Biography of Winslow P. Powers

Deceased. – While it is the province of our volume to give mention of the leading citizens of Wallowa county, it also comes within the purview of the work to grant to such as the noble and esteemed citizen, whose name appears above, a memoir, and it is with especial delight that we are privileged to do so at this time, since he was one of the builders of the county, and one who held in becoming manner the position of leader for many years, being eminently fitted for that capacity, both by marked capabilities, great energy and force of character, untiring activity, devotion to his country, and stanch integrity, coupled with sound principles and a broad public view.

The birth of Mr. Powers occurred in Woodstock, Vermont, on April 8, 1821, being the son of James and Anna (Phelps) Powers, who were also natives of the Green Mountain state. In 1826 the parents came to Illinois, settling on a farm, where the mother died in 1835. The father continued on the farm in Hancock County till 1854 and then while on a journey to the west, fell a hapless victim to the awful fiends who perpetrated the Mountain Meadow massacre in 1854. Our subject had come to the Willamette valley in 1847, and worked at the carpenter trade on some of the first buildings in Portland, continuing there until 1849, when he went to the gold fields in California, but returned to Oregon during the same year. He then bought a ranch near Albany, and gave his attention to general farming and raising stock until 1853, at which date he sold this ranch and migrated to Douglas County, availing himself of the offer of the government to take a donation claim, upon which he wrought faithfully until 1872, then removed to the home place, four miles north from Wallowa, where the widow resides at the present time.

In 1854, in Douglas county, Mr. Powers and Miss Harriet, daughter of Hull and Sarah (Edison) Tower, were united in marriage and they became the parents of ten children: Viola, first white person married in Wallowa county: William: Mary: Anne, deceased: Frank: James: Hattie: Loren: Ida, deceased: Edward, deceased. Mrs. Powers was born in Coles County, Illinois, in 1837, her father being a native of Massachusetts and her mother of New York. Her father, a direct descendant of John Tower, who came to this land as one of the Pilgrims, came across the plains, bringing his family in 1853 and settled on a donation claim in Douglas County, there remaining until his death in 1878, and ten years later the mother died also. Mr. Tower was the first postmaster in Douglas County, and was also a minister of the gospel. The immediate subject of this sketch was a pioneer in spirit and in practice.

Mr. Powers also gained distinction as an educator, and his talent is shown in that he invented one of the first threshing machines and separators, but hearing that another had been sent into the country, he retired from that field. He was always a leader into the domain of nature, having ever been the one to blaze the way and make the start for others to follow. He was among the first in Portland, he was a leader in the vicinity of Albany, he was one of the very first settlers in Douglas County, and when he came to Wallowa County his wife was the first white woman that settled in the territory now embraced in the county. He was prominent in the affairs of the county, assisted in organizing the first bank in Joseph, which was the first in the county, was interested in the first gristmill that was built at Enterprise, and also led in many other movements of great import and advantage to the county. He was a prominent member of the Methodist church and his life was an exemplification of the rich precepts of his faith, being always a light by his faithful walk. After a long life, extending beyond the allotted three-score years and ten, well spent and faithful, on October 21, 1895, the summons from another world came to Winslow P. Powers to join the ranks in glory, and his soul sped to the presence of his Savior, to dwell eternally in the city that hath foundations. His death was a signal for deep and sincere mourning throughout the county, for he was well known to its utmost corners, and his remains sleep quietly in Bramlet Cemetery, near the old home place, whence the crumbling dust shall quicken at the trump of God, the corruptible put on incorruption, and the endless years of eternity begin to roll for the saint, whose godly and faithful life left a sweet savor where he trod. Mrs. Powers is still living on the home place and is a woman of rich character in those graces which are the ripe fruitage of a long and faithful pilgrimage in the way of truth, and the golden years of her journey are now being spent in quietness and in enjoyment of the proceeds of her labor of her hands, for her works shall praise her in the gates.



An Illustrated history of Union and Wallowa Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Western Historical Pub. Co., 1902.

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