Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The
Big Bend Country, embracing Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties,
State of Washington", published by Western Historical Publishing
JAMES F. POPPLE, better known as Uncle
Jim Popple, resides about two miles northwest from Wilsoncreek. He
was born in Allegany county, New York, on June 13, 1836, in what he describes
as one of the most "God forsaken spots on the map of New York." His
father, Billings Popple, was born in New Jersey, in 1810, the son of Billings
Popple. The mother of our subject was Sarah Ann (McCray) Popple.
She was born in New Jersey, in 1806, the daughter of Samuel McCray.
James was the second of five children, named as follows: George, who died
at Almira sometime since; Lester, residing at Odessa; Alonzo, who died
in Cairo, Illinois, in 1863, being a soldier in the Eighth Minnesota Volunteer
Infantry; Susan A., who died at Odessa, Lincoln county, in 1891.
In speaking of his education, Mr. Popple says: "My education was strictly
attended to. I was started to school at five years of age and continued
regularily for about three months of each year. My task was to learn
by heart a page of something in the front of the spelling book. When
I had that learned the term was out. I never knew at that time what
it was and do not yet. However, I expect sometime to go back and
hunt up the old speller and learn what it was." When fourteen, James was
hired to a farmer living near by, for four bushels of wheat per month.
Two years later, his father died and he then began to assist his mother
in the support of the family. When seven or eight years of age, Mr.
Popple distinctly remembers the first matches that were brought out.
Previous to that, it was a very common thing for the children to run to
the neighbors to get fire. At the time the first matches appeared,
the first cook stoves were manufactured. When twenty years of age,
Mr. Popple came to Minnesota, his oldest brother having come three years
previous. Six months after he arrived his mother and the balance
of the family came and they located at the mouth of the Platt river in
Morrison county, one hundred miles north from St. Paul. For eleven
years, Mr. Popple was on the spring drives and actively engaged in the
lumber woods in winter. In speaking of that country, Mr. Popple remarks
"There were two seasons only, one is the mosquito and the other the winter."
However, he remained there until 1888 and then journeyed west with his
horses and cattle to join his brother who was in the sheep business on
Crab Creek. The first winter was fine but the second winter the thermometer
ranged forty degrees below zero and the stock had to be fed for one hundred
and twenty days. Mr. Popple paid as high as twenty-five dollars per
ton for hay and hauled it seven miles to keep the stock from starving.
He took a ranch at the mouth of Sylvan lake and farmed it for two seasons
then traded it for a band of seventy horses. He put these on the
range in the care of his brother, who attended them until his death, in
1894. Since then, Mr. Popple has given his attention to them and
now has some of the finest horses in the entire Big Bend country.
In addition to his home place, he leases two thousand acres south of Wilsoncreek
which was devoted to pasture. Mr. Popple is well and favorably known
all over this country and has many friends. He has never seen fit
to discard the joys of the celibatarian for the uncertain seas of matrimony.