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Kerns cross paths with families in Coulee City, Canada

by Dennis Clay & Special to Herald
| January 30, 2011 5:00 AM

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Broadhead's Paint & Glass is now open to serve you with home, auto and commercial glass, plus Sherwin-Williams Paint and also Pella Windows.

It is interesting to learn about the first person to accomplish a feat, no matter how small. Today we lean about John R. Lewis, who raised the first grain in Douglas County, in 1883, before Grant County broke away from Douglas County. Read on.

The Grant County Historical Society has compiled several volumes of Grant County history. The books are available for purchase at the Historical Society Museum gift shop in Ephrata.

I bought the series in 2009 and secured permission to relay some of the history through this column.

Memories of Grant County, compiled from taped interviews by the Grant County Historical Society.

Today we continue the story of Coulee City, by Alfred Twining recorded July 30, 1975:

A kind of funny incident happened. There was a family by the name of Kerns who lived here in Coulee City and the mother was a very heavy woman. I remember my mother making a remark one day that Mrs. Kerns was going to bust one of these days, so just being a small kid I thought that was going to be quite a mess. But these Kerns sold the restaurant, or got rid of it someway.

They were Irish and he was quite a drinking man. They moved up to some land in the same town in British Columbia that the Boones were in. So my wife went to school in Canada with the Kerns boys, there was Johnny, Eddy, and Billy. So she went to school with them up there and I went to school with them down here. So about 1947 or 1948, I guess it was, a man came to the door looking for Twinings. My wife went to the door and she said, "Why, Billy Kerns!" And, Billy Kerns looked up and said, "Well, who are you?" When Billy Kerns left I never did see him again.

After he grew up he was a salesman for some machinery outfit in Vancouver, B.C. But, talking about the Boones, my wife's people were direct descend ants of Daniel Boone's brother. They originally came from England and there were six children in the Boone family.

E-mail from Cheryl

Facts from the past gleaned from the Moses Lake Herald, Columbia Basin Herald and The Neppel Record by Cheryl (Driggs) Elkins:

From the Columbia Basin Herald on Wednesday, March 21, 1962:

Kennewick men visit area

Between 35 and 40 members of the Kennewick Chamber of Commerce were touring Moses Lake and Larson Air Force Base today.

Moses Lake Chamber President Dave Jones was in charge of the program at an informal luncheon today at The Turf Café. Robert L. Fisher, Kennewick Chamber of Commerce, also gave a short address.

Richard Cook, chairman of the chamber's tourist and convention committee was in charge of arrangements. Gene Wagner, chairman of the chamber's military affairs committee, and Col. Richard Salter, base commander, made preparations for the base tour. Included in the Larson tour were inspections of the B-52 and KC-135 tanker planes.

New stamps here

Additional shipment of Project Mercury stamps has arrived at the post office in Moses Lake and full sheets of stamps are available for purchase by stamp collectors, said postmaster Arthur Freeborg.

Rea in Seattle

Judge Felix Rea of Grant County Superior Court is presiding judge this week in one of the departments of the King County Superior Court in Seattle.

Conferences set

Parent-Teacher conferences are scheduled to be held in the Warden Schools during the week of March 26 to 30 between the hours of 1:30 and 5 p.m.

These conferences are being held to evaluate student progress in place of the third quarter report cards. Appointments are now being made in both the grade and high school offices.

Wilson Creek history

The Rev. David H. Crawford compiled and published a history of families in and surrounding Wilson Creek titled, "Family Memories of Wilson Creek Area." The book was printed in 1978, which was the 75th anniversary of the town. David's son, John Crawford, has given permission for those memories to be a part of this column.

Today we continue with the story of the Gross family history by Helen Vidano and Jeanne Flemming:

Great grandparents, Gottlieb and Christine resided at Willamette City, Oregon until April 20, 1920 when Gottlieb died. Seven years later on Feb. 19, 1927, Christine followed her husband.

Samuel Gross and Matilda Hoffman were united in marriage on March 23, 1897. Matilda's parents were Thersa Baumgartner and Anton Hoffman. They had three children; Matilda, Adolph, and Carl. Carl died at infancy.

Matilda was born in Austria on August 18, 1881. In 1898, Matilda gave birth to their first son, Dewey, in Oregon.

The Big Bend area of Washing ton was open to homestead rights and in 1899, Samuel. Matilda and Dewey came by train to Ritzville which was predominately German settled.

As the trains came to town, a hotel owner, Jack Schroeder, met the incoming people. In order to get to know the country better, the Gross family stayed their first year in Washington in the Schroeder's Hotel. Sam was employed during this time in a lumber yard. While in Ritzville Samuel had chances to buy developed farms in that area, but decided against it.

Then he heard of good home stead land north of Ritzville in the Wilson Creek, area. In 1900, they homesteaded eight miles north of Wilson Creek, Section 34, Township 2489. When they arrived, the homesteads were staked out, but there were no roads, no accommodations and only sagebrush for fields.

Water was hard to come by and had to be hauled from the Kane's farm, now Earl Kanes, and later from the Rosenburg farm. Samuel Gross had a difficult time getting water on his homestead, but built a two-story house at its present location.

The following year this area, north of Wilson Creek, began to develop as the settlers moved in. Included with the new homesteaders were friends of the Gross family from Ritzville, the Jack Schroeder family.

Martha was the first of the children born in Washington. She was born at the Pat Kane farm. There were nine children in the Gross family. Dewey, Martha and seven born on the Gross homestead, Emanuel, Christine, Samuel, Adolph, who died in infancy, Lois, Helen and Eleanor.

The first years were spent setting up the home stead and breaking out new ground for dry-land wheat and small grains. In 1911, Matilda and several of the children went by train to Oregon for a visit. In 1915, Samuel, Dewey and Emanuel visited Oregon relatives.

In 1906, Sam and Otto Timm bought one of the first threshing machines in this area. During this year, School District 20 was started and held in the Timm School House. Miss Smith was the first teacher. Also, the Lone Star Telephone Company was formed and twenty neighbors signed up.

In 1918, Samuel bought his first car, a Model A Ford and in 1919 bought his first combine. Hard times came in the late teens and early twenties and again in the early thirties from drought and winds.

In 1921, the house was moved approximately one hundred yards to the grove of trees, at its present location. In 1922, Matilda died in childbirth and was buried in Wilson Creek. In 1932, Dewey and Emanuel took over the family farm. In 1931, Samuel died and was buried beside his wife.

Dewey and Emanuel continued farming the home stead until Dewey retired in 1963 and moved to Wilson Creek where he now lives. In 1965, Emmanuel and Martha moved off the homestead and sold it later to Gary Gross, the son of Samuel Henry Gross.

Gary Gross is farming it as of this date.

Samuel and Matilda Gross had nine children and following is a brief individual history of each. Dewey: b. 5-7-1898 in Willamette, Oregon; never married: retired farmer: lives in Wilson Creek. Martha: b. in Wilson Creek; lives in Soap Lake. Emanuel: b. 23-4-1903 in Wilson Creek (home); died 18-2-1971.

Christine: b. 13-1-1906 in Wilson Creek (home); died 15-9-1963. Samuel: b. 13-1-1906 in Wilson Creek (home); farmer; married Mollie Schwab 10-12- 1935: died 27-3-1977; Children, three.

Donna Gay: b. 3-11-1936 in Wilbur, Wash.; married George Lambert Molli son on 24-8-1958 in Wilson Creek: Children, two, they are: Jeffrey Albert b. 23-7-1962 and Jason Michael b. 3-10-1965

Jeanne Kay: b. 3-11-1936 in Wilbur; married Dru Hillard Fleming on 13-1-1962 in Los Angeles; Children, three, they are: Susan Molly b. 21-10-1964, Sammy Scott b. 24-9-1968 and Jill Ann b. 13-4-1970. Gary: b. 5-9-1940 Wilbur, married Roberta (Bobby) Seals on 23-5-74 in Wilson Creek; Children, one: Stephen Emanuel b. 22-1-1976

Adolf: b. 1910; deceased 1912. Lois: b. 23-4-1914 in Wilson Creek (home); never married; lives in Los Angeles. Helen: b. 30-5-1917 in Wilson Creek (home); married Carl Emerson Vidano on 13-1- 1951 in Las Vegas; live in Torrance, Ca. Children, two. They are Craig Emerson, b. 11-8-1952 and Cathy Ann, b. 3-8-1955.

Eleanor (Babe): b. 26-10-1922 in Wilson Creek (home); married William R. Pendley on 14-11-45 in Spokane; husband deceased; Children, one: Sherrie Diane b. 31-9-1946 in Spokane. She married Joseph Marc Uebsack on 30-6-1968 in Spokane. They have two children: Stacy Jane b. 26-8-1969 and Christine Diane b. 2-7 1974.

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