Stories of two early settlers on tap at Fort Walla Walla


WALLA WALLA - The lives of area pioneers Sarah Jane Williams and Fred Stine will be portrayed this weekend at Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road.

Williams will be portrayed at 2 p.m. Saturday by Walla Walla native and retired nurse Teri Sannar.

Sarah Jane Williams was 18 when she made the arduous overland journey to Walla Walla. She and her family left Darkesville, Davis County, Iowa on April 18, 1864, and arrived in Walla Walla Oct. 10 of that year. The family's plans to go to California changed when they reached Salt Lake City. From there, they came to Walla Walla, changing their horse teams to oxen in Boise.

An account of their arrival in the Walla Walla Statesman on Oct. 14, 1864, reported that in one wagon, "comatose and prostrated," lay Mr. George Calvert, 64, overcome by the journey. Next to him was his son, George Calvert Jr., 10, who'd been suffering from "mountain fever" for two weeks. The newspaper reported that Mrs. Calvert, 62, leaned over her helpless husband and son "like a guardian-angel quenching their parching thirst."

The old man's son-in-law, John Williams, brought a young woman, 18, and four girls ages 23 months, 4, 6 and 8, and two boys, 13 and 15. All of the children were ailing.

They were attended to by a restaurant proprietor and another man raised money for their relief. "A handsome amount was soon collected and these destitute immigrants were comfortably placed in a house north of the bridge, where they have been since visited by Dr. Gibson."

Fred Stine is one of Walla Walla's best rags-to-riches stories. Stine will be portrayed at 2 p.m. Sunday by Touchet agri-businessman Charles Saranto.

Stine arrived in 1862, the year Walla Walla organized into a city, with only the clothes on his back and 75 cents in his pocket. He earned the trust of many, was able to borrow funds from them and began several successful businesses here.

Stine set up a blacksmith shop, which served pioneers from the Oregon Trail, the military at Fort Walla Walla and miners headed for Idaho.

With his earnings, he was able to construct the Stine House, then the largest brick hotel in Washington Territory. When most of the hotel burned in 1892, Stine sold the property to George Dacres, who rebuilt it as a hotel, now the Dacres Building at the corner of West Main Street and South Fourth Avenue.

Stine served in the territorial legislature, as well as on the City Council and developed a 1,900-acre farm south of Walla Walla.

On Sunday from 1:30-2 p.m., 19th century music will be played by Ron Busby, Neil Busby and Bob Bohlman of The Oregon Trail Band.

Visitors may question the re-enactors and view the Museum's exhibits and historic buildings, including the newly opened Floral Beadwork of the Plateau Indian People exhibit.

Admission is $7 adults; $6 seniors 62 up and students; $3 children ages 6-12. Admission is free for those under age 6 and museum members. The museum is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 525-7703.


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