Sammie Applegate Settled on Dead Ox Flat in 1880s
By Alice G. Murphy

Welcome to the Payette ID GenWeb Project

From "200 Years in the Making"
Highlighting Malheur, Payette, Washington, Owyhee and Baker County History in Idaho
Malheur Publishing Co. (Publishers of the Daily Argus Observer)
Bicentennial Edition, 1976, Page 1970

The name Applegate is a famous one in the history of Oregon. The Applegate Emigration Company brought the first wagon train to the Oregon Territory in 1848. Here in Malheur County the Applegates have also left their mark.

Perhaps the best known in the area was "Uncle Sammie" who is still remembered by a number of the residents of the Oregon Slope and Payette areas.

His youngest daughter, Esther Jane Applegate Wells resides in Payette where she has kept scrapbooks of the early days and numerous heirlooms of the family. Mrs. Wells is now 82.

Samuel W. Applegate was born in 1837 in Indiana and came to the Oregon Country in 1852; he left the east on March 18 and arrived in the Willamette Valley on September 22. He lived there until 1863 where he married and had seven children by his first wife, Delia. Following her death he came to the Boise Basin.

Uncle Sammie, as he was affectionately called by the younger people of the area was interested in ranching, mining, but mostly preaching. He combined these activities as he journeyed around the country.

He purchased land in the New Plymouth area and also on the Oregon side near where Pioneer School now stands. This voting district is called the Applegate District.

In 1885 he and Mrs. Annie Reavis Newton of Middle Valley (now Midvale) were married. She had two children when they were married. Her life also was an exciting and interesting one. Born in the Arkansas Territory, her family was living in Texas following the Civil War when her father, a Confederate soldier, decided to move to Idaho. The family joined a wagon train and although Annie preferred to stay in Texas and marry, her parents persuaded her to go with Them. The young man, Edward Newton, didn't give up easily and followed the wagon train, asked for her hand in marriage, and permission was given. Annie, who had hopefully packed her trunk waiting for approval, stayed in Texas.

Edward Newton Jr. was born in 1877 and Jesse Hampton Newton in 1879. Mr. Newton died of typhoid, and Annie with Ed, age four, and Jesse, age two, made the trip by a train to Shoshone, Idaho where she was met by her brother , Charlie, with a wagon. She often told her daughter, Esther, about the trip; and how she only had $1 left when she got to Shoshone. She rejoined her family in Middle Valley, taking up a homestead prior to her marriage to Mr. Applegate.

They decided to live on the Oregon Side property, since he felt he would be able to be home more. Five children were born to this union, four living to maturity.

The Applegate home, built in 1886 was close to the river on the place where the Earl Browns now live. Mrs. Wells said that her father had a large sign over the place which said "In God We Trust", and the home was always open to all travelers and friends to stop in. "Mother and Father were noted for their hospitality and generosity."

She remembers her father saying there were just three houses in that whole area from Payette to Weiser. One was by the Malheur River where the Thayers now own land, one closer to Weiser, and their home. They had large corrals and sheds and freighters and travelers bedded their animals down on their place.

One thing Mrs. Wells said she would like to see cleared up is how Dead Ox Flat got its name. She had a newspaper clipping from the Signal of Weiser, written around 1912, which tells how it was named.

"The name "Dead Ox Flat" was given to it by some teamsters in 1864, who were freighting from Umatilla Landing two Boise Basin. They made a dry camp near the Bert Pilgrim homestead and turned the oxen out to feed and water. The oxen feeding during the night were poisoned by a weed known as larkspur, and were found dead in the morning near a slough in S. W. Applegate's present field. The name adopted by the teamsters has since specified this section of country."

She was married to Faye Wells in Payette, April 8, 1927, and has lived in the same home there since 1928.

Ester's father died December 12, 1920.

Edd Newton, the older son of Annie, made his home in this area. His daughter, Stella (Mrs. Robert) Belknap, continues to make her home in Payette.

Her half brother, Jesse H. Newton, who came to this area as a young boy continued to make his home on the slope until his death in 1969. In the middle thirties he purchased a piece of property from the district which had been a part of the original Clarence Barker homestead. This was just to the west and lying on higher ground above the old Uncle Sammie Applegate homestead.

On a point of land, high above the river, is the "Pioneer Cemetery." Here James Applegate, aged 15 when he was injured by a horse and died, is buried. Mrs. Wells said her father thought this was on his property at the time. It is interesting that this is still in possession of the family, since Jesse' son, Elmer, now owns and farms this place.

Jessie and his wife, Frances Lattig of Payette, were married in 1909 in Payette. They had four children. Elmer is the only one living in the area.

Elmer married Peggy Wood of Payette in 1948. Peggy is the daughter of Oscar and Myrtle Wayne Wood, and the granddaughter of Tom and Mary Frances Wayne. Wayne was born in Wyoming and came to Payette in 1904. He was well known in the area where he had the Intermountain Nursery at Payette for years, and in later life went into the ministry. Peggy is a direct descendant of "Mad Anthony" Wayne, a noted patriot of the Revolutionary War.

The Newton's have three children. Their oldest daughter, Cathy (Mrs. Don) Lawrence has two children, Tammie and Timmy and lives in Fort Meade, Maryland. Susan (Mrs. David) Lane resides in Portland. Their son, Russell, with great grandfather's and grandfathers in the ministry, is following in their footsteps. He is attending seminary at Miller Memorial Bible Institute in Sask., Canada.

Prominent political figures are also abundant in the family. There had been several Applegates to hold high political office in Oregon, among them the governorship. On the Reavis side, Annie's sister, Edna married C. Ben Ross, who served as governor of Idaho for three terms. However, it is those who have carried the gospel both in the early days and the present who receive the greatest tribute of affection and pride from Esther Applegate Wells, sturdy descendant of Uncle Sammie.

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