Review of Eastern Portland
Henry W. Stokes)
Having the questions of the editor of the History of Portland before me,
I will endeavor to reply to them in order. My
father's name is Hugh B. Stokes and my mother's name was Miss Louisa Yerges.
Hugh Stokes came from Lincolnshire, Lincoln County, England, in 1855
He immediately settled upon a farm in the Town of Portland, the place now
being the property of August Huebner. His
first home was a log cabin and his second a little larger log cabin.
He soon moved to another farm, that now owned by Christ Kohn.
My mother came from Hanover, Germany in 1851 and first lived near the
German Methodist Church known as the "Deppe Church".
She afterward lived on the farm now occupied by Charles Yerges.
I was born in a log cabin on the Christ Kohn farm about a mile and a half
north of the Van Deldan Bridge. Our
neighbors at that time were Louis Geise, Charles Kohl, Ferdinand Lea, Fred Kohl,
Gottlieb Gaumitz, William Geise, John Schoen, William Winter, Charles Baker,
Martin Ott, Fred Huebner, Fred Groening, William Valesky, and William Webb, all
of whom were Germans with the exception of William Webb.
It is my father's impression that Thomas Baker Sr. and Aaron Fisher built
the first log cabins in that neighborhood, if not in the Town of Portland.
Fisher lived where Ed Valesky lives now.
Other early settlers were John Schoen Sr., who lived where John Schoen
Jr. now resides; Godfrey Winter, whose home was that now owned by Mrs. William
Winter; Godfrey Walter, who lived where Carl Riege now lives on the Charles
Baker farm; and George Larabee, who lived on the present farm of William Lentz.
There was James Ruane Sr., on the Albert Quade place; Herman Baker, and a
settler by the name of Mr. Winkey, who lived near the Van Deldan Bridge; James
Donahue Sr., lived on a part of the farm of Pat Dowd; and Hatfield Edwards lived
on the farm now occupied by Frank Lea. Ferdinand
Lea lived on the farm now occupied by Chas. Haseleu; Chas. Kohl lived on the
farm now occupied by Ted Wolfgram, and Wm. Webb lived on the one now owned by
Hugh B. Stokes.
Some of the first settlers were thrifty and some were indolent.
Some made a good share of their living by hunting, trapping and fishing.
The Crawfish River abounded with ducks and fish.
Sometimes in the winter time, they used to dip up wagon loads of fish out
of holes in the ice with dip nets and also with four-tined forks.
Other kinds of fish have nearly disappeared since the river became
infested with carp. They also used
to spear tons of pickerel in the winter time by having a dry goods box for a
house and using a wooden decoy. Sometimes
I have seen at least five acres of the Crawfish River covered with ducks.
They had no guns to speak of at that time except muskets.
I think the first breech-loading shotguns came into that vicinity about
twenty-eight years ago. They used to
catch raccoons, skunks and minks by the score and muskrats by the hundreds.
The big white pigeons sometimes used to light in the wheat stubble in
such large numbers that they covered at least two acres.
The first teachers in our school were Prudence Thompson, Georgiana Rowe,
Kate Omarie, Dave Youker and "Hank" Mead.
The church by the Van Deldan Bridge was built in 1874.
It is a Moravian or United Brethren Church.
Services always were and still are being held there.
We had Christmas exercises there. Martin
Richel was in charge of the Sunday School. The
preacher came from a distance. I do
not remember his name.
You asked me in one of your letters if they were not all Irish from the
"Plank Road" north to the Van Deldan Bridge.
There were with one exception. That
was Hatfield Edwards. He lived on
what is known as the Duetler farm. Over
in that neighborhood, the Irish and Germans were all mixed together.
Although north of the Van Deldan Bridge the Germans predominated, the
Irish predominated in the northeast corner of the town.
Some of the Germans settled there about as soon as the Irish did.
There are now very few Irish or Americans left in that neighborhood.
They have all given way to the Germans.
Some left for one reason and some for another.
Now and then one lost his farm through drink; some were indolent and
could not make it pay. One of the
most important reasons for the emigration was the desire on the part of the
settlers to find better conditions of life and better opportunities for
education of their children. The
German is thrifty. His whole family
in early days worked in the fields. As
the children secured an education, many of them drifted away from the farm.
The early Irish and American settlers gradually entered some other
occupation, leaving the land to the Germans who are the great tillers of the
soil. Father often saw Indians
chasing deer. One time he traded
some corn for some venison. The
squaws used to fry doughnuts in raccoon grease.
There was an Indian village in the northeastern part of the town, near
Mud Lake. It is still known as the
One time the Indians got so they used to steal all the chickens and
everything they could get ahold of. So
the farmers loaded up their muskets and formed a little army and drove them off.
When my father first came, it was all solid timber for three or four
miles east of his house. There
wasn't a single settler there at that time.
The timber was cut into cord wood and hauled down the Crawfish River in
the winter time to Hubbleton and sold to the railroad company.
At that time, the railroad engines burned wood.
Soft wood sold at $1.75-$2.00 per cord and hard wood at about $3.00
delivered. It was very difficult to
clear the land of stumps at that time as we had no stump pullers; neither did we
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