Vandevert Ranch History
Vandevert Ranch was homesteaded in 1892 by William Plutarch Vandevert, a colorful westerner who brought cattle to the ranch and fathered eight children with his schoolteacher wife, Sadie. The log homestead and the one-room schoolhouse on Vandevert Ranch are both among the thirty-three sites listed as Historic Resources in Deschutes County. In fact, Vandevert Ranch is older than Deschutes County itself and pre-dates the founding of the city of Bend.
A new book,Vandevert - The Hundred Year History of a Central Oregon Ranch- tells the complete history of Vandevert Ranch. A photographic addendum to the book appears on this web site. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, features articles on Bill Vandevert, on the Clark Massacre where Bill’s mother was injured in an Indian attack on the Oregon Trail, and on a Vandevert ancestor, Michael Pauluzen Van der Voort, who was a “pioneer” Dutch settler of New Amsterdam (now New York City).
In its early days the Old Homestead was a U.S. post office and a stagecoach stop. But the primary business was cattle wearing the Hashknife brand. The family occupied the ranch until the 1980’s and witnessed visits from Indians, the arrival of railroads, the building of the Dalles-California Highway, and the coming and going of major timber operations. See a chronology of the ranch and surrounding area. William Vandevert’s children and grandchildren lived a pioneer lifestyle, drawing water from a hand pump, heating the house with wood stoves, and attending the one-room Harper School still on the property and beautifully restored.
The modern history of the ranch began in 1988 when Jim and Carol Gardner bought the ranch, restored the Homestead, and developed the ranch as a high-end gated community. A title history of the ranch is a work in progress.
Current ranch owners, in their luxurious homes, are very fortunate that so much of the ranch history has been preserved by William Vandevert’s granddaughter, Grace Vandevert McNellis, who grew up on the ranch. Grace and her brother, Claude, have told many great stories about the ranch and have supplied articles, letters, and memoirs that bring the ranch alive. Grace has also developed an interactive map of the ranch as it was in 1935 where viewers can click on the labeled locations and read about each of them. Grace’s own book, Home on the Vandevert Ranch, Where the Skies Were Not Cloudy All Day is out of print but used copies can be obtained through Amazon.com. Lively audio recordings of the book are available on this website.
The Homestead is shown in the drawing at top. The photo to the right shows the wedding of William Vandevert’s daughter, Maude, to Chet Catlow at the Homestead on June 25, 1912. From left to right, front row members of the wedding are Sadie Vandevert, William P. Vandevert, Maude Vandevert, and Chet Catlow. Second row members are all William and Sadie’s children - T. W. (Bill) Vandevert, Mittye, George, Clint, Arthur, Kathryn Grace and Claude.