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William W. Northway

William Warren Northway was born April 11, 1865 in Coldwater, Michigan. As a young man he traveled with a covered wagon, buying, selling and trading with settlers and Indians throughout the Rocky Mountain states.

He married Minnie Edwards in New York City and a son, William Henry, was born to them on June 28, 1889 in Wyoming. The little family traveled in their covered wagon for some time, then settled in Kansas where another son, Thomas Franklin, was born on May 3, 1895 in Portis, Kansas. The family resided in Portis until about 1897.

Mr. Northway traveled to Oregon to look over the country and possibly locate a homestead. He spent one year around the Corbett and Springdale area harvesting, drying and selling prunes which he and another man sold for a tiny profit. Mr. Northway purchased a homestead in Springdale, then know as Gage. He returned to Kansas and moved his family west. They arrived via train at the Lower Corbett station in the year of 1899.

Mr. Northway built his house and farm on what is now Northway Road, the entire area being heavily forested. He and his boys cleared the land and he farmed, mostly raising wheat. Mr. Northway kept a store and postoffice in the front room of his house, traveling by horse and wagon team to Portland for supplies.

Son William Henry married Laura Blanche Frakkes of a nearby German settlement. Three children were born to them: Mae (now deceased), Raymond Henry, and Virginia Faye.

Son Thomas married Mary Van Speybrock of the Corbett Van Speybrocks and two daughters now survive their parents: Juanita A. Mack, and Gloria J. Godat.

The house Mr. Northway built remains on its original location but the large acreage he once owned is now reduced to a mere 2 acres.

William Warren Northway passed away on Oct. 5, 1951. William Henry Northway died Feb. 20, 1952. Thomas Franklin died January 10, 1961."

[addendum pp. 132-A & 132-B]


"The following article was published in the Gresham Outlook at the time of the passing of Mr. Northway on Oct. 5, 1951 and reveals more of the interesting early life of a rugged pioneer.

His parents moved from Michigan to Kansas when William Northway was 6 years old. They lived in a sod building and their food consisted mostly of buffalo meat.

His first trip west was made at the age of 21, when he traveled by covered wagon to Billings, Montana where he worked on a cattle ranch having 32,000 head of cattle. He rode with Billie Carroll, famous cattle roper.

In the fall of 1886, he went back to Kansas to harvest corn for his father. The next spring he drove his own team back to Billings, sold his team and drove a 6-horse outfit. From April until the following November he lived in ‘the wide open spaces,’ never entering a house. He hauled lumber from north of Billings about 40 miles into town and hauled hay to Fort Custer, Montana, a distance of about 40 miles. On these trips, antelope was a favorite food.

In the fall he took a train load of 280 cattle from Montana to Chicago, then spent the winter in Kansas with his parents, working in a livery barn.

In April 1888 he married Miss Minnie Edwards. In July his entire crop of corn and oats burned, so he sold his 8 cows for $10 a head, and in August started west with his wife to settle in Sheridan County, Wyoming. Here he worked at harvesting. He drove to Billings for winter supplies, a distance of 120 miles which he traveled alone, ferrying the Yellowstone and Bighorn rivers.

He cut logs for a house and barn in Sheridan County and built a house in a day, with the help of neighbors. His first son, William Henry, was born in the house in June 1889. In September they sold the place and went back to Kansas for the winter.

In March 1890, Mr. Northway came to Portland and went into partnership with Lige Chamberlain at Corbett (then called Van’s Landing), on a fruit and hay ranch. In September they harvested a ton of prunes a day, dried and sold them for 12 cents a pound.

He sold in 1891 and went back to Kansas to see his father who was ill. The Northways’ second son, Thomas Franklin, was born there in May, 1893.

Mr. Northway went into the livery business in Portis, Kansas, then on Feb. 20, 1897, he sold out and came back to Oregon. Here he bought 25 acres in Springdale (then called Gage), and built a house and barn. He served as postmaster in his own house for over 4 years. He lived in this original home until just a few days before his death.

[Source:  Submitted by Dorothy Keefe, from a compendium of biographies hand typed and distributed by the East Multnomah Pioneer Association in about 1972, pp. 131, 132, & 132A & B.]

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