Stanley Family Genealogy

Stanley Family Genealogy

My Stanley line begins with Anna Rose Stanley, who was born Lew Anna Stanley in 1869, Siskiyou County, California. She married John Perry in 1886 in Lake County, Oregon. They moved around a great deal in California, Oregon, and ultimately settled in Washoe County, Nevada, where they built the homestead. John was gone a great deal, off mining in Mexico and other places, and they divorced. Anna raised the family and improved on the place, eventually expanding into the Butcher Flat area. She married again, but after John’s death in 1942, she chose to be buried next to him in Yerington, Nevada. Anna died in 1953.

Anna’s parents were Oliver Halsey Stanley and Nancy Hatfield. The Hatfields are covered in an earlier post. O.H. was born in 1833 in Warren County, Tennessee. He married Nancy Hatfield in Iowa in 1851. Both the Hatfields and Stanleys were in Tennessee, migrated to Iowa, and then O.H. and Nancy moved to Oregon. They had property on Birch Creek in Umatilla County, Oregon, near Pilot Rock. Pilot Rock was so named because it had a rock used as a navigational tool as the wagon trains poured into Oregon. O.H. had skills as a blacksmith, and developed a thriving business. In 1874, Nancy died. In 1885, O.H. died.

When I was interviewing my great-great Aunt Tess (my great-grandfather’s sister) about the family, I was trying to ask her about her father’s side, but she kept talking about her mother’s. At one point she interrupted me to ask, had she told me he was murdered? In confusion, I asked, your father? “No,” she said. “My mother’s father. It was a drive-by shooting. By…oh! The Ku Klux Klan.” Well, I just stared at her. I knew he had died in the 1880’s, and of course there couldn’t be a drive-by…unless it was an out-of-control horse-drawn wagon. And I was sure the Klan was not active in Oregon at any time. So this was a mystery. I basically chalked the story up to a muddled confusion of facts, and let it go. Years later, when I was able to visit the Pilot Rock area, I did some research at the library in the nearby city of Pendleton. What a surprise!

What I discovered was that O.H. and some other local men had long been suspected of horse thievery. Though there was no hard evidence, the men were brought to court and tried. Much to the anger of the theft victims, due to the absence of proof, the accused men were let go. However, they were warned to leave town and the state, immediately (Pilot Rock is very near the Oregon-Washington border). All the men left as instructed, with the exception of O.H., who went home to say good-bye to his motherless children. The furious townsmen formed a posse, rode directly to his house, and shot him to death in his front yard.

So. No drive-by. No Klan. But in retrospect, it’s easy to see why Aunt Tess told the story the way she did. This has been an invaluable lesson for me when researching any branch of the family: even if the story I hear or read seems too outlandish to possibly be true, every single one has had a grain of truth to it. Thus, I save any and all details regarding oral histories…you never know what gems you will ferret out of them, later.

O.H.’s parents were Alfred Muir Stanley and Margaret Heather. Alfred was born in Surry County, North Carolina in 1809. Margaret was born in Washington County, Kentucky in 1810. They married in Claiborne County, Tennessee in 1827. Later, they moved to Iowa, where Margaret died in 1857. Alfred moved on to Missouri and then Oregon, where he died in Lake County in 1881.

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