Gale Ontko and Superb Writing~SwittersB
Gale Ontko and Superb Writing~SwittersB

True Story: Driving along a back road east of Prineville, Oregon. I was remarking to the family about the history of the region and how few Oregonians really know their history. I further remarked to my captive audience that the best, bar none, history I had ever read was by Gale Ontko…his Thunder Over The Ochoco series was extraordinary. ‘Oh, I want to check out that unmarked cemetary down aways’.  We troop around the cemetary looking at the few headstones. The young mother and child taken the same day. The pioneer graves. The ornate fence around a grave. And suddenly I notice a headstone for Andrew Gale Ontko. Wow, I wonder. Look at the last name…that must be related. That is an unusual last name! Then upon closer inspection I see the nearby circle headstone with just Gale Ontko and the depiction of Indians Astride Horses! OMG! I was just talking about him! The reflexive reverential silence one deploys in a cemetary was gone as I bantered on to my still captive audience.

Wooden Cross at Ontko Grave~SwittersB
Wooden Cross at Ontko Grave~SwittersB

So, let me once again encourage  any NW USA history buff to find Gale Ontko’s six volume set and learn about the Western Shoshone Nation, Chief Paulina, Howard Maupin, Smith Rocks (who was the courageous Smith), the explorers, the thriving history that was so dominant around Mt. Pisgah. A must read. What a discovery for me (and my captive audience)!

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