Pioneer Picnic is this Sunday
Frank and Nettie Wheeler lived in the Tub Springs area of Antelope, but when it came time for their baby to be born Mrs. Wheeler went to stay with her aunt, a midwife, and uncle who lived in Mapleton on the Siuslaw River. Luella arrived on Jan. 31, 1921.
When Luella was age 5, the family moved to Estacada for three years then to a place on Bear Creek in Bend to farm. Luella had an older sister Viola, and younger siblings Frances (now Dixon), Frank Jr. "Bud," Joann (Porter), and Harry Wheeler.
She remembers attending the two-room Richardson Grade School, and said Bend wasn't anything like it is now.
"It was a sawmill town with two mills. There was a service station on the main road and nothing past Pilot Butte," she said.
During the Depression years her parents got creative. She recalled, "Daddy would go to the railroad bum yard to get help with the potatoes, and he also sold Raleigh Products." The products included liniments, oils, cosmetics, and some fruit drink mixes, which he sold door to door on horseback.
"He was a great one to trade. If someone didn't have money he'd come home with chickens, and one time with a rabbit," she chuckled.
Her dad had always wanted to get back to Antelope, but Ashwood was as close as he could get. In 1936 her parents moved to the Poney Butte area of Ashwood, but Luella remained in Bend boarding with her sister and half-brother until graduation from Bend High School in 1938. She did join her parents on holidays and in the summer, however, and remembers one particular holiday.
"I came home one Christmas and didn't feel well, and came down with chickenpox. I had been to a school program, and consequently everyone in Ashwood came down with chickenpox. They were still having chickenpox when I came back at Easter!" she related.
Her brother would bring her back and forth from Bend in a Ford Coupe with a rumble seat. In those days they had to go around through Hay Creek, which took about 2 1/2 hours. Other times she rode the bus to Madras and someone would pick her up.
The year after Luella graduated, Edith Friend and her son Byron asked her to help cook for their sheep shearing crew at the mouth of Little Trout Creek. Byron's dad had died and he was in charge of the flock of 2,000 sheep.
On July 15, 1939, she and Byron Friend were married. Married life started out with them staying with the sheep on the summer range at Davis Lake until September. In the fall they shipped the sheep to Gateway by train, then trailed them cross-country from Gateway to Ashwood.
Back in Ashwood, they lived in Byron's uncle Roy Friend's house for eight months. They then moved into the homeplace, with Byron and his brother building a house next door for his mother. Two children, Ben and Betty were born while they lived there. Later, they bought the Vibbert house up the road, and soon sons Darrell and John joined the family.
In 1940, they sold their sheep and began raising cattle, assisted by Byron's mother. Byron also worked off and on at the Oregon King Mine.
Meanwhile, in the early 1940s, Luella started up the Ashwood General Store. They would take a truck to a wholesale house in Bend and haul back their own supplies and groceries. The store also had a gas station, but the gas and oil was delivered.
Operating a remote store did have its drawbacks, Luella admitted, relating one incident. "Kid Short lived across the creek and had goats. There was this big old billy and one day it came in the store and I broke a broom right in half chasing it out. And if you left your car window open, the goats would try to get into your car."
After a year, they traded the successful store to Ray Friend for his ranch, and the store continued to operate into the 1980s.
Their children all went to Ashwood School through the eighth grade, then Ben, Betty and Darrell attended Madras High, while John went to Culver High. In 1962 her husband had his first heart attack, and passed away in 1965.
She later remarried Don Moore from Wasco and lived there, then in Goldendale, then returned to Ashwood. In 1970 they were divorced.
With her children grown, she went back to work as a cook at the Willowdale Restaurant, at Doug and Jean Dyke's restaurant and bar in Culver, and later as a caregiver in Madras. Luella continued to live in Ashwood and looked after her mother-in-law Edith Friend until she passed away.
There were chances to travel too. In 1974 when her youngest son was in the Army stationed in Germany, she got to visit there for 26 days, with a side trip to Holland. Then in 1984 she traveled with her oldest son to Mazatlan and Baja; and four years ago she and her friend Rick vacationed in Maui, Hawaii.
Eight years ago, Luella moved to a farm north of Madras with a sweeping view. The children have spread out with John in Round Butte, Betty in Ephrata, Wash., Ben in LaPine, and Darrell in Ashwood. She has nine grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren, with another one on the way.
Still active, she and Rick have a gold claim and enjoy panning for gold, and attend Grange events in Ashwood once a month. With sheep raising in her background, she has her own spinning wheel to make yarn, and likes to knit, crochet and sew.
Luella served as the president of the Jefferson County Pioneer Association last year, and this Sunday will be crowned as its Pioneer Queen.