A cattleman of Little Bear Creek
Manford D. Nye was born in Linn County on April 11, 1863. His parents were early operators of the toll gate station on the Willamette Valley and Cascade Mountain Wagon Road.
He first came to Central Oregon in the early 1880s, driving a small herd of cattle across the mountains. He was able to find pasture for his cattle on a local settler's homestead, but a severe winter resulted in the death of many of his cattle. That spring, he sold what few cattle had survived and returned to the Willamette Valley.
He was determined to be successful in the livestock industry, and a few years later again drove some cattle over the Cascades to the vicinity of Beaver Creek near Paulina.
He then managed to get a job working for Lem Castle on Bear Creek. Manford lived at the Castle home for a few years and became known for his fine horsemanship. While working for Castle, he made cattle drives to San Francisco.
Manford married Adell Yancey, the daughter of an early Central Oregon pioneer, on June 4, 1892, and they moved to the Willamette Valley for a few years. They returned to Central Oregon with their daughter, Wilda, in 1895 and purchased the ranch of Silas Hodges on Little Bear Creek.
His brother, Granville, had earlier followed him to Central Oregon and worked on the Hackleman ranch southeast of Maury Mountain. Granville later purchased the Lewis Hodges Ranch just below his brother's ranch on Little Bear Creek and operated it for several years as his brother's nearest neighbor. Granville later moved to the Baker region.
The ranch on Little Bear Creek soon expanded as Manford filed homestead claims and also purchased nearby homesteads. They had a fine house near the headwaters of Little Bear Creek just below Sheep Rock. His ranch was always noted for its well-kept appearance and he for his horsemanship.
Adell later divorced Manford. She soon remarried. Many years later, Manford married Margaret Wiltse Patterson, who had come to serve as a cook and housekeeper at the ranch. Margaret helped manage the ranch for several years.
Manford had established a large cattle operation on Little Bear Creek and managed it for more than 60 years. During the summer of 1955, he became ill, and his failing health resulted in his death on July 3, 1956. He was buried in the Powell Butte Cemetery.
During his long life, he had witnessed and participated in the advancement of the cattle industry of Central Oregon.
Steve Lent is a local historian and assistant director of the Bowman Museum. He can be reached at: 541-447-3715.