Pioneer was wife of Central Oregon ferry king
Sarah A. Rodman came to Central Oregon with her pioneer parents in the early 1880s. Her father, William, first homesteaded on Bear Creek south of Prineville near what is now known as Rodman Rim.
The family later moved to the Gray Butte vicinity and homesteaded. Sarah was born on Oct. 16, 1865, in Saleno County, California. While living at her parents near Gray Butte, she met John Edward Campbell, who had come to Central Oregon with his parents when he was 7 years old, in 1872. Eligible young women were quite popular in the early settlement era, and Ed soon was courting Sarah. They were married on Aug. 2, 1885.
They moved to the Grizzly locality and ranched for 10 years. Ed decided to expand into business and purchased the ferry on the Deschutes River that was located near the bridge at Warm Springs. The family moved to Cowles Orchard near Warm Springs to be near the ferry site. Sarah often managed the ferry as Ed was often away operating a stage line from Wapinitia to Prineville.
Ed filed for a homestead in John Brown Canyon northwest of Madras in 1901 and the family moved there and eventually purchased John A. Brown's homestead.
Sarah established a garden near an abundant spring at the home site and raised vegetables and fruits to supplement the family larder. They built a larger house for the growing family in 1912. Between 1886 and 1916, Sarah gave birth to 11 children. She certainly must have been a strong woman. They continued to operate the ferry until 1912, when a bridge was built across the river. The children helped Sarah operate the ferry.
The Campbells built a school in 1902 near their homestead as there were no schools nearby. They paid a teacher to educate their children until a new school was built on Agency Plains in 1903. The coming of the railroad in 1910 resulted in the establishment of the small community of Vanora not far from the Campbell home. The children then went to school at Vanora.
The Campbells expanded their holdings as homesteaders left and they purchased their claims. They began to raise dryland wheat. A wagon road from the Deschutes up to Agency Plains was built up the canyon near their homestead and became known as Campbell Grade.
Sarah often was the congenial host to travelers going to and from Warm Springs to Madras and Prineville along the wagon road. Ed and Sarah farmed until Ed passed away in 1917. At that time, their oldest son took over operation of the ranch and Sarah and her four youngest children moved into Madras. She wanted her youngest children to attend high school. She became involved in social activities in Madras and lived there until her death in 1946.
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