Betty Jo Smith
2020 Grand Marshall
Photo by Kristi Crawford Photography
Courtesy of The Times, by Vance Parrish
This year’s Pioneer Picnic Marshalls are Floyd Smith and Betty Jo Smith (Hover). Both Floyd and Betty Jo have deep roots in the area and have been part of Farming legacy in this area that goes back 8 generations. “The same family is farming this property, of John McCoy, for over 150 years,” said Betty. Floyd and Betty have 5 children, 11 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren (the 20th great-grandchild is on the way). Some of this most recent generation, the great-grandchildren, have reached the age and skill level to begin helping to work the land, including driving combine, windrowing, and flailing. Floyd and Betty Jo both started farming on their parents lands when they will still pretty young, at least in comparison to a lot of children that aren’t growing up in a farming family.
Both Floyd and Betty Jo can trace their ancestry back to Washington Maley and his wife Margret (McCoy). The Maleys arrived, by wagon train, in the fall of 1845 and settled along Muddy Creek, now Oakville. This settlement was where the present day cemetery is now. Margret’s brother John McCoy and his wife Sarah settled on land next to the Maleys. Betty also shared that in 1848 John McCoy was appointed as a judge in Brownsville. You can find a picture of John at the museum in Brownsville. In that same year (1848) Washington Maley was elected as a senator.
Three families, the Maleys, McCoys, and Hamiltons officially established the Oakville Presbyterian Church in 1850. According to Betty Jo, “It is now the oldest still active Presbyterian Church, west of the Rockies.” Betty Jo also made note of the efforts of Reverend T.S. Kendall. He had also arrived with the wagon train and was instrumental in helping to establish several churches in the area, including Oakville Presbyterian and the church at Union Point. Floyd and Betty Jo still attend the Oakville Church.
Floyd started first grade at Oakville School in its last structure, the original Oakville School building having been constructed in 1847. Floyd later went to school and graduated from Corvallis High School. During high school Floyd became very involved in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) program. He was one of the earliest chapter members of the FFA organization. Betty Jo also shared that that Floyd became president of his chapter. When Floyd’s children got into FFA, he continued volunteering with the organization as a parent helper during field trips.
Betty Jo graduated from Shedd High School. One of her found childhood memories is of being grade school age and riding her horse to Brownsville to be in the Pioneer Picnic Parade for the first time. She has also been active in the agricultural community, serving with Women in Agriculture. She helped with Field Days at booths at the fair. This organization also sponsors Ag In The Classroom. In this program volunteers go to 4th grade classes and read agriculture related books to students. This organization also works to put in books into schools. Betty Jo served for approximately two years as a president for Women in Ag.
Betty Jo shared that in 1847 one of the first crops which was planted was wheat. When Floyd and Betty were kids most farms in the area grew vetch, oats, wheat or barley. However, sometime around 1940 growing grass seed began to take over and has largely replaced the more traditional crops. The grass seed crops thrived in the valley’s relatively cool and moist seasons.
Today the family farms mostly turf and forage grass seeds, clover and meadowfoam. Meadowfoam is grown for the oil that can be produced from its seeds. Small amounts of this oil are frequently used in cosmetics. As some grass seed varieties are more susceptible to temperature changes, I asked Betty if she has noticed a warming trend from years ago to now. However, she said that she felt the fluctuation from year to year seemed about the same as far as she could tell. She noted that slugs and mice seemed to be much more of a problem for their crops. Betty Jo feels that the ban on burning fields has been a pretty big factor in why slug and rodent numbers have gone up, noting that these pests began to be more of an issue after the first field burning ban in 1969. There are baits that can be put out to help control the mice and slugs but she said that they don’t seem to be very effective. In spite of all the challenges over the years Betty Jo is proud to say “and we’re still farming.”
2019 Grand Marshall
Edward C Putman was born in 1919, in Brownsville Oregon in a midwife’s home, which still stands today. The Putman Family was one of the pioneer families to arrive and settle in Brownsville in 1847, David and Donald Putman being the earliest known to settle in these parts. Bill Putman, Ed’s grandfather, owned a 320 acre farm north of Brownsville and his son Troy Putman was Ed’s father. Ed grew up Brownsville and attended school through the 9th grade. He started work at a young age alongside his dad, logging old school style with a 2 ended 7 foot saw! Later, he quit school to work with his dad Troy at Thompsons Mill in Shedd. Troy helped run the water wheel at the flour mill. Later Ed began working in Albany at the M&M Plywood Mill. He went on to drive for Cummings Transfer and Ryals Truck Service. Next Mr. Putman drove for Blitz Weinhard in Albany for many years retiring in May 1980.
Mr. Putman started his family here also; marrying Norma Harrison and having 3 children (Dick, Brenda and Russ) and then moving to Albany in 1940. They suffered an unmeasurable loss when Norma was taken by cancer in 1955. The family was blended when Ed married Jean Eller and adopted her 2 children (Gary and Linda). A year later came one more child, another daughter (Pam). The family moved to North Albany in 1958, where he enjoyed gardening and landscaping their property. About this time he also began his hobby of many years, woodworking. Mr. Putman created dozens of rocking chairs for children, tables, chairs, shelves and numerous other items happily working out in his shop.
In December 1993, Ed and Jean moved back to Brownsville where they have enjoyed the loving community and given many hours loving it right back! Ed has volunteered to mow and maintain grounds at the Moyer House, to clean and mow the grounds of the Brownsville Cemetery and often helps neighbors and friends in need. He has also helped as a town historian with the Brownsville Museum, as he can recall events and dates that may have not been recorded well. Ed is also proud of his 1931 Model
A Ford Coup which he and his boys restored. The car was found in “rough shape” in the Eugene area. This restored car was sometimes brought to the museum and then Ed would give tours in his Model A.
Ed and Jean live in their home where he continues to mow and maintain their acre of property and both are looking forward to another garden this year! At 91 years, Ed was diagnosed with CHF and was forced to retire from rototilling. Ed recently turned 100 years old and his wife Jean celebrated her 90th Birthday February 9th of this year. Ed and Jean have been side by side for 62 years, taking care of the household of 8 and gardening and canning for endless hours! Ed has 6 children, 11 grandchildren,19 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren.
Anyone that knows Ed knows he has a huge heart, that he loves to give and he loves to hug! He says, “to live a good healthy long life, eat honey every day and keep moving!”