A Short Resume of Floyd Lee Officer's Early Life in the Basin and the Famous Fossil Beds Area
By Vera Officer Ashton

Floyd Lee Officer, son of Eli Casey and Martha Jane Thorpe, was born into a family of thirteen, east of Dayville near Casey Slide. Speaking of Casey Slide, the tale goes it was made by the Officer kids walking up the hill and sliding down.

I don't know much about his early life, but he did live in the Dayville, Grant County area all of his life. A true native.

According to the records I do have, Mr. Officer acquired ranching property by home steading and desert claim in the basin ten miles west of Dayville, on the John Day River, and in the heart of the famous fossil beds. At that time there was a post office called Basin. I don't know where it was located, but more information is available at the park headquarters. He settled on the place December 21st, 1890.

He engaged in sheep and cattle raising with good success. He and Charlie Moore were partners in the sheep business for years. Neither of them were married.

Floyd Lee Officer and Sylvia Amanda Kline Fitzgerald were married in Canyon City, Oregon, October 11, 1898.

Mr. Officer inherited a ready made family of two boys and two girls, James Gordon Fitzgerald age 12, Violet Mae Age 10, Gus Carvin Age 6, and Hazel Esther Age 3. After a time Mr. Officer was blessed with four girls of his own. Ruby Ruth born July 29, 1901, Flossie Lee born Dec. 14, 1902, Vera Reathel born April 14, 1905, and Eva Alberta born Aug. 28, 1909. All were born in the Basin in the old house that still stands today.

There wasn't any kind of a road into the area, and the only way out to Dayville was by horseback. My mother was an accomplished equestrian and made many trips to Dayville with one child behind and one in front, taking eggs and butter to sell for groceries. The trail is still visible if you know where to look.

Twice a year my father went into The Dalles with a team of horses and wagons to get supplies, and was usually gone six weeks at a time. The route took him to Kimberly, Spray, Fossil, Condon, Arlington and The Dalles. There were no schools in the Basin, so when Ruby and Flossie got to be school age, they were boarded out in Dayville with Harlan and Della Hayes. The later is a relative and lived in the A.P. Snyder home now owned by Theda Weatherford in the center of Dayville.

My father was very interested in the fossil beds, and spent many hours with Dr. Condon- Geologist from the University of Oregon in Eugene, exploring the fossil beds and no doubt many of the fossils can be found in the park building.

After living on the homestead in the Basin for over 20 years, the place was sold to Jim Cant in 1910, and the Officer family moved to Dayville, where my father built a home next to the A.P. Synder home. We lived there a couple of years, then he bought the Tom Hyland and the MacRobinson ranches, which were about a mile and a half west of Dayville. He farmed and raised sheep and cattle until his retirement in 1940. He resided with his daughters, Vera Ashton of John Day, and Eva Murry of Dayville, and passed away Feb. 23, 1948, in Grant County Hospital, Prairie City, Oregon, and was buried in Dayville Cemetery.

The property is now owned by the United States Government and is a National Park.

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.



Funderal services were held today, Friday, February 27, for Floyd Lee Officer, who passed away at the Blue Mountain hospital in Prairie City, Tuesday, February 24 after a lingering illness of several years.

Floyd, as he was best known to his many friends, was the son of Eli Casey and Martha Officer and was born November 24, 1870 at Dayville, Oregon, where he spent his entire life. As a young man he filed on a homestead in the Basin section, which he developed together with a desert claim. He then engaged in cattle and sheep raising with good success until 1910, when he disposed of his interests in the basin and bought the Highland and Robinson ranches below Dayville where he resided until retiring from active farming due to ill health.

In 1898 he was married to Mrs. Sylvia Fitzgerald, who preceeded him in death in 1932, and a daughter Ruby, also passed away in 1911.

He leaves to mourn his passing three daughters; Flossie Bailey of Medford; Vera Ashton of John Day and Eva Murray of Dayville; a step-son and step-daughter, Gus Fitzgerald of Medford and Hazel Moeller of Baker; two grandchildren, Jack Bailey of Medford ____ Julie Anne Ashton of John D _____ three sisters, Varien Glaze of ____alem, Mamie O'Gready of Portland, Eva Luce of Yakima, Washington, and a brother, Eben Officer of Vancouver, Washington as ________ as large number of nieces, nephews and other relatives.

Mr. Officer was a charter member of the Dayville Presbyterian church as well as taking an active part in community affairs.

Funeral services will be conducted by Mrs. Josie Bach at 2:00 p.m. at Dayville Community hall and interment will be in the Dayville cemetery. Driskill's of John Day are in charge of arrangements.


Silvia A. Officer, wife of Floyd Officer of Dayville, died March 18th at the Grant County hospital, age 62 years, 11 months and 8 days. She was widely known in the Dayville country where she lived the most of her life.

Services were held in the Presbyterian church, Dayville conducted by Rev. Arthur R. Jones. Besides her husband she is survived by four daughters: Mrs. E.B. Moeller of Baker, Mrs. E.F. Bailey, Mrs. L.H. Campbell and Mrs. J.W. Murray all of Dayville, and a son, F.G. Fitzgerald of Montana.

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

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