Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Buckeye Ranch

I became fascinated with Buckeye Ranch. My grandmother told me that my grandfather's aunt, Opal, had often gone up to Washington to visit "our cousins". She didn't know how close of cousins they were, or anything about this family. This of course piqued my interest, but it would be awhile before I pursued this line of research.

When I was researching some of my 2nd great-grandfather Steward's siblings I came across Winfield Scott Stevens (b. 1851) and noticed he had died in Yakima County, Washington. Well there we go, our Washington connection! So, I began searching for information about Winfield, and it wasn't difficult to find. In the book An Illustrated history of Klickitat, Yakima and Kittias Counties there is a biography of Winfield as one of the pioneers of the Yakima Valley.

Winfield was born in Highland City, Ohio on June 29, 1851 and lived on the family farm until 1869. He went to Pennsylvania for four years to work in lumbering. He then moved west, making his way finally to Yakima county in 1880.  In 1888 he settled on the land that would become his farm, "one of the finest in the valley", Buckeye Ranch.

Winfield seems to have been well known:
"...considered to be one of the most progressive and public spirited citizens of the valley, being always to the front in matters affecting the betterment of the community... He is a man of high character, industrious and deservedly popular."
I also discovered that the house has been added to the National Register of Historic Buildings which made me desperate to find a picture of the ranch! I searched through different Yakima history books that were available through my local library, but did not find any. I do however have a picture from the 50's of the house. This is one of Opal's pictures:

I since  have found  the actual application for the Register of Historic Places. It has left me with even more clues to follow, but what I read certainly put a smile to my face and it is what I will leave off with:
When Stevens died in 1923, his goodwill was remembered on the front page of the Yakima newspaper, which noted that "strangers found a ready welcome at his door at all times," and his children recalled that a large continent of Yakima Indians attended the services in Naches. Nancy Clark Stevens continued to live at the ranch after her husband's death, and carried on the tradition of hospitality. When she died in 1940, it was reported that "she retained always the pioneer virtue of being a friend to man in a house by side of the road."

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