My name is Sarah Katherine Burch, nee Earnheart. I was born Sept. 18, 1918, in Pendleton, Oregon.
My dear friend Mary Patton (who lives in Walla Walla) sent me a clipping from the East Oregonian about the congregation having to sell the Pendleton United Methodist Church. I felt badly about it, so hard to believe. But, things to wear out; things go beyond repair.
My early memories are about the Pendleton Methodist Church, Auntie Owen playing the organ, the weddings, our babies being baptized. Auntie Owen was my godmother; she was Kate Prideau Owen and I was named for her. She was the first friend my mother made when she came to Pendleton, probably in 1901 or 1902.
My father was Richard Oliver Ottwell (R.O.O.) Earnheart, known as Ott and my mother was Cordie Ora LaHue Earnheart. We usually got to church on Sunday but not for Sunday school. Papa and Mamma had a wheat ranch some distance from town, northwest of Pendleton toward Holdman.
I had a letter from a former minister in Pendleton, Walter Gleiser. He said “because of the Earnhearts, my family didn’t go hungry.” Ministers didn’t get much salary in those days. Mamma would clean a chicken, send along butter, cream and eggs and Papa would deliver it on Saturdays to the parsonage.
In the fall, Papa would go into the Blue Mountains and find wood for the church and the parsonage. Papa would arrive early on Sundays to get the wood stove going to warm the church. The church (and everyone) relied on wood stove heat to stay warm.
Papa was the treasurer for the church for many years. In the 1920s and 1930s money was scarce. I can remember going with Papa to call on members of the church. Not many would be able to give to the church, but did the best they could.
I met my first husband, Phil Miller, at church. Church was a good way for us to get to know each other. I tried to find records of my first husband joining the church in Pendleton, but was told that the records were lost in a fire. That was after my husband, Philip E. Miller’s plane was lost in the South Pacific at the end of World War II, 1945. The plane crash was not found until 1995, almost 13,000 feet up on a mountain in Indonesia. The remains of eight people were brought back to the U.S. and buried at Arlington cemetery in Washington DC.
My son, David P. Miller, grandson David P. Miller II and I attended the ceremony. It was a difficult time for me, hearing again about the loss of my husband and re-opening old wounds. My daughters from a later marriage and a granddaughter also attended the ceremony.
Most members of my family are buried at Olney Cemetery in Pendleton - LaHue, Earnheart, Evans and Harris are family names here. We decorate graves for Memorial Day. My nephew, Jim Harris, lives at the family ranch with his wife Carla and daughter Autumn.
Now I live in Woodinville, WA, on the west side of the Cascades, to be near my daughter Katherine Casseday and her family. I have lived a long life and seen many changes. I am sorry about the old Methodist church.
Sarah K Burch