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Crystal Moore Madison's family history is interwoven with the western heritage of Crook County

PHOTO COURTESY OF CINDY CHANEY - Crystal Moore Madison is the third Pioneer Queen from CCHS Class of 1957. She has a rich family history in Crook County, including early Grizzly area settlers.The 2020 and 2021 Pioneer Queen comes from a long line of prior Pioneer Queens.

Crystal Moore Madison is the granddaughter of Ora Breese, who was queen in 1955. Her mother, Lyrle Moore, was queen in 1991. Her aunt, Sylvia Smith, was queen in 1970, and cousin, Hazel Denton, in 1999.

Crystal is honored by the queens who proceeded her and were related to her, and she proudly points out that her high school graduating class of 1957 produced three pioneer queens: Donna Bryant Demaris, Jean Houston Edwards, as well as herself.

She remarked that she felt sad last year that they were handicapped for having to stay away from hugs and handshakes and wearing masks, which resulted in the cancellation of the annual Pioneer Picnic.

"Well, everyone knows how 2020 panned out, so here I am in 2021 (I'm finally old enough), so I am honored to be your 2021 Pioneer Queen," added Crystal.

Her husband, Gary, commented that although things were pretty locked down during COVID-19, their family stayed busy doing outdoor activities.

"We are an active family," he added.

Their children, Cindy and Amos, made sure that Crystal still felt special last summer, in spite of the cancellation of the Pioneer Picnic. They held a "Queen for the day" celebration, where they honored her in front of her family and friends at the location of the old Breese homestead.

Rich pioneer history

Crystal's family comes from Lane County on her father's side.

Ernie Moore was born in Walterville in 1894. The Moore family tree goes back to Sussex, England. Ernie's grandfather, "Seth," came from Missouri to Hay Creek just north of Grizzly. He is buried in the Grizzly Cemetery. His father, Albert, was born 1860 in Lancaster.

Ernie had three brothers and four sisters—including Sylvia Smith, who was Pioneer Queen in 1970. His parents were Albert and Icyphena, who homesteaded near Grizzly Mountain in 1905 near Willow Creek.

There were already several families living in the Grizzly area. They settled near the developing community of Lamonta. Water, or the lack of it, was a major hardship. It had to be hauled in tanks on wagons and stored for use.

Albert had acquired 160 acres under the Homestead Act. To prove up on a homestead, you had to have a building 10x12 feet with windows that had glass in them, doors with hinges, and live on it for six months out of three-year period.

He planted wheat, oats and barley. At that time, there was plenty of rain and snowfall. Before they moved to the relative's homestead, they had started to dig wells but had trouble finding water.

"Many of his family filed claim on quarter sections," noted Crystal. "When my dad was 21 years old, he filed a claim, but crops were so bad that he sold his claim to his dad."

The Moores lived at their Lamonta homestead until 1927. The family held dances at their house, and Mr. Moore played a fiddle. The Federal Land Bank of Spokane acquired his land in 1928.

Many of the homesteaders could not make a living on their land and left the area. The Lamonta post office closed on April 15, 1918. Most of the remaining farmers in the area sold their land to the U.S. government during the Great Depression. There is little evidence left of the once thriving community.

Albert and Icyphena sold out and moved back to Eugene to be with their son, Frank, who had a bad accident.

Ernie sold his claim and later found work hauling wood on the Warm Springs Reservation. A sawmill had moved to some timber on the hill east of Combs Flat School. It was here that Ernie met Lyrle Breese, who was teaching at the school. Lyrle's mother, Ora Breese, also taught at the same school.

"After having met Lyrle, he went back to Eugene, Oregon, to work, driving a gravel truck for his brother, but it did not take him long to realize he needed a wife," said Crystal.

Ernie returned to Prineville and married Lyrle on Sept. 1, 1928, at the home place on Combs Flat. They went back to Eugene so Lyrle could finish her second year at Normal School in Monmouth. Jyrle Van was born there in 1929. In 1931, the family moved to Sisters, where Ernie had a job hauling logs to a mill in Bend.

When that job ended, the family moved back to Prineville. Ernie had several different jobs—and by this time they were squarely in the Great Depression. One of the jobs was for the Civilian Conservation Corp at Rager Ranger Station—where they camped until it grew too cold and had to move into town into a house the Breese family owned.

Crystal's second sibling, Ramona, was born in September 1934. At this time, Ernie heard about a small place up Mill Creek for rent. So, he gathered up Van, Ramona, a few milk cows, and a few head of Herefords. They also had chickens, hogs and a few sheep. They farmed and milked cows living on what money their cream brought in.

While there, Crystal's third sibling, Janice, was born in May 1937.

"There were quite a few adventures while living on Mill Creek," indicated Crystal. "Just after I was born, the owner of the place had lost his job, so he needed his home back."

She came on the scene in May 1939. Immediately afterwards, the family moved to the Pilot Butte Herford Ranch into the big house, which is alongside the Ochoco Highway, to work for Grandpa Ralph Breese.

"I remember a few things while living in the big house," she recalls. "There was a good-sized woodshed near the house and a lane out to the big barn. Back in those days, the lane seemed like a great distance, but it wasn't really. Ernie would saddle up Nellie, a gentle horse, and tie her inside the woodshed as he went out to work."

Of course, she and Janice would ride Nellie up and down the lane all day. They spent a great deal of time playing in the hay loft in the barn. Sometimes, Chub and Duke, the work horses, were also tied there.

"If the horses were not there, we could slide down the hay mow," Crystal said. "We got a chance to ride on the hay wagons when haying started and would sit on Chub and Duke while they were lifting the hay on the stack, using a Mormon derrick and Jackson fork."

Crystal indicated that she was told she was a very fussy baby when any of the aunts or other women would try to hold her.

"But if a man was around to hold me, I was just fine," she added. "There was always hired men that ate meals with us to hold me."

In 1943, Ernie and Lyrle bought the first Arabian colt and had him shipped from Boulder, Colorado. This 2-year-old stallion, Rishan, was the first registered Arabian to come to Central Oregon. Ernie and Lyrle's horses were known for their good dispositions and versatility.

After Ernie had the horse broke, Janice and Crystal were allowed to ride him.

"Others were astonished to think Ernie would let his girls ride a stallion," Crystal noted. "His name was Rishan, and he was very gentle and not flighty like a lot of Arabians you see now."

When Crystal was 4 years old, she and Janice were riding in the field where Ernie was doing some farming. Crystal stood up on the horse so she could see better and fell off and broke her arm.

"That was the only time I have broken any bones riding in all my years."

Crystal also recalls when her dad came in for lunch and would take her back to the field with him. She would take her afternoon nap while riding around the field while he was plowing or whatever he was doing at the time.

"Janice and I remember stirring up a lot of adventures while living there," smiled Crystal. "Janice and I didn't remember too much about Van and Ramona as they were much older than we were."

In 1946, Ernie thought he needed to get out on his own. He found a place to rent eight miles up McKay Creek, the old McCord pace. It was a small house, no electricity, no plumbing, just a water pump outside. With the help of neighbors, he was able to add a little more room in the kitchen and finally had the water pump inside.

"When McKay Creek flooded in the spring of 1947, the family had to tie the outhouse to the woodshed so it would not float away," recalled Crystal. "We lived there for two years."

In 1948, Ernie bought a section of land, which was 640 acres between Grimes and Gerke roads, and four miles closer to town. Ernie built a block house on this land, and he farmed and had a gyppo logging operation that he and Van operated and hauled logs to the Alexander Stewart Mill on McKay Road.

Janice and Crystal spent lots of days riding and playing cowboys and Indians. Crystal also enjoyed riding up and down the well-graveled logging road. The family belonged to the Prineville Ridge Riders, and whenever there were play days in town, they rode the horses into town and also rode in the Roundup parade.

"We never trucked our horses, we always rode them," pointed out Crystal. "This was a great place and wonderful memories for the whole family. We have always been blessed with wonderful parents and good times."

Van had gone off to war for a couple of years and later, Ramona was off to college.

Starting a family of her own

Up the road about four miles, a family bought a ranch called The Silvers Place, and there just happened to be a young man who lived there named Gary Madison.

"I was a senior in high school and was participating in junior rodeos as a calf roper," recalled Gary. "I had a horse and met this little cowgirl named Crystal. We started riding the hills together. She would ride her horse to my place and then it would get too dark to ride home, so she left the horse, and I drove her home, then she had an excuse to come back the next day to get her horse."

"I had graduated in 1956," added Gary. "Crystal and I dated all that year, and when she graduated from high school, I proposed, and we were married Sept. 1, 1957."

During this time, Gary's folks traded the ranch back to Silvers and obtained the Hacienda Motel. The motel was located at that time where Les Schwab had their fabrication building at the "Y."

"We lived in one of the houses for a year, and I was working for Ernie Moore Logging and Son for a year. Van was my boss," clarified Gary.

Gary's folks bought a ranch in Dayville, so Gary and Crystal moved to Dayville also, but she had to stay behind for two to three weeks to have their first baby.

"That little girl is Cindy," said Gary. "She learned to sit on a horse real early in life and still does."

His folks sold the ranch in Dayville and moved back to Prineville. Gary, Crystal and Cindy stayed to work for the new owner, but after one year, he had a bad horse accident and broke his leg in four places with a compound fracture.

"The ranch owner loaded me in the back of a station wagon and drove me and Crystal to the Prineville hospital. We did stop in Mitchell to get one aspirin for me. It was a long ride. Dr. Wood put me back together and it took three different casts and seven months to walk again."

The place his folks had bought was a ranch near Terrebonne (near where the Smith Rock commercial pumpkin patch is now), and Gary and family moved to a small house on the place while he healed up.

"Then in January 1962, along came Amos," said Gary. "We still had horses, and I was able to get back to some calf roping. Dad put in a cattle feed lot, which Crystal and I operated."

After five years, his folks were ready to sell the ranch, so Gary decided to go to college to become a schoolteacher.

"Crystal told me, 'I will go to work till you get through college,'" said Gary. "That was the wrong thing for her to say, as she worked for 32 years. Her first job was working for a stationary store in Bend, then the next year, she worked in a stationary store in Medford. We lived in Ashland while I attended Southern Oregon College."

The family moved back to Prineville, where Gary started teaching for the Crook County School District. Crystal got a job working for the Crook County Extension Service, where she worked for 11 years. While she was trying to find another good job, she spent six months working for Coin Mill. She was glad when she received a call from Allen Neilson, who was in charge of Les Schwab Distribution Center. She spent her next 20 years working there.

"I had retired in 1997, and Crystal retired in 1999. Since then, we have packed horses and mules, trained pointing dogs, then moved back to Burns for almost eight years—then back to Prineville to be with family and friends," concluded Gary.

The legacy continues

The Madison children grew up in Prineville and graduated from Crook County High School. Amos is a retired Oregon State Game Officer and lives in Crook County and is engaged to Ann Marie Sherman. Cindy is married to Mike Chaney and also lives in Crook County.

Crystal and Gary have six grandchildren: Sarah, Adam, Ryan, Neil, David and Michael. They also have 10 great-grandchildren: Tyce, Jamion Treyson, Neil, John, Noah, Abbigail, Marcus, Gideon, Amelia, and Quinn.

Just as Crystal recalls fond memories of growing up and having good times with her family, daughter Cindy shares similar sentiments.

"I am very proud of my mom," said Cindy. "She is an inspiration and our rock. She has an amazing work ethic, very generous with her time when I need help even when I need help with fencing or weeding. She loves the outdoors. Like I mentioned, she has the gift of hospitality even when it happens at the spur of the moment. If someone calls and needs a place to stay, she never turns them away. I count my blessings to have a mother like her."


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