The Mt. Adams Sun, Bingen, WA., June 25, 1953, page 4
Includes photograph by W.F. Winters
KLICKITAT PIONEER RECALLS 80 YEARS
As Told To David Winters and Mrs. Bill Saunders
Among the few remaining pioneers of Klickitat's history
is B.J. Durkee. Mr. Durkee was born in Pentwater, Michigan on February 13,
1873. His parents died when he was two years old and he knows very little
He was taken by his grandparents to McKinney, Texas. There he spent most of his boyhood until the opening of the famous Cherokee strip in Oklahoma. Mr. Durkee, then 20 years old, drove a team and wagon carrying water from the starting point at Orlando to Guthrie in Grover Cleveland's Horse Race as it was called, to help establish a homestead.
He then spent the next 12 years in Oklahoma. On Christmas Day, 1898 he was married to Elizabeth Enfield in Perry, Oklahoma. Then he came west to attend the Lewis and Clark Exposition at Portland, Ore. in 1905. Attracted by the opportunities of the West, he decided to remain.
He came to Klickitat County from Portland to Lyle on
the old sternwheeler, the "Bailey Gatzert", on April 22, 1905. The first
night was spent at John Dafern's place in Lyle. He homesteaded at Timber
Valley, now known as Appleton, in the same year.
There he remained until 1916 when he bought land in Klickitat. He is the father of four children, three of whom were born in Timber Valley. The oldest son who was born in Oklahoma was drowned in Goose Lake near Mt. Adams. The remaining three are still living. He also has a brother in living in Roseberg, Ore. and a sister and Turlock, California.
Mr. Durkee recalls that Mr. Stearns and Mr. Wright were
the only white settlers in the Klickitat canyon. The latter lived where the
town of Klickitat is now located. Mr. Durkee was employed by the Holmes brothers
in the construction of the first sawmill in Klickitat in 1909. He claims
the honor of having helped fell the first tree to be used for lumber in this
mill. The Holmes brothers were bought out by J. Neils in 1920.
Mr. Durkee is still living. Now 80 years old, he and Mrs. Durkee enjoy good health. He likes very much to compare the pioneer days.
© Jeffrey L. Elmer