Glenwood/Camas Prairie, Washington, Pioneer Settlers from Floyd County, Virginia


The settlement in Camas Prairie (later calledGlenwood), Klickitat County, Washington, of German immigrants is well known and is described in another part of this book [a history of Glenwood Valley, in preparation].  Less well-known is a migration of families from Floyd County, Virginia.  Floyd County is a plateau located at the top of the Blue Ridge, the eastern-most Appalachian chain of mountains, in south-western Virginia.  This area was made up of small farms, and was perhaps seen by some at the time as having less than desirable opportunities for the economic growth of a family.  A review of the Camas Prairie census’ from the years 1900 to 1930 shows a number of persons and families known or presumed  to have been born in this area of Virginia.  Family names include Castle, Radford, Quesenberry, Hylton, O’Neal, Shockley, Spangler, Pendleton, Alderman, Stone, Lewis, Bolt, Holly, and Moles.  Impetus for this migration is not completely clear, but it would appear that information about the attractiveness of Camas Prairie in Washington was passed through families and acquaintances, persuading a number of individuals and families that life would be better in this new place.

The truth of that matter may be debated.  The Glenwood Valley was a high mountain valley with a shorter growing season and harsher climate than Floyd County in Virginia.  Crockett Castle was quoted as saying that if he hadn’t spent all of his money bringing his family to Washington State, he would have returned to Virginia.  However, these families generally prospered, perhaps more so when most of them eventually moved on to the warmer climate of Yakima Valley, Washington or to larger population centers such as Portland, Oregon.

One of the earliest Floyd county natives to arrive in the Glenwood area, according to the history of the Castle family, was a brother-in-law, Leain [sp?] Hylton, in 1893.   His enthusiasm led several members of the Castle family to move westward along with their in-laws the Aldermans.  The Radford family seems to have also had a connection with these families.  Charlie Holly was another Virginian who came to the valley but somewhat later, having married Mary Alderman, and raised his family in Glenwood.  Cola Castle married M. K. Hathaway, making a Virginia connection with another early settler family.

Another early family, the O’Neals, came to Camas Prairie at about the same time that the Hylton and Castle families arrived.  Ben O’Neal married Olivia Agee in Virginia in February 1993 and their oldest child was born in the Glenwood area in November 1893.  Their three children, Fred, Lottie, and Lilivan, were all born in Glenwood. We are not sure what channels of influence might have existed in Virginia between these families, but we do know that Olivia’s sister Sarah had married a Hylton. 

Meanwhile, the Peter Shockley family was preparing to move west, and would become closely allied with the O’Neals.  In 1900, Peter and his two oldest sons were boarding and working in nearby Skamania County, Washington, while his wife Mary was still in Burks Fork, Floyd County, Virginia with the other five children.  By the 1910 census, they had acquired a farm and were all together in Camas Prairie.  These two families became more connected when in 1914, Fred O’Neal married Nannie, a Shockley daughter.  Ben also died suddenly in this year at age 42, and shortly after that Mary Shockley passed away.  Fred and Nannie acquired a farm in Sunnyside in Yakima County, Washington, as did one of the Shockley sons, Henry, and the Glenwood properties sold.  Eventually, the two widowed parents, Olivia and Peter, married and moved to Sunnyside.  However, the two O’Neal daughters, Lottie and Lilivan, married and remained in Glenwood.  None of the Shockley children stayed in the Glenwood area.

Ben and Olivia O’Neal went back to visit their relatives in Virginia in about 1908 and persuaded Olivia’s younger sister India (Agee) and her husband Aubrey (A.G.) Lewis to follow them to Washington state.  A.G. homesteaded an 80 acre farm in the Sage Flat area a mile west of the town of Glenwood, and also developed a grocery business in Glenwood starting about 1913.  His partner was a single man who had just arrived from Virginia, Tye Bolt (born in Carroll County).

Tye Bolt eventually married Lilivan O’Neal.  They raised seven children on a farm about two miles southwest of the town of Glenwood.  Their two oldest daughters married and remained in Glenwood.  Mary married Paul Ladiges (son of Max and Elizabeth Ladiges).  Helen married Edwin Eaton (son of Claude and Audrey Eaton). 

Lottie O’Neal married Maurice Schneidler and they raised their family on a farm about two miles east of the town of Glenwood.   Together they had eight children, six of whom lived to maturity.  Maurice was killed in 1943 in an accident while working in the shipyards in Vancouver, Washington.  One of Lottie and Maurice’s children married and remained in Glenwood to raise a family, their daughter Opal, who was married to Bud Huffsmith (son of Ed Huffsmith).

A.G. and India Lewis maintained their farm in Glenwood until they retired in 1948 and moved to Bingen, Washington.  They ran a grocery and feed business in Bingen from about 1925 to 1937, and their Glenwood farm was managed during these years by Kemper O’Neal (younger brother of Ben) and then by their son Clarence Lewis.  A. G. and India raised eight children, three of whom remained in Glenwood in their adult years.  Clarence operated a small dairy farm about three miles south of Glenwood, worked for J. Neils in the logging, for the county road crew, and did carpentry.  Grace (and husband Wallace Davis) lived on a dairy farm about 2 miles east of the town of Glenwood.  Grace taught school, first at Fulda and then for many years taught the Primary grades at the Glenwood School.  Lorene married Henry (Hank) Ladiges (son of Henry and Gertrude Ladiges), who had a farm about 1˝ miles southwest of Glenwood.

            Several of the Virginia families that settled in Glenwood came from a Primitive Baptist tradition, and when in Washington State a number of their descendants affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, or with other conservative or evangelical Protestant churches.  The Lakeside Church was built in 1909 by persons who were members of the Church of the Brethren that included Castles, O’Neals, and Quesenberrys.  (See for additional history of this church and building).  These families spawned several religious lay leaders and ministers, the most prominent being Dr. Glenn O’Neal (son of Fred and Nannie O’Neal).  Prior to his death he was dean of the graduate school of theology at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

            Virginia families in Glenwood maintained their connection with their origins in at least two other ways.  First, an annual Mother’s Day service was held at the old Lakeside church for many years, until perhaps about 1950.  This meeting generated a gathering from both Glenwood and Yakima Valley.  No services were held at the Glenwood Community Church in deference to this tradition.  Sometimes the services were conducted by Yakima area Church of the Brethren ministers who were connected to the O’Neal family.

            Second, an annual “Virginia picnic” was held each summer, inviting all persons in any way connected with or having a Virginia ancestry.  Usually this event was held at Brooks Memorial Park, north of Goldendale, Washington, to accommodate both Glenwood and Yakima Valley attendees.


(By Robert E. Lewis, June 2008, prepared to be included in a book on the pioneer history of Glenwood, Washington)