Columbia Co., Oregon

The Life of Pioneer

Olive Jane Malcom

1840 - 1931

 

Olive Jane Strong was born Sunday, March 15, 1840 in West Mansfield, Logan County, Ohio, the second child of Samson and Fanny (Keller) Strong. Martin Van Buren was President of the United States, the country consisted of 29 states with a population just over 17 million, Texas was a separate country, and slavery was still practiced in the South.

 

Olive was named for her grandmother, Olive (Lowell) Strong, who in turn was named for her mother Olive (Carlton) Lowell. In fact, the Olive name has been used in every generation, for seven generations, up to the present day: Olive Carlton, born 1755; Olive Lowell, born 1794; Olive Strong, born 1818; Olive Jane Strong, born 1840; Olive E. Strong, born 1867; Olive Vining, born 1887; and Nancy Olive Crouse, born 1945.

 

Olive’s grandparents on her mother’s side were Frederic and Rachel (Skidmore) Keller. Rachel was born March 10, 1791 in Virginia and Frederic was born in Wurttemberg, Germany on March 9, 1793. When Frederic was about 5 years old, in 1799, he immigrated with his family from Germany to America. Frederic would go on to serve in the War of 1812. In 1815 Frederic married Rachel Skidmore and in 1816 they settled in Garwood's Mill, Logan County, Ohio. Later they moved a mile and a half southeast to what became known as West Mansfield and established their homestead. There they became members of the Freewill Baptist church and assisted in building the church near their home. Frederic read his Bible in German when giving thanks at the table, which was a source of great amusement for little Olive.

 

As a young girl, her grandfather’s home was impressive to visit. It had been hand built by him and was the first hewn log residence in the area. It was a two-room, two-story house, the logs well chinked and daubed. It was the center of wonder for miles around, for in that day the hewn log residence was a beauty to all dwellers in common log cabins. In this hewn log house reigned genuine hospitality, good cheer and kindliness.

 

Olive was only two years old when her grandmother Rachel Keller died and did not grow up knowing her personally.

 

Olive’s mother, Frances “Fanny” Keller, was born on November 6, 1818 in Garwood’s Mill, Logan County, Ohio, the third of sixteen children (two being half -siblings). She was named after her aunt on her father’s side. Growing up, Fanny was raised with extreme loyalty to the Freewill Baptist church and to America. She also was raised as an Abolitionist.

 

Olive’s grandparents on her father’s side were Ezra IV and Olive (Lowell) Strong. Olive Lowell was born March 7, 1794 in Andover, Windsor County, Vermont, the ninth of eleven children. Ezra was born June 26, 1788 in Phillipstown, Van Rensselaer County, New York, the second of ten children.

 

On November 19, 1814 Ezra Strong and Olive Lowell were married. Their first child was Samson Strong, Olive’s father. He was born on January 6, 1816. The Strongs were farmers in Erie County, New York between 1814 and 1824. Then the family moved to Sheldon, Genesee County, New York between 1825 to 1839 and continued farming. In 1839, Ezra and his wife Olive went west to join the Mormon movement. Ezra had become a Mormon after being a Methodist minister. In the mid-1840’s they were part of the early great Mormon migrations to Utah under the leadership of Brigham Young. Unfortunately, Olive died during their very difficult journey in 1846, at age 52.

 

Young Olive was just 6 years old when her grandmother passed away during her migration to Utah and probably never met her. Young Olive’s grandfather Ezra was considered a great traveler and she probably met him when he came for visits. Ezra really liked to keep moving and was credited for walking over 10,000 miles during his lifetime.

 

Olive's father, Samson, was a Freewill Baptist. He took being a Christian seriously since his early 20's. Olive’s mother Fanny got acquainted with Samson through the local Freewill Baptist church in West Mansfield, Ohio and they were married July 13, 1837. Samson and Fanny had many values in common: a dedication to their church, an anti-slavery position, and a devotion to family. Growing up, young Olive lived in a household where everyone in the family was expected to live a life of faith, hope and charity - and where there was definitely no drinking of liquor.

 

Olive was the second child of ten. As soon as she was able to walk and talk she was assisting her mother with the steady stream of newborns, which came every two years or so, during Olive’s childhood and teenage years. Olive learned all about midwifery as a girl. This knowledge she carried throughout her life, using it to help others when the need presented itself. Early on she also knew about the heartache of losing a child. In the winter of 1846, when Olive was just four years old, her little brother, Samson, died at only 2½ years of age.

 

In 1855, as Olive was turning 15 years old, the decision was made for the family to pull up stakes and go further west. Iowa had become a state in 1846 and fertile farm land was available for 22 cents to $1.25 an acre. The family packed their wagon with their most prized possessions and essentials for their new home. Families who pioneered their way westward usually left in early spring in order to get settled in their new home before winter. The family by this time was made up of seven children: Rachel, Olive, Frederic, James, Mary, Shady, and Barbary, who was barely two years old. The family traveled maybe 30 miles on good days and perhaps only 5 miles if the roads were muddy and rough. At night they usually planned a stop at an inn where they paid between 75 cents to $2.00 for their family's lodging. Accurate maps were not common so every stranger they met was a source for the best route information, as well as lodging availability, provisions, and repairs.

 

Their destination was Carleton Township in Tama County, situated in central Iowa. The trip took them about six weeks. It must have been somewhat of a shock getting used to the relatively treeless Iowa plains after leaving the heavily wooded lands they were so used to in Eastern Ohio. Yet it was exciting to see the great Mississippi River and even with some lack of comfort, it was still an adventure. Seeing the fertile prairies they stopped near and just north of Montour in Tama County, not far from the Iowa River. At first they lived in a log cabin they built and in 1857 they finished a house constructed from limestone, cut from a nearby quarry.

 

In 1858, Olive was 18 and in love. The man's name was George Parcher. Like so many of the pioneers in the area he was born elsewhere. His family came from New York and had themselves recently started their homestead in Iowa. George was about 25 years old. On December 30, 1858 they were married in Tama County.

 

Then word came from West Mansfield, Ohio, that Olive’s grandfather Frederic Keller had passed away on July 22, 1859. As a small girl, Olive had spent plenty of time playing in that big house of his and the news of his passing was a sad one for her.

 

Before Olive was 20 years old, on February 20, 1860, she gave birth to twins, Boyd and Rodney. The twin boys would be nephews who were older than one of their uncles for Olive’s mother, Fanny, gave birth to her tenth and last child after Olive gave birth to Boyd and Rodney. Olive’s mother gave birth to Olive’s little brother Charles on June 9, 1861. Fanny was a grandmother when she gave birth to Charles.

 

One of the harshest realities of those days struck the family in January 1862. Rachel, Olive’s older sister, died in childbirth. Now Olive was the oldest surviving sibling.

 

Iowa was an anti-slavery state and by 1861 the nation was in crisis over this issue. 75,000 Iowa men went to fight in the War of the Rebellion. In 1862 the governors of Iowa and Minnesota asked for volunteers to help fight the Sioux Indians. The Indians were attacking the forts and settlers in Iowa and Minnesota after the U.S. Cavalry had left to fight in the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln also called for 300,000 more volunteers to help bolster the Union cause. Olive’s parents were strongly in favor of the anti-slavery movement and they believed in what President Lincoln was trying to accomplish. Samson, at age 46, lied about his age and enlisted on October 27, 1862, in company F, 6th Regiment of Iowa Volunteers. The age limit for enlisting was 45 years old. Samson was passionate about the Northern cause and so at 10:00 am on November 3rd he said goodbye to Olive and the rest of the family and left to join Captain J. Foster's Company of the 6th Iowa Cavalry.

 

Samson was not always popular in the camps because he was very vocal about his opposition to the drinking and associated misconduct of many of the soldiers. During his Civil War experience Samson kept a diary. On January 19, 1863 he made the following entry:

 

“... Election of noncom officers & I got recommissioned by being voted out by the liquor influence ...”

 

On January 29, 1863 he also made this entry:

 

"F.B. Sanborn told me this morning that Sam Hallet & F. Thompson said last night they hoped we would have to acknowledge the Southern Confederacy, he would rather have Jeff Davis in the White House than old Abe. I herd Hallet this morning at the breakfast table uncaled for say he would sooner vote for J. Davis than old Abe. ... Clear, cool, & pleasant morning. No snow with my blood in indignant commotion against the toryism of the soldiers openly expressed by some & secrcetly fostered by others as I am ashamed.”

 

Samson maintained a steady stream of letters home and received many in return. Just before a trip home for a 10 day furlough, in February 1863, he made a special effort to have his photograph taken so he could show Olive and the rest of the family his “likeness” in a Union uniform. The tintype cost him 75 cents.

 

The next month an army wagon pulled up to Olive’s mother’s home. Nobody knew why the army wagon was there, including Olive and the rest of the family, until they learned the army wagon was delivering the lifeless body of Olive's father. He had passed away March 18, 1863 in Camp Pollock, Scott County, Iowa from pneumonia, during a severe and prolonged snow storm. Olive was devastated and her mother was inconsolable. Her father was so healthy and happy to see his family just a month earlier. His body was laid to rest in nearby Dobson Cemetery. Olive’s mother received a widow’s pension of $8 a month and $2 a month for each of her four dependent children.

 

Three months later, on the 25th of June 1863, Olive gave birth to Ira Samson. The following spring Olive’s husband George now felt compelled to join the Union Army. He said his good-byes to Olive and his young boys and on March 31, 1864 he enlisted in Company E, of the 24th Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry.

 

Six months later in early October a man came calling on Olive with chilling news. The man told Olive her husband George, while traveling back home from the war on furlough, died of cholera in Centralia, Illinois on September 29th and that he was with him when he died. Olive was overwhelmed with grief. Her family and friends did what they could to comfort her but like the loss of her father the year before it was so sudden and so devastating. George was buried in Centralia and Olive was never able to visit his grave site as Centralia was hundreds of miles away. At age 24, Olive was a widow with two small boys. Boyd had died as an infant. Rodney was four years old and his baby brother Ira was just 15 months. As a single mother Olive drew a widow's pension to help support her family.

 

1865 saw the end of the Civil War and war veteran Lewis Asa Malcom had just arrived in Tama County. Soon Olive had met the hazel-eyed 30 year old and they fell in love.

 

Lewis had come out west as a young boy from New York to Michigan. By the time he was 26 years old, he had made his way to Placerville, California, where gold was discovered a decade earlier. In April 1861 the Civil War broke out. The federal troops stationed in California were needed to fight the Confederates in the East. The state could not be left unguarded, however. With its gold mines, good harbors, and supply of natural resources, California was valuable to both the Union and the Confederacy. A call went out for volunteers to replace the departing men. On September 15, 1861, Lewis enlisted in the Union forces at Placerville in Company I, Second Regiment of Cavalry, California Volunteers.

 

Most California Volunteers never saw action on the major battlefields of the war, but spent their time fighting Indians and small bands of Confederate troops. This was the case with Lewis. He was first sent to training camp at Camp Latham, located near present-day Culver City. On March 19, 1862, his company, under command of Lieutenant Colonel George S. Evans, was sent to quell an Indian uprising in the Owens River Valley, 302 miles north of Camp Latham.

 

Confederate troops from Texas had overrun the territories of New Mexico and Arizona. It was rumored that 1,000 rebels were gathering at Tucson and planned to capture Fort Yuma. To preserve the fort and to regain the Southwest for the Union, the California troops were sent eastward. In June of 1862, Lewis was placed on detached service as a vidette (mounted sentinel) on the road to Fort Yuma. He continued this job until April of 1863, when he was thrown from his horse in the Colorado Desert "while carrying the mail between San Phillippi and Creasy Creek." Lewis was sent to the hospital at Drum Barracks (now Wilmington, California) to recover from his injuries. When he was well, he was sent to Camp Babbitt, near Visalia, California. He finished out his three-year term of service there and was mustered out at San Francisco in October of 1864.

 

Lewis returned east. He may have gone first to Michigan, but he soon was in Tama County, Iowa. Lewis' two uncles, Horatio and George Malcom, had earlier settled in Tama County, and it is possible that his father, Samuel Malcom, and grandfather, Charles Malcom, also lived there for a time. By the time Lewis arrived, about 1865, George had died and Horatio had gone further west. But Lewis found something very compelling that made him want to stick around, a young woman named Olive.

 

The happy couple were married in Tama County on March 14, 1866. Now Olive had a complete family once again. The two young boys had a father that was denied them by the Civil War. Both boys would continue to receive Civil War pension money until they were 16 years old and this could easily be the reason they kept the surname Parcher and didn't change it to Malcom. When their mother married Lewis, Rodney was 6 years old and Ira was only 2. Rodney was too young to really remember his biological father and Ira had no recollection of him at all. As they grew from young children into adulthood Lewis was the only father they ever knew. Lewis guided and molded Rodney and Ira with his values as any father would.

 

In September of 1866 Olive and Lewis purchased 40 acres of land in Carlton Township from Sumner and Mary Etta Dobson for $200. Interestingly, two years later, in December 1868, Olive bought half of this land, 20 acres, from Lewis for $1.00. Perhaps this was an 1868 version of estate planning, insuring Rodney and Ira a property inheritance in case of the untimely death of Olive or Lewis. Besides farming, Lewis supported the family with his skills as a carpenter and joiner.

 

On April 18, 1867 the family grew to five with the birth of Lewella “Ella” Jedithia. She was named in honor of her father Lewis, the name Lewella being used as a female equivalent of Lewis. Then on March 14, 1869 came Nina Frances, whose middle name was in honor of Olive’s mother. The family increased to seven on January 24, 1871 with the arrival of Fred Samuel, whose middle name was in honor of Lewis’ father. One other child was born to Olive but this child died young.

 

In June 1873, Olive learned of the tragic death of her sister Shady. Like her sister, Rachel, she died in childbirth. To further the misfortune, Shady’s daughter, Shady Ann, only survived two months.

 

The Malcoms farmed in Tama County until 1873, when they sold their land to Lucius Hall for $700. This was a good return for their seven year effort to improve their farm and their life in Iowa. Now they were seeking to further improve their fortunes by looking further west to the opportunities they were hearing about in the Great Pacific Northwest.

 

One important source of information about the opportunities in the Northwest was from the family of Olive’s uncle Solomon Strong. About 1846, they had traveled the 2,000 arduous miles over the Oregon Trail in their covered wagon, to Lancaster, Washington Territory, in the eastern part of the territory. They farmed there for a few years but by 1860 they had moved west and were homesteading a large farm in Vancouver, Clark County, Washington Territory. News about local opportunities from them, and other former Iowans now in the Northwest, would filter back to Olive and Lewis, cementing their decision to make the journey.

 

In 1862 Congress authorized the construction of two railroads that together would provide the first railroad link between the Mississippi Valley and the Pacific coast. One was the Union Pacific, to run westward from Council Bluff, Iowa; the other was the Central Pacific, to run eastward from Sacramento, California. In several Iowa cities railroad planning took place which eventually resulted in the development of the Illinois Central, the Chicago, and North Western Railroads, each reaching Council Bluffs by 1867. These railroads were all anticipating the coming link to the new transcontinental railroad. The transcontinental railroad was completed when the last spike was driven in at Promontory Point, Utah, on May 10, 1869. Now that there was coast-to-coast railroad accessibility from Iowa it was even more compelling for Olive and Lewis to make the decision to journey to the Northwest.

 

With children Rodney, Ira, Lewella, Nina and Fred, Olive and Lewis traveled by steam locomotive over the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains to Sacramento, California. From there went to San Francisco where they booked passage on a steamboat and headed north along the Pacific Coast, then finally up the mighty Columbia River to Skamokawa, Washington Territory.

 

The five years following 1873 were hard times for the country. There had been a financial panic and many banks had failed. While the country regained its feet, Olive and Lewis did what they could to establish themselves. While they were living in Skamokawa, Olive gave birth to Leon “Len” Asa on February 1, 1875.

 

Olive received bad news from Iowa. Olive’s brother, James, had been killed by a falling tree in February 1876. He had only been married eight months. The following April, in 1877, Olive received news that her grandfather Ezra had died in Utah. He had lived a long life and was 88 years old when he died.

 

Olive and Lewis were still seeking ways to improve their life and so they continued their search for land they could homestead. Finally they found just what they wanted. It was a government land claim in the Beaver Valley, just west of Rainier, Oregon in an area called Hudson Community. The property was located in sparsely populated Columbia County. The whole county had less than 2,500 people. In the spring of 1877 the family moved, ferrying across the Columbia River in a skiff to Rainier, Oregon. They maneuvered up the small lagoon (which no longer exists) at the north end of town. Unloading their possessions they scrambled up the steep cliff and finally reached their new log home that Lewis, Rodney and Ira had just completed - their heavily timbered property having supplied the logs for the cabin’s construction.

 

Their property was at the very end of the only path you could call a wagon road leading out of Rainier to the west. The nearest store was at the west end of Rainier, known as Cedar Landing. In the winter, most travel was by horseback as the road was practically impassable for a wagon. When passable, it took all day to go the 10 miles to town and back, by oxen pulled wagon.

 

On June 11, 1877 Olive gave birth to Victor Lewis. Now Olive and Lewis had quite a family with Rodney age 17, Ira age 14, Lewella age 10, Nina age 8, Fred age 6, Len age 2, and newborn Victor. But in 1879 tragedy struck the family just as they were getting established in their new homestead. Rodney was killed by a gunshot wound while hunting near home. The tragedy struck the family hard. Rodney was the first person laid to rest in the Woodbind Cemetery in Hudson Community.

 

Besides farming, Olive and Lewis derived income from shingle making on their heavily wooded property. Shingle making was an income producing activity they would continue, as demand allowed, from at least 1880 to past the turn of the century.

 

In January 1880 hurricane force winds hit the Northwest. Huge trees fell victim and wagon roads and paths everywhere where blocked by downed timbers. Then snow fell on the downed trees. Olive’s family was isolated from the outside world for several weeks, and made due with what provision they had at hand, before the wagon road to Rainier was finally cleared and reopened.

 

When Ira was 18 years old he became engaged to Alice Smalley. Alice, like Ira, was also from Tama County, Iowa. As a small child, Alice traveled across the Great Plains on the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon. Her family settled on a donation land claim that was later occupied by the city of Portland, Oregon.

 

When Ira was 19 years old in 1882, he built a house approximately 300 feet west of the log cabin occupied Olive and Lewis. He constructed the house with timber from their family property. He had the timber cut into rough lumber at the mill the Meserve family had assembled in an area called Delena a few miles further up the road, the road to Rainier having been extended that far by then. With mostly this rough lumber and square nails Ira set to work finishing his new home.

 

Then on November 29, 1882 he married his 17 year old sweetheart Alice Smalley. The Wedding Affidavit information was provided by Lewella Malcom. The marriage took place at Olive and Lewis’ home. After the wedding the newlyweds moved into their new home which Ira had completed. One year later Olive, at age 43, became a grandmother when Minnie Ethel was born to Ira and Alice on November 9, 1883. This started a steady flow of grandchildren for Olive: Chester (1886), Frank (1890), Tracy (1892), Donald (1895), Ernest (1902), and Harvey (1904). All the children except Harvey were born in the house Ira built next door to Olive and Lewis. Olive would lend her midwifery expertise for each of these births.

 

The next year Lewella married a man named Vining and their son Carl was born in March 1885, followed by a daughter Olive in 1887. Apparently Vining was considered a “high stakes gambler” and the marriage soon ended. He must have been an unsuccessful gambler with probably other character flaws since a successful “high stakes gambler” might be as fine an occupation as any in those early days.

 

1894 brought on some of the most volatile weather Columbia County had ever recorded. In June, weather conditions caused the Columbia River to flood higher than anyone could remember and much of Rainier was flooded. Across the river the town of Kalama was almost entirely under water. Water was forty inches deep on the St. Helens post office floor. The passenger boats for St. Helens discharged passengers into the second story windows of Mr. Blakesley’s hotel. A few months later, in the winter of 1894, a tremendous snow storm hit blanketing the county with upwards of five feet of snow.

 

Yet, all this weather volatility didn’t stop plans for a wedding. On November 13, 1894 Lewella married Charley F. A. Crouse. Charley ran a logging operation with his father Abraham in Yankton, Oregon, a small community a few miles up Milton Creek from St. Helens, Oregon. Charley was born Charles Fitz Abner Crouse on May 9, 1868 the fifth of nineteen children of Abraham Crouse.

 

In 1892, Abraham, his second wife Bethiah (Clark), their son Charley, and several other Crouse children had immigrated to Yankton from Crouseville, Maine. Abraham had a lot of experience logging in New Brunswick and Maine. In 1891 he came to Columbia County for a visit to prove to himself that no matter what folks were saying there were no trees in the world with the possible exception of California redwoods that grew to ten feet in diameter and from two to three hundred feet tall. One visit was all it took and plans for selling his farm in Maine and moving to Oregon were set in motion.

 

Almost exactly a year after Lewella and Charley’s wedding, they started adding more grandchildren to Olive’s growing list: Demaris & Wallace (1895), Estes (1897), Frank & Freda (1901) and Nina (1902). Young Nina was named for her Grandma Olive’s daughter Nina.

 

A little over a year after Lewella’s marriage, on November 15, 1885, Olive’s daughter, Nina, married William Snider, a millwright and shingle maker. The wedding took place in Olive and Lewis’ home. Followed were more grandchildren for Olive: Roy (1886), George (1889), Herbert (1891), Mabel Lewella (1893), Leon (1895), Lena (1898), Oscar (1900), and Etta (1901).

 

In March of 1895, Olive received news from Iowa that her sister Mary had passed away at age 45. Olive now had outlived five of her nine siblings.

 

President McKinley was elected into office in 1896 and with him he brought what became known as the “McKinley Prosperity”. Ever since the financial panic of 1893 times had been tough in Columbia County. Now optimism was in the air and the demand for timber products was rising. Around 1900 the Malcoms, Crouses, Parchers and probably the Sniders were all working for the Malcom Brothers Shake Mill in Clatskanie, Oregon. It was a real family endeavor which involved three generations.

 

Olive’s son Fred married Jennie King on October 7, 1900. Jennie was from the town of What Cheer, Iowa. The Wedding Affidavit information was provided by Charley Crouse and the marriage was performed by the Justice of the Peace, who just happened to be Ira Parcher. This union added seven more grandchildren for Olive: Ralph (1901), Ira (1903), Leora (1904), Silas (190?), Floyde & Lloyde (1911), and Virginia (1913).

 

A couple weeks after Fred’s wedding Olive received news from Iowa that her mother, Fanny, had passed away on October 20th. Fanny had lived a long life and was 81 years old when she died. She was laid to rest next to her husband Samson in Dobson Cemetery, Carlton Township, Tama County, Iowa.

 

The next year on November 18, 1901, Olive’s son Len married Grace Bee. Grandchildren that followed were Clarence (1903), Lawrence (1905), Calvin (1912), and Allen (1916). Len was a logger and went on to work for the Birkenfeld Logging Company in Hood River, Oregon.

 

On December 2, 1902, Olive’s uncle Solomon Strong passed away. Uncle Solomon’s family had been key to Olive and Lewis’ decision to make the long journey from Iowa to the Northwest. Even after Solomon’s death, Olive often took her children and grandchildren on the ferry from Goble, Oregon, across the Columbia River to Kalama, Washington, and then over to Clark County to visit uncle Solomon’s family.

 

Christmas day 1904 was an especially happy occasion for Olive. Next door, in her son’s Ira’s home, Olive witnessed the first wedding of a grandchild. Ira’s daughter Minnie was marrying Andrew Heman. This would be the start of a cascade of grandchildren’s weddings Olive would attend. The next year, Minnie and Andrew made Olive a great-grandmother for the first time with the birth of their daughter Alice. Olive was 65 years old.

 

During the first half of 1914 Olive’s daughter Lewella fell ill and in July she had a massive stroke. She died August 1, 1914. She was buried in the Crouse family plot at Bayview Cemetery in Warren, Oregon. Olive had outlived another one of her children.

 

About 1914 Olive and Lewis retired to the town of Clatskanie in Columbia County. Lewis' health began to fail in 1917, and in 1918 he entered the Soldiers Home in Roseburg, Oregon. He passed away November 24, 1918. It had been a tough year for Olive. There was the general stress of living in a country embroiled in World War I and seeing the many young men of the area going off to uncertain fates. Also, her son Victor had died in February at age 40. Both Victor and Lewis were buried in the Malcom family plot at Maplewood Cemetery in Clatskanie, Oregon. She now had outlived two husbands and five of her children.

 

Olive’s pioneer life taught her frontier nursing skills. During her lifetime she was a midwife among her friends and neighbors, and she nursed many during the flu epidemic of 1918.

 

Continuing to live in Clatskanie, Olive belonged to the Church of God where she met and chatted with friends. She had a little garden plot by her house which she maintained in the warmer months. Sometimes in the winter the house was so cold in the morning that ice formed on the floor in the kitchen. She took in boarders to help make ends meet. Esther West, while going to high school in Clatskanie, was a boarder in the home of Olive. She remembered Olive as an “awful nice person".

 

In her later years some people were saying that they thought for sure Olive was going to poison herself because she'd leave food in the refrigerator and it would get mold on it. And she'd say, "Oh well, if you boiled it, it won't hurt ya. Just boil it good."

 

Around 1924 Olive went to Houlton, Oregon, now St. Helens, to visit relatives. She visited the home of her granddaughter Freda (Crouse) Conner where granddaughter Demaris (Crouse) Danielson and granddaughter Nina (Crouse) Dubois had also gathered.

 

The plan was to parade all the great-grandchildren they could corral past Olive as she was interested in seeing them. This very elderly woman in her black dress and cane was unintentionally a frightful sight to these very young children. Marge (Billeter) Mendenhall recalled:

 

"I did have a chance to meet great-grandmother Olive Malcom. She was visiting at Freda and Herb's home for the day. All the little kids had to line up and march past her while my mother, Demaris, called out the name of each kid and who they belonged to. I was scared of her. She was very small and dressed in the Victorian style dress complete with brooch at the neckline. She folded her hands on her cane as she sat glaring at each of us. We all ran out to play as soon as we possibly could."

 

Olive’s granddaughter Alice Heman married Samuel Trotter in 1923. On Independence Day 1924 Alice and Sam made 84 year old Olive a great-great- grandmother for the first time with the birth of their daughter Thelma.

 

In August 1924 Olive received the unwelcome news from Iowa that her sister Barbary had passed away at age 70.

 

Olive continued to reside in Clatskanie until January 1926, when she moved to Carlton, Oregon, to live with her daughter, Nina. Carlton is in Yamhill County about 20 miles southeast of Portland. Nina was widowed in 1923 and subsequently moved to Carlton to be near the family of her daughter Mabel (Snider) Harper. While in Carlton, Olive enjoyed her four Harper grandchildren, Melvin (1919), Lucielle (1921), Kenneth (1927) and Ellen (1930), two of them born while she was there.

 

Olive received the sad news from Iowa that in August 1927 her brother Charles had died. Charles was the youngest of Olive’s siblings. He was only two years older than Olive’s son Ira.

 

Especially hard news for Olive was the passing of her brother Frederic on February 23, 1928 in Anacortes, Washington. Frederic had been named for their grandfather Frederic Keller. Olive had named one of her sons Fred. Olive was very close to her brother Frederic. He was the next child born after her and was less than two years younger. His family had come out to the Northwest and were in Skamokawa at the same time Olive’s family had been. It was natural for their families to be close since most of the rest the clan was in Iowa.

 

 

Olive passed away in Carlton, Oregon on Friday, April 3, 1931. She was over 91 years old and was survived at the time by 4 children, 31 grandchildren, at least 40 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren. She was laid to rest three days later at the beautiful Maplewood Cemetery in Clatskanie, Oregon, next to Lewis and her son Victor.

  

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In my research over the years I have come to realize that to understand family history the job is not finished when blood relationships are determined. What is passed on from generation to generation is much more important than just that. Each generation influences the next through their values and personalities. By all accounts Olive’s influences on the succeeding generations were positive. Her descendants have a common thread that ties them together and we are fortunate that this common thread is Olive.

 

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Rogue Publishing,  Division of Morgan Consultants, Inc.

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