Hunters: A People Place

 

     Hunters was named after John Hunter who came to the area in 1880. He established a home and a successful farm. Valleys, springs and creeks were plentiful and the land was known as good cattle country. The Post Office was opened in 1885 and people started making Hunters their home. The first store was opened in 1890. Mr. Latta platted the town in 1890 and sold lots from five to twenty-five dollars a piece. A school was started above the Sorghum Mill. Soon another school was built to accommodate the growing population.

     James and Effie Bayley of Fruitland among others wanted their children to have a high school education. In 1917, with the help of Jess Hergesheimer, the county superintendent, a high school was built to provide higher education to all the surrounding towns. The building cost $14,000. The school was successful and soon school busses were running.

     Other businesses in Hunters included: A ferry that operated from 1895 to 1939, a creamery operated by W.H. Quimby, the Hunters Exchange Bank, a Hotel and Mrs. Love owned a hat shop. In 1910 Hunters got telephone service. In 1912 a fire burned most of the business district, but the town was rebuilt into a bigger and better town. Hunters boasted of the only weekly newspaper in Southwestern Stevens County, the Hunters Leader. The Greenwood Park Grange was organized in 1915. Later this grange organized a park on the lake that is still used by families today. The Grange also published a very important book called Pioneers of the Columbia.

     Many successful mines were located near Hunters. In 1894 the Cleveland Mine found a large vein of silver and lead ore with some antimony. The mine was sold for $150,000 and returned good profits. Another mine, The Deer Trail Mine, produced galena ore and silver. By 1903 over a million dollars of worth of ore was removed.

     Hunters continued to grow and prosper, adding a library and movie theatre in 1922. Hunters is still a thriving community.

Eccentric Barber

     "You wouldnít be surprised if you were in Hunters in 1890 and saw a stranger with a towel around his neck and shaving lather on his face come flying down Main Street.

     It seems that the town barber was an eccentric who had an unpleasant habit of holding his shiny razor above a customerís Adamís apple and solemnly inquiring: ĎAre you prepared to meet your God?í

     He continued this religious exhortation until one day he promised the town he would walk on water. When he failed, his spirit was broken. He stayed around town for a few days more and then quietly dropped out of sight forever. (Pioneers of the Columbia)

 

 

The Life of a Pioneer Doctor

     Dr. Rodrick D. McCrae established a practice in Hunters in 1896 and never lacked business. It was rumored that he was trained first as a veterinarian, but decided that people needed more help than animals. Dr. McCrae treated the pioneers and Native Americans in the area.

     Western medicine did not always make sense to the Natives. Mrs. Cecilia Paul Smith worked for the doctor as an interpreter. Here are some of her memories: "One young Indian man froze his toes in the winter of 1932. Dr. McCrae gave him some medicine to grow new toenails. The Indian laughed at that and said it was too far from his mouth to his feet.

     It didnít make a difference who was sick, Indians or white people. Dr. McCrae was there to help them, day or night, traveling by team and top buggy."

     Dr. McCrae had to be an expert on every type of medical ailment. He set broken bones, pulled teeth, sewed up knife wounds, lanced boils, cleaned sores, stitched up disc cuts from plows and even delivered babies. " My cousin cut his knee almost off with a disc. The wound was very dirty from the plowed ground. Antoine Paul and Mr. Stapleton took him across the river to Dr. McCrae. The doctor cleaned the sore, and stitched it and told the boyís folks to move the knee every day so it would not heal stiff. The little boy cried when his knee was straightened or bent but he grew to ride in the rodeos."

     Dr. McCrae earned his respect as a good doctor through hard work and ingenuity. (Pioneers of the Columbia)