Finding Hope

A photo scrapbook of the search for Grandview, Oregon



In 2014, on Memorial Day Weekend, I met Hope Nance at the Grandview Cemetery in Central Oregon, not far from Cove Palisades Park.  Every year the descendants of those original homesteaders arrive to tend graves and take the time for families to reconnect.

Hope was born in Grandview in 1917 and would someday join over twenty of her relatives in the cemetery.

   photo credit: Guy Swanson

Born in 1917, Hope lived in Grandview until 1934.  When she passed away in 2017 she was the last remaining original resident of the once thriving homestead community.



For three years I listened to her stories and took notes. "guess telling my stories is keeping me alive" she would joke. She had a great sense of humor.

She had a hand-drawn map with names of the homesteaders who lived there in about 1926.   There were no addresses, every property was known by it's original settlers, (The old Shield's Place, the Old Corke Place, and so on.)

Ihad been going to Grandview in the sixties when a few old buildings dotted the landscape.  I remembered the old Grange Hall, found it on the map and we worked our way out from there.


 I began looking for the history of Grandview but it didn't exist in any single place, only a sentence or two in a book, a random newspaper article or or census record.

  I began to realize that when the residents left in the late twenties they took their history with them  as letters, scrapbooks and family stories.

I needed to find them!

I drove the old roads I could find, I walked the two mile path from Hope's home to the school.  The land was divided  by low rock walls that marked the areas where families made their homes, raised their children, and created a community.

In 1917 the Nances left Idaho and made the long buckboard ride from the silver mines where Papa worked and took over the homestead of his uncle, who was moving to California.  For a year I hiked the area looking for the quarter-section of land where the Nance family made their home.




Hope's Mama died in 1923 and Grandma moved from the Brushy Mountains of North Carolina.   She arrived with three of her own children, adding hem to the brood of the six Nance children. The farm was barely self-sufficent and Papa worked in town during the week.






Difficult to see (below right), but the flat rocks that formed the foundation are still sitting there.  The back half of the cabin had a loft, where two adults and nine children slept.



Hope was attending a gathering at the Cemetery one Memorial Day weekend when I asked if she felt up to a visit to her old homesite.  "Sure" she said, "grab that milk crate", and with that she climbed up into my Jeep.

Hope climbed up in the Jeep with the dexterity of someone half her age, and peered through the windshield as the road tracked to the North. 

When she told me to "stop here" we got out and she took me around with notes on a map she had drawn on a slip of paper.  "Here's where the Cow Tree was, that's where the cabin was and that road goes to the Frog Pond."  We found the rock outline of the cellar where the girls buried potatoes and other root vegetables that they would dig back up during the winter.

After they built Round Butte Dam in the sixties the remnants of the farming community were strewn on the landscape.  In the early seventies the scavengers, scrap dealers and treasure hunters took advantage of the improved access and removed all the evidence that Grandview even existed.  No book had ever been written about the area, finding out more about Grandview was going to be a real treasure hunt.  I followed a path of discovery through libraries, newspaper archives, historical societys and interviews with descendents.  

Some of the only surviving remnants of this once thriving farm community can be seen as landscaping elements in the local properties.

This "double-shovel plow" survived at Grandview and now sits in a front yard.  Usually pulled behind a single horse or mule the "double-shovel" tamed the West for farmers of the land.

The rusting bones of this well-used Model T in it's final resting place.

I walked the two-mile road that led from home to Grandview School.  There were no snow days and her brothers would walk ahead of the horse crunching the ice so as not to cut Old Prince's fetlocks.










The land, now covered with Juniper trees, once had large stands of Pine.   Several years of indiscriminate logging and the demand for fuel for heating and cooking decimated the timber stock. 

As Central Oregon descended into drought the Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir gave way to the more drought-resistant Juniper.  Most of the Juniper trees in Central Oregon are less than 99 years old.

The only thing remaining of the old homesteads are the rock walls that marked the borders of the claim.  This was called the Rabbit Wall and was was home to hundreds of cottontails.  Every fall the boys would go there with their 22's and bring home about two hundred rabbits to butcher and put in the ice house for winter's food.

photograph Robert Williams

Using Hope's 1925 map I spent two summers tracking down the remains of Grandview, the roads that led somwhere and nowhere, and the feel of the land.

This appears to be the only house left in Grandview, referred to as the Wheeler Ranch


You can read a sample chapter of my book HERE

You can read an article I wrote for the Jefferson County Historical Society about Grandview HERE

This journey I traveled with Hope Nance was one of the most profound and rewarding experiences of my life.




Hope Nance on her 99th Birthday




Hope Nance was buried at Grandview Cemetery, joining over twenty five of her relatives in passing.  The last survivor of Grandview, she was laid to rest next to her husband and love of her life, Jack Cropley.

The note she left behind read "Please don't feel sad about my trip, I'll be gone a long time. I love you all and will be waiting for you."

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