East of the Mountains

(cira 1901-1925)

The McCutchen brothers (probably Bill, George and Ed) and one of their wives with a combine they shared between their several wheat ranches. The darker horses were mostly sorrels (a beautiful red brown) and well known in the area. They came initially from Yacolt. For a larger view of this especially great photo, click here.

Map of Homesteads taken out in Umitilla County, Oregon

As the McCutchen boys came of age, they each left the farming and logging of Yacolt and moved to Eastern Oregon, to a land that they had passed through on their trek west as children and that the older ones especially remembered as being similar to their home in Nevada. From the money he made logging his Yacolt land, JM gave each of them a 'grubsteak' to get them started. They took out homesteads and started raising their families. Some stayed and still have descendants in the area. Some left after a few years or after a few decades, but even these have descendants who have returned. Although there was never an anscestral home with the history of the McCutchen place in Yacolt, still the area seems to draw McCutchens time and again. Use this map to see where each man chose his homestead. Some of them may have bought more land, but I have record only of the BML grants.

Only JM's two youngest children, Charlana and Cal, did not move East of the Mountains. Charlana married a local boy, Harry Hooper and settled nearby. Cal worked in logging until he died in a logging accident at age 30.

According to BLM homestead records, Bill left first, taking out an 80 acre homestead in Umitilla County of Oregon in 1901. He also homesteaded another nearby plot of 160 acres in 1909. He would have been 20 years old when he took out his first homestead and 25 in 1906 when he received the title. He returned to Yacolt and was logging there when he met his wife, Ella Clyde. Before they were married in 1910, Bill returned to Eastern Oregon and took out a second homestead, this time for 160 acres. They lived there until 1937 when they, with their grown son, bought the old McCutchen farm and move back to Yacolt. Then in 1952, they sold the Yacolt place and returned to Eastern Oregon. Both Bill and Clyde died there near Hermistion in their early 80's-late 70's.

George went next, and homesteaded 280 acres near his brother in 1907. His first stay in Eastern Oregon was comparitively short but throughout his life, he returned to live there several times. This first time, he was a batchelor. While he lived there for the required 5 years, he built only as much as was required for him to prove up the land, living with his brothers most of the time, or even out in the open when the weather was good (as it usually was).

This photo, named "The Bedroom" shows George sitting near a pile of straw, with clothes strewn about. It is likely this is where he was camped while he worked his land or helped his brothers work theirs. Other men may have shared his "bedroom".

In 1916, George married Myrtle who was a Yacolt girl. Although he kept his Eastern Oregon land, they stayed in Yacolt with his folks for about a year and a half. His first child, Edith, was born there, but she was less than a year old when George moved his family to Eastern Oregon in early 1918. At first they lived with Ed, his wife, Frances and their small son. Ed and George had married the same year, to women who were about the same age and thier first children were born only a month apart. It made for cramped quarters and no doubt, some tense moments, but they made do until it became clear that both families were expanding. The men built a cabin on George's land and the George McCutchens moved in before their son was born in December of 1918. Ed's second son was born two months later.

George's second stay in Eastern Oregon was even shorter than his first. In 1920, his father was 85, blind and no longer able to run the Yacolt farm by himself. George and Myrtle moved back to Yacolt and thier 3rd child was born there in December of that year. It is thought that they traded their 280 acres of wheatland to Ed and perhaps others for shares in the Yacolt property. When the family left Yacolt in 1937, they again went East of the Mountains and lived there off and on for years although neither George nor Myrtle were there when they died.

Ed was the thrid McCutchen to homestead in Eastern Oregon, claiming 160 acres in 1908 and another 160 acres in 1909. Unlike his older brothers, who chose brides from the Yacolt area, Ed met a young woman from Eastern Oregon. He and Frances raised their family on the wheat ranch and he lived there until he became ill and could no longer work. Both he and Frances lived in Hermiston or the surrounding area until they died.

Avie was the next McCutchen to head East of the Mountains. When she finished school, she went there to help her brothersin the harvest. There she met John Fisher, a wheat rancher like her brothers. I have not been able to find a homestead claim for John Fisher so maybe he bought his land. She married him at Yacolt in 1913 and returned to Eastern Oregon with him. They raised their family on his ranch and some of the Fishers are still in the area.

All four of the above siblings apparently lived in the same general area. Ed and George's land was in Hamer Canyon (which is now Slammer Canyon), near Nye and Pilot Rock. Bill's was near Echo. The Fishers lived near Boardman. See map for location of the McCutchen land. The Fisher land was not a homestead and therefore I do not have record of it.

This photo of McCutchens and Fishers was taken in 1921, after baby George was born and before the George McCutchens returned to Yacolt. Larger view and names

Note the wagon at the side of the house.

Walt and Alson each found 160 acre homesteads close to each other in 1909. Ethel, Walt's wife, expanded their holdings in 1914 with another 80 acre plot.When Walt was injured in a logging accident and died in 1926, Alson and his family left the land and moved to the city (Bremerton, for one) where he became an executive for a large manufacturing company.Muriel never remarried but eventually left Eastern Oregon. See map for location if their homesteads.

All of the above dates are based on BLM records which show the issue date for the land claimed. In each case, I have substracted 5 years, since a homesteader wasn't issued title until 5 years after they claimed the land. For more information about any individual person, click on the link with their name.

The Bill, Ed and Walt McCutchens and the John Fishers. Taken in 1925. Larger view and names

Although boys and girls dressed very differently in the 1920's, this wasn't necessarily so on the wheat ranch where both ran free and got equally dirty.

Only two of these four coveralled youngsters are boys. Can you tell which ones? Taken about 1927.

While it is true that Charlana and Harry Hooper did not homestead in Eastern Oregon and the George McCutchens were there for only a few years, these families did visit their cousins occasionally. This next photo was taken in 1925, not long after Harry Hooper got a new car which they drove to Eastern Oregon for a visit.

Larger photo
and legend of names. Check to see if you can identify the question marks!

To read about life on a 1920's wheat ranch, go to Dry Land Farming. You will see some good harvesting photos showing McCutchen horses and equipment.

Dry Land Farming