Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
JAMES BEHAN is one of the best
known pioneers of the Big Bend and eastern Washington. In company
with his firm friend Mathew Scully, now a prominent resident of Lewiston,
Idaho, he came to Walla Walla late in the year 1878, and May 18, 1879,
he filed upon his present homestead, two and one-half miles east of Mondovi.
At that time Spokane Falls was the base of supplies for that section, and
also contained the nearest postoffice. The nearest railroad was the
old "Doc Baker" narrow gauge to Walla Walla. Mr. Behan began in the
territory of Washington with little capital, and had many hardships to
pass through before getting a start. He spent his first winter in
splitting rails with which to fence his land. He later did some freighting,
and the two following seasons sought employment in the Walla Walla harvest
fields. There were very few settlers near him, and his life was a
lonely one, but as the country became populated and times better the condition
of our subject improved with the times. Having had his choice of
the country, he got a good location and good land. He now owns four
hundred and eighty acres of grain land, and a half interest in three hundred
and twenty acres of pasture land near Reardan. He also owns a half
interest in a good business block in the town just named; sufficient stock
and implements to successfully carry on the cultivation of his land, and
makes a specialty of raising grain.
Mr. Behan was born in Louisiana, just opposite
New Orleans, January 1, 1847. His father, whose name he bears, died
while the son was still a child. He was a native of Ireland, as was
also his wife, Mary (Collins) Behan. They were married in Ireland
and came soon afterward to Louisiana. The mother was married subsequent
to her former husband's death, to John Johnston, in the town of Biloxi,
Mississippi, and at this place the young manhood of James was spent.
Mr. Behan has three half brothers: John Johnston, Biloxi; Alexander, New
Orleans, who has a son, George, now a soldier in the 28th United States
Volunteers in the Philippines; and Mathew, of New Orleans. The mother
and step-father both died at Biloxi.
James Behan came to St. Louis and later to
Omaha, in 1867, in the employ of the U. P. railroad. He enjoys the
distinction of having witnessed the driving of the golden spike of the
C. P., and the silver spike of the U. P. railroads, the latter event taking
place in May, 1869, at a point eighty miles east of Ogden, Utah.
After this he removed to Wichita, Kansas, where he conducted a butcher
shop until coming to San Francisco in 1873. He spent five years among
different places in California, then came to Washington territory.
Since coming to his present locality Mr. Behan
has held the office of school director of the old Mondovi district for
a number of years. He is a prominent member of Reardan lodge, No.
84, I. O. O. F., and a most highly respected citizen.