The Wyllie Family
James Wyllie was born in Scotland in 1820. He married Margaret MacGregor who
was born in Scotland in 1827. Both passed away in Freestone, Calif.; Mr. Wyllie in 1893
and Mrs. Wyllie in 1915. Into this union were born the following children:
Jeanette, William James, John, Michael, Abraham, Ella, and Anna. All were born while
the family was living in West Reading, Pennsylvania. William James herded a band
of sheep from California to Eastern Oregon.
Florence Edith Porter was born to George and Caroline Porter on December 21, 1863 in
East Dixmont, Maine. In 1870 she came west with her parents to San Francisco by train,
and onto Portland and The Dalles by boat, and on to the John Day Valley by stage.
There were three other children in the family: Frankie, Leslie, and Mollie. The Porter
family lived on a ranch east of John Day and later on a ranch where the John Day Drive-In
is located, which belonged to Theodore and Lucinda Thompson, sister and brother-in-law to
Mrs. Porter. When Mrs. Thompson passed away, they left the ranch to Mrs. Porter.
Edith Porter was married to William James Wyllie in 1883, and they lived in
Drewsey on a reservation. Four of the Wyllie children were born while the family
was living in Drewsey. The oldest boy, Frank, was drowned at the age of 2 1/2, in the
Malheur River, a short distance from the family home. The winters of 1887 and 1888 were
a bad time, and they lost all their sheep and horses from cold weather, and
shortage of feed. Four years later, they left for the John Day Valley and Dayville.
Mrs. Wyllie was the mother of nine children: Frank, George, Margaret Ann, Gordon A.,
James A., William Walter, Edith Alma, Porter Giles, and Charles Prentiss. George passed away
at the age of 2 from Typhoid fever. Besides caring for her own family, the weather was never
too bad or the night too dark for Mrs. Wyllie to refuse to go to her neighbors if they were
ill. She brought many babies into the world, without the aid of a doctor. The
roads were bad and there was no doctor nearer than John Day. Many times she went
on horseback for miles in the dark. They lived at the Wyllie Creek homestead
which is now owned by MacKenzies.
When the city of Dayville was incorporated, Mrs. James Wyllie was the first recorder. Later
she was Postmaster for several years, the Post Office being in one room in her home.
Mr. Wyllie passed away March 02, 1928, and Mrs. Wyllie on October 22, 1934. At present
the entire Wyllie family is scattered throughout, the Pacific Northwest and there
are about 2500 Wyllie households in the United States.
The Stewart Family
Eminger (Billy) Stewart was born on March 18, 1843, in Perry County, Ohio, and came to the
Oregon country in 1849 in a covered wagon with his parents, Benjamin Elliot and Anne Crunbaker
Stewart. On their way to the Willamette Valley they stopped awhile at the Whitman
Mission in Washington, and narrowly escaped the notorious Whitman Massacre at Wailipu
in the fall of 1847. They had intended to spend the winter there because of severe
weather conditions but when the elder members of the party noticed the unfriendly
actions of the Indians they decided to travel on Westward that fall.
The Stewarts took up land claims near North Yamhill, Oregon, where the parents spent
the rest of their lives. Eminger Stewart, hearing of the discovery of gold in Canyon City
in 1862, decided to leave home and try his hand in the mines in Eastern Oregon.
Here he stayed more than a year, then riding his horse up over Canyon Mountain and on to the
west, he found the basin that is now known as the Murders Creek Ranch.
In 1883 Billy purchased a ranch on the John Day River near the town of Dayville from Eli Casey
Officer, and he married Casey's daughter, Sarah Anne. In this union were born four children:
Benjamin, Elliot, Edna, and Wayne Casey. One grandchild, Eminger Stewart III, is the
son of Wayne and Jame Quayle Stewart.
The Murray Family
Alexander Murray came to the John Day Valley in 1871. He lived 2 1/2 miles below Dayville and
made his living by stockraising. He took part in repelling the Indians during the uprising of
1878, and suffered heavy losses by marauding parties; as much as $14,000 worth of stock, mostly
horses, were taken.
Alexander married Jennie Mitchell in 1886. To them were born 5 boys, Kenneth, born in Dayville
in 1892, passed away recently. John lives in Dayville, and Alexander lives in Drewsey.
Robert died at the age of 12. At the time of Adam's death in 1952, all four living
brothers were engaged in stockraising.
The Ringsmyer Family
Henry Herman Ringsmyer was born in Prussia in 1863. To escape the obligatory German Military
Service he fled from Germany to the United States when he was about 18 years old. He
arrived in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1881. After two years he left Cleveland, and journeyed
to the John Day Valley, arriving in May, 1885. For 6 years he worked as a freight
carrier hauling from The Dalles to the John Day Valley. He then took up cattle-raising and
did so well that two years later he purchased the ranch which now belongs to Wallace Johnson,
two miles out of Dayville.
In 1891, he married Nancy Amelia LeBret in Canyon City, Oregon. Miss LeBret was the daughter
of Jules LeBret, merchant and postmaster of Prairie City. They had eight children.
The Officer Family
In 1845 James Officer, his wife, Evlyn (Cooley), and ten children, one of whom was Eli Casey Officer,
came across the prairie by wagon and ox team from Issouri to Oregon. They passed through Harney
County to The Dalles and down the Columbia to the Willamette Valley, where the family settled.
Their 11th child, Missouri Officer, who later became Mrs. A.P. Snyder of Dayville, was born enroute.
In 1861, Eli Casey came to the John Day Valley, bringing with him the first flosk of sheep ever to be brought into
this section of the country. He located and lived for twenty years on the property now occupied by Ed Mott.
In 1881, Eli Casey sold the land to Wayne Stewart's father, E. "Billie" Stewart, who later married one of his
daughters, Sarah Officer.
Eli Casey filed on a homestead in the basin of land now owned by Rob Roy Munro, and lived there until his death in
1896. He was 65 years old.
In 1898 Floyd L. Officer married Mrs. Sylvia Fitzgerald.
Albert Officer joined the gold rush to Alaska in 1898 and spent a few years in Canada where he married
Christine Abrahamson. Among the surviving members of the family are: Vernon of Winchester Bay, Bob of
Washington, D.C., Floyd of John Day, Jack of Portland, and Edna Cummings of John Day.
The Munjar Family
The Munjar's came form California and lived where the Dayville Community Hall
is now located.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
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