ALL Photos Copyright 2009 Jefferson L. Morriss
A few miles off the main road(US2), a small dirt road runs through farm land that slopes inward like a natural gully and leads you to what used to be Sherman,WA. I Immediately took notice of the ever-transcendent white country church perched on higher ground. With its steeple pointing upwards towards the heavens like a hand raised in praise, I approach the church for inspection. No visible signs anywhere indicate a denomination but I ventured to guess it’s either a Presbyterian or Lutheran place from the architecture. I imagined pristinely dressed women in white dresses and men in their Sunday best attending services to hear the good word with a little fire and brimstone mixed in for good measure. From the amazing condition of the building it must still be a source of pride for the small community that lives there.
Behind the church lies a small unpretentious cemetery with a view of rolling hills of farmland that stretch as far as the eye can see. I imagine that buried within its hallowed ground are simple people. People that lived and died working the land around it. Generations of families buried next to each other. People who may have never even left their native state of Washington or may have and had grand adventures. I found one such grave of a Civil War vet and did a little digging.
Private Thomas Hardenbrook joined the Union in the 45th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He fought at such battles as Bentonville and the famous siege of Vicksburg according to online records. His great grandson Jim Hardenbrook found this post and gave me some more info on his great grand dad(how neat!):
“Thomas Hardenbrook originally was in the 45th Regiment and then he transferred to the 50th Regiment Colored Infantry Co. C. He began as a Private in the 45th and he was an Officer in the 50th Regiment and he left the Army as a 1st Lieutenant with a pension of 9.00 a month from the Government. After the Civil War he lived in Kansas. In 1880 he moved to Le Grande, Oregon. He put in an application for a homestead and then in 1889 he moved to Washington Territory and established a homestead north of Hartline, Washington. In 1889 there was a severe blizzard and the snow measured 6 feet plus. Many of the settlers lost much of their stock. They family lived on potatoes and salt until the train got through to Coulee City with supplies. He was wounded in the war and it never properly healed. His immune system was very low due to this wound and he died from Pneomonia in the Spring of 1890.”
As I drove further down the road the muted sound of my muffler subsides with the incoherent, yet audible sounds of conversation and farm machinery as I passed by various homesteads. Rickety old barns and derelict buildings lay in waste and wait as the years slowly claim their old two by fours.
Where the Farmland meets the Mountains
People in the city may put these people down for living such a “simple” life but who really thinks that the city people are that much better off? Here you have the peace and quiet, the sereneness of the country and its pure air. In the city you have the noise, the neighbors the next condo over, and the pollution. The city may have more to see but if you can’t see the forest for the trees what does it matter?
After searching a bit for a school I heard was around(but couldn’t find) I left for the next town leaving behind a simple place with simple people and that was alright.