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.
ELMORE A. McKENNA, who is now
holding the position of agent for the Northern Pacific, at Sprague, is
a man of varied and extensive experience and well known ability.
He was born in Kingston, Nova Scotia, on May 20, 1863, the son of Joseph
L. and Eunice S. (Felch) McKenna, natives of Nova Scotia, the father of
Kingston, and the mother of Torbrook. The father is of Scotch-Irish
ancestry and is a highly respected man in his community. He is deacon
of the Baptist church and has shown himself a man of real principle and
worth. At present he is eighty-four years of age and the mother,
two years younger, died October 30, 1904. The father is still hale
and hearty for his age. The mother was of English ancestry and her
grandfather, Major Parker, was in the king's army at the time of the Revolution.
She is also a relative of Marcus Whitman, of fame in the northwest.
Our subject was favored with a good education, partly gained before he
left home and finished by his own efforts after commencing teaching, which
he did when sixteen. When eighteen he learned the art of telegraphy
and was at Halifax in the Western Union office. In 1884, he landed
in Boston, and two years later was in St. Paul. Thence he was sent
by the Northern Pacific to Mandan, Dakota, and in September, 1886, he came
to Sprague, still in the employ of that company. He continued with
the company until 1893, holding various stations throughout southeastern
Washington and in Idaho. Then he resigned his position and entered
into business with the well known financier, John P. Vollmer, accepting
the position of bank cashier at Genesee, Idaho. During this time
he was lieutenant colonel of the Idaho National Guards, First Regiment.
Upon the breaking out of the Spanish war, he enlisted as a private in Company
B, First Idaho Volunteers and at San Francisco was appointed captain in
the First United States Volunteer Signal Corps. June 16, 1898, they
sailed from San Francisco and from the time he landed in the Philippines,
he was in the most active and arduous service. He was the senior
signal officer in the field. They built many lines of telegraph and
laid many cables, and much of it was in the fiercest weather and under
galling fire. Mr. McKenna was in sixteen engagements with the natives
and also participated in taking Manila from the Spaniards. He was
under Generals Anderson and Lawton and was especially associated with the
unfortunate Lawton in his brave career. In June, 1889, Mr. McKenna
came home and the second day of the following September he was honorably
discharged. He then went to work for the Northern Pacific again and
after a time at Lind, he was stationed at Sprague, where he is at the present
time rendering first class service to his company.
At Genesee, Idaho, on June 19, 1899, Mr. McKenna
married Miss Isabelle, the daughter of John and Thalia L. (Krum) Owen.
The father was born in England, served in the Civil War, and is now postmaster
at Genesee. The mother was born in Ohio and her father was one of
the pioneers of Ashtabula county in that state, and also of the state of
Nebraska. For a time he was a sheriff in Illinois. To Mr. and
Mrs. McKenna three children have been born, Beatrice E., Raymond O., and
Douglas E., all at home. Mr. McKenna belongs to the K. P., the A.
F. & A. M., and the W. W. At the present time he is worshipful
master of the masonic lodge in Sprague. In 1896, Mr. McKenna was
candidate for state auditor in Idaho on the Republican ticket, but owing
to the silver issue, he went down with the balance of the ticket.
The home place in Sprague is a tasty cottage
on Third street, where Mrs. McKenna presides with gracious dignity and
makes it the center of refined hospitality. Mr. McKenna owns a quarter
section of land north from Sprague, another quarter south of town and a
half interest in four hundred and eighty acres near the town. The
farms are well improved and produce annually bountiful crops of wheat.