The Hood River Glacier, Hood River, OR., December 15, 1904, page 2


     "Do we want a new county?" is the question asked in street corner conversation, now that the legislative session is only three weeks off.
     A.A. Jayne of this city, representative elect from this county, is personally very much in favor of county division, but as little or no mention has been made of the matter, Representative Jayne feels that he would rather hear an expression of his constituents on the issue before taking the initiative in advocating a measure for dividing Wasco county. Mr. Jayne believed a new county with Hood River as the county seat would mean more business for this city, and would permit a much more satisfactory and economical administration of local affairs.
     The Dalles is known to oppose the movement to a man. Southeastern Wasco county, with Antelope as the center, will make another effort for county division at the coming session of the legislature, and the petition for the new county of Stockman is meeting with ready signatures in The Dalles. The people there realize that with Stockman county cut off at this term, would counteract on Hood River's move for county division, and perhaps hinder this city from obtaining her wish for several years to come.
     On the other hand the people of The Dalles, who have heretofore opposed the creation of Stockman county, are beginning to realize, says Commissioner Hibbard, that the Antelope country is a constant source of expense to Wasco county, with comparatively little coming back. For this reason The Dalles is entirely willing that Antelope should have her long cherished wish of a separate county. This will be the third attempt Antelope will have made for county division.
     The people of The Dalles are very much averse to losing Hood River. Malcolm Moody stated to a Glacier representative last week that he is a land owner in Hood River valley, and that were he a resident here, he would work against county division for Hood River, believing county division would be a detriment to property interests here.
     Every other Dalles citizen approached on the subject signified his intention of doing all he could to thwart an attempt to Hood River to have that the legislature create a new county.
     Here in Hood River, no one is found who really opposes a new county or believes such a thing would be a detriment to the town and valley, but there are many who believe it useless to try for a division at this time. There are others though anxious to make the fight for county division, success or no success of this time, believing if they fail there will be opportunities to fight again.
     D. McDonald of the firm of Bone & McDonald, is strongly in favor of a new county. Mr. McDonald was a resident of Sherman county when that section was carved out of the old Wasco. That was about 17 years ago. Wasco had an enormous debt at the time, but Sherman county assumed her proportion, and three years ago erected a brick court house and today has something like $15,000 in the treasury to use when needed. The affairs of the county are managed to the satisfaction of all the voters, and the people who pay taxes are highly pleased.
     "We didn't build any expensive court house," says Mr. McDonald. "A little wooden building was secured and a concrete vault built on the outside. The county business was transacted here very conveniently and the people reaped a direct benefit in lower taxes."
     E.L. Smith thinks it would be impossible to get a new county at this session of the legislature. Mr. Smith was one of the leaders in the fight for county division 15 years ago. He says he went down with a delegation at that time from Hood River. The committee in the house on new counties were opposed to giving Hood River a new county, but before Smith and the other Hood River citizens had got through with their work the committee brought in a favorable report for Cascade county.
     Then at the critical moment, Hood River's representative got up on the floor of the house and said he wasn't personally interested in securing the new county. Today Mr. Smith is not in favor of a new county. He says he would rather belong to a strong county that would have a large delegation in a state convention than to belong to a county having no influence in state affairs.
     "Yes, I'm in for county division with both feet," replied Jake W.J. Baker.
     "County division? Yes, yes," enthusiastically remarked Roswell Shelley when the question was put to him, "and I should like nothing better than a trip to Salem this winter to work for the new county."
     Mayor A.S. Blowers is strongly in favor of a new county. He believes, though, it will be a hard fight, but he's not afraid of that.
     "It's too much like free silver -- a dead issue with Whealdon in the senate," was the characteristic reply of Joe Wilson.
     "There is no crying necessity for the formation of a new county, making Hood River the county seat," said S.F. Blythe. "We are within an hour's ride of The Dalles, and except when drawn on the jury, our citizens rarely have occasion to go to the county seat. A new county would double the number of officers, increase taxation and give us no better administration of county affairs. Wasco county will soon be out of debt. Let us get out of debt and stay out. Home taxes will worry us soon enough. I am opposed to any further division of Wasco county."
     "O. Fredenburg, mail carrier to Mount Hood, strongly favors the move, and says all the people of his part of the country would do likewise. They are tired of the long trip to The Dalles and the expense they are put to, whenever they have dealings at the county seat.
     Axel Rahm thinks Hood River should be the county seat. "If there is to be boodling and grafting, let's keep it at home," he continued. We can never get recognition at The Dalles."
     R.B. Bragg is in favor of county division, and can see the increase it would give to business with a county seat here.
     N.C. Evans is optimistic enough to believe that Hood River could scare up the required 6040 population for a representative from the new county.
     A.P. Bateham says the people of Mosier are divided on the subject. While there are many who would cling to The Dalles, a majority, he believes, would favor throwing their fortunes with Hood River.
     V.C. Brock, bookkeeper for the First National bank, who took part in the liberation of Sherman county, believes a new county would be in every way to the best interests of Hood River, "but the fight has been started to late," he remarked. "I know something of the hard battle that has to be put up for a new county, and how near we came to losing the fight for Sherman county. We should have been early in the game. The representatives and senator to the legislature should have been nominated with this end in view. The opposition among our delegation will over balance all Mr. Jayne could do for us."
     G.J. Gessling thinks we have office holders enough.
     A M. Kelsay of the Davenport Bros. Lumber Co. said that as far as his company as a corporation is concerned they would not be strongly interested one way or the other, but if the majority of the people of Hood River expressed a desire for a new county, the members of the company would be found on the right side.
     W.H. Eccles of the Oregon Lumber Co. was out of town, but it is stated that he is personally opposed to the division of the county.
     C.L. Gilbert, proprietor of the Mount Hood hotel, and formerly county superintendent of schools, strongly favors county division, believing the people here can take care of their affairs better than the officials at The Dalles.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer