The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., January 17, 1924, page 4


     Kansas is far famed for cyclones, but it appears that Iowa, too, has been known to have a few fierce storms, and tornadoes of the latter state back in the '70s sent C. Dethman and his brother, John H., from Iowa to a land where the wind blew less violently. And thereby hangs an interesting story of Hood River orcharding.
     C. Dethman remained in Hood River, while the brother left for other sections. He now resides at Long Beach, Wash. The former took up a homestead on what is known as Dethman Ridge on the East Side, between Pine Grove and Odell. He settled down to hard work, gaining a meager living from the soil. By dint of hard work he cleared five acres of his place, removing the giant forest trees, which were cut and sold for cordwood, which in pioneer days was the chief medium of exchange.
     Mr. Dethman planted the tract to apples. When his trees were four years old, Edward Green, a Missouri merchant, purchased his crop for $125 per acre cash, harvesting and packing the apples. Mr. Dethman, while the harvest was on made a trip back to Iowa to visit his family. On his return the purchaser of his apples had removed the crop, but Mr. Dethman was attracted by the apples that were left. He gleaned the trees and sold the apples that were left by Green for $200 in Portland. This made his net return from the five acres for the first crop $800. This sale did much toward stimulating the early day apple industry.
     Mr. Dethman had spent his last dollar in preparing and planting these first five acres. He utilized his earnings in the development of other land. He let a contract to Frank Stanton and Semon Cox for clearing 40 additional acres, giving to them for the job 40 acres of raw land. As soon as the land was grubbed he ploughed it up and planted it to wheat. The following year he planted 20 acres to Spitzenburgs, Newtons and Jonathans. When the tract was four years old it was sold to F.W. Radford, for $20,000, the first Hood River orchard to bring $1,000 per acre. Mr. Radford, however, sold 10 acres of the property for $1,500 per acre.
     Mr. Dethman entered into an agreement with E.L. Smith for planting 30 acres of orchard. He furnished the cleared land, and Mr. Smith took charge of the planting, care and cultivation of the trees. At the end of four years they were to own the property half and half. Forty acres was the maximum orchard holdings owned by Mr. Dethman at any one time.
     "Orcharding was not thought of when we came to the Hood River valley," said Mr. Dethman. "We were attracted here by the wide expense of free range for cattle and the cheap land. Charles Ehrck, who still resides in the Odell district, wrote back and told us of these features. I remember when my brother and I were walking up through the valley where I later homesteaded. We met a man and asked him about prospects. He told us we couldn't make a living except when strawberries were ripe. The man was Harry Tieman, a stock-raiser of the Mt. Hood district. We found that these stockmen were jealous of the inroads of the new settlers. They considered that their activities would spoil the region for stock raising. Mr. Tieman tried every way to discourage us. He declared that the land would not grow good beans.
     "The valley first won fame for its fruit through peaches grown on the Haynes ranch along the Columbia river. The place is now known as the Morton Ranch.
     "Later the Clark Seedling strawberries attracted the eyes of the northwest to Hood River and brought their ranchers their first real money. I never had a strawberry tract."
     Mr. Dethman married Miss Emma Jetter, of White Salmon, Wash. They have seven children -- Frank C., Herman, Alfred, William M. and Fred Dethman and Mrs. Fred Donnerberg, all of Hood River, and Mrs. Julius Abraham, of Albany. The three oldest sons, Frank C., Herman and Alfred, occupy 50 acres of the original homestead place. They are successful orchardists. Frank C. is a member of the directorate of the Apple Growers Association.
     Mr. and Mrs. Dethman moved to the city in 1911. Mr. Dethman 15 years ago became a stockholder and director of the First National Bank. For a number of years he has been a vice president of the institution, having recently been reelected.
     Mr. Dethman became a director in 1914 of the East Fork Irrigation District, formed in that year. This water system, through the district organization, was for the first time put on a financially sound basis. He was one of the founders and for many years a director of the old Hood River Apple Growers' Union. Mr. Dethman, who is 66 years old, was born in the province of Holstein while it was under the rule of the Danish government. He left for America with his parents when he was 12 years old. Two brothers, after Holstein had passed under German sway, escaped military service by crossing the frontier hidden in a load of hay.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer