Large sheep operators of Central Oregon
One of the large sheep ranches in Central Oregon was operated by Andrew Morrow and James Keenan.
Morrow was born in Ireland in 1858. His family came to the United States when he was a young boy and settled in Beloit, Wisconsin. Morrow was sent west to California in 1883 by a firm he worked for to supervise the construction of a paper mill. He and his wife, Maggie, came to Central Oregon in 1884 and homesteaded on Willow Creek north of Grizzly Mountain. Maggie died, and Morrow's sister, Mary, came to live with him at his homestead.
Morrow formed a partnership in the sheep business with a neighbor, James McMeen. A boyhood friend, Keenan, came to work for Morrow in 1888. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on Sept. 1, 1862. He came to Oregon in 1886. McMeen sold his interest in the partnership to Morrow and Keenan in 1888. McMeen married Morrow's sister Mary on April 9, 1896.
The two partners continued to acquire land holdings and increased their livestock herds. They incorporated the partnership to form Grizzly Livestock and Land Company in 1902. The new corporation purchased the ranches of Henry Cleek and his sons that same year. Henry Cleek had built a large two-story house on Willow Creek that at one time served as a post office and stage stop. The Cleek place became the headquarters for the ranch.
Shortly after the incorporation of the Grizzly Livestock and Land Co., troubles began to develop between sheep men and cattlemen and reached violent levels. Sheep shooter organizations were created and randomly began killing sheep on land they claimed was traditional cattle ranges. In 1904, nearly 500 head of Morrow and Keenan sheep were killed by members of this organization, and the sheep were on Morrow and Keenan's own land
Morrow married Emily Greenwold Dougall on June 26, 1911. Emily had come to homestead and teach in the Lamonta vicinity.
Morrow and Keenan raised mostly sheep until 1932 but also had several hundred head of cattle and raised dryland wheat. The operation was among the largest stock operations in Central Oregon.
Keenan died on May 26, 1943, and his wife, Mary, died on Oct. 27, 1947. Unfortunately, the headquarters ranch house burned in 1948. Morrow died the same year. Emily lived on for many years and died in 1980.
The old Morrow and Keenan Ranch and Grizzly Livestock and Land Co. was broken up into smaller units, and Morrow's two sons continued to operate on Willow Creek at the old ranch, and it became known as the Morrow Ranch. Robert and Andy Morrow operated the ranch for several years but eventually sold the bulk of the operation.
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