The Oregon Journal, Portland, OR., January 13, 1929, magazine section, page 6
Includes photograph.
By Fred Lockley


     Hood River, 60 miles east of Portland, is located on the Columbia river, the Columbia river highway and the O.W.R. & N. railroad. W.C. Laughlin and Dr. Farnsworth moved from The Dalles in 1852 and Mr. Laughlin took up the land on which the town of Hood River was later built, as his donation land claim. The winter of 1852-53 was severe and as Mr. Laughlin had not put up any hay for his stock, most of his horses and cattle died during the winter, so in the spring of 1853 he moved back to The Dalles.
     In 1854 Nathaniel Coe, with his wife and four sons, L.W., Charles, E.F. and H.C., took up the claim. Nathaniel Coe built a substantial log cabin and four years later built a good house within what are now the city limits of Hood River. Mr. Coe's brother-in-law, William Jenkins, settled there in June, 1854. N.S. Benson came at the same time. James Benson came there in November, 1854.
     Among other early settlers at Hood River were Arthur and Henry Gordon, S.B. Ives and family, Mr. Stadden, A.C. Phelps, Amos Underwood, John M. Marden, Messrs. Wilson and Cowperthwaite all of whom came in 1858. The Butlers and Whitings came in the spring of 1859. Peter Neal settled there in 1860 and the following year his son-in-law, Jerome Winchell, arrived.
     Others who settled there prior to 1863 were William Moss, George P. Roberts, Harden Corum, D. A. Turner, William Odell, Laban Stillwell, Joseph Wilkens, D. Divers and Dr. B.W. Mitchell, M.C. Nye settled there in 1862 and S.M. Baldwin and Harry Tieman in 1864.
     When the Coes took up their place there, they changed the name of the river from Dog river to Hood river, naming the river for Mt. Hood. It was named Labiesh's river by members or the Lewis & Clark expedition, but the Indians called it Waucoma, because of the cottonwoods growing around the mouth of the river.
     Mrs. Martin Benson was appointed post-mistress in 1859. She was succeeded by Charles Coe, and he by H.C. Coe. The next postmaster was W.P. Watson, then Mrs. Della Stranahan, R.J. Rogers, George T. Prather, Mrs. Jennie Champlin, L.E. Morse and William M. Yates.
     In 1877 a man named Allen started a store at Hood River. The store not proving successful, he sold the stock to E.L. Smith. In telling me of his early day experiences at Hood River some years ago, Smith said, "In 1874 I traded a place I had at Olympia for 480 acres of land at Hood River. I moved on my Hood River farm in 1876. The principal fruit crop of Hood River at that time was peaches. We shipped them to Portland by boat. A year after I moved on my place, Mr. Allen started a store and, not being able to make a go of it, I bought it from him and ran it. In 1881 I helped the right-of-way man of the O.R. & N. company select a site for a station and depot for the railroad. The coming of the railroad caused the founding and subsequent growth of Hood River.
     In 1882 I moved to Hood River from my farm, built a two-story building and started a store, which I ran for the next 11 years. About 1893 I set out a 30-acre orchard. At about this same time Sears & Porter set out five acres to orchard. These were the first two commercial orchards in the Hood River valley, I remembered the red-cheeked apples of my native New England and saw no reason why the Hood River valley should not be a successful orchard district.
     "I was born in Craftsburg, Vt., September 17, 1837. I was married shortly after Lincoln was inaugurated. Not long before our marriage General Colton came from San Francisco to Galesburg, Ill., to visit his relatives there. I became well acquainted with him and he told me of serving as a second to David C. Broderick in his duties. He also told me of the opportunities for a young man in California. Most of my people had died of consumption and I believed that if I moved to California I might escape their fate. My bride and I started on our wedding trip for San Francisco by way of the Isthmus of Panama.
     "My plan had been to secure a position as teacher of Latin and Greek in some school or college in California, but two days after we arrived in San Francisco, Fort Sumter was fired on and men's minds were too full of the present trouble to want to read in the original about the wars of the Romans or the troubles of the Greeks. I landed a job in a placer mine and later did surveying.
     "One night as I came in from surveying a county township, my wife said, 'I see by a dispatch in the Sacramento Union that E.L. Smith of California has been appointed secretary of Washington territory, upon the recommendation of Secretary W.H. Seward.' My wife said, 'Wouldn't it be strange if you were the E.L. Smith referred to?' I told her the woods were full of Smiths and thought no more of it. While serving as a member of the California legislature, I had become acquainted with Senator Cole. He had recommended me for the position without my knowledge, and the appointment followed.
     "We went to Olympia and I served as secretary of Washington territory for three years. When Governor Miles C. Moore left the state on account of poor health, I served as governor. With George Barnes and Will Avery, I established the first bank in Olympia. While in Olympia I was elected to the territorial council. Later I served in the Oregon legislature, so I have been a member of the legislature of three different states.
     "When I came to Hood River an Indian camp occupied the site where the Mt. Hood hotel now stands. In 1880 Dr. W.L. Adams put up a little building where he sold drugs and notions. This was just outside of the city limits though now, of course, it is within the city.
     The first store to be built inside the limits of Hood River was a general merchandise store built by John Parker in July 1881. The second building to be put up was the Mt. Hood hotel, which was built by T.J. Hosford in August, 1881. That same fall G.M. Champlin built a store and put in a general merchandise stock.
     H.C. Coe and his brother platted the townsite of Hood River in the spring of 1881. What is now the business district of Hood River was a pasture when I came here. It was surrounded by an old rail fence and the owner wanted $10 an acre for the land. The first election I voted here 22 votes were cast. This took in all the settlers in the Hood River valley. T.R. Coon is the father of Hood River's strawberry industry. Among the early apple growers are Nathaniel Coe, David Sears and Frank Davenport. The first schoolhouse here was built two miles south of the city. This was in 1863, and B.A. Lilly taught the 15 pupils who at-tended the school. The next schoolhouse was built at Frankton, near the present city of Hood River. The following year we who lived in Hood River subscribed $800 and built a schoolhouse within, the city limits."
     When the townsite of Hood River was platted, lots were offered without charge to anyone who would put up a building there. Investors were charged from $50 to $75 each for business lots and in every deed there was a clause prohibiting the sale of whiskey. An attempt was made to start a saloon in spite of this prohibi-tory clause, but through the efforts of Dr. Littlefield, surgeon of the O.R. & N. company the effort was defeated. A number of buyers refused to accept a deed on account of the clause prohibiting the sale of whiskey on the premises, but the lack of saloons did not seem to affect the growth of the community in any way.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer