Prineville Pioneer and Ranchers Wife

Frances Ketchum Johnson Prineville Pioneer and Ranchers Wife

Frances Ketchum Johnson

By Steve Lent, Museum Historian

Frances Louise Ketchum was born on December 22, 1873 in Centreville, New Brunswick Canada. Her parents were Isaac and Sarah Dingee Ketchum. Her father left the family in New Brunswick while he traveled to Central Oregon to look for land to settle. He arrived near Prineville in 1878. He purchased some state school land and made improvements before sending for his family

Frances, her mother, and sister Wilda traveled to The Dalles by train and then by wagon to their new home in Prineville in 1880. She attended school in Prineville where she acquired the nickname of Fanny.

Fanny began teaching at Fife school on Buck Creek. She met a local rancher Columbus Johnson who had his headquarter ranch on Buck Creek. They were married in Prineville on December 3, 1893. Columbus Johnson had first established a ranch on Bear Creek and later moved his operations to Buck Creek. They lived on the ranch for several years before selling their operation to legendary Bill Brown.

They moved to Prineville in 1905 and built a fine home on 2nd Street. They owned land from the Crooked River Valley up to the rimrock west of town. Fanny and Columbus had three daughters. Fanny was widely known in the Prineville community and was actively engaged in many social organizations.

Columbus and Fanny donated 32 acres of their land on the rimrock west of town to the state park system in 1930. An additional 132 acres was donated by Columbus to the state park system in 1938. The site later became Ochoco Wayside Viewpoint.

Fanny died on December 29, 1932. Columbus lived on for six years and died on December 19, 1938. Both Fanny and Columbus are buried in Juniper Haven Cemetery in Prineville.