Prominent Rancher and Cattleman

Harry Stearns

By Steve Lent, Crook County Historian

Harry I. Stearns was born in Prineville on June 22, 1897. His parents Sidney and Frances Day Stearns were pioneers in Central Oregon. His father began livestock operations near the site of present Bend in the 1880s. The family ranch was later located near present LaPine and expanded to include a home ranch on Crooked River south of Prineville. Harry attended schools in Prineville and spent his early years working on the family ranch.

He married Crystal White in November1919. She was born in Crook County on Dec. 20, 1899. His father died in 1923 and Harry partnered with his mother and brother Cecil to continue operation of the Stearns Ranch on Crooked River. The ranch was known as the Triangle Outfit because their brand was a triangle.

The ranch became one of the prominent operations in Central Oregon. Harry became active in the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and served two terms as president of the Association He also served as vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Association. . His mother died in 1949 and Harry and his brother Cecil managed the ranch. He was honored as “Cattleman of the Year” in Oregon in the early 1960s. Another honor was received was Oregon “Grassman of the Year” award in recognition of his conservation practices. Cecil passed away in 1964 and Harry and Crystal operated the ranch.

Harry was active in several organizations including the Oregon Beef Council and as a board member of Linfield College. He was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a delegate to the first Commission of the Taylor Grazing Act. This was the precursor of the Bureau of Land Management.

Harry and Crystal had three daughters, Shirley, Joyce and Ann. He continued to operate the ranch until he died of a heart attack on Jan. 16, 1977. Crystal and daughter Joyce Barney continued to operate the Ranch after his death. Crystal passed away on Feb. 14, 1982. The ranch was later sold by the family.