Daughter of Prominent Pioneer Family

Daughter of Prominent Pioneer Family Victim of 1918 Flu Epidemic

Katherine Grace Vandevert

By Steve Lent, Crook County Historian

A lone grave is located on the old Vandevert Ranch on private property. It is about two miles south of Sunriver on the banks of the Little Deschutes River. It is the grave of Katherine Grace Vandevert. She was the daughter of pioneer ranchers William P. and Sadie Vincentletter Vandevert. She was born in New York in 1890. She came to Central Oregon with her family when she was only one year old. The family moved to ranch along the Little Deschutes River in 1892. Grace, as she was commonly known, attended local schools and then went to Willamette University and came back to Bend to teach. The Bend Bulletin reported on an incident involving Grace on September 27, 1908:

It isn’t every community that can boast the possessing of a young lady bear hunter, but that is what Bend can do, and for that reason, the successful killing of a large brown bear by Miss Grace Vandevert last Saturday has been the subject of much conversation during the past week. Last Saturday, Miss Grace and her father, W.P., started out from the home ranch near Lava in quest of bruin properly equipped with horses, dogs and rifles. About two miles from the ranch, the hounds picked up the fresh tracks of a bear and the chase was on. It was a short and spirted one, and after a run of about a mile, the dogs treed bruin. Miss Grace had followed the dogs closely through the thick of the chase and beat her father to the tree in which the bear had taken refuge. A well-aimed shot from her rifle brought the big brown animal down and the sport was ended. To a friend who rode up to the ranch just as they were bringing int eh game, Miss Grace said that she was not at all excited–oh, no not a little bit. The only thing that bothered her was that her fingers did not seem to work right, and for a moment or two, she had trouble in finding the trigger. Miss Vandevert is a student in Bend’s High School. It is doubtful if there is another young lady in the state, of her age, who has ever hunted and killed a bear.

Grace was a popular young woman in the region. She died unexpectedly from the flu on November 3, 1918 during the nationwide flu epidemic. It was a devastating loss to her parents and the local community. She was buried at this site on the family ranch. The grave is on private land in a restricted access development.