A pioneer settles on Upper Ochoco Creek
Julia Ann Welch was born on March 6, 1844, in Van Day, Illinois. Her parents were James and Mary Ann (Blazer) Welch. She grew up in Illinois, and her family later migrated west to the Willamette Valley when she was a teenager.
While living on her parents' farm near Tangent she met Penelton Blevins, who lived on a neighboring farm. Penelton was born on Aug. 13, 1834, in Louisville, Kentucky. His family came to Tangent, Oregon Territory.
Mary and Penelton were married on Dec. 19, 1860. Mary was 16 years old when they married. Their son, Isaac, was born on May 27, 1862, at Tangent. They heard of ranching possibilities in Central Oregon, and in 1871, they moved to the area and settled on upper Ochoco Creek near the confluence with Wolf Creek. They began a ranching operation along the lush banks of the creek.
They originally homesteaded parts of the ranch then added acreage for a total of 880 acres. It was an isolated and sparsely settled region for several years after they arrived. They cleared land and built a log cabin. Later, a house was built from lumber milled at a small mill nearby.
A daughter, Ida, was born at the ranch on May 12, 1875. Julia often hosted visitors at their ranch who traveled between Big Summit Prairie and Prineville. She was widely known for her cooking skills and hospitality.
Penelton and Julia lived at the ranch the rest of their lives. Penelton was scratched by the barb of some barbed wire in 1904. It was a self-treated wound that became infected. The infection became so severe that he died on April 25, 1904.
Julia continued to live on the ranch until her death on Nov. 1, 1919. Both Julia and Penelton are buried in Juniper Haven Cemetery in Prineville. Their son, Isaac, and his wife, Cora Miller Blevins, took over operation of the ranch for several years.
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