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Former Pendleton resident shares memories of Methodist church

Published on February 3, 2018 12:01AM

My name is Sarah Katherine Burch, née Earnheart. I was born Sept. 18, 1918, in Pendleton.

My dear friend Mary Patton of Walla Walla sent an East Oregonian article about the congregation having to sell the Pendleton First United Methodist Church. I felt badly about it, it’s so hard to believe. But, things go beyond repair.

My early memories about the church include Auntie Owen (Kate Prideau Owen) playing the organ, the weddings and our babies being baptized. She was my godmother and I was named for her. She was the first friend my mother made when she came to Pendleton, around 1901-02.

My parents were Richard Oliver Ottwell Earnheart, aka Ott, and Cordie Ora LaHue Earnheart. They had a wheat ranch northwest of town toward Holdman. We usually went to church on Sundays.

Ministers didn’t get much salary in those days. Mamma would clean a chicken, send along butter, cream and eggs and Papa delivered it to the parsonage on Saturdays.

I had a letter from Walter Gleiser, a former Pendleton minister. “Because of the Earnhearts, my family didn’t go hungry,” he said.

In the fall, Papa went into the Blue Mountains to find wood for the church and parsonage. Early on Sundays, he got the wood stove going to warm the church.

In the 1920s and 1930s money was scarce. I remember going with Papa, who was the church treasurer for many years, to call on church members. Not many were able to give, but did the best they could.

I met and got to know my first husband, Philip E. Miller, at church. I was told records of him joining the church were lost in a fire.

His plane was lost in the South Pacific at the end of World War II. When the crash site was found in 1995, the remains of eight people were brought back and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Most members of my family are buried at Olney Cemetery in Pendleton, including LaHue, Earnheart, Evans and Harris family names. 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 on the west side of the Cascades 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

Woodinville, Washington


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