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Cross Keys origin considered


   Although the origin of the name Cross Keys is unclear, in the early 1900s, The Madras Pioneer regularly refers to the area located about 20 miles north of Madras along U.S. Highway 97 -- now called Willowdale -- as Cross Keys.
   The pioneer Bolter and Priday families lived in the area, which became a stage stop when a stage coach line was established in early 1907.
   The Bolters' house was the site of the Cross Keys stage stop, according to Warren Priday, who grew up and lived there until recent years.
   "There was a school close to Eddie Bolter's that was called Cross Keys," Warren Priday recalled.
   Later, Bolter was bothered by the fact that some began to refer to the area as Willowdale.
   "Eddie Bolter was unhappy as heck with this Willowdale stuff; he thought it should be Cross Keys," Priday said.
   According to an article over a century ago in The Madras Pioneer, the stage coach, which ran from Shaniko to Bend, stopped at the Bolter home at Cross Keys.
   "The first trip of the new stage line with one of their big coaches was made through here Monday morning, with six passengers from Shaniko to Bend," an article dated Jan. 10, 1907 stated. "The new coaches are covered, heated and lighted, and will be something new in the way of overland travel in this country."
   Tacked on to the end of the stage line article was a mention of Priday's uncle Herbert Leslie Priday, the older brother of Priday's father Albert. "H.L. Priday was in town yesterday from Cross Keys, driving a bunch of 232 head of cattle to the Henry Windom place, where they will be wintered. H.L. Priday & Company, of which firm he is a member, have one of the finest alfalfa ranches on Trout Creek, and produce annually more than 1,000 tons of alfalfa hay. The cattle they had here were principally range cattle, which they can winter in this section much cheaper than they can on alfalfa hay at the home ranch."