Pioneers honored

Posted on June 9th in Feature Story,News

Pioneer President Emery Ferguson and Queen Mother Alberta Creamer will be the center of attention Saturday, June 12, at the Harney County Senior Center

Alberta Anderson CreamerAlberta Anderson Creamer

By Lauren Brown
Burns Times-Herald

Alberta Anderson Creamer will be crowned as the Queen Mother during this year’s Pioneer Day celebration at the Harney County Senior Center on Saturday, June 12. “It’s quite an honor,” she said. “I had to wait 87 years to be Queen Mother.”

Creamer was born on Dec. 20, 1922, to Walter and Martha Anderson at home in Happy Valley in Princeton.

In 1925, her family moved to Diamond, where Creamer’s father went to work for Fred Smith. “That’s where I grew up and went to school,” she said. She rode a horse to travel the two miles to school and back.

Not long after the move to Diamond, her brother, Jack, was born. Other members of the family included two half sisters, Toots and Catherine and her half brother, Jack.

In 1934, the family moved to Crane so her sister could attend high school. However, after one year, they moved back to Diamond.

When Creamer was just 9 or 10 years old, she was asked to come stay at Lucille Thompson’s place. While there, Thompson became ill and asked Creamer to drive the car to get neighbor Myrtle Barnes to come help her. Creamer ended up driving the car about two miles down the road where her dad was, and then he drove on to pick up Barnes.
In 1938, her parents bought the ranch that is now owned by the Thompsons.

She attended high school in Crane, where she stayed in the dormitory. Creamer graduated in 1942, got married, moved to Burns and had two boys, Walter in 1943 and Wess in 1944.

Creamer then got divorced, married again and had a girl, Sharon in 1948.

Walter now lives in Fernley, Nev., and Wess and Sharon both live in Hines. In addition, Creamer has five grandkids, 12 great-grandchildren and two great, great-grandchildren.

Creamer divorced again after Sharon was born and moved to Crane in 1949. There she worked at the telephone office until 1951.

Creamer moved to Princeton soon after and lived there until a fire burned the house down in 1954. The family then moved to Crane so the kids could attend high school.

In 1958, they moved back to Princeton. Creamer ended up driving the mail stage to Anderson Valley and the Narrows. The roads were bumpy, and she had to drive fast to keep the vehicle in line. As a result, it didn’t take long for the people on her route to get their mail.

Her daughter, Sharon, remembered a funny incident while the family lived in Princeton. All the kids were playing outside when they heard a loud scream from inside the house. They ran inside to find Creamer jumping up and down in the middle of the dining room table screaming, “It’s a mouse! It’s a mouse!” She wouldn’t come down from the table until her sons hunted down that tiny mouse. Creamer then plugged every hole she could find in that house.

In 1961, she moved to Burns and went to work in a few restaurants and Corbett’s Drug Store.

Creamer went to work for the Edward Hines Lumber Company in 1963 and retired in 1985.

In addition to family get-togethers, she now enjoys going to yard sales. “I call it senior-robics — in and out of the car,” she said. Creamer likes adding to her collection of donkey figurines, of which she has 100 to 150. After retiring, she also started collecting dishes. “Now, I have a shed full of pretty dishes,” she said.

Thanks to Sharon Wilson for contributing to this story.

Emery Earl FergusonEmery Earl Ferguson

By Jan Cupernall
For Burns Times-Herald

The Harney Country Pioneer Association will honor Emery Earl Ferguson as President of the annual Pioneer Day celebration, June 12, at the Harney County Senior Center.

Ferguson’s roots to Harney County go way back. His grandparents, A.F. and Olive Lanfear came to Harney County in 1917 in a horse-drawn wagon and homesteaded in Catlow Valley. Earl Ferguson, his father, lived in and around Harney County from the 1920s to the early 1940s.  On Aug. 24, 1927, he married Loraine Lanfear in Mountain Home, Idaho.

Earl and Lorraine moved back to Harney County when Earl was employed by the State Highway Department. The Ferguson family was the first family to live in the state highway housing out at Suntex near Riley.

Ferguson was one of five kids born to Earl and Loraine.  His brother, Charles lives in Eagle, Idaho, along with his two sisters, Dorothy (Fuller) and Jo (Fisk). His brother, Thomas Arthur (Tom) is now deceased.  Ferguson was born on Jan. 6, 1929, in the house of his grandparents, A.F. and Olive Lanfear, 109 S. Harney Ave., Burns.

Ferguson started his education at the old Burns Grade School, where Slater school now stands. Due to his dad’s job with the highway department, the family moved around Harney County. Ferguson attended school at Suntex and Crane.  In 1942, the family moved to Corbett so his father could work in an aluminum factory, and Ferguson continued his education in the Corbett School District. Due to his dad’s ill health the family moved back to the drier climate of Homedale, Idaho.  As a teenager growing up in Homedale Ferguson’s family became friends with John Scharff and for many years, John kept his horse, Chief, with the Ferguson family.

After his freshman year, Ferguson dropped out of school and went to work with his dad. Not seeing a bright future, Ferguson got permission from his folks and joined the United States Navy. Ferguson was living in Homedale, Idaho, when he boarded a train on Jan. 6, 1948, and traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, with hopes of finishing his education and seeing the world. While in the Navy, Ferguson did finish his education when he received his GED in 1954.

Ferguson’s dream was to become a cook, but his above average scores qualified him for engineering. His first ship was the USS Perkins, a destroyer commissioned on April 4, 1945. His first job aboard the USS Perkins was an auxiliary gang, which ran evaporators, which convert seawater to fresh water. It was while serving on the Perkins that Ferguson’s tour was extended because of the Korean War. It was at this time Ferguson decided to make the Navy his career.

After the Perkins, and a tour of duty of 18 months in Alaska, Ferguson was transferred to the USS Renville, and he finished Air Conditioning and Refrigeration School. Like the Perkins, the Renville took Ferguson overseas.
After many years of sea duty, Ferguson took a stateside job at Great Lakes Training Center, just outside of Chicago, Ill. In June 1956, he started training young men on how to become sailors.

It was while Ferguson was at Great Lakes he met the love of his life, Lydia Josephine “Jo” Higgins. Jo was born Feb. 24, 1919, in Blue Mound, Ill. They married on Dec. 5, 1958. Later they were joined by their only son, Fredrich Henry (Fritz), who was born on Oct. 23, 1959.

The family moved from the Chicago area to San Diego, Calif., so Ferguson could continue his naval career. He served on several ships, including the USS Magoffin, the USS Begor, the USS Weiss and the USS Frank Knox. It was while on patrol on the Knox that Ferguson reached 20 years and put in for retirement. He retired from the Navy on Nov. 27, 1967, as a Machinist Mate, Senior Chief Petty Officer.

Ferguson moved his family to Caldwell, Idaho, to be near family and started job hunting. While training for a job with the U.S. Postal Service, he was offered a firefighter job with the Snow Mountain District of the Ochoco Forest where he worked for three years.

In 1969 the family moved to Burns, and Ferguson bought his grandparents’ place at 109 S. Harney Ave. in Burns. Jo and Emery became members of the First Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was through Jo’s love of making and decorating cakes for her church and the community that lead Jo and Emery into a life-long friendship with Roger and Sharon Nelson of Bismark, N.D. Every year, about the same time each year, the Ferguson family would go back to Bismark to visit and before long they were the adoptive grandparents to the Nelson kids.

After leaving the U.S. Forest Service, Ferguson joined Oregon State Parks, where he was the first park ranger for Clyde Holiday State Park just outside of Mount Vernon. He was soon taking care of campgrounds throughout Eastern Oregon, and because of time away from home, he turned in his resignation and found a job in Burns working as a night watchman at the Edward Hines Mill. It was while he was working at the mill Ferguson and his grandfather went into the hide business, and Ferguson started his newspaper recycling.

When Ferguson left Edward Hines Mill he was hired as maintenance engineer custodian at the old post office. Ferguson remembers watching the post office being built and never imagined that one day he would be working in that building.

While working at the post office, Dick Anthony signed Ferguson up as a member of the Harney County Historical Society.

He had always enjoyed history and tells of the many good memories of him and his dad visiting small museums all over the country while his mother went shopping. Ferguson has been a life member of the historical society since 1987 and has been active since day one. It was not uncommon for him to make an extra effort to make sure visitors to the county had a wonderful time. In June 2008, he took a German tourist, Hermann Ender, along the Meeks Wagon train route out to the old town site of Stauffer. To this day, Ferguson receives post cards from Ender.

Ferguson has served as the first and only vice president of the historical society since the office was established. It was a sad occasion when Ferguson resigned his position on April 29, 2010.  Besides being the vice president, Ferguson also served as tour director for many years. He led the members of the society to the museums of John Day, Canyon City and Silver City, Idaho.  In addition, he took them on tours of the Riddle Brothers Ranch, Sod House Ranch, P Ranch and several other historical locations around the county. For the last 10 years Ferguson has been the chief maintenance engineer for the Harney County Museum, making sure things ran smoothly, from doing plumbing and electrical work to taking out the trash.

Ferguson lost of the love of his life when Jo passed away on March 1, 2008. Due to declining health, Ferguson decided he needed to be closer to family. In May, Ferguson moved into an assisted living facility, Ashley Manor, in Eagle, Idaho.

He is now living close to his sister, Jo, and his brother, Charles and his wife Merna.

Now you will find Ferguson having coffee with Charles and swapping war stories.

Ferguson’s contribution  in making, as well as recording, the history of Harney County makes him a natural fit for the honor of Pioneer President for 2010. With roots going back nearly 100 years, he is a true pioneer.


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