did have their steam bath houses near the river here.  They would take steam baths when they were hot and tired, much as we now take hot steam baths or saunas.  The heated the rocks, threw water on them when they were very hot, then sat in the steam.

       I have a beautiful Indian basket made of birch bark.  They took the long sheet, folded it at the bottom and wrapped it around with sticks or dowels for support.  They were used for all manner of things, but mostly for berries.  They had leather thongs on them which they tied around their waist or belt and dropped the berries in with both hands as they picked much faster not having to hold a pail.  When I got this it sill had berry stains in it.

       David Hill was a homesteader here and in 1906 he got the idea of a town which he named Harper.  It was opposite the Sunriver entrance where the power sub-station is now.  It never grew too much but they did sell quite a few lots and had a hotel and a store.

       Sunriver was known as Big Meadows and is where about five different families lived – Pelton, Dilman, West, Davis, and Perry Dillon.  They had big families and the children went to school up where the broken tree is – on the island at Sunriver near the big lodge.  The school was just to the left of that.  The school was established about 1892 or 1893, maybe even earlier


       When we got to school age there were lots of neighbors who had children and, though Mother would teach us some, we went to the school down there (where Sunriver is now - ed.)  At one time there were maybe as many as sixteen pupils.

       After a few years, as there were more families, there were a few people that went against the others in our area.  Mother was pretty well educated and she insisted we all get through school.  Because of the problems in our little school some of the older children started in 1903 staying at Drake’s and going to school in Farewell Bend.

       Dad stayed down in Bend and helped them build the new school house which got started in 1904.  In 1903, in the fall, we had school for five months.  I went until 1905.

       Also Mother wanted someone to come and teach us and she got someone from the Knox family.  Gave us three month’s schooling and we paid her out of our own pocket.  The district wouldn’t do anything, of course, for it was a “private” school.

       When I got into high school (1908) I went to the new high school which is where the annex to the court house is now.  I played football.

The Growth of Bend

       Drake’s place was the first in Bend.  The store that Drake had with a bunk house was where Duncan McKay’s place is now.  I am sure I am right that there was nothing at Tumalo before Bend.  The only place anyone at all had was some people by the name of Gist lived on Tumalo Creek.  The island was called Picket Island at Tumalo.

       The O’Kane building used to be the Bend Hotel.  Where Masterson St. Clair is then it was the livery stable yard.  Where the Aune Feed store is, that’s where the original Aune store was and he had the livery stable.

       Wall Street was the first street in Bend.  Drake had a rock wall on the east side of his lawn so that is how he happened to name it Wall Street.  It ran down as far as maybe what is now Wetle’s store.  The Minors lived where the Pine Tavern is now. The Bend Bulletin was a log cabin right next to McKay’s.  The Smith building is the same one that Marjorie Smith still has.

       When we went to the fair we rented a house in Bend and put all our provisions there.  It was big – nine rooms.  From 1905 we went to school in Bend.

Trapping, Hunting, and Ranch Work

       Everybody trapped a little.  $2.25 for a mink hide was a pretty good price.  Father trapped otter and beaver but he didn’t fool with mink.  Whitfield trapped beaver a great deal.

       Dad was the first forestry man out here and was under the Department of the Interior in 1898 and 1899.  He would take out a pack string into the mountains from Sisters to North Umpqua.  He would be gone two weeks and make reports and send them in.  Then maybe he would rest a week or so, then go back again.  He blazed an awful lot of trails.  He was also a good sheep shearer.  He got ten cents a head.  It was worth going after as he could do maybe a hundred in a day.

       The folks had hounds and took charters out bear hunting.  One was Irwin S. Cobb (famous journalist and humorist).  Others were Averell Harriman (later Governor of New York) and his brother, sons of E.H. Harriman, the railroad man (President of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads).  Also Harry Corbett of Portland and Alexander M. Drake (founder of Bend).

       We worked from the time we could pick up an axe, cutting a lot of rails.  I commenced when I was six years old and did twenty stakes a day.  I had a short axe.

       The original fences were rail fences but none of them are still standing.  There are a few in the cemetery.  At Harper, the south fence to the bridge, there were a few of them – or there were the last time I looked.

       We had very little trouble with predatory animals with the cattle.  But if you had sheep they would get them if they had the chance. 

Claude and Brother Bill

       I resided in Bend winters from 1905 to 1913.  In the fall of 1913 I went to Portland for Northwestern Electric (now Pacific Power and Light).  I worked for them pretty nearly three years, then went on the White Salmon River in Washington for a few months.  Then I came back.

       Bill had gotten started here and we wanted to go into the cattle business.  I was in Salem two winters in school there.  Then I came back in 1916 and told Bill we would go in together.  Went up to the Ralph Caldwell place at Paulina Prairie and bought that.  It was a good place to raise hay.

       I had to go to the army but I got a special discharge in 1919.  Bill needed me and my mother wrote a senator.  My commanding officer called me in.  I thought I was going to be discharged but he wanted to know why I was writing my senator or why I had my mother write him.  I hadn’t, of course.  He was pretty mad and said he didn’t pay any attention to these letters from the legislators.  But the next morning my name was called to report to the commanding officer and he told me I was to go to Seattle to be discharged.

       My brother stayed at the Caldwell place and I stayed here.  In fact, the original house was my home until I built the one I’m living in now in 1954 (the current guest house at the Homestead – ed.)

       This was the first winter we haven’t had cattle out here since 1892, as far as I know.  Old Pen was the first cow in 1892.  My father got her here in Oregon, a Devon type, good milk cow.  He had her for something like seventeen years.

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