Biography of Leonard L. Thorp

LEONARD L. THORP. – This pioneer of the Yakima country is a native of Oregon, having been born in Polk county in 1845. He came to Klikitat county, at the present site of Goldendale, as early as 1858, and to the Yakima in 1861, engaging in stock-raising in the Moxee and Selah valleys until 1870, when he occupied his present place three miles from North Yakima, Washington territory, consisting of one hundred and twenty acres of very rich land. He also owns eighty acres somewhat nearer town, upon which he has an extensive orchard with a very fine exposure, and other requisites for the successful culture of fruit. His principal business is handling large lots of cattle, and delivering them to the various cities of the Sound.

The early pioneer days of Mr. Thorp were eventful with the experiences relating to a frontiersman’s life. When he was but a boy of sixteen, the lonely family was surprised one morning by the appearance of an Indian war party bearing down upon the cabin. Hastily hiding the women in the feather beds, the father and son stationed themselves behind the fence out of sight of the Indians, who were approaching, with old Smohallah at their head, to reconnoiter. They were armed and mounted, and were decked with war paint. As they reached the fence, the elder Thorp sprang over the fence and seized the chief’s horse by the bridle, covering Smohallah himself with his revolver, and demanding the reason for such a warlike approach. Being quick-witted, the old Indian smiled and offered to shake hands in friendly fashion, saying, by way of excuse, that he had heard of an injurious report current among the Whites, that he had a thousand warriors with which to attack and overwhelm the settlements; and he had now come around with this little band to show his white neighbor that these few braves were all he had. Then with bows and smiles the war party rode away. The Thorps believed that the cold muzzle of the pistol looking into his eyes wrought a pacific effect upon Smohallah’s mind.

Upon another occasion, young thorp was sent to Idaho to gather up a band of cattle belonging to his father. It was in the middle of winter. The snow was two feet deep; and the cattle were scattered over an area of forty-five square miles. For two weeks of that Rocky Mountain winter, with no shelter but his blankets, the young man – only twenty-gathered in the stock, and afterwards remained in a log hut until March. He drove the cattle thence into the mining camps, with no competent help, and received for the sale twenty-two thousand dollars, which he managed to bring a hundred and seventy-five miles through a country infested by highwaymen, and delivered it to the express office in Lewiston. This is but a specimen of the shifts and hardships of the life of the frontiersman and stock-ranger. At every turn it requires grit, address, force, and a world of endurance.

Mr. Thorp has served as sheriff and assessor of the county, and also as school commissioner and as district clerk many terms. He has a happy home, having been married in 1869 to Miss Philena W. Hanson, of Yakima county. He has one boy and three girls, – Martha, Eva, Dale Owen and Margaret.



History of the Pacific Northwest Oregon and Washington. 2 v. Portland, Oregon: North Pacific History Company. 1889.

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