Benton County Pioneer Life

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Pioneer life in the Benton Co. WA area

Came West in 1870/Life of Service Recalled

Tri-City Pioneer
Tri-City Herald, Sunday, 27 May 1962

Henry William Desgranges was born January 28, 1870 in Waverly, the county seat of Bremer County, Iowa which lies north of Waterloo, Iowa and south of Checkasaw, Iowa; East of Butler County, Iowa and west of Fayette County, Iowa. His father Peter and his mother Sophia Desgranges were born in Alsacs-Lorraine. They entered the United States at Castle Garden, New York City. They went from there to Iowa. The young couple settled in Iowa and raised a family of 10 children. The youngest, Henry William Desgranges is now the only living member of the once large family.

Henry William Desgranges was married to Ada Hensley in 1881 at Rockford, Washington. Two children were born to this union. A son, McKinley, and a daughter, Grace. His wife became suddenly ill from an unknown cause and died in his arms while he was rushing her to Walla Walla for medical treatment. This occurred in the 28th year of their married life. His only son, McKinley Desgranges died about 10 years ago. His daughter Grace, Desgranges Stickler, with whom he lives is an active business woman of Kennewick.

Mr. Desgranges lived for many years at Rockford a small community about 20 or 25 miles southeast of Spokane, near the Washington and Idaho boundary. He broke and rode wild horses in his early boyhood days. Horse and pony races were always in all the fourth of July and similar celebrations held in these early pioneer days.

An accident which happened in one of these early horse races changed the entire future life of Henry Desgranges. It was a protest by him and the other riders as to the starting and judging of one of he horse races. The other riders in their anger cursed the officials. Henry was the only one that held his temper and did not become profaine. The matter was adjusted to the satisfaction of everyone.

At the close of the celebration the master of ceremonies called Henry to one side and said, “Do you want to go to work?” Henry asked at what? “Well, I publish a newspaper and I have been looking for a boy to work on my newspaper and I think you fill the bill.” Henry said, “I will have to see my father first. If he is willingly, I will let you know.” He told his father; who was agreeable. He went to work at what in those days was known as the ‘Printers devil.” He learned how to set type; how to set up the forms of the paper in the hand press; how to ink and run the hand press. In fact he learned every phase of the mechanical operation of a small-country newspaper plant of that time. This learned, he studied advertising, news gathering and editorial writing. Eventually he acquired a plant and published his own paper for many years at Rockford.

Due to the shrinking economy of the neighborhood, he sought other endeavors. He left his family in Rockford and went to the Finley area near Kennewick. He securred a tract of land, planted a large garden, started building a small house for temporary shelter for his family which he expected to bring from Rockford. The garden grew rapidly. A very bad storm wiped out his beautiful garden. He was forced to come to Kennewick to seek employment. He was fortunate in getting employment with Hansen and Rich reality company. He wrote descriptive pamphlets of the properties they had for sale. His newspaper experience stood him in good sted. He showed me several of these old pamphlets and the illustrations were masterpieces of the printers art and the descriptive content were written in perfect English.

Later he became manager of the Big Y Plant in Kennewick, a position he filled with outstanding ability for many years. This 92-year-old patriarch of the Tri-City Region, with a smiling face and an exceptionally clear intellect, will greet you happily at his home at 1103 W. Kennewick Ave.

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