Chicken Ranches, Poorhouses etc. – The Gleason Family Arrives

June 30, 2016 0 Comments

William Henry Gleason and Louisa Emeline Dunning

L-R top row: Roxie Isabell, Mabel Josephine, Bessie E., Violet Alice Bottom row: George Alfred, William H. "Hank." Charles Henry (photo courtesy Don L. Weseman)
l-r top row: Roxie Isabell, Mabel Josephine, Elizabeth Eveline “Bessie”, Violet Alice l-r seated: George Alfred, William H. “Hank.” Charles Henry “Charlie” (photo courtesy Edas Weseman)


William Henry Gleason

William Henry “Hank” Gleason was born July 26, 1857, in Putnam County Missouri, to George H. and Mary Ann (Griffin) Gleason.  Hank’s 4x great-grandfather, Thomas Leeson\Gleason, settled in Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1652.    Mary Ann’s family roots also go back to the early 1700s, in Connecticut.

Hank’s parents stayed in Missouri all of adult their lives, Mary Ann died in 1893 and is buried in the Torrey Cemetery at Putnam County, George passed in 1907, while visiting family in Oklahoma.  He is buried in the Liberal Cemetery, Seward County, Kansas.

Louisa Emeline (Dunning) Gleason - ca. 1880 (photo courtesy Edas Weseman)
Louisa Emeline (Dunning) Gleason – ca. 1880 (photo courtesy Edas Weseman)

Louisa Emeline Dunning

Louisa Emeline Dunning was born August 30, 1861, in Moscow, Freeborn County, Minnesota, to James Arthur and Helen Adelia (Gates) Dunning.  The Dunning family arrived in America in 1642 and Louisa’s great-grandfather, Silas Dunning, fought in the Revolutionary War (Ancestor # A035062).  The Gates family were also early settlers in America.  Louisa’s father died in 1889, at Florissant, Colorado and her mother remarried and moved to Elberton, Whitman County, Washington, where she spent the remainder of her life.


By 1880, Hank was living in Rush, Rooks County, Kansas, the 1880 US census, enumerated in June, lists his occupation as farmer and he was living alone.  Louisa was also living in Rush, with her parents and siblings.  An interesting note is in the 1880 census, Hank, for the first time, lists the birth place of his father as Scotland.  There are two possible reasons, one may be to distinguish his origins from the Irish Gleason’s, who came over during the potato famine.  The other may be he was just trying to impress the young lady, who caught his eye.  Either way, there is a birth record for his father, George, in Oxford Massachusetts.  (both my son and I have done our DNA and we are matches to the Gleason line from England, who settled in Massachusetts)

On March 29, 1881, Hank and Louisa were married, in Rooks County, Kansas, where four of their children would be born, two daughters dying in infancy.

Moving West

Morning Olympian – February 14, 1899

Sometime in 1889, or early 1890, Hank and Louisa were on the move West.  They were in Ashley, Utah for the birth of their son, Charles Henry, on February 18, 1890.  In 1892, the family was living in Forest Grove, Washington County, Oregon, where their daughter Elizabeth Eveline “Bessie,”  was born.  By 1896, the family was in Whitman County, Washington where a son Edward Bryan, in 1896 and daughter Violet Alice, in 1898, were born.  Hank served as Superintendent of the Whitman County Poor Farm from 1897 to 1899.

The Chicken Ranch

Hank also raised poultry, while living in Elberton and was noted for his prize show birds as documented in this excerpt, from the Northwest Horticulturist, regarding the fourth annual poultry show in 1898 :

 “Spokane Poultry Show.

…The chief difference is in the quality of the poultry exhibited.  A great variety of breeds is shown and the birds are uniformly of high grade, being far above those of last year…



White Cochins, cockerels–First, W. H. Gleason, Elberton, Washington

White Cochins, Pullets–First, second and third, W. H. Gleason…”

The February 1899, Pacific Poultryman has a write-up on a show in Colfax, Washington, which mentions Hank and the awards he won:


The following are the awards:


Black Javas–W. H. Gleason, everything.


White Cochins–W. H. Gleason, everything.


W C Black Polish–W. H. Gleason


…Then there is Gleason.  He is the other third of this county.  Gleason breeds Polish with top knots, those birds that look like full blown chrysanthemums, and the White Cochins.  Gleason always tries to keep his birds white but he will never give the receipt for the soap he used on his Cochins, this year to a friend, so if he gets mad and begins to tell you what kind of soap to use, you walk around three blocks before you take the receipt.  Gleason exhibited a grand lot of Polish, and his Black Javas and White Cochins were very fine…”

By 1900 Hank, Louisa and their six children had relocated to Asotin County, Washington and Hank was still in the poultry business.   Hank was also the President of the Lewiston Poultry and Pet Stock Association, where he continued to show poultry:


The Poultry and Pet Stock Show Opened Today


Fine exhibit of Birds and Good Bench Show–Many Prize Winners Present.

The Second Annual Exhibition of the Lewiston Poultry and Pet Stock Association opened this afternoon at the show rooms in the old bowling alley.  President Gleason and Secretary Kellgrenn have had a busy day installing the exhibits and putting the finishing touches upon the show room…

…Among the local fanciers there are many entries of fine show birds including the best from the Sweetwater Poultry Farms, from W. H. Gleason’s prize pens, from Miss Berns’ yards and from Jones’ and Dose’s yards.

…Below are the entrymen and classes shows:

…W. H. Gleason, Clarkston, White Wyandottes, White Crested Black Polish, White Leghorn… —(Source) The Lewiston Teller, December 26, 1901

In 1902 Hank and Louisa’s sixth daughter, Mabel Josephine would be born, completing their large family.

Eventually the family would move to the Orofino area, the 1910 US census show Hank, Louisa and their five children living on Orofino Street, in Orofino.  Their son Edward Bryan had died in 1908, after contracting Typhoid Fever, and is buried at Hill Cemetery, in Orofino.  Hank was working as a contractor and according to his granddaughter June (Gleason) Snyder, he along with his sons, George and Charley, were brick masons and worked on several of the buildings still standing in Orofino today.

In 1911 Hank apparently went to Shushartie Bay, British Columbia and worked as a carpenter,  he is listed in the Canadian Census, living in the home of Harold Kemp, as a lodger.   The rest of the family apparently remained in Idaho, during this time,  there is no record of other family members living in Canada in 1911.

Sons George and Charley would remain in the Clearwater Valley all of their lives.  The five daughters would marry and stay in Idaho, or Washington, most of their lives.  Louisa passed away in 1924 and Hank followed in 1938.  Prior to Louisa’s passing three children, Maria Maud, Luly May and Edward Bryan  would precede her.  A fourth child, Roxie Isabell (Gleason) Boehl would be killed in a car accident before Hank’s death.

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