Transcribed from "History of North Washington, an illustrated history
of Stevens, Ferry, Okanogan and Chelan counties", published by Western
Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
E. L. PAYNE, better known
as " Uncle Ned Payne" is one of the widely known men all through the northwest.
He has had experiences, which if told in detail, would make a thrilling
volume of interest and instruction, for he has been associated with some
of the leading ventures in various sections on the Pacific coast in early
days and has always held a prominent part in his line.
E. L. Payne was born in Bartholomew county,
Indiana, on January 3, 1839, the son of Thornton and Mary (Lee) Payne,
natives of Virginia. The mother was related to General Robert E.
Lee. Our subject was educated in his native place and with an older
brother came early across the plains to California. On May 13, 1852,
they ferried across the muddy Missouri and set their faces "westward, ho."
Until August 9, of the same year, when they pulled up their tired horses
at Hangtown, California, they had sped forward, E. L. handling the lines
of a four horse team. Although but thirteen, he was the best driver
in the train. He soon went to teaming and in 1858 was at Portland,
Oregon. He was straightway installed as driver on the stage from
Portland to Salem and when, the next year, the California State Company
secured the contract of carrying the mail from Sacramento to Portland,
he was one of the drivers. On September 14 of that year, he started
with the first through mail from Portland to Sacramento. The trip
was made in seven days in summer and twelve in winter. For about
twenty years, Mr. Payne handled the reins on that line and then was wagon
master for the government when General Wheaton chastised Captain Jack and
his renegade Modocs at the lava beds in southern Oregon. They then
marched to Walla Walla and Mr. Payne drove stage from Walla Walla to Wallula
until the Baker railroad was completed. Then he went to Boise and
drove stage and on one occasion here he drove six horses hauling a coach
with twelve passengers, the United States mail and Wells Fargo express,
twelve miles in forty-seven minutes, the fastest record then for six horses.
He was considered the most skillful stage driver on the coast and for thirty
years, day or night, storm or pleasant, he handled the ribbons and met
and overcame all dangers incident to the business, as hostile Indians,
road agents, and so forth. In May, 1892 Mr. Payne came to Okanogan
county and mined and did business at Ruby. On January 1, 1899 he
located in Conconully and now has a fine business building, with good billiard
hall and bar. He is well known and popular and conduct the most orderly
resort in the county.
In 1868 Mr. Payne married Miss Maggie Payne,
who died in 1874, leaving two children, Harry L. and Ruby, both in Oregon.