Today we start a week long study of the art of portrait photography. We know that Hood River supported studios in its early days where the likes of W.D. Rogers, the Neff Brothers, and Horace Deitz provided their services, and people would dress up in their very finest to become immortal.
We know very little about this one but it was too appealing for me so skip. The reverse identifies "James Coventon, known as 'Grasshopper Jim', Early pioneer." I see a reference to a James Coventon buying farmland near the Dalles in 1883 for $400 and selling it 10 years later for $10,000, as well as record of Congressman Moody securing a $30 pension for him. Perhaps he is more part of the history of the Dalles. Not only do we get a great portrait, we get a Monday mystery.
He had a very interesting life. He came early on to Oregon where he was employed in 1837 by the American Fur Trade Company. He eventually returned east, then participated in the Mexican War in the 12th U. S. Infantry. He never married until he was in his 50's. He married Cincinnatti Simpson Johnson, who appears in this photo with him. She had been married to a James Johnson and apparently he died. She had children by her first marriage and "JH" as he was known and her had children.
They returned to the Hood River-The Dalles area.
He was born in Lumpkin, Georgia in 1818 and died in The Dalles in 1905. Cincinnatti was born in 1837 in Arkansas and died in The Dalles in 1909.
Charlott on 17th November 2014 @ 7:14am
Hood River County was created from a portion of Wasco County in 1908. Does anyone know exactly how far from The Dalles his property was?
Norma on 17th November 2014 @ 7:15am
I have also found that eventually, no doubt after this photo the pair divorced...
Charlott on 17th November 2014 @ 7:18am
I don't know where his land was, but in his last years he lived at 718 East 1st in The Dalles, Cincinnatti lived at 815 E. 3rd and their son lived at 700 Calhoun.
Charlott Jones on 17th November 2014 @ 7:25am
Charlott, what specific evidence do you have that they divorced? You may be right, but I can think of a couple reasons for the different addresses. Besides, how could any woman divorce a man named Grasshopper Jim?
Buzz on 17th November 2014 @ 8:14am
Buzz, look at the expression on her face-- doesn't it tell you that he was a handful to live with?
Arthur on 17th November 2014 @ 9:03am
Thanks for all of the info Charlott. I was wondering if he first came to the area in 1937 by ship or overland.
Here is some more information under "Andrew Johnson". page 530
Here is Cincinnati's grave in The Dalles
I recall reading early Washougal history one time and some of the farmers were waiting for a Mr. Johnson from Trout Lake to arrive to build barns. He knew how to build them for heavy snow. If you notice, many of the old barn in TL have a steep roof pitch.
l.e. on 17th November 2014 @ 9:22am
In a Sept. 1891 The Dalles Chronicle a Mrs. J.H. Coventon says she has someone's pig. They can come identify it and pay expenses.
Maybe she didn't divorce JH. Maybe it was the other way around.
Did you know there is a Coventon House in HR.
415 East 2nd St.
Owner James Haynes Coventon
In 1896 JH Coventon of HR was visitng The Dalles.
There was a John Albert Coventon of HR born 1879 who was a RR conductor for OWR&N Co. He married Ota Walker who died 1926 in HR.
I suspect Arthur, there is a lot to learn about this photo.
l.e. on 17th November 2014 @ 9:54am
Charlott already told us most of this but here are some dates.
And Buzz, there seems to be no doubt about the divorce. Records seem to be pretty clear about it.
James Hill Coventon
Born: Oct 2, 1819 in Lummphi Co. Georgia
Death: Oct. 30 1905 in The Dalles, Wasco Co. Oregon
Occupation: Hunter and Trapper
James Hill was among the first white residents in the Northwest. He was in the employ of the American Fur Trade Company in 1837. He hunted and trapped along the John Day and Deschutes rivers. He returned east in 1857 and came back to Oregon in 1861 to remain until his death.
1 Cincinatti SIMPSON b: 29 MAY 1837 in Dover, Pope, Arkansas
Married: 9 SEP 1873 in The Dalles, Wasco, Oregon
Divorced: 1905 in Wasco County, Oregon
1. Francis J. COVENTON b: OCT 1878 in The Dalles, Wasco, Oregon
Has No Children
2. Jon "Jno" A. COVENTON b: 6 JUL 1879 in The Dalles, Wasco, Oregon
l.e. on 17th November 2014 @ 11:03am
Norma....we evidently owe you our condolences for your loss in August. Our thoughts are with you.
As for property, I don't know about HR, but In The Dalles, around 1893, there was evidently a long standing court battle between the Coventons and Seufert's Bros. over some property with irrigation rights from Five Mile Creek.
Cincinati's parents, the W.G.Simpsons, had purchased the property with an irrigation ditch, in 1872. James H and Cincinati evidently took possession of the property when Mrs. Simpson died in 1880.
The court case had to do with water rights.
l.e. on 17th November 2014 @ 2:12pm
I got the following from a 3rd great grandson of Cincinnati's.. The marriage was probably a "marriage of convenience", which was quite common in that era, due to the fact a widow with children had no means of support. As to the divorce......when James was in his late years he suffered from a failing mind. Had he had to be institualized the state would have confiscated any finances that he may had. The divorce may have been her way of protection financially.
James was known around The Dalles and people were used to his odd behavior but knew that he was harmless. Possibly due to something he did is how the name "Grasshopper Jim" was coined. He resided in his last years at The Bee Hive Hotel.
Charlott Jones on 18th November 2014 @ 7:29am
That makes some sense Charlotte, as they were divorced the same year he died.
Buzz on 18th November 2014 @ 8:38am
I know the reason he was called "Grasshopper Jim." During the war in Mexico he got seperated from his unit and ate grasshoppers for nourishment.....
Charlott Jones on 18th November 2014 @ 10:09am
Don't you wish he could come talk to us?
He was in this area before the white man had started to settle. In the days when travel was time consuming and hard, he had been out west, back east and down to the Mexico border.
l.e. on 18th November 2014 @ 11:33am
This is their wedding photo I found out. Their land was near where The Dalles is and was called Coventon Point.....
Charlott Jones on 18th November 2014 @ 2:45pm
Meant to say their land was near where The Dalles bridge is now.
Charlott Jones on 18th November 2014 @ 3:32pm
James Coventon's grave is located in The Dalles.
I'm not sure of the year, but 16 headstones arrived at The Dalles for G.A.R. veterans who were buried at The Dalles Cemetery. They are made of Vermont marble and were made in Boston. All are appropriately engraved with name, DOB and DOD, date of enlistment, name and number of company and regiment and date of discharge.
l.e. on 19th November 2014 @ 2:19am
I came across this while looking up some Glenwood, Washington history. I don't know if it is the same Grasshopper Jim.
Leonard Stump came across the plains in 1857. With this train came in their fellow called "Grasshopper Jim" reported in a story some months ago. "He didn't get the name from eating grasshoppers either," says Mrs. Stump, "but because he was ready to do things quickly, and he always could get grasshoppers for fishing much quicker than anyone else."
L.E. on 23rd July 2015 @ 9:04pm
I truly enjoyed the photo, JH was a great, great, great grandfather of mine. I've been slowly getting my genealogy information together. His daughter Frances died during the 1920's, I'm still trying to find her grave.
Noel on 22nd August 2015 @ 12:32pm
I have no idea if this is the same "Grasshopper Jim".
Researching some Camas Prairie Klickitat County Washington history I cam across this written by Mrs. Charlotte Cline Stump in 1936:
"Mrs. Stump was born in 1850. She is now 85 years old, and has seen it many active years during her life. She was married in 1866 to Leonard Stump in Portland. Mrs. Stump came to the west when she was only eight years old. She came by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Going by about as far as possible, then crossing Isthmus at that time by a small train. Leonard Stump came across the plains in 1857. With this train came in their fellow called "Grasshopper Jim" reported in a story some months ago. "He didn't get the name from eating grasshoppers either," says Mrs. Stump, "but because he was ready to do things quickly, and he always could get grasshoppers for fishing much quicker than anyone else."
L.E. on 31st March 2016 @ 10:41am