Oreana - History and Directory

Extracted from "A historical, descriptive and commercial directory of Owyhee County, Idaho, January 1898." (internet archive)

The Oreana Valley

The Oreana Valley embraces Picket, Hart’s and Catherine creeks, and is about fifteen miles long, one to three miles wide and has many creeks. Grain, hay and fruit are the principal productions.

The earliest settlers here were James and John Driscoll and Tim Shea, who located here early in the sixties.

The main ranch in the valley is the Grayson ranch, consisting of about 1,500 acres, which, up to 1889, was owned by Mike Hyde, and at one time supported 15,000 head of cattle. It is now owned by George W. Grayson & Son, of San Francisco, Cal., and was originally located by Hart and others. In 1884, Harry Olsen opened a hotel here, and named the place "Oreana" (an unbranded yearling).

Considerable grain and fruit is raised in the valley, but the main production is hay, of which about 5,000 tons is cut annually.

The post office was established in 1884, and for the past two years the office has been held by B. H. Hyde.

The town of Oreana, in the center of the valley, contains a general store. post office, saloon, blacksmith shop and school.

Hardiman Bros. are extensively engaged in stock raising, and were up to recently one of the leading firms engaged in that line of business in the state. Their home ranch, which we present in the accompanying views (formerly the Blackinger ranch), is located at Picket creek and consists of 240 acres, of which about eighty acres are under cultivation, well shaded with poplar, cottonwood and Balm of Gilead trees, and well watered by Picket creek, which meanders through the entire property.

The residence is a modern, substantial building of two stories, of recent construction, and one of the most attractive buildings of its nature in the county.

They also have a large and thrifty orchard of about 200 trees, consisting of nearly all the hardy varieties to be found in a well-cultured orchard.

Mr. William Hardiman also owns a fine ranch of about 200 acres, located at Castle creek, mainly devoted to grazing, and the firm has also a large cattle ranch at Boulder creek.

The Hardiman brothers are well-known stock men in the stock markets of the West, and have always shown themselves earnest and conscientious in their endeavors to improve and advance the quality of cattle and horses in the county.


Aldrich, W. H., ranch.
Beggs, John, ranch hand.
Carothers, Frank, rancher.
Chitwood, Charles A., rancher.
Cowles, F. J., rancher.
Clenderson, Harvey, ranch.
Drown, John, mining.
Drown, Charles, mining.
Flemming, William, rancher.
Ford, Jerry, rancher.
Goff, J. C., rancher.
Goff, Charles, rancher.
Grayson & Co., G. W., ranch, M. M. Krieg, Jr., manager.
HARDIMAN BROS., Ranchers and stock raisers.
HARDIMAN, PATRICK, (Hardiman Bros.).
HARDIMAN, WILLIAM, (Hardiman Bros.).
Howe, E. C., ranch hand.
Hyde, Ben H., (Hyde & Ulrich), post-office and rancher.
Hyde & Ulrich, general merchandise.
Hyde, George W., rancher.
Krieg, M. M., Jr., manager Grayson ranch.
Lambert, H. L., rancher.
Linehan, Patrick, rancher.
McPherson, W. E., miner.
McPheters, William, ranch.
Miller, R. L., ranch.
Mowbray, Robert, wood.
Neiss, Frank, miner.
Neiss, J. K, salesman Hyde & Ulrich.
Northrup, Rube, rancher.
OLSEN, HARRY, Rancher.
Payne, William, rancher.
Penrose, Thomas, rancher.
Pichette, George, rancher.
Ulrich, E. M., (Hyde & Ulrich).
Ulrich, George, rancher.
Warner, Charles A., saloon.

"Our Lady, Queen of Heaven" Catholic Church added to the National Register of Historic Places in Idaho in 1980.

It is described as " a coursed rubble structure dating from about 1883. . .

"Our Lady, Queen of Heaven Church stands at a section corner where a saloon, school, hotel and general store clustered to form the early Owyhee County community of Oreana. The general store—remodeled into Our Lady, Queen of Heaven Church—is the only remaining building from this early group. The church and storage building are architecturally significant as an excellent example of early localized masonry constuction efforts.

"In about 1883, he (Michael Hyde) hired John Pierson and Jim Kelly, stonemasons, to build the general store. In August, 1883, he purchased the vacant Exchange Saloon building in Silver City and had it torn down and removed to his ranch. Here It was converted into a boarding house and saloon. The schoolhouse was also built during this year, as was the hotel. The area was designated as Oreana on November 12, 1885, with the establishment of a post office in the general store. Michael Hyde was appointed postmaster.

"A harsh winter in 1887-1888 caused the collapse of Hyde's operation and the majority of his property was purchased by George W. Grayson of Portland, Oregon. Hyde remained in the cattle business until his death in 1922, but on a more limited scale. His brother Dave moved to the Bruneau Valley, built a hotel, and laid out the town of Bruneau. The youngest brother, Ben, remained in the area. He ran a store one-half mile north of the old one. However, in 1903 or 1904, he purchased the old rock store and moved his goods and post office back to the original site. In 1906, the Hyde ranch property was sold to J. M. Neil of Boise. Neil ran the ranch for a number of years.

"Eventually, the property became divided into three separate ranches.In 1961, Albert Black, owner of the then unoccupied store, donated the property to the Catholic Church. A volunteer effort, headed by Father Merzbach of Nampa, involving groups from Nampa and other Southwestern Idaho towns as well as local residents, renovated the building to its present condition. Although the renovation added a belfry, buttresses, and a new porch, the exterior stone appearance is retained. The community effort demonstrated the value of the building as a local landmark." - National Register of Historic Places in Idaho at history.idaho.gov

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