The Odessa Record -

Harrington news

Arts, entertainment pursued by many in early Harrington-area towns


--Courtesy photo.

See the article for the names of those pictured above. If our readers can fill in any of the missing names, please contact Marge Womach at or call her at the Harrington Library.

Early history

As early as 1886, there is evidence of "Literaries" being held in area communities as they were being formed. These groups consisted of programs containing debates, musical performances, dramatic performances, solos, orchestras, oratorical contests, recitations, songs and/or dialogues. Most of the literary groups were eventually involved in competitive debates with other small communities. During the busy farming seasons the literaries were halted and resumed once the field work was done. Culture and performing were exalted. It was home-grown entertainment and an excuse to socialize.

The photo accompanying this article shows the 24 cast members of a dramatic play that was performed in 1903 or 1904 in the Mohler-Downs area. It was entitled "Aunt Hanna's Quilting Party" and was written by Jennie Talladay with a copyright date of December 5, 1890. The photographer was J.S. Cascka of Lamona. The following names were written on the back of the photo, and perhaps one of The Record's readers will recognize one or more of the missing identities. Reading left to right in the back row: 1. female; 2. W.W. Downie; 3. Dick Doggett; 4. Dollie Doggett; 5. male Ryker; 6. female; 7. Bertha Hinshaw; 8. E.E. Yarwood; 9. Mrs. Kinchin. Center row begins with #18. Art Kinchin, followed by 10. male with violin; 11. Mrs. Dora Morgan; 12. Dave Yarwood; 13. Kate Yarwood; 14. Charlie Hearn/Heavner; 15. Lizzie Yarwood; 16. Ilene Green; 17. Geo. Easson. Front row: 19. Art Ryker; 20. female; 21. Mrs. Ayers; 22. Lillian Conklin; 23. Mamie Kinchin; 24. female.

W[arren] W. Downie was born in Elkader, Iowa in 1871 and remained in Iowa to graduate from a business college. In 1899 he came to Lincoln County and began working for the J.Q. Adams grain company until he was elected as Lincoln County clerk for one term in 1902. He worked in Mohler as a grain salesman from 1902 until after his marriage. On June 14, 1905, he married Rhoda C. Hill. In 1908, he was cashier of the Harrington First National Bank until its closing in 1927. In 1917-18 he was Mayor of Harrington. By 1939 Mr. and Mrs. Downie were living in Davenport where they held a huge reception in their home with about 150 friends attending to honor his newlywed daughter. Warren W. Downie died in 1953 with burial in Davenport. He was about 31 during this performance.

John Morris "Dick" Doggett was born in 1877 in Highland County, Ohio. The family moved to Nebraska in 1886, and he and his brother George moved to Washington state in 1899 where Dick purchased land formerly owned by T.A. Hansard two miles north of Downs. He was one of the frequent old-time fiddlers of the Mohler area. In July 1904, he married Dollie Runyan, and they resided on his farm until 1917, when they moved to a residence in Downs. Dick died in 1973 with burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. He was about 27 at the time of this play.

Dollie Runyan Doggett was born in 1883 in Georgetown, Tenn. and her parents, Isaac and Sarah Runyan, moved to the Mohler area in about 1902. Dollie was married to Dick Doggett in July 1904. They had one daughter, Mae McGonigle. Dollie died in 1945 with burial in Hillcrest. Of Dick and Dollie it was said by their neighbors that they did not live well together, hence on one census Dollie was shown as divorced and living alone. She was 21 at the time of the play.

James Arthur Ryker was born in 1880 in Lawrence County, Missouri and was in Mohler in 1902 and single and in Downs in 1904. He was known as a salesman while in our vicinity. He did marry and have children and died in Spokane in 1938. At the time of the play, his age would have been about 24. Other Ryker names that appeared in the area were Geo. M. Ryker, giving an oration at the Mohler Xmas Tree function in 1900, J.E. Ryker in 1901, who went to his home in Aurora, Mo. for the winter and an A. J. Ryker, who was in a news item with J.F. Green in 1904.

Bertha Hinshaw was born in 1874, in Ambia, Ind., daughter of John and Martha Lacey. Their family came to Sprague in 1886; her parents homesteaded south of Mohler. Bertha married John D. Hinshaw December 21, 1890. She spent her entire life in this area and "was in demand as a practical nurse." She was the mother of a son Monte and two daughters, Mrs. Gus Swenson (Cecil) and Mrs. Chester Gilbert (Thelma), as well as two sons who preceded her in death. John and Bertha moved from the farm to Harrington in about 1920. In 1936, she lost her right hand in an accident, and her husband died in 1939. Bertha died in 1966 and had been about 30 years of age in the play.

Eli E. Yarwood was born in 1860 in LaGrange, Ind., to William Yarwood, Sr. and his second wife Hannah, came west in 1881 and farmed west of Harrington for several years. He was part of the firm "Williams, Crowley & Co" and for many years conducted E.E. Yarwood's cash store. He died in June 1936, never having married. During the performance his age would have been 44.

David Yarwood was born on July 19, 1852 in New York, to William Yarwood, Sr. and his second wife Hannah, and came to this area in 1881. Their family took up homesteads near Harrington and at Mohler. Dave married Mary L. Porter in 1883; she died a year later. In 1898, he married Kathryn Conklin of Alpine, N.Y. They had one child who died at age 2. Kate Yarwood died in 1914. David died in 1928. Dave was about 52 years of age during the play.

Kate Conklin Yarwood was born in New Jersey in about 1866. She married D.S. Yarwood in 1898. When she became ill with tuberculosis, David took her back to New York in 1914 looking for medical help. She died there. She would have been 38 during the performance.

Lillian Conklin, niece of Kate Conklin Yarwood, came to visit her aunt during school breaks, but in 1909 she was found on the school census at Mohler, showing her birth year as 1894. If #22 is Lillian Conklin, she would have been about ten years of age in the play. Her name was added to the list in red ink and in penmanship not matching the others on the list.

Lizzie Yarwood was born in 1847 in Lancaster, England to William Yarwood, Sr. and Elizabeth (Fisher) Yarwood. She, with the other Yarwoods, came to the Mohler-Harrington area in 1881, where she also homesteaded. She never married and died in 1924. She would have been 57 at the time of the entertainment.

Dora Hinshaw Morgan was born in 1852 in Oregon and applied for a homestead in 1880 in the Mohler district where she became the first teacher of that district. She received patent on her homestead in 1893 and was teaching in Auburn where she met and married Thomas W. Morgan. She taught for 25 years. She moved to Auburn in 1918, and died there of paralysis in 1922. Her age during the performance would have been 52.

Aileen Green, daughter of Samuel F. Green and Lillian Ford Green, was a niece of John F. Green and an early resident in the area. She was born May 26, 1886 in College City, Calif. and with her family moved to the Mohler area in 1897. She taught in the Harrington schools for four years before moving to Deer Park, where she continued teaching. She and her mother died on an ill-fated cruise, drowning near Ferndale, Calif. in June of 1916. Aileen would have been about 18 during the play.

Mrs. Emma Ayars, wife of Dr. Henry E. Ayars, was born in West Virginia in about 1864. Emma Ayars was postmaster in Mohler in 1901-03. Dr. Ayars practiced medicine in Mohler in 1902 and 1903, when he moved from Mohler to Downs and began outfitting his office there. He owned the drug store at Downs for four months in 1904, then sold it and limited himself to the practice of medicine. In 1906, they left Downs after disposing of 1,760 acres of land valued at $54,746. Most of the news items pertaining to his practice were about "delivering babies." They spent their later years in Wenatchee, where Dr. Ayars died in 1936 and Emma in 1954. She was about 40 during the play.

George Easson appeared in the area in 1901, a merchant to the newly developing areas of Mohler and Downs. He was born in Ill. in 1876, and would have been about 27 at the time of the play. News items indicate that he was married, owned a drug store at one time in Mohler, and had children. When the railroad dispute occurred, he was the first businessman to abandon Mohler and build in Downs in 1902. They moved to Spokane in 1904. Mrs. Anna Easson was the sister of Laura and Nellie Fitzpatrick, daughters of M.A. and May Fitzpatrick. George died in 1906 of tuberculosis.

The Kinchin family in Mohler consisted of Joseph, his wife Alvina and their three children Arthur, Mamie and Fannie, listed on the Mohler 1901 school census as age 18, 14 and 12, respectively. Dora Morgan was clerk of the school board, and E.E. Yarwood was the director. In 1904, Joseph purchased the blacksmith shop at Downs and was moving his family there that spring. Arthur also attended the teachers' institute in Davenport that year. They took in boarders, entertained company from Minnesota and had moved to Spokane by 1906. Joseph was born in 1851 and died in Jan 1918 in Spokane. His wife, Alvina Clark Kinchen Hammer was born in 1865 and died in 1944.


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