Excerpt From An Illustrated History of Umatilla County
By Colonel William Parsons and of Morrow County by W. S. Schiach, 1902.
In the spring of 1888. A saloon, established in the early 'eighties by Charles McFarland, aided by Mr. Sperry, closed its doors after a life of about three years, and the store and blacksmith shop where all that remained of the projected town. A post office, however, had been secured by Royse in 1884 or 1885, and this helped to attract people to the hamlet and keep it a center. A school building was erected by Mr. Sperry in 1885, and for a time a teacher was employed during a small part of each year, but so few were the inhabitants that was found impossible to maintain even a short term school, so the doors of this pioneer temple of learning were closed and its would-be patrons sought educational advantages elsewhere. In the late 'eighties a barn was partly built by Joseph Cannon, but it became involved in a dispute which ended in its being torn down by Dr. Swinburne and moved away. The advent of the railway in the fall of the year gave some impetus to building. T. E. Fell moved a store from Castle Rock, built another story on top of it and transported his merchandise from his former place of business. Before he got ready to bid for the trade of the region, however, he was bought out by Robert Wills, who moved his own stock into the new building and placed it on the shelves alongside of that purchased from Mr. Fell. A small hotel was built shortly after the advent of the railroad, Thomas Carle being it first proprietor, and in the summer of 1889 a diminutive warehouse was opened by the same Mr. Fell who has just been referred to as having moved a store from Castle Rock.
In 1891 came Joseph Woolery, whose enterprise has admittedly done more for the town that that of any other single individual. He bought Robert Wills out and gave inception to his pre-eminently successful career as an Ione merchant. In 1893 Mat Halvorsen opened a general store, but the town was even then in the throes of financial distress, heightened by the crop shortage of the year 1892, and not until 1897 was there any further progress in the Ione part of Willow creek basin. In that year, however, the forward march was resumed in good earnest and the town has since grown with wonderful rapidity, indeed it has bounded forward with such headlong haste that it seems more like a mining that an agricultural center. Business blocks of various kinds have sprung into existence and the town has grown from a mere hamlet to a place of perhaps more that a hundred dwelling and business houses and of three hundred and fifty inhabitants. While the evidences of its rapid growth are plainly discernible to one who visits it with his eyes open, its people impress the tourist as being of the free, frank and approachable type so commonly met with in the newer parts of the west and he goes away from its limits with kindly remembrances of progressive little burg and its active and genial citizens.
We have mentioned the failure of the early efforts at establishing a public school in Ione. It should be added that for many years afterwards the place was without educational advantages of a permanent character and of any great value, but more than half a decade ago, the school was reopened in good earnest, and since that has been supported and maintain in a manner ensuring success and progress. The town now has a very commodious two story frame structure in which two teachers, Miss Ann Balsiger and Miss Cora Simpson, labor earnestly for the moral and intellectual development of the town's juvenile inhabitants. One church building, owned by the Congregational denomination, is open for the use of all evangelical Christians of whatever sect. The fraternal spirit of the people is shown by the fact that six lodges are successfully maintained, namely: The I.O.O.F., A.O.U.W., United Artisans, Masons, M.W.A. and Rebekahs.
The town has a full quota of officers and a well regulated municipal government, it having been incorporated about two years ago. No water or electric light system has yet been established, but an efficient volunteer fire company, equipped with a hand engine costing over three hundred dollars, furnishes protection from the great arch destroyer of wooden towns. A register of business establishments would include: four general merchandise stores, those of J.A. Woolery, Halvorsen & Mason, C.T. Walker and Balsiger & Allinger, the last named being known as the Ioner Mercantile Company; a newspaper, the Ione Post, owned and edited by Miss Virginia Deaton; C.W. Ingraham's drug store; Paul Balsiger's wagon and tank building shop; Rhea and Martin's harness shop; Blake Brothers' butcher shop; H.G. Jordan's confectionery store; the Ion livery stable, owned by B. F. Vaughn; T.J. Carle's lodging house; W.M. Haguewood's and Mr. Wood's blacksmith shops; Mrs. Deaton's millinery store; A. Lane's barber shop; the warehouses of Farmers' Warehouse Company, Kerr, Gifford & Company and Balfour, Guthrie & Company; the O.R.& N. depot and telegraph office; the lumbering business of J. P. Louy and S.I. Stratton; the saloons of E. G. Sperry, Brierly & Earhart, Warfield Brothers and Frank Engleman; office of W.H. Dobyns, attorney and United Sates land commissioner; and the private banking institution of J.A. Woolery, conducted by his sister. The number and capacity of the warehouses show that the town is an important agricultural center, indeed it draws practically all its trade from the stock and wheat raisers in its vicinity and many miles away. Its development has been concomitant with the development of these industries and it will continue to grow and prosper as long as the magnificent wheat belt tributary to it continues to increase in wealth production and importance.