Major cattle rancher on the upper Crooked River
Thomas Jefferson Stewart was born in Corvallis on Aug. 10, 1868. Later that same year, his parents, John and Mariah Hobbs Stewart, moved to Douglas County. They lived on Days Creek until 1883.
That year, they moved to Central Oregon and settled on Crooked River near the confluence of the north and south forks of the river between present Post and Paulina. The family operated their ranch on Crooked River for several years. John and Mariah, along with their younger children, moved back to Douglas County in 1899.
Thomas, commonly known as "Jeff," operated the Crooked River Ranch after his parents moved. His brothers, Ed and Al, returned to the ranch to live with Jeff and help operate the ranch in 1902. They developed the ranch into a large cattle operation. Jeff's brother, Ed, was paralyzed from the waist down but managed to operate the switchboard for the telephone line between Post and Paulina.
Jeff became one of the major cattle ranchers on the upper Crooked River. The ranch was ideally situated near a plentiful water source at the confluence of the two branches of the Crooked River. Jeff participated in lengthy cattle drives with his neighbor ranchers, trailing cattle to the Ontario railhead.
The Stewart ranch was often a stopping place for travelers from the Upper Country traveling to or from Prineville. Jeff lived in the large two-story house that his parents built. He never married and spent the remainder of his life operating the ranch.
Jeff was active in the International Order of Oddfellows (IOOF) in Prineville. In mid-September 1941, Jeff suffered a heart attack. He was rushed to the Stevens Hospital in Prineville but died there on Sept. 17, 1941. He was buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Prineville, which is now part of Juniper Haven Cemetery.
After his death, his brothers Ed and Al sold the ranch. Through the years, the ranch ended up being the headquarters for the Les Schwab Ranch.
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