William Orval Sannar


This story I’m about to share with you is about a great-great uncle of mine, William Orval Sannar, better known as Orval.  It was published in a book titled “Children’s Stories” written by Rick Steber in Volume 6 of his true stories titled “Tales of the Wild West”. I had picked up several of these books and would read one of the short stories to my kids every night when they were younger, along with whatever bedtime story we were reading at the time. Imagine my surprise when I found a relative in one of the true stories, and more intriguing was the fact that I had never heard the story before.  Actually, I was reading along and the last name is misspelled in the book.  Finally, my daughter, Brittany, who was about 12 at the time, stopped me and said, “Mom, isn’t Promise where your family is from?  Don’t you just think that they spelled the name wrong?” By golly, she was right!  You can find William Orval Sannar’s story in that book, the story titled The Fish.   Orval’s actual obituary gives us more details, so that is what I’m going to share with you here today.


From the Enterprise Record Chieftain Newspaper, Enterprise, Oregon, dated Thursday September 4, 1913

“Drowned To Death By Large Fish”

“Orval Sannar of Promise Drowns in Grande Ronde in Strange Manner”

A remarkable drowning tragedy took place in the Grande Ronde River a mile above the home of F.G. Potter, not far from Promise, last Thursday.  Orval Sannar, the 20 year-old son of Postmaster Sannar of Promise, was jerked under water by a 17-inch “squaw” fish he had hooked, and lost his life.  His body was recovered 50 yards down stream.  His pole, with the fish still fast to the hook, was dragged from the bottom of the river where it had caught.

The young man was a member of a Promise fishing party, which included his sister Lulu Sannar, Marshall Fleshman and daughter Delia, John C. Phillips and daughters Nellie and Jessie.  They fished for a time on the south bank of the river, then Orval concluded he would cross and try his luck on the north bank. The stream is deep but at this place is comparatively still.  When he reached the deep water, Mr. Sannar took his fish pole in his mouth and started swimming.

When part way across, his head was suddenly drawn under the water.  He came up twice, waving his arms the last time.  Mr. Phillips who was some distance down the river ran to the bank opposite, but the body had gone down for the third time before he got near, and there was no telling where the current had carried the victim.

Jessie Phillips took the sad news out of the canyon and soon a large crowd gathered at the river to search for the body.  It was not found, however, until 9 o’clock, Friday morning.  It had moved only a short distance, and was lying on the bottom of the river.  A few feet from the body the fish pole was dragged from the river, with the “squaw” fish firmly hooked.

The supposition is that the fish took the hook as Mr. Sannar was swimming in midstream.  Having the fish pole in his mouth he could not close his lips.  Breathing heavily with the exertion of swimming, he probably was inhaling at the instant the fish seized the hook and dashed into the depth of the stream.  This pulled the swimmer’s head under the surface, and he sucked his lungs full of water almost instantly.  The fact that the body went to the bottom at once proves that water had displaced the air that should have been in his lungs.

The body was taken to the Sannar home in Promise just after noon on Friday, where it remained until Saturday at 4 o’clock, when it was removed to the cemetery where it was laid to rest.  Those left to mourn are the aged father and mother, four sisters and four brothers, besides many relatives and friends.

William Orval Sannar was born in Fayette County, West Virginia, Oct. 22, 1892.  He came with his parents to Promise when he was five years old and had lived there until his death.  He died August 28, 1913, aged 20 years, 10 months and 6 days.

The touching poem of J.L. McCreery comes to the minds of the afflicted family, the first stanza being:  “There is no death, the stars go down. To rise upon some other shore, and bright in heaven’s jeweled crown.  They shine forever more.”




Orval is buried in the Promise Cemetery, deep in the Blue Mountains of Oregon.

(Orval is my 2nd great-uncle.  He is the son of William Isaac and Eliza Ann (Carper) Sannar.)


Weaver Family Reunion


A Weaver family reunion!  This photo was taken in 1943 at Great-Grandma Weaver’s house outside of Wallowa, Oregon.  My aunt said she thinks it was taken when Selby had come home on leave.

Thank you so much to Shannon Weaver Erm for sharing this picture, and the names that go along with it!

1st row:  Janice Weaver, Laurena Kennison, Lonnie Armon, Carol Armon, Tommy Sannar, Carmen Armon, Lowell Armon, Keith Weaver, Beryl Weaver, Wayne Armon, Wanda Bassett, Bud Kopta, Harry Kennison

2nd row:  Charlotte Weaver, Wilbur Weaver, Blanche Schaeffer, Charlie Schaeffer, Kenneth Weaver, Ruth Weaver, Selby Weaver, Trell Coleman, Minnie Weaver, Wayne Weaver, Vina Armon, Gene (Tiny) Johnson, Mina Johnson, Esther Litchfield, (unknown – next 2 – baby and woman peeking out from behind), Mrs. Igo, Shirley Sannar, Marsh Weaver, Chet Shelton, (unknown white-haired lady), Grandma Weaver (Mary Weaver), Elwyn Powers, Chuck Weaver, Viola Weaver, Wendell Weaver, Lucy Schaeffer, and Sam Armon.

Walter Clark Dallas

walter-clark-dallas-abt-1917-juneau-alaskaWalter Clark Dallas was born November 25th, 1884 to Chester and Margaret “Maggie” (Harker) Dallas in Palmyra, Kansas, which is now part of Baldwin City.  (This picture is circa 1917 taken in Juneau, Alaska.)


On December 22nd, 1909, at the age of 25, Walter married Amy Mae Hovey in Millville, Utah.   In 1910, the couple was living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where Walter had taken work as a government trapper for Yellowstone National Park.  He was one of the first game wardens in the park and was hired to keep the park safe for visitors, especially from wolves and bears.


Walter is the one on the right here, pictured with another trapper in the park.




Walter and Amy’s three oldest boys were born during their years in Wyoming.  By 1918, Walter had registered for the draft for WWI and the family was back in Millville, Utah, where more children were born, including my grandmother, Leoma Nesta.  By 1927 the family had moved again, this time to Jerome Prairie, Oregon where son Billy was born.


This picture was taken in September of 1939 when Walter was 54 years old.  They were living in Plumas county, California now and the 1940 census has Walter listed as a miner.  He passed away on June 7th, 1943 at the young age of 58 in Sacramento, California and is buried in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Oroville, California.



The following is an article that gives a little bit of information about Walter’s time working for ranchers in Wyoming.

(From Grand Teton Historic Resource Study)

Cattlemen’s associations were also important to ranchers in Jackson Hole. These associations represented the cooperative spirit of the westering experience. In the 1890s, a number of Jackson Hole ranchers belonged to the Wyoming Stock Growers’ Association, an organization formed to promote industry interests. Membership of Jackson Hole cattlemen in this state organization expanded from 19 in 1895 to 35 by 1910. In practical terms, local associations were more important. Ranchers formed these organizations based on common grazing allotments such as the Gros Ventre River or Blackrock Creek areas. Communal roundups and drives to and from grazing ranges required cooperative efforts. Groups of ranchers pooled money to hire line riders to watch cattle on summer range. At least one line shack, built to house hands, is extant in the Sportsman’s Ridge area in Teton National Forest.

Protecting cattle from predators, in particular the gray wolf, seems to have been the major motive for creating livestock associations in the valley’s early years. On May 21, 1914, the Courier reported that 15 wolves had killed a cow and four yearlings being trailed to summer range on the Gros Ventre. The cattle belonged to Preston Redmond. The next week Roy McBride and Redmond herded their cattle together to protect them from wolves and hired Jess Buchanan to watch the cattle at night. While at Crystal Creek, Buchanan reported that wolves would harass cattle on one side, while he patrolled the opposite side. Cowpunchers also stated that wolves pursued a “favorite pastime” of biting off the tails of calves. Wolves may have tried this as an alternative to hamstringing the animals, that is, bringing prey down by their hindquarters. In June, Roy McBride set out to hunt down the wolf packs. In July, ranchers formed the Fish Creek Wolf Association specifically to eradicate the wolf population on the Gros Ventre River. They hired Walter Dallas to hunt them, paying him $22 per month. In addition, they agreed to pay a bounty: $62 for a “she-dog,” $52 for dogs (males), and $22 for pups. The association offered a $1.50 bounty for coyotes. To pay Dallas’s wage and bounties, the association assessed each member 12 cents per head of cattle. This program eliminated the gray wolf in the area by the early 1920s.


The following is a letter sent to Walter Dallas about his employment as a government trapper.  (I found this letter on ancestory.com)

9th November, 1915

Mr. Walter C. Dallas,

Jackson, Wyo.

Dear Mr. Dallas:-

I enclose herewith commission as deputy game warden without pay or bond, together with oath of office. Kindly certify to oath of office before a notary public and return same to me promptly.  I also enclose report blanks for use in reporting your time to this office.  You will be expected to cooperate with this department in the enforcement of the game laws, having full power to arrest any persons or persons violating this law and it being your duty to act in accordance with your commission.  I am mailing you copy of Wyoming game laws under separate cover.

You will commence active service as a trapper on the date when you were instructed by Mr. Seebohm, taking in the territory assigned you by Mr. Seebohm.  You will be expected to trap for wolves and coyotes or other predatory animals, using diligent efforts in this respect and you will be paid at the rate of $50.00 per month for such service, you to retain all pelts and collect for bounties.  Regarding your report, you will be expected to report promptly when you are near a postoffice, using the monthly report blank, stating the dates and territory covered on such dates, your location and number and kind of predatory animals trapped or killed.  Of course you will not be compelled to trap wolves or coyotes, but you will such means of exterminating them as you deem advisable.  It will be your duty to protect the game in your district, and prevent the unlawful killing thereof by any person or persons, notifying this office of any arrest made by you.  Any information you may desire may be obtained at any time from either Mr. Seebohm or this office.  I beg to state that we want results in the trapping or killing of the wolves in your district, and assure you that your cooperation in this respect will be highly appreciated.  Wishing you success, I remain,

Very truly yours,

Nate P. Wilson

State Game Warden


(Walter is my great-grandfather.  He is the father of Leoma Nesta (Dallas) Simmons)


Walter and Amy (Hovey) Dallas

walter-and-amy-dallasWalter and Amy (Hovey) Dallas ~

This picture was given to me by my grandmother, Leoma (Dallas) Simmons.  Walter and Amy are her parents.  I’m not sure where this picture was taken or the exact year, but it would have likely been in the early 1900’s, possibly  around 1910 or so.

(Walter and Amy are my great-grandparents.)

Edna Winifred (Weaver) Kennison Coleman Photo

edna-winifred-weaver-kennison-coleman-age-66-july-4-1969-wallowa-oregonThe notation on the back of this photo reads:  “Grandma Coleman (66 years)  July 4th, 1969  Wallowa, Oregon.  It’s in my mom’s handwriting so I know that she was the one on the other side of the camera.  I would have been not quite two when the family celebrated the 4th of July in Wallowa that year.

“Grandma Coleman” is Edna Winifred (Weaver) Kennison Coleman.  She married a man named Trell Coleman after her first husband, Harry Kennison, died in his thirties.

(Edna is my great-grandmother.  She is the mother of Shirley Marcilee (Kennison) Sannar.)

Elijah Daniel Weaver


Elijah Daniel Weaver, known as “Lige” to his family and friends, was born July 25th, 1865 to Darius and Sarah Weaver in Laurel county, Kentucky. His father was a farmer.

Lige’s mother, Sarah, passed away when he was only 10 years old.  The family headed west, Lige’s father going ahead and sending for the children once he was settled in Wallowa county.  The kids arrived in June of 1879. One sister, Elizabeth, died along the trail.

When Lige was 33 years old, he married Mary Pearl Hulse.  The year was 1899.  They went to live on the homestead that he had taken in Lower Valley of Wallowa county near the head of the canyon,  where they lived for the rest of their lives.  In June of 1900, Lige and Mary’s first son, Ellis was born.  Many children followed, including my great-grandmother, Edna Winifred, for a total of twelve.

Lige was 51 years old when the United States went to war against Germany in WWI.  He passed away at the age of 62 on March 3, 1928 and is buried in the Wallowa Cemetery.

You can get much more of a feel for who he was from his obituary that was published in the Wallowa County Chieftain. A huge thank you to my dad for giving me a copy!


Wallowa County Cheiftan
March 1928

Elijah D. Weaver, Resident of Wallowa County Last 49 Years, Passes Suddenly
Elijah Weaver, familiarly known to his wide aquaintanceship in the Wallowa county as
“Lige”, and one of this county’s original pioneers, died suddenly last Saturday morning at his home in Lower Valley at the age of 62 years, eight months and seven days. Although he had been in failing health for some time, the end came abruptly at 7:30 o’clock, at the home on the original homestead near the head of the canyon where he had spent the greater portion of his life.
Funeral services were held from the Methodist church in Wallowa last Monday afternoon, with Rev. G.H. Feese officiating. An exceptionally large concourse of friends and relatives gathered to pay their final tribute. Music was given by a quartet composed of Mrs. Wm. McKenzie, Mrs. Frank Bradley, H.M. Vaught and K.W. McKenzie with Mrs. Harold Hamstreet at the piano. Pall bearers were B.B. Oliver, L.T. Powers, Chas Bramlet, Chas. Johnson, Geo. Werst and Gordan Martin. Interment was in the Wallowa cemetery.
Mr. Weaver was born July 25, 1865 in Laurel county, Kentucky. His mother passed away when he was a lad and the father went West to seek a new home, finding it in Wallowa county. He then sent for his children and Elijah with an older brother and sister started west on an emigrant train. They were eight weeks enroute from Kentucky to Kelton, Utah, then the terminal of the railroad. Here they were met by Is Weaver, a cousin, who brought them by team over to Cove and thence to Alder Slope in Wallowa county where the father had established his home. They arrived June 7, 1879.
On May 8, 1899 Elijah was united in marriage to Miss Mary Pearl Hulse of Enterprise, and they went to live on the homestead of the bridegroom which he had taken in Lower Valley near the head of the canyon. Here he resided the remainder of his days. When the first road was built down through the canyon Mr. Weaver was one of the first to drive a team over it. He was also one of the county’s original sportsmen, having been a great hunter in his day.
In recent years he turned his attention to dairying and developed a strong herd of Jerseys, of which he recently disposed. Four years ago he was baptised by the Rev. Cox of Enterprise. The obituary, as read at the service Monday in part said:
“He was a believer in Christ and cherished his father’s well-worn Bible.”
“A place by the fireside is vacant,
“A voice we cherished is stilled,
“He is gone, though not forgotten,
“His place can never be filled. ”
Besides his widow, Mr. Weaver is survived by nine sons and three daughters; Mrs. Blanche Bassett of Winchester, Idaho. Mrs. Edna Kennison of Orchard, Wash., Ellis of Salem, and Jay, Wane, Lloyd, Wilbur, Kenneth, Marshall, Selby, Myrtle, and Martin of Wallowa. Also, two brothers and one sister survive, W.H. Weaver of Enterprise, J.M. Weaver of Walla Walla, and Mrs. Wm. McCormick of Enterprise. There are three grandchildren and a host of other relatives.
Attending the services Monday from out of the valley points were Mr. and Mrs. S.P. Kennison of Orchard, Wash., and Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Hulse of La Grande. All of the children were home with the exception of Ellis.


Please, if anyone has a picture of Elijah, will you please pass that along?  I would love to have a photo of him here.

(Lige is my 2nd great-grandfather.  He is the father of Edna Winifred (Weaver) Kennison.)

Minam Road – Wallowa County, Oregon


Much of my life was spent in Union and Wallowa counties.  This is a picture of Minam road between Elgin and Wallowa taken in the 1940’s.  I traveled this road more times than I can count with my family while growing up in the 70’s and 80’s.  This road is very much the same today as it was in this picture.


“I remember that road, we traveled it many times going to Grandma Coleman’s! It was scary! When we left Grandma Weavers BIRTHDAY party, Kathleen had picked up some flash bulbs from the camera. The older kids had taken the plastic off the outside. She had it in her mouth and it popped! She had tiny bits of glass all over in her mouth and there was no where to pull over…mom was scared…told her not to swallow. Wow what an adventure! we were living in camp at that time. (Starkey). Kathleen was born in 1948, I imagine she was maybe 3 yrs old.” ~ Judy Sannar Ennis remembering her little sister, Kathleen Sannar Tannahill
(Grandma Weaver would have been Mary Pearl (Hulse)Weaver. )

Peter Preston Curtis


Peter Preston Curtis was born on February 11th, 1825 to Van Rensselaer and Elizabeth (Dolin) Curtis in Kanawha City, West Virginia.  I believe he was the oldest child of nine.

Some records show him as Preston Peter and others simply refer to him as PP.  For our story today, I’m going to refer to him as Peter.  I don’t have a picture of Peter himself, only one of his headstone.  I wish I did!

Like I mentioned, Peter was born in 1825 in Kanawha City, West Virginia which is now a neighborhood in the city of Charleston, West Virginia.  It is part of Appalachia.

At age 21, in 1846,  Peter married Martha Jane Metcalf right there in Kanawha City.  His mother passed away that same year at the young age of 43.

In April of 1848, Peter and Martha welcomed their first daughter, Lucinda Jane, who became my great-great-grandmother.  The 1850 census found the family living in Boone, West Virginia, which is a big coal mining area,though Peter was listed as a farmer.  That same year, Peter and Martha welcomed a son, Lorenzo Dow.



More children were born over the years, then the family picked up and moved to Iowa in 1852, settling in Delhi in Delaware county, which is where they were living during the Civil War.  They moved to Hazel Green, Iowa about 1870.  (Keep reading, there’s way more to the Peter’s story!).  Martha passed away in 1872 at the age of 41 years, just eight days after their youngest daughter, Belle was born.  Peter then remarried in 1874 to Electa Malroy Worley, herself a widow with children.

From his obituary, I learned that Peter was disabled in his later years.

From the Manchester, IA Democrat, dated Feb. 19, 1908:

“About ten years ago he was stricken with paralysis and soon after with his wife removed to Ryan, where he continued in an enfeebled condition, being cared for by his beloved wife and all that medical skill could do for him.  He was a good husband and provider, a kind friend to all, ever willing to lend a helping hand to those around him.  His course is finished and he rests from his labors. Nine children, six sons and three daughters; besides the aged widow, are left to mourn his death.”

Peter lost quite a few of his children, one son murdered by horse thieves, before he himself passed away on February 5th, 1908 at the age of 82. He is buried in the Golden Prairie Cemetery in Ryan, Iowa.

So far, Peter’s story is dry.  Lots of dates and facts.  Please keep reading to put a man and his belief’s to the name.

From Delaware and Buchanan Counties History – Written in 1890

Preston P. Curtis is a native of Kanawha county, W.Va., and was born February 11, 1825. His father, Raneil (spelling?) Curtis, was born in Rensselaer county, N.Y. He removed to Brown county, Ohio, in an early day, and thence to the salt district of West Virginia. He was a farmer. He was born in 1800 and died in 1866. He was an intelligent man and quite prominent in local affairs. The mother of our subject was Elizabeth Dolin, a native of Virginia, and died in 1846. She was a member of the M.E. church and the mother of fourteen children, seven of whom are living.
Preston P. Curtis was born in a log cabin about sixteen feet square. He attended school one hundred and five days and went to five different school-houses. He walked two miles to log school-houses, with puncheon floors, slab seats, no windows, fire-place with chimney on outside. One of his teachers has since become Bishop Lewis Davis, of the United Brethren church, who died in Iowa a few years ago.
Mr. Curtis came West in the fall of 1852 in Delaware county, Iowa. He came by steamer down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to Dubuque, from which place he walked to Hopkinton. He located in the southeast corner of Delhi township, where he purchased a quarter section of land, for which he paid $2.50 per acre. He chopped and grubbed to get money to pay for his land. He had only $15 when he arrived in this county, and $10 of that he paid for doctor bills. Wild game was plentiful in those days, and Indians frequently visited the few scattering settlers to beg food and feed for their ponies. He built a log house and prepared to live in true pioneer style. In 1870 he removed to Hazel Grove township, where he bought land.
Mr. Curtis was married, October 15, 1847, to Miss Martha Metcalf, who was born in Virginia. She was a daughter of Samuel and Drusilla (Turley) Metcalf, both of whom were born in Virginia. Her father came to Delaware county, where he lived some time. He removed to Leavenworth, Kans., where he died in 1876.
The offspring of this union were thirteen children – Lucinda J., Lonzo D., Diana O., Lewis M., Noah W. (deceased), Van S., John R., George W., Joseph W., William S., Nathan D., and one died in infancy. His first wife died February 21, 1872.
He remarried in 1874, to Mrs. Electa Worley, who was born in Indiana September 28, 1828. Her father, John Malroy, was born in Hancock county, N.Y., April 20, 1794, and is still living, at the age of ninety-six years. He immigrated to Perry county, Ind., in 1811, when that country was full of wild animals and Indians. He came to Iowa in 1845, settling on Grove creek, in Delaware county. He pre-empted his first land and carried on farming as long as he was able.
The mother of Mrs. Worley (Malroy) bore the maiden name of Cynthia Lamb, and died in 1887, aged eighty-seven years. She was a kind-hearted woman, and organized the first Sunday-school ever held in Delaware county. Mrs. Curtis was married to Joseph Worley in 1846, who died September 12, 1867. Ten children were born of this union, viz.- Mary, Martha, Hattie, Liza, Frank, Daniel, Margaret, Susan, Charlotta, and Charles. Nine living.
Mr. Curtis was a whig before the birth of the republican party. He has never been actively engaged in political matters, but seldom fails to vote. He left Virginia because he became disgusted with the practice of slavery.
Mr. Curtis owns a fine farm of two hundred and twenty acres of land in Hazel Green township, and has been one of the most successful farmers in the county. He retired from active farm work in 1888, and has since been taking life easy.

Another ancestor that I wish I could sit down and visit with!

Curtis, Peter Preston Line

(Peter is my 3rd great-grandfather. )