A Blizzard Ridge Pioneer to a Paulina Rancher

Velda Huston McKenzie

By Steve Lent, Crook County Historian

Velda Azella Huston was born on Oct. 27, 1902 at Blizzard Ridge near Ashwood. Her parents were Dean and Mabel Bennett Huston. They had homesteaded near Blizzard Ridge. Velda spent her early childhood at the family homestead and attended Blizzard Ridge School. She had two brothers and a sister.

Her father sold the homestead in 1911 and they family moved to Ashwood for a short period of time. They then purchased a ranch near Paulina. Velda enjoyed the ranch life and attended school through the eighth grade while living at Paulina. The family operated the ranch for five years. They then moved into Prineville where Velda finished high school.

Velda met Cecil McKenzie first while living at Paulina. Cecil was born in Kent, Washington on July 16, 1892. His family had moved to Grizzly in 1906 and then moved to Paulina in 1912. He served in the Army during World War I. Velda and Cecil were married in Bend, Oregon on July 10, 1920. Cecil worked at a sawmill on McKay Creek in the early years of their marriage. They would live summers at the mill and then move to Prineville for the winter months.

They purchased a dairy and some cow pasture along Ochoco Creek and operated that business until 1945. The site of their property is now part of Ochoco Creek Park. They had a a son, Dale, and a daughter, Berna. Velda and Cecil lived the rest of their lives in Prineville.

Velda was selected as Crook County Pioneer Queen in 1975. She also was very active in several social organizations including Daughters of the American Revolution, Shumia Club, Crook County Garden Club and the Crook County Historical Society. Velda passed away on Oct. 3, 1983. Cecil lived on a few years and passed away on Oct. 18, 1987. Both are buried in Juniper Haven Cemetery in Prineville.