Pleasant Valley Map
The gospel message was first sounded in Pleasant Valley when the Beeks family moved to this community, eleven miles east of present-day Goldendale. Meriel S. (Pony) Short (1827- ) led out in the organization of the Church of Christ in 1875. Pony was an overland pioneer, entering Oregon in 1853 and moving to Klickitat County eight years later. There were 10 charter members of the Pleasant Valley Church, including Pony's wife Louise Anderson Short and Samuel and Hannah Beeks, pioneers of 1875 from Missouri. Church was held in the building as photographed. The building is still in use as the Pleasant Valley Grange Hall.
Old Pleasant Valley Church building.
There is a profile of Pony Short.
James and Mary Beeks
Courtesy of the Klickitat Co. Historical Society
Soon the Beeks were joined by their son James H. Beeks who married Mary Hearn in 1877. James and Mary had ten girls and five boys. They became prominent in stock raising and wheat production. One historian said,
"He was active in the Church of Christ, serving as a lay minister. Also at times he discharged the duties of such local offices as justice of the peace and school director."
Another family tied to the pioneer-era Pleasant Valley church is that of Alexander J. and America Jane Hamilton. They lived several miles to the west of the meeting house. Alex, born in Arkansas, had crossed the plains with his parents in 1854 and moved to Klickitat County in 1878. America Jane was born near Silverton, Oregon and moved to the Goldendale area with her parents. The Hamiltons married the same year Alex arrived in the county. Four of their descendents are among the charter members of the Church of Christ of Goldendale. (See below.)
Swiss-born John Ganuin with his wife Louise were also members of the Pleasant Valley Church. John had emigrated to the county in 1866 and shortly after that opened a jewelry story in Goldendale.
In less than a decade, the congregation became numerous enough that they purchased ground one-half mile south of the Pleasant School for a cemetery. The deed was dated in 1884 and was signed by the elders of this a capella church: James Beeks, E.E. Rowley and William Martin. It would be four more years before Washington would become a state in the Union.
Photo courtesty of
Washington State Archives
Meanwhile, Goldendale was becoming a town. The community was named after John J. Golden who had homesteaded the site later occupied by the town. It incorporated in 1879 and that same year the Goldendale Christian Church was established.
Jacob (Jake) Thomas Eshelman (1852-1931) was the first preacher. Jake, from Missouri, married Purdence while living in Goldendale. He wrote in December of 1887 that he was ending his six-year's labor with the Goldendale and Centerville churches. He moved to Yakima that year.
It was about this time that the church built its building. It shows on the attached panorama of Goldendale that was made in 1888 or before. The down town buildings were made of wood in the panorama. However a fire destroyed the business district in 1888 and the buildings were replaced with brick. This dates the panorama and assures us the Christian Church building was in place by 1888. It is still located at the SW corner of Court and S. Wilbur, earlier named Ward.
P. J. McCorkle from California moved to Goldendale in 1885 or 1886. He carried the preaching responsibilities. In 1904, the congregation reported 78 members.
Among the early members were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Downer. They were pioneers of 1847 and had lived near Ballston in Polk County, Oregon before settling in the vicinity of Goldendale. He died about 1904.
In 1914 the Pleasant Valley church reorganized in Goldendale as the Church of Christ of Goldendale. With the coming of the automobile, traveling that distance for church became more practical. Samuel Orange Pool held a tent meeting and organized the church on October 4th with about 20 members.
| Charter members included
Mrs. Amy Brown,
Mr. H.M. Chaffee,
Mrs. Hattie Chaffee,
Mrs. Anna (Hamilton) Crooks,
Mrs. E. Eller,
Mr. O.L. Hamilton,
Mrs. Alexander J. Hamilton,
Mrs. Alma Hamilton,
Mrs. May Martin,
Mrs. W.A. Martin,
Miss Lucille (Beeks) Miller,
Mr. E. F. Miller,
Mrs E. L. Miller,
Mrs. C. C. Miller,
Mr. W. C. Moore,
Mrs. A.J. Nelson,
Mr. E.W. Oldham,
Mrs. Mollie A. Oldham,
Mrs. Nellie Roe, and
Mrs. E. Wade.
Church of Christ at Goldendale
Courtesy of the Klickitat County Historical Society
In the intervening years, the a capella Church of Christ of Goldendale and the Christian Church merged, using the Christian Church building and labeling it "The Church of Christ."
Our thanks to Will Tebbs for research and background on the Pleasant Valley and Goldendale churches.
Church of Christ |
Also in Klickitat County is the farming community of Centerville. The believers there began meeting in 1877 and formally organized into a church early in 1884. They completed this building in that same year. This was five years before Washington became a State.
The first elders were W. D. Smith and Nelson LaCourse. Nelson was married to Emma Beeks in a double ceremony while her brother James Beeks (introduced in the Pleasant Valley article) married Mary Hearn.
Several preachers were involved in the startup of the Centerville Church: W.H. Malony (or Maloney), D.F. Gilstrap and Jacob Eshelman from Goldendale. Jacob's brother, Levi J. Eshelman, had settled in the community. The Eshelman family is still represented in the congregation.
A reed organ was purchased in 1894 at the cost of $30. It is on display in the Centerville building. The congregation still meets.
Our thanks to Wayne Eshelman for background on the Centerville Church.
There were also Churches of Christ or Christian Churches in Bickleton, Dot and Goodnoe Hills. We lack information on these pioneer congregations.
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