The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., June 18, 1943, page 1

By Arline Winchell Moore

     Among the earliest missionary workers in this Northwest Country was the father of our own Frank Russel Spalding, the grandfather of Earl M. Spalding, of Spalding Cleaners. This missionary came to Oregon with the Jason Lee group, in the Nathaniel J. Wyeth second expedition in 1834. The party traveled down the Columbia river some time in that year and selected the present site of the Willamette University, as the location for their first mission. Missionary work among the Indians was the only object of the Jason Lee group, but their beginning was the ground work on which the colonization that followed was established.
     According to the Diary of the Rev. Jason Lee, soon after receiving reinforcements for this little band of missionaries in 1837, he chose a site for a branch of mission at Wascopan, now The Dalles, Oregon. Missionary work among the Indians began at this location in March of 1836, when Jason Lee appointed his nephew, Daniel Lee and H.K.W. Perkins to take charge of this branch mission. It was on the construction of these mission buildings at Wascopan that the father of J.L. Carter worked. By the autumn of 1839, a one and one-half story mission residence was completed near the present high school grounds, and approximately 20 acres of land was under cultivation. This had been increased to 70 acres by 1841.
     Marcella M. Hillgen, in her book "The Wascopan Mission," mentions that the Indians were easily brought into the mission, and seemed to eagerly accepted the safe, but were not consistent converts. Soon backsliders numbered more than the converts. It seemed that most of the meetings were held around a slender basaltic pillar that formed a natural pulpit. This is still standing near the Weber property line at the south city limits.
     When Jason Lee was recalled to the east, all branch missions were either closed or transferred. Wascopan was transferred to the Presbyterians with all supplies for the sum of $600, and the nephew of Dr. Marcus Whitman, Perrin B. Whitman, and Allanson Hinman, took immediate charge.
     The Whitman Massacre occurred in November at 1847, and the Cayuse war the following year. For a number of years after the Whitman Massacre, Eastern Oregon was practically closed to white people. The volunteer troops occupied the mission buildings. When the Indians were finally subdued, and the troops were withdrawn from the Mission buildings, the missionary work among the Indians was never resumed at this point.
     According to E.M. Spaulding, the Henry H. Spalding and Eliza Spalding, who settled simultaneously at Lapwall Creek, near Lewiston, Idaho, with Dr. Marcus Whitman and Narcissa Whitman, at Waiilatpu Mission near Walla Walla, and were subsequently murdered with the others of the Whitman Massacre, are of an entirely different family. Clifford M. Drury, in his account of the Whitman and Spalding Missions, spells the name without the "u" that appears in the name of our Spauldings.
     We find only occasional mention of the work of the missionary, David Spaulding with the Jason Lee Mission, but Earl states that his grandfather worked long with the Jason Lee Group, and that both his grandfather and his grandmother rest in the Jason Lee Cemetery near the site of the original Mission at Salem, Oregon. David Spaulding was married to Harriett Smith at Olympia, Wash., in 1860. This second son, Frank Russel Spaulding, was born at Monticello, now Longview, in the same state, on January 11, 1862, and was graduated from the Willamette University (the Jason Lee school), in 1880. He was ordained a Methodist minister in 1883. He made his first trip to Hood River in 1882, and was given his first charge at Athena, Oregon, where he met Catherine Jane McDonald, a cousin of Dick McDonald, one of the early merchants of Hood River. They were married on July 12, 1885.
     The Belmont M.E. church was dedicated in 1886, and Frank Spalding not only presided at the dedicatory ceremonies, but was the first regular pastor.
     The first child of the Spauldings, Rollin T., was born at Ellensburg, Washington. Our Earl Spaulding, was born while the family lived at Prineville, Oregon. David Lee was born during one of the periods of Belmont residence. Hood River is proud to claim David Lee for one of her very own boys. He is a veteran of World War I, and was cited for outstanding service in the battle of the Belleau Woods, and later received the Distinguished Service Medal of honor for bravery in action.
     An entire book would not do justice to the life work in the ministry of God by the Rev. F.R. Spaulding. I am only to touch on a few of those points bearing a close relation to the development of our Hood River and this tribute to him. My earliest recollections of his work reminds me of the stimulation that even one meeting conducted by Mr. Spaulding brought to the struggling group of earnest workers in the little church, held in those days in the school house at Pine Grove. I recall revival meetings in the nineties, and remember that at one of these revivals, I became a member of the Methodist church, and received baptism at the hands of Mr. Frank Spaulding.
     Born of a missionary family, Mr. Spaulding early sought to labor in those channels and was sent to Para, Brazil, in July, 1894. Three of the children were born in Brazil. Only one of these, Olin B., is still living. He is in business at Arlington, Oregon.
     Tragedy came to this family when they had returned to the United States and were living at Granite Lake, Idaho. Mrs. Spaulding, in attempting to rescue two of her children, who had come to grief while swimming, was drowned with them. This was in 1909. Soon after this incident, Mr. Spaulding was returned to Hood River, and served at Pine Grove as the regular pastor. In 1910, he was married to Mrs. Mattie Winans Oiler, who died in 1940.
     Long after the usual retirement period, Mr. Spaulding continued to work in the churches of the Eastern Oregon, and even yet, upon occasion, though more than four score years have laid heavy hands upon his shoulders, he will fill a pulpit with much of the fire of his early youth. When I listen to that still eager, urgent voice, I feel once more the surge of feeling that first brought me to the Methodist fold.
     There still remains 6 boys and two girls of the family of eleven who, with six grandchildren, make regular treks to his side to recall with him the memories of bygone days. It is a treat, indeed, when they attend church in a body, to listen to them sing once more the old hymns. The whole family sang with more than ordinary ability, and one of their number, Frank Jr., has been more than successful with his voice.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer