William Silas Skinner

Born: 1871, Ruby City, Idaho

Married: Ella Sackett, 1891, Napa, California

Children: Silas Kirtland

Thomas Harold

Ruby Aileen

Verna Claire

Nancy Irma

William Callow

Ella Marjorie

Anna Beatrice

Hugh Sackett


William Silas and Ella Skinner Picture

William Silas Family Picture

Four Generations Picture

WILLIAM SILAS SKINNER was born May 8, 1871 in Ruby City, Idaho, Owyhee County, and died March 3, 1960 in Jordan ValIey Oregon. He married ELLA SACKETT November 11, 1891 in Napa, California, daughter of KIRTLAND SACKETT and NANCY HENERY





He was a tough, crusty, weather beaten and wrinkled old buckaroo, or as he would more aptly put it, a vaquero, the Spanish term for "horseman" He was not a cowboy, mind you in those days the term"cowboy" most often conjured up images of a romantic guy on a white horse, strumming a guitar and singing to his girl friend. That was NOT him. If you took a real close look at him though, you could tell he had traveled that long, long trail awinding, looking for his dreams to come true, and it was just real obvious that some of the turns in that trail had not been easy ones. Still, he WAS a romantic, The difference was, his romance was with the history of the land he rode over, and with the horse he rode, and with his family, and certainly with the intrigue and history of his own life. He carried physical scars from his battles with life and because his hands, fingers, ears, toes and feet had been severely frozen, affecting the blood circulation in those areas, he wore woolen long john underwear winter and summer. In mid summer when the sun went behind a cloud, he shivered. When it sank below the horizon he put on his coat. In winter his was never far from the old pot bellied coal stove in the living room. Not many people knew that his mustache covered a brutal scar that he received as a youngster, riding at break neck speed while he and his sister Carrie were herding horses. He didn't see the sagging telegraph wire until too late, just about the same time it caught him under the nose. That brought tears to my eyes, you betcha, he was to say many years later. He had other scars too. Only these scars were on the inside. We probably shouldn't call them "scars" because that term denotes that the healing process has taken place. These were continuing, griping, ulcerating injuries that would never heal. When the Great Depression came along, he like hundreds of thousands of others, would be required to return the beloved ranch he had nurtured and developed, and where he and his wife had raised their family, back to his creditors. The shame of it was so deep and so traumatic that he could not, and would not ever admit, even to himself that it had happened. To add to his misery his devoted wife, because of series of strokes, became a total invalid, and was to remain so until her death many ycars later.

Still this man found many enjoyments in his life. He took great pride in his sons and daughters and in his grandchildren, and he loved working with livestock and with kids. He was never happier than when he was on horse back, or when he took on the responsibility of educating a youngster in the finer points of livestock management. He could be a tough critic, who had no problem letting his students know where and when they had erred. He could just as easily be complimentary when the task was done correctly. Two comments he often made are burned deeply into my memory. The first, "one boy equals one boy, two boys together are half a boy, and three boys together are no boys at all. The second, "when you are working with animals try to think like they do, and remember they don't think as fast as you do, so the slower you work with them the faster you get the job done. He applied these two principles vigorously to his students and the results were young people who learned to live and work constructively both alone and with other people, and who also learned that patience truly is a virtue and is applicable to humans as it is to animals. His life spanned eighty eight years, from the Indian uprisings and the horse and buggy of the late eighteen hundreds, to the age of the jet airplane, atomic bombs, and space probes. The stories of his life have become icons of family lore. Yet life passed him by in many ways. He remained old fashioned to the day of his death. In his opinion, ladies should never be seen in anything but dresses, preferably long enough to cover their knees, if not their ankles. Further, he could never reconcile himself to seeing ladies in slacks or peddle pushers. Females who wore shorts were in his opinion, just one step away from being the Devil's hand maidens. Neither, in his opinion, would machines like trucks and tractors and cars ever take the place of the horse. He has been proven wrong in that belief, but it is interesting to note that there are more horses in the United States today than before the advent of those machines.

He did not allow the hard knocks in life to curtail his zest for living and even in his later years, could still dance a real mean schottische. I could never imagine growing up and not having him around comparing the faults of one of his grandchildren to the virtues of his others, or relating a local historical event, or giving advice, or an order, or having a good laugh at some ones clumsiness, or shedding a tear at some ones misfortune. When he died at age eighty eight we lost a mentor, a friend, a superb story teller who could hold his audience in rapt attention, and the man we all called Grandpa.

John S. Skinner (1990s)

As you read this, keep in mind at the time he made this trip on horse
back he was 18 years old. Silas, his father had moved the family operation
to the Napa Valley in California because of ill health and had put young
Will in charge of the Oregon interests. When Will made this trip his father
had been dead for about three years and as he notes, he had become very
homesick for family.

John Skinner (2005)



Thursday, April 12, 1951
Daydreams of Pioneer Develop Jordan Valley
By Dottie C. Edwards
Official Historian, Malheur County Pioneer Association)

A lot of water has flown down Jordan Creek since that long ago day when a boy sat on a hilltop and looked down over a flatland covered with sagebrush and
wondered if it were true that it would never be good for anything.

"Now, just supposing," he pondered to himself,' that the brush were gone - . . that land is mighty fiat . . and if somehow water —"

But he was just a young 'boy sent to look after the horses grazing below. and his father. Silas (Sam) Skinner, didn't take any truck with daydream's."Don't be so visionary!" he used to exclaim in exasperation. "You know nothing will grow where the brush is. Anyhow, there's enough good land along the creek where the overflow each spring keeps the brush down. That'll grow enough hay for us, and what else do we want?"

It did seem as if there were plenty to fill any existing need. There were the tolls from the toll bridge his father had built into Silver City, and all the passengers at the Trout Creek station to wait on, either to feed them at noon or at night or whenever.

Why, everybody went by on the toll road! The passengers from San Francisco and Oakland and Sacramento and Winnemucca. The mail from everywhere. And the Wells Fargo messenger on the box with the gun across his knees told of the 'bullion going out and the payrolls coming in for the mines in Silver City.
But W. S. Skinner, who is 80 this May, couldn't forget that piece of land. He was on a horse every day from the time he was seven except the two years his
folks sent him to relatives in Ohio where he could get some of the three R's and a little cultural atmosphere. And when he was riding around on the hills,
he always came back to this spot to get a better view and wonder if his father and the other oldsters were right.

In Ruby City. 1863

Silas, senior, had come to Ruby City, Idaho, in 1863 and the mining camp at that time had a population of around 900. When Silver City started up, it absorbed Ruby City and the town isn't even a ghost town today as all its soil has been washed down in placer operations.

However, a year after his arrival in the old Ruby City, Silas Skinner had completed a toll road to the present site of Jordan Valley, with the help of some partners, the first two of whom, the Jordan Brothers, were to be killed by the Indians. Some think that Jordan Valley got its name from the brothers, although of this W. S. Skinner isn't sure as there was another family by that name in the neighborhood.

Mr. Skinner feels reasonably sure, through. that Jordan Creek was named for the brothers.

In Ruby City Silas Skinner had fallen in love with a young lady visiting some friends there. She had come, as he had. from the Isle of Man, a small island off
coast of Scotland and this was a source of mutual interest from
the beginning to two young people so far from home. On her trip to this country, she had first visited some brothers and sisters in Ohio, and it was
these relatives young W.S. Skinner was later sent for his two years of schooling away from home.

After the young lady had returned to the Isle of Man., Silas Skinner decided he couldn't do without her, so he followed and the two were married back there, returning immediatly to this far away pioneer land and settling in Ruby City where young William Silas Skinner was born in 1871.

Builds Toll Road

The toll road which was cornpleted in 1864 was to see service for 20 years, or until the railroad came on through eastern Oregon, E. H. Clinton had bought the interests of the deceased Jordan Brothers from their estate and carried on as a partner with Silas Skinner,

A family by the name of Baxter took up some land where Jordan Valley is now. and built the first hotel and a store. That's why the town was sometimes called Baxterville but the real name of the place has been Jordan Valley on postal
records and otherwise," says Mr. Skinner today.

The stage from Winnemucca to Silver City and Boise to Silver City went over the toll road, as did all the freighted supplies. the passengers and the mail for
that place. My father traded the section of the road from Jordan Creek and Reynolds creek over the summit, kept the section from Jordan creek to Silver City until Idaho's Owyhee county bought the toll road from the Idaho line to the mining town and from Silver Ciity out to the desert.

My folks moved from Ruby City to the Trout Creek station about
1873, leaving Mr. Clinton’s father’s partner, to handle the toll road and my father to handle the station at the foot of the grade.

Stage stations were located at regular intervals for the changing of horses, resting and feeding passengers, receiving and handling mails, etc. Some stations were called sleeping places because in addition to the meals, the travelers could also stay overnight. Dad's station was an eating place, and this meant lots of work for the family

Drivers were changed every fifty miles, and the Wells-Fargo express messengers always rode with the drivers. Other historic stations were the Sheep Ranch,
Summit Springs, and Willow Creek.

Silver City probably had about 7,000 people when Father had the Trout Creek station, although some said the population was nearer 10,000. Mining was the only activity, although Silver City being a county seat town at the time, it was also the scene of official business.

The first school I attended," says Mr. Skinner, "was on the Oregon-Idaho line three miles from Trout Creek, three miles from the present town of Jordan Valley. It onlv ran three months out of the year, the summer months.

The next school was down nearer the town, also a three months school, for which the teacher was Miss Mary Mahoney, later Mrs. Jake Deary. The Deary’s lived out of Jordan about 25 miles; they raised family out there didn't seem to think they were isolated at all. Mrs. Arthur Lee, present post-mistress at Jordan Valley, is daughter of the Deary's and they had two sons one of whom lives in Boise, the other at Mountain Home. Of course, Mrs. Deary has been gone for some time.

Some of our neighbors at the Trout Creek station were the Mills family. Three of the boys, Ben, Jim and Tim, are still living in Jordan Valley and their sister, Mrs. Billy Helm, now lives in Boise. You know the mercantile firm of Helm
and Yturri which was so long in business in Jordan. That's the one.
And the Maher family. Bill Maher and I were kids together. Billy now lives in Boise, too.He sold out a few years ago, but he has three brothers, Ambrose, Ed and Charlie, still in the stock business.

Parties were really an event in mv childhood. I can remember oldtime hoedowns at the Trout Creek station for which many of the guests had spent two days traveling time to get there, they lived sixty miles away. All frontier girls could ride and their young blood would go after his girl with a spare saddle poncho for her use. Twenty and twenty-five miles were nothing; in fact most people lived at least that far apart!

"My parents, used to providing big meals for the traveling public, for which they usually had the assistance of a Chinese cook, would give a big supper for the dancers at midnight and perhaps breakfast in the morning for they danced all night. And sometimes, fortified with another meal and a few hours sleep the dancing would start all over again."

APRIL 19, 1951
By Dottie C. Edwards
Official Historian, Malheur County Pioneer Association

Second Installment

Editor's Note: The beginnings of a pioneer cattle ranch career in Malheur
county were described in the first installment of the life of W.S. Skinner,
prominent rancher of the Jordan Valley country, who will be 80 next month.
This second installment tells of raising horses for use on horse-drawn street
cars in San Francisco.

"My father ran the Trout Creek station on the toll road until 1873," says W. S.
Skinner well known old time cattleman of the Jordan Valley, continuing his
account of pioneer days begun in last week's issue of the Argus-Observer. "Then
he traded it for part of the ranch I now live on. Father had been accumilatmg
some stock and wanted more land to run them on. C. D. Batcheler took over
the station and ran it as long as the Trout Creek station was held open, but
the railroad finally put an end to all of that. By 1886 all travel except local
goings and comings had completely vanished from the old road.

"The first buildings on the ranch didn't amount to much and Father soon built
again about a mile and a half north from the first houses," says Mr. Skinner.
"Jordan Creek overflowed each year and where it covered adjacent land, no
sagebrush grew. It was there the ranchers of sixty and seventy years ago
grew whatever they were going to grow for livestock feed. gardens, etc. The soil
was rich and ready-cleared and for that time supplied all their wants,

The creek ran through a beautiful valley Hat and large, with only this little bit of cropland along its banks. When I had to look after the horses, or ride there for any reason. I had a favorite lookout spot where I used to pause and look out over that land wondering how it would be if the brush were gone, etc. I tried to talk Dad to my way of thinking but he couldn't see it; thought I was
spending too much time in idle day dreaming."

Mr Skinner stops to think of the Skinner ranch today. "I've often wondered
what he would think if he saw these 2,000 acres now—the original holdings
and the 1600 acres I took out of the brush with the aid of some Piute Indians.
Why the wood that big sagebrush made was nothing like one can find today: it
was real wood. And I had a hunch if land would grow brush that big, it would
probably grow a lot of other things equally well."

But all that was later, much later. Silas Skinner sold his new land in 1880 and
moved six miles up the road and bought another ranch. This is commonly
referred to today as the "old" Skinner ranch but when young William Silas grew
up and married, he bought back his father's oldest ranch and made it the
beginning of the present holdings.

However back in the '80's, his father remained not too satisfied with his
second place. He had nothing against the ranch but it was time to think about
sending his growing family to schools and schools were something still to
come. He sent young William back to some relatives of his wife's in Ohio where
the boy got in two years, but that was only a stopgap and not an answer to
schooling for the rest of the children.

Horses were the principal commodity of the old Skinner ranch, as well as the
liking of nice horse flesh being an attribute of the family. Silas Skinner had
imported from Kentucky a standard stallion and five standard bred mares that
being the technical description of the cream of the crop.
Skinner had decided that the Napa Valley was a pretty attractive place. So
when he was looking for a place which would be nearer educational facilities,
he decided to buy a ranch in the Napa Valley and divide his time in Malheur
county. The standard bred horses were moved to the Napa Valley ranch where
they were nearer the track and society markets.

There Silas Skinner died in 1835, leaving young William Silas, not quite 14.
as head man on the Skinner spread, and the school room. as far as his
personal education was concerned, was a thing of the past.

The Napa Valley ranch was only about half paid for when his father died. and
William and his brothers, counseled by their mother and sisters as much as
the times permitted, worried over this, other bills of the big move which had
counted up. and the horse market which William felt was due for a decline. An
old familiar refrain of increasing expenses, decreasing revenue. What to do?'

Mission Street Cars

The problem grew instead of lessening as young Bill Skinner rounded up horses
at the ranch on Jordan Creek for sale in California. The Skinners, father and
sons had, among other outlets for their range horses, a contract with the old
Mission Street Car company of San Francisco, calling for the supplying of 125
to 150 head of horses a year to be used on the California city's famous horse-
drawn street cars. This contract lasted for several years.

Talking things over with his family, William Silas decided they had to sell the
standard bred horses from the Napa Valley ranch. He wanted to spend
all year, instead of just half a year, at Jordan Creek and he....

A big auction was decided for the standard bred horses, ads were placed in
all strategic places in the California cities, the Southern Pacific ran a special
train to Napa Valley, hacks and busses were run free from San Francisco and
Sacramento, and the Skinner family served a big free lunch.

At the close of the sale three hours and a half after it started all 43 of the fine
horses were gone at prices averaging betterthan a thousand dollars apiece and fewgoing at $5,000.00 each, and $46,000.00 was discovered cleared when
everything was added up.

With this sum. young Will Skinner and his family were able to pay off the rest
of the debtedness against the Napa Valley ranch leaving it in the clear for his
mother and the other children. The sum left over, added to the sale of the
current range horses from the Jordan Creek ranch, cleared the last of the
$53,000 owing on bills and ranch payments, and left a small capital to begin
again with.

In California, Will Skinner alsomet the love of his life, the talented, vivacious Ella Sackett. They were married in California and after the big sale, when the affairs of the family there could be safety left, young Will Skinner brought his
bride back to Jordan Creek and the small homestead house still standing,
set down in the midst of acres of gigantic sagebrush and a small hayfield or

By Dottie C. Edwards (Historian, Malheur County Pioneer Association)

Skinner Brings His Bride To Cattle Camp Cabin

The beginnings of a pioneer cattle ranch in Malheur County were described in the first two installments of the life of W. S. Skinner prominent rancher in
the Jordan Valley country, who will be 80 next month. Here he tells of bringing his bride, the former Ella Sackett, a city girl from California, out to the frontier shack of two rooms and a lean-to porch to start their married life together.)

(third installment)

"I sure had a nerve," he says today, "bringing a city girl, used to a good home and conveniences and educational background, out to a hard frontier life like that. but Ella never complained. She went right ahead with everything like she had been used to it all her life, was none too easy.

"This first house, a true old-time cattle camp cabin of weathered, unpainted boards, small windows, and a lean-to porch, is still standing on the old place
of my father's which I bought back. This was his first holding in the county and not to be confused with his last, which is sometimes today spoken of as
the 'old' Skinner place.

"I had bought the old place and now set about clearing the brush, keeping in mind those early day dreams of mine which my father thought were just that. For three winters I had the assistance of about ten Piute Indians who grubbed the sagebrush for me at prices ranging from $2 to @3.50 an acre.

"This doesn't sound like so much but you must remember a dollar bought lots more in those days and this was just part of what they received. If you had ten working for you, it usually meant you had about 100 camped on the place and they all had to be fed from the huge stocks of supplies we maintained on the ranch.

"Also, they all had horses with them and we had to feed them through the winter, too. The squaws added to the family income by cutting all the big brush into stove wood and stacking it in tiers for which they were paid $1.25 a tier.

Bigger than Today

"The big stacks of wood were like none of the sagebrush seen today," says Mr. Skinner. "We had enough fuel from the 1,600 acres we cleared to last us for years.

"With the 400 acres of the old ranch, etc. the place today has 2,000 acres under irrigation and 3,000 acres of range land for the cattle that replaced the horses we first sold.

"Two of our nine children were born in that cabin. I moved the family to the house on the adjoining Ruby ranch when we just simply couldn't crowd in any more, and when I had managed to build a slightly better house near our present site, we moved back but it was always too small, even so.

"Five of the children were born in this little house, which is still standing in the midst of our present corrals. There's a screened porch and four or five small rooms. I don't see how Ella managed to take care of us all from it, -but she did, and the family always had fun, company, plenty of good food, and music. "My wife was an accomplished pianist .and she early instilled in the children a love of family singing and enjoyment of music."

Mr. Skinner pointed out the well which is still being used on the ranch to put water under pressure around barns and feedlots.

"That was where all our water came from then, only we didn't have it under pressure, After we had pumped it, it still had to be carried the fifty or a hundred feet to the house, and then carried out again,

"Wash day was a real problem," says Mr. Skinner. "I used to get up early for many years to help get the water on and the fires started before I went about
my work. The washing had to be done on tub and board, and everything white was boiled, just like my Mother had had it to do. Occasionally an Indian woman would help if one were around; they understood how to wash clothes but they couldn't help with any thing else in the way of housework.

"It was a big day when we got what I believe was the first washing machine in the valley, one of the kind you operated by hand. We really though we had
come a long way!

First Power Washer

"But the really big improvement came years later when we also had the first power washer in the community. Not a machine like you know today. I simply
took two of the hand run machines and hooked them up to a gasoline motor set between them with an overhead drive. Washdays really were speeded up and
many came to see the 'improvements' at the Skinner ranch.

"All through our married life, Ella and I used to plan for the house we hoped to have some day which really would have enough room. When Ella would com-
plain about the size of the bedrooms, no room to make a bed, no place to put clothes, etc., I'd remind her that we would have enough in that NEW house of

"That's the reason there isn't a bedroom smaller than twelve by fourteen feet in the present ranch house, and some of the room could hold three single 'beds

"My wife was a capable frontier hostess, too, and we always enjoyed having people at our house and they seemd to like to come. Company was an event which broke the isolation and nothing was too much trouble to provide some amusement and happiness for those around us.

"However, when lack of space crowded our hospitality, I'd say 'Just wait for our own big house. We'll make provision for these boys and girls of ours to have fun without taking out the furniture.'

"When it came time to feed the extra hands at haying time, I'd say 'Our new dining room will have room for everyone to sit down at once, no matter how

Will Skinner's voice, quiet and steady as he approaches the 80th birthday, hesitates a moment and then continues.

The Promises Come True

"All these promises were kept. When we built our present home in 1915, completing it in February of 1916, we had four big bedrooms on the second floor, and a big party room the width of the house along one end on the same floor. We had a sleeping porch that held six beds for the use of the boys and their friends. We also had two bed-rooms on the first floor and a third floor that could be pressed into use for extra cots.

"The kitchen was built as convenient as was possible for the time, and we had the first pressure system in the valley. This was a lifesaver as compared with all the gallons of water that had been lugged in and out in earlier years. Today, my son Kirtland Skinner, has had the place electrified and every convenience is now available.

"Our new house was the first plastered house in Jordan and we were constantly being advised about the dancing that went on in the second floor
room, our friends and neighbors telling us we would ruin the entire house. Finally we made two large bedrooms out of the ballroom and let the young folks hold their parties in the living and dining room below, which could be opened up, with other rooms and a large enclosed porch to handle quite a crowd. The entire house had 14 rooms, none smaller than12 x 14.

"Our dining room was large too, like I had promised my wife. By extending two big dining tables side by side, each holding places for about twenty, we were able to sit down and eat at once and this meant quite a lot during the long haying seasons when I used to hire 35 or 40 hands for extra help."

Problem of Schooling

From the time of the first of their nine children, Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Skinner had always worried about the problem of sending their youngsters to school. Distances were so far to even the most meager of educational advantages, and Mr. Skinner, who had been sent east to relatives for two years schooling when he was a little fellow didn't want that for his boys and girls.

Mrs. Skinner had been teaching them herself as best she could with the shortage of time and room at her disposal; giving them along with the three R's" a fundamental knowledge of music on the piano and teaching them to sing family harmony.

"We never had any opera stars," says Mr. Skinner today,"but we sure had a lot of real enjoyment."

"In the big house, I completed part of the third floor to be used as a schoolroom to carry on the children's education," he adds, "and here we installed blackboards, desks and seat, and the wife and I hired our own
teacher. I can remember how well she used to screen -the applicants, looking into references and family background, etc Ella was very particular about
who taught the children.

'This had an important after-effect, for my wife really selected two daughters-in-law by doing so. Johanna Murray was one of the teachers who remained ;n
the family as the bride of our son Kirt, who now runs the ranch, with his son-Bob.

"Another was Edith Jones who came from Indiana to teach the Skinner school and remained as the wife of our son, Harold Skinner, now of Caldwell.

"Our youngest son, Hugh followed in his brothers footsteps by marrying the teacher who came to teach the district school several years after our private school had ended. She was Merle Boswell, daughter of Mrs. C’Ceal Boswell of Vale. They now live at Redmond.

After the school year spent n their third floor schoolroom, the young Skinners would go away from Jordan creek to take the state examinations through the county superintendent's office and they unfailingly passed with good marks. The good marks continued as they went on to higher education, some to ' business college, a number to Oregon State, and Oregon, Idaho and California schools all conributed.

May 3, 1951

Warm Reception Given To Visitors At Ranch

By Dottie C. Edwards Historian, Malheur County Pioneer Association

Editor's note: In the first three installments of the life of W. S. Skinner, widely- known rancher of Jordan Valley, the writer told of the beginning of a pioneer cattle ranch in Malheur county and how Skinner brought his
bride. Miss Ella Sackett, to a two-room cattle camp cabin. In this installment the writer continues with the problem of education for the children and giving Gov. Walter Pierce a good meal.

(fourth installment)

"With the children being given their grade school education at home, to have any contact with the outside world at all meant that we had to bring the
young people to the ranch,“ says W. S. Skinner, pioneer cattleman of the Jordan Valley. Consequently it was always open house at Skinner's

When the children went on to higher education, they brought their friends home with them for days, weekends, weeks or an entire summer's vacation.
No matter how many, we had room for them, for we could accommodate twenty to twenty-five guests at a time and quite often had them!"

Size Impresses

To appreciate the size of this Pioneer home, one has to walk around it and look up at the root three stories away above the basement. And then remember, as Mr. Skinner has said, that of all the fourteen rooms the smallest is twelve by fourteen and most of them are larger than that.

Take a good look, too, at the two enclosed porches, one above the other. The boys' sleeping porch is said to have held six double beds at once; to today’s visitor it looks as if it could hold much more than that. Even the front step must be ten or fifteen feet wide.

When today's guest comes in sight of the old ranch house after miles of empty land in between it and its neighbors, it is still more impressive.

Not that Mr. Skinner feels it is isolated, nor do any of the younger generations of'the family. “It has never mattered our neighbors lived sixty
seventy miles away. We've always considered anybody as a neighbor in that distance," he explains.

Forty Extra Hands

The ranch used to hire 35 to 40 extra hands during the haying season, and treasures a picture showing seven mowers strung out over a field of wild hay high as a man's head.

"All hands ate in the house too,” adds Mr. Skinner "By putting in two big long dining tables, each seating twenty or so, we had plenty of room"

"When my folks ran the Trout Creek station, they often had a Chinese cook, than which there is no better. We had a Chinese cook on the ranch in the early days, too, but when the last one got too old to work any more, we weren't able to find any other. The Chinese really know how to cook and how to manage.

"When we didn't have any help in the kitchen, my wife and the girls had to carry on. Like other oldtime ranches, we always fed people passing by too, and Ella always saw that there was something on hand or ahead to fix a meal in a hurry long before we had refrigerators and other conveniences.

The Governor Stops

"I remember one time in fairly recent years, long after the days .of horse travel, that we had an autoload of sightseers stop at the ranch in mid-afternoon. Bill Hanley, the famous Harney county cattleman, was in the party. and Governor
Walter Pierce and several others.

"I said, 'Have you gentlemen eaten?' They looked pretty tired and hungry. 'No', they answered, “We missed the noon meal and will have to wait till supper time now when we get in town.”

“I asked Ella if she could fix them something and she said,"Why, of course!' and in a little over a half hour she set them down to a 'fine meal that included hot biscuits, home cured ham, and a lot of other things. They never got over having a ranch dinner cooked for them on a hot mid-afternoon, and Governor Pierce mentioned our hospitality in several political introductions and speeches he made after that. It wasn't anything out of the way for an old ranch, but he thought the custom had long since died.

"My wife was a very hospitable woman and she was happiest when those around her were happy. When the young folks gave dancing parties in the ballroom, she was willing to play all night on the piano to provide music for them it it were necessary. She never seemed to tire of music and singing.

Another attraction in the social life at the Skinner ranch was the 'big five-gallon ice cream freezer which the young men would take turns operating.
The ice we used came off the creek; we stored it in the ice house in sawdust and used it as we needed it. Most of the old- time families had their own ice houses. Our big freezer had few equals, however, and it got a constant workout.

"In addition to providing us with a nice home life, my wife was concerned with the outdoors around her home, too," adds W.S. Skinner. "She set out vines and shrubbery, packing water to them by hand until we got water on the yard. She planted all the lilac bushes growing around our big lawn, and carried water to get them started.

MAY 7, 1851

Skinner Operation is Big Business;
Sons Help Run Jordan Valley Ranch

By Dottie C. Edwards
Historian, Malheur County Pioneer Association.

Editor's note — The history of the old Skinner ranch on Jordan creek is
brought up to date in this concluding installment. Five generations of the family have appeared since Silas Skinner first came to Ruby City. the old mining town across the line from Jordan creek and its valley. The narrator has been William Silas Skinner, eldest son of Silas Skinner, who will be 80 this month, but still plans on riding the range this summer. Of his children,
grand-children and great- grandchildren. many of them still reside in Malheur county or the Snake river valley. The story continues:

(Last Installment)

When the Skinner ranch ran mostly horses, it had about 1100 to 1200 head, says William Silas Skinner.

"John Strode had around 1500 head and Con Shea, brother of Tim, ran about 2,000. The stock wintered on the desert where they seemed to thrive on tall
dry grasses they found."

After changing to beef cattle, the Skinner ranch ran aboutt 5,000 head of whitefaces up until a few years ago, when the family thought the peak of good
beefsteak prices was reached and 'sold off, down to three or four hundred head. So now, things are sort of marking time compared to the former operation.

However, in addition to the big meadows that still look full of cattle to the unpracticed eye, the ranch is continuing in the raising of grain begun long
years ago when the Skinners had the first big grain producing operation in the valley and other ranchers used 'to come there to purchase their supplies of wheat, oats and barley. Kirt's son, Bob, takes an active hand in this for his father and grandfather.

Old Time Families

"Some of the other old time families of the Jordan Valley in addition to the Mills family mentioned earlier, included the Bill Manning, the Kelloggs, the
Baxter family who started the first buildings in the town of Jordan Valley, the Billy Parks family, Dick Hart, the A. F. Canter family who owned what was called the Hot Spring's ranch.

"Then there was the A. C Goodrich ranch, the David R. King ranch (you remember hearing about Will R. King in Congress — 'David was his father).
Bert Hooker lived on the ranch now owned by Sam Ross. The Cables family were next up the creek, living on the present Coggill place, now owned by Ted
Coggill, and his sister, Mrs. Barlow," recalls Mr. Skinner.

"Anawalts still own their old ranch; the grandparents took it up and 'filed on it, never anyone else on it. A bachelor named E. A. Trycross, now gone many
years, was next, and then there was the I. W. Sharpe place. All these ranches lay west of Jordan Valley on Jordan Creek, right down the stage road to

"Then there was the Compan ranch, owned .by Pete Deiseroth,, now the Robinson place It was called the Company ranch on account of being a stage
station. Then came the old Skinner place, the second ranch bought by my Father, and now owned by Jeff Anderson. The next .place was owned by P.S.
Gordon, another bachelor, and then the Skinner ranch, thirteen miles from Jordan Valley. Next was the Ruby or Beers ranch also a stage station.

The First Basques

"J. P. 'Merrill owned the Sheep Ranch and stage station which came next. The ranch go its name through a bunch of sheep being killed there by Indians. This ranch is today owncd by Fred Eiguren, a nephew of Joe Navarro who came with the Azcuenaga Brothers to Jordan Valley in 1886, the first Baques to arrive. All three went to work for Tim Shea, the sheepman, and this was their start ii
the sheep business now follows by so many of the Basques around Jordan.

"And speaking of the Sheep Ranch," Mr. Skinner interrupt the reminiscences, "my Father and D. L. 'Shirk, the old Indian fighter, were holed up there
three days back in the late '70': when we were having Indian trouble. The Indians did their best to drive them out, even trying to set the roof afire, but
they managed to stick it out until the wandering war party left.

"This was about the time all the families were rounded up and 'brought into 'the stonehouses several of the ranches had, where they stayed until it was safe to return home. Then was a stone house on the Station Line Ranch and another at the Gusman place.

Other Neighbors

"The Dan Dnscoll and then Tom Wilson families were other oldtimers North of Jordan or upper Cow Creek were the McIntyres. Sid Knight, Con Shea (the 'biggest cattle operator we ever had here), then Geo. B Glover family, the old James B. McCain ranch.

"The James E. Gusman family was south of Jordan. The Philip Clegg family still live on their old home place, and then Glass Brothers were about the last neighbors to the south."

Of Silas Skinner's children four of the six survive including: William Silas. The other three are Tom Skinner, a younger brother, and two sisters, Mrs. Carrie Norton of Berkeley, Calif., and Mrs. I. Q. Hampton who lives at Douglas on the Isle of Man. Their mother was able to make several trips home to the Isle of Man during her life time.

Tom Skinner was with the family at Napa Valley when his older .brother returned to Jordan Creek, and he went to school in California. However
when he, too, struck out for himself he came back to Jordan Creek, and also went in the cow business. His wife is the daughter of George B. Glover, and a niece of Con Shea.

The 3rd, 4th and 5th

Wiliarn Skinner's sons and daughters are Kirtland, the eldest, who runs the home place on Jordan Creek today; Harold, of Caldwell, Idaho: Mrs.Evan P
Geen, Sr., (Ruby Skinner) of Ontario; Mrs.'E.Van Matre(Verna Skinner) of Spokane "Mrs Ella Skinner Carlson, Portland; William Skinner, Pocatello; Beatrice Skinner Owings. Oakland; and Hugh Skinner, Redmond. Their mother died eight or ten years ago. There are 29 grand children living and two lost in recent years in aviation accidents, one service connected and to date there are 17 great grandchildren.

"Maybe that last figure should be revised," laughs Mr. Skinner, as he concludes with the fifth generation."I just can't keep up with then all. It might be more any minute!"

WILLIAM SILAS SKINNER MEMORIAL (copied by Esther Emmel from Skinner Family Bible, July 2009)

William Silas Skinner Memorial
March 3, 1060
(It is always difficult to recapture what one has said previously...but the following is an attempt to do so, I have tried in the following, to restate, as nearly as I can, what I said at the Memorial Service for your Father and grand father-.)
Rev. Raymond A. Thompson

There are those that feel that today should be a day of great sorrow....for one that has been so dear to so many, for so long has now passed from our midst and is now pioneering the great beyond...
However, I would like to suggest that this is a time not for sadness, but a time of thanksgiving for the privilage of of knowing, and being a part of,a man that had full, rich, and abundant life.,<a life that those of us here today had the honor of sharing in varying degrees, •••this life therefore, we should be thanking God, this day, that we had the honor of knowing him... and those of you who are his offspring I know are thankful that you had the honor of being born into this family*
Mr. Skinner was a self made man... he did not have the luxury of a formal education. •• .but educated himself •. .while at the same time he had to work long hard hours to provide the kind of a living he wanted for his family. • .for he enjoyed his family probably more than any thing else in the whole world,
Mr» & Mrs. Skinner educated their children at first in a tent school room out behind the old house and when the new house was built, the top floor often served as the school room for not only the Skinner kids, but the neighbors kids as well.
Mr. Skinner's life was not an easy life.,.and yet it was an abundant life. ..he saw the complete revolution in ranch life,., he saw the change from the horse drawn gang plow, to the powerful crawler feractors...the buck board give way to the powerful
automobile...yet in all these changes he did not lag behind... but kept pace with the times.
There are inumerable things which probably should be said hero today,. .but I would like to have you think for just a moment with me, upon a few verses of scripture which seem to me to sum up his life better than anthing else...from II Timothy 4;6-8,

"...the time of my departure has come. I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on
that day, and not only to ins but also to all who have loved
his appearing."

When I first met Mr. Skinner, 10 years ago...I noticed then that he had no bitterness...as some do...that he was going old... that he could no longer ride and work as once he did.. .of course this was the secret to his whole life...this is why when the end was near he could say with Paul.."My departure is at hand"... Mr. Skinner also said, I am Ready... and then I am sure he felt confident he had fought a good fight...he had finished the course. he had kept the faith... it is true that he never united with any church...yet he had a self made faith...he lived his faith... This is why he lived gloriously.. .and died, triumphantly!