Enduring tragic homestead days to become a successful farmer
Leslie Potter was born on July 30, 1888 in Old Crook County northeast of Sisters. Her parents, Barnes and Sarah Winter Potter, moved to Central Oregon from Carson City, Nevada in 1883. They homesteaded on the Lower Desert region west of the Deschutes River.
It was a harsh existence as water had to be hauled long distances and the arid land had to be cleared for growing winter wheat. Leslie was the first daughter born in their newly built log cabin.
Her father had to work away from the homestead home part-time to help support the farming. They had several cows and sold butter to the store in Sisters. Her mother also did laundry work for the sheep herders who tended their flocks nearby.
Her father was tragically killed in the fall of 1894 while carrying a load of wheat to the gristmill in Prineville. A wheel gave way while descending a steep downgrade and the wagon overturned. Her father was pinned under the seat and died before help arrived.
There were eight children in the family by this time with the youngest 3 years old. Leslie's mother continued to homestead until 1900 and the children attended schools in Sisters and Cloverdale. Her younger brother Ernest was tragically killed in a gun accident in 1902 while living at the homestead.
Leslie came to Prineville in 1904 when she was 16 years old. She attended school and did various jobs. She met Samuel Reynolds while living in Prineville. They began a courtship and were married on Oct. 30, 1910.
Samuel was born in Illinois on Jan. 28, 1881. He had come to Central Oregon with his brothers. Samuel was a widower who had a daughter from his previous marriage.
They lived on a farm just north of Prineville on McKay Creek for 25 years. They had a son, Ernest, who was born in October 1912. Leslie and Samuel moved into Prineville in 1935. They built a new home in the community in 1940.
Samuel passed away on April 18, 1956. Leslie lived on for over 30 years. She was active in the Prineville community. She was selected as Crook County Pioneer Queen in 1973.
Leslie died on Jun 19, 1986. Both Samuel and Leslie are buried in Juniper Haven Cemetery in Prineville.
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