To the Editor:
We are responding to the question in your “Out of the Past” column in the October 17, 2012, Chieftain concerning the man pictured on the saddle horse. This man was Jim Blakely who served as sheriff of Wallowa County from 1904-1908.
Jim and the Blakely family contributed greatly to the establishment of law and order in eastern Oregon near the turn of the last century. Three of the brothers served as sheriffs in various Oregon counties.
Biden Tippet said the Blakely place was where the Pine Creek road crosses the main stem of Salmon Creek on the way to Zumwalt. The family was originally from Brownsville in the Willamette Valley where they were neighbors to some of the Vaughan families who later moved to Wallowa County. In fact, Henry C. Vaughan, the notorious horse thief was a classmate of Jim Blakely there in the 1850s.
In 1882, Jim and Hank Vaughan teamed up to rid central Oregon of a vigilante mob that was eliminating small rancher homesteaders. The culmination of this action was the well-publicized shootout between Vaughan and Charlie Long in Prineville in December 1881 where both men survived multiple gunshots in a close range Missouri duel. The story of this action and Blakely’s involvement is described in the book, Hank Vaughan; 1849-1893, A Hell Raising Horse Trader of the Bunchgrass Territory, by Jon and Donna Skovlin.
Jim Blakely and his family migrated to northeastern Oregon where he continued to support law and order at the grass roots level. He lived to be over 100 and died in 1953.