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Harrington news

Memorial Day brings seekers of family lore


Working toward Memorial Weekend

In the month preceding Memorial Day, many people contact city hall and the library for information regarding their ancestors. Some of the recent inquiries resulted in the acquisition of the following biographies.

Just prior to Cruizin’ Harrington, Jim Knapp asked for confirmation on the details of the purchase of the 1936 Plymouth coupe he entered in the car show and for which he won the “Participants Choice” award. Les LePere painted a lovely sign stating that the original owner had been Clay Hansard. Knapp said that he purchased the car from Hansard’s estate. The Hansard brothers Tom, Finn and S.P. came from Linn County, Oregon, to Lincoln County in 1883 at which time Thomas filed on a homestead in Sec 10 Twp 22 Range 35 in December. Findel P. Hansard filed for a homestead on April 13, 1887 in the same section. Tom married Emma Allen in 1895, and she bore four children before dying in 1903, one preceding her to the grave. Tom remarried in Sept. of 1903 to Mrs. Minnie Putnam Fletcher. They raised his three children, Jannie May (1896), Everett Clay (1897) and Carl Bernard (1901). Tom moved with his wife and family to Harrington in 1901 after renting out his farm and in 1915 retired to McMinnville, Ore. The farm had been rented to Mr. and Mrs. G.A. Magnusson. In 1920, Clay was with the family on the census, but when his father died in 1930 at Yamhill, Ore., Clay was conducting the farming operation at Harrington. Clay was a graduate of Harrington High School prior to the family’s move to Oregon. At McMinnville he graduated from Linfield College. He also earned degrees from the U of Wash. and from Colorado College. After 1925, Clay stayed on the ranch. He participated in the literary meetings and sang a solo which had “special merit.” For the Fourth of July at Mohler in 1926, Clay delivered the address which the audience appreciated. Clay hired local help which included Geo. F. Kitt one year, and another year Mr. and Mrs. Moss Warwick. Clay was not known to have ever married and died in 1964. Jim Knapp purchased his automobile from the estate, it having been a single-owner car. When the car was new, it was green and reported this way in the local paper following harvest in 1936: “Clay Hansard took delivery of a 1936 model Plymouth coupe Thursday of last week through the Electric Service Station. Glen Biggart went to Spokane and brought the car here.”

Another request was for the Keeran history of Harrington and the Phillips family of Mohler. The A.J. Phillips family arrived in Washington in Oct. 1900 from Tennessee, worked for Luther P. Turner for two years before moving to Mohler. Andrew Jackson Phillips was born in 1854 in Megg Co., Tenn. and married Sarah Ann Good in 1877. After coming to Mohler, Sarah ran a boarding house and A.J. was a carpenter. They were active in the little Mohler Methodist church. They had seven children: John K., William Elbert, George Franklin, Jake, Oscar, Thomas A. and Mary. John K., Jake and Thomas remained bachelors and Oscar was born and died in Tennessee. William Elbert raised a family of three in Mohler and later moved to Sprague; his children were Ernest, Mary and Hazel. Ernest, born in 1908, was referred to as a shut-in, and the community in Mohler helped with subscriptions to make purchases for him, as the purchase of a radio in 1930, and a new wheelchair in 1934. George F. married Ula Arsinet Womack, a daughter of Leonard W. Womack of Ritzville, in 1906, and they had seven children: Roy, Alma, Howard, Clara, Golden and Mildred. Mary Phillips was born about 1893, graduated from Mohler grade and high school, and then from Cheney Normal. She taught at Chewelah and Lord’s Valley. She married John F. Keeran in 1919 in Mohler; they lived in Salt Lake City for a time, resided in Bellingham (1925), and Ferndale (1939) where Mary died in 1942. John Keeran had lived in the Yarwood Precinct, northwest of Mohler.

John Keeran was one of two sons born to Laura Elizabeth Hodgen and her husband Charles E. Keeran, who had married in Willows, Calif. in 1892. Remaining in Calif. for nine years, they then settled on a farm west of Harrington. C.E. Keeran in 1906 purchased a new Holt combined harvester; that was the same year that he was chosen as a city councilman. In 1910, he appeared as one of the nine directors in the Articles of Incorporation for the Harrington Supply Company. They reported he was busy smiling in Sept. of 1911 when he completed his harvest before the rains began, and his crop ran 18 to 20 bushels per acre. Laura was elected the first president of the newly organized Mothers Club in Harrington, a group she continued to enjoy until her death in 1921. John graduated from Harrington High School in 1913 and Foster had been a sophomore in 1923-24 in Harrington. No record of his graduation locally was found. Foster performed in the operetta “Sylvia” in 1923 and was the Alumni Editor for the Annual that year. In 1924, Foster appeared on the officers list of the Knights of Pythias lodge. John attended the University of Montana, graduating in 1917, went into the service during the Spanish flu epidemic and wrote home about becoming a corporal in October 1918. In Nov. 1919, he married Mary E. Phillips of Mohler, and they moved to the Keeran ranch near Harrington. During the 1920-21 school year, John was teaching at Murray, Utah, having taken courses at Washington State University and a college in Montana. For the 1922-23 and 1923-24 years, he was teaching in Bellingham. His father remained in the Harrington district until about 1929. It was highlighted in the obituary of C.E. Keeran that “he was the lucky man to become possessed of the new Chevrolet car to be given away that year by the Harrington business men on trade day and took a trip to visit old friends, relatives and finally wound up at the home of his son Foster, at Oakland, Calif. and made his home with him.”

With the use of old issues of the Harrington Citizen, Deborah Dunbar was able to learn many new details about her relatives here. Tom and Jake Phillips resided near the old Mohler school for many years, “two old bachelors” as they were often described. That old house disappeared from downtown Mohler in 1965 when Tom who was burning weeds lost control of the fire; it leapt to the house and the fire was out of control by the time the Harrington fire department arrived. He was able to rent a nice apartment above Makey’s garage. She was able to copy an article that was written about Tom Phillips entitled: “Anchors Aweigh in 1917.” He enlisted in December of 1917 and reported that he only heard one gun fired. He was discharged in August 1919 and spoke very highly of the Navy. One question lingered when she left the Harrington library, what is the story on the Barnes baby buried in 1926 near the grave of Mrs. Laura Keeran?


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