The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., March 29, 1928, page 3


     Mrs. C. Dethman is this week celebrating the 50th anniversary of her arrival in the mid-Colombia district.
     Mrs. Dethman was born in Clinton County, Iowa, August 18, 1866. Her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. John Jetter, were of German descent, and settled in Iowa in about the year in 1864.
     Through a severe epidemic of typhoid fever when Mrs. Dethman (then Emma Jetter) was only 4 years old, her mother died. So her father, not being able to care for her properly, put her in care of the family by the name of John Petters. Mr. and Mrs. Petters already had four children: Johnny, Bertha, Henry and Amiale, yet they were delighted to add Emma Jetter to their family.
     Mr. Petters had an old friend at White Salmon, Wash., who was writing to the Petters family to come to Oregon or Washington, saying that there was a great opportunity for them here. He also sent them samples of wheat heads which he said he was growing on his place. The wheat heads were of such magnificent beauty and size that they attracted the attention of everyone who saw them. In fact no one in Iowa had never seen such wheat before and so all their curiosity was aroused to come west and take up cheap land to grow some of that fine wheat.
     In the early spring of 1878 a party, consisting of Chas. Ehrck, John Kroeger and Jon Petters and family, including Emma Jetter, decided to move to the far west to locate a new home. The party was to leave together on a specified date but through some misunderstanding Mr. Ehrck and Mr. Kroeger left a day or to sooner than the Petters family had expected; but the party met again in San Francisco and continue their journey together, until they parted March 29, 1878. Mr. Ehrck and Mr. Kroeger left the boat at Hood River to locate, homesteading places in the Odell district. They are still living on parts of their original homesteads. The Petters family left the boat at White Salmon to meet their old friend who had been responsible for the party in coming west.
     It was, indeed, a sad disappointment to the Petters family when they reached White Salmon, as they expected to find splendid level land that could be farmed so they might also raise some of that fine wheat that had lured them out west; instead they found nothing but hills covered with timber, brush and rock boulders. Mr. Petters, however, after several months of direct contact with the fine old mountain air and the beautiful mountain scenery with the abundance of wild game in the woods and plenty of fine fish in the streams, was convinced that there might be possibilities if he would take up a homestead. So with his family he homesteaded a tract of land six miles north of the town of White Salmon on what is now known as the R.D. Cameron place; the Northwestern Electric power dam on the White Salmon river is located on the part of the old homestead.
     Mrs. Dethman was reared on this old homestead and received only a moderate amount of schooling, as she was obliged to go to a little school house located where the town of Bingen is now situated. This being the only school house in that section of the country. It was necessary for the Petters children to ride two on a horse six miles to this school for about three months in the year, which was considered a school term at that particular school.
     In the summer months it became customary that Emma, the oldest one of the Petters family, must help in the harvesting of the hay crops for friends at Trout Lake and Camas Prairie, Wash., also to help with the milking of cows, which she learned to do as well or better than most of the men could do.
     In the summer of 1884, while helping Mr. and Mrs. John H. Dethman who at that time were operating a large hay and dairy ranch at Camas Prairie, Wash., Emma met Chris Dethman, a brother of John H. Dethman, and on November 20, 1884, at The Dalles, Oregon, Emma Jetter became the wife of Chris Dethman. Immediately after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Dethman went to Hood River, where Mr. Dethman had previously filed a claim to homestead a tract of land on the east side, which has since been known as the Dethman ranch.
     Mr. and Mrs. Dethman remained on his ranch until 1911 when they moved to 911 Oak street, Hood River, and have resided at this place since.
     Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Dethman: Frank C., Herman, Anna, Alfred, Laura, William McKinley, Jessie and Fred. Anna died when she was fifteen years old.
     Mrs. Dethman would appreciate having many of her old friends call on her Thursday, today.
     The life of the school girl when Mrs. Dethman first came to the mid-Colombia country was very different from today. Mrs. Dethman recalled that when she first went to school the children, two to a horse, road six miles. One morning the horse on which she was riding became frightened at some newly stretched bear and deer hides, being cured by the Indians. The animal tried to run away. He reared on a bank and Mrs. Dethman's feet were caught in the limbs of a small tree. She had both shoes torn off.
     Although it was chill wintertime, Mrs. Dethman walked home that evening barefooted. She was afraid to ride back on that horse.
     One morning Mr. Petters herd a pig squealing back of the barn. As Mrs. Dethman was the oldest of the children he asked her to see what the trouble was. She found a big black bear had seized a pig and was playing with it in the spring. Mrs. Dethman did not linger long. Another time when the children were picking acorns, used as a staple hog feed, they heard something in an old oak tree. Looking up they saw a huge bear on the limbs of the tree looking down at them. Mrs. Dethman says all of those children got away from that vicinity.
     When Mrs. Dethman arrived overland in San Francisco she and one of the Petters children were taken by Mr. Petters to a shoe store. After they had been fitted the father went on a trip over the city, sending the children back by streetcar to the hotel. They remained on the car until it arrived at the bay.
     "We realized that we had come too far," says Mr. Dethman, "and we started to walk back. When we reached Chinatown we became frightened and sped up the middle of the street with hundreds of Chinamen looking on. It was the first time we had never seen Chinamen.
     "We did not reach the hotel until dark. We recognized it by the playing of a big organ there."

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer