Morrow County Chronicles

1989 Vol VIII

Morrow County Historical Society


by Marian Brosnan

Seems as though two early settlers were discussing an appropriate name for their community. As they were going over lists of names they decided LENA had a pleasant and pleasing sound so that is supposedly how it came about.

Many of the ranches originally claimed are still worked by members of the family up to the fourth and firth generations. Some of these are Vinson, Hughes, Brosnan and French families. Part of the W.E. Hughes ranch were Merlin Hughes lives was taken up by Charles E. Hinton in 1881, Eliza Jan Ayers in 1896, and Sylvester Tippet in 1892. It changed hands several times until Percy Hughes, father of W.E. Hughes, bought it in 1912.

Jeremiah (Jerry) Brosnan came from Ireland. He worked on the building of the railroad and was at Promontory Point, Utah when the Golden Spike was driven. He and one other man were the only two who stayed with the job all the way across the country. He first went to the Willamette Valley and in 1875 he came to Eastern Oregon and purchased the place from Hugh Fields. That is where his grandson, Jerry Brosnan, now farms.

Raymond French also owns the ranch where his grandfather, Dillard French, settled. The Charles Hinton family lived on the place where Allan Hughes lives. Paul Hisler, Paul Jr. and his family live at the head of Butter Creek. Paul Sr’s. father bought it from Ed Day in 1900. He had come from France when he was 16 years old. The Joe Harp ranch is now owned by Bill Healy. Some of the other early settlers were Michael Kenny, Elwood Kilcup, and Hugh fields.

The first mail that came to the community came out from Heppner. Ranchers would take turns going to town horseback and bring the mail out. This they would do two or three times a week. At one time, possibly around 1914, there was a Lena Post Office and store. It was build by Ada Woodard. It stood where Allan Hughes’s shop is located. There was a dance floor on the second floor. Many community affairs were held here. It was probably in the late 1920’s that it was town down and the lumber was used to build a shed where Merlin Hughes now lives.

In 1885 the schoolhouse was located approximately one-half mile below where Jerry Brosnan lives. It was located across the creek from the road. It is not known exactly when the building was erected but Lulu Hinton Johnson started the school in 1885. There were children coming from every canyon as people were proving up on homesteads. The school was soon moved to the foot of Pageant Hill as there were quite a few children coming from Big Butter Creek and it would also accommodate them. Lottie Scherzinger taught while the school was here.

The next move was to the mouth of Howard Canyon where it was located until 1918 or 1919. It was relocated at this time because of the water being tested and declared unfit. The final move was to the upper Jerry Brosnan place. There was a good spring there. A new building was erected. Myrtle Miller was the teacher when this change was made. School was held here form 1918-1919 until 1936, with the exception of the year 1934-1935, when it was held at the Joe Hays place as there were only two students attending. The Lena School District consolidated with Heppner and children are bused. Marion Good Brosnan was the last teacher.

There was a Lena Grange for a short period of time. It was built in the latter part of the 1930’s. It stood on the lower part of the Brosnan property. It was finally town down by a man from Hermiston.

In the 1930’s there was also a CCC Camp. It was located where Mike and Cindy Brosnan now live.

The Lena Cemetery is located five miles below Lena. There was a school there and the old building is still standing. It was called Pleasant Point.

(submitted  for Morrow Co. US Gen Web by Berniece Thornton)

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