Biography of R. M. South

R.M. SOUTH. – It is quite within the province of the compendium to grant representation to the esteemed gentleman whose name initiates this paragraph, since he is really one of the builders of our county, since he has manifested a personality of uprightness and commensurate ability in all his ways, since also he was one of those brave men who pledged their lives to sustain the honor of the stars and stripes to retrieve from insult its glory, and preserve intact the institution of freedom when the minions of treason and rebellion plied their nefarious trade of destruction to all things sacred in the late Rebellion.

On December 10, 1841, in Hocking county, Ohio, our subject was born to Samuel and Roxy (Mosier) South, who removed with their son to Mercer county, in the same state, and thence in 1856 to Guthrie county, Iowa. In these various places the son was educated in the public schools and until 1861he remained with his parents; then in October of that year he enlisted in Company L., Fourth Iowa Cavalry, under General Curtis, being in what was known as the “lost army.” The event that caused this appellation to be given these troops occurred in the beginning of his career, and later came the many skirmishes and battles in which Mr. South participated with display of courage and valor and faithfulness that have rightly given to him the honor of being one of his country’s defenders and a son upon whom Columbia could depend in the dark hour of danger. At one time he was in the advance guard which ran into an ambush of the enemy, and some of his number were killed and he was wounded in the ankle and others were saved only by the timely arrival of the main body of the troops. Six months of weary and painful existence in the hospital followed this event and then he again took his place, serving until the expiration of his enlistment, which occurred in December, 1865, being at that time honorably discharged. Returning to his home in Guthrie county, Iowa, he was married to Miss Emma, daughter of Peter and Martha (Staton) Van Devanter, on October 12, 1866. They remained there, toiling on a farm for the fruits of the field until June 1875, and then came by rail to Ogden, and thence by team to the Grande Ronde valley, arriving here on the second day of August and locating on his present place, four miles north from Medical Springs. Here he has a fine farm of two hundred and twenty acres, well improved with comfortable house, commodious barn and good orchard, while the land is tilled in excellent manner, producing abundant crops of hay for stock.

To our subject and his estimable wife there have been born five children: Ida A., wife of Elza Van Devanter, of Cornwall, Idaho; Ella, wife of Sanford Shaw, near Medical springs; George W., married to Lucinda Jackson, operating a store and being the postmaster at Medical Springs; David F.; Lillie, wife of Ed Fickle, near Union. Mr. South is a member of the G.A.R., Preston Post. No. 18, of Union, being also past commander. Mr. South’s parents came here from Iowa in 1878, settling on an adjoining farm to his, and there the father died in 1901, being in his ninety-third year. The mother still lives on the home place being also in her ninety-third year. Mrs. South’s father died in 1862, and her mother came west with Mr. and Mrs. South, and here she died in October, 1900, being at that time in her seventy-eighth year. Mr. South is a man who deserves and receives generously the confidence of his fellows and his ability and stanch moral qualities have led him to hold a prominent place in the county, and it may be truly said of him that he adorns the position which he holds.


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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