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
JOHN UNBEWUST has had one of the most busy and eventful lives of any of the many rugged pioneers of the Big Bend country. Born on January 1, 1858, in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, he is now a prominent and well-to-do farmer living four and one half miles south from Harrington. His father, Valentine Unbewust, was born and reared in Germany, and died in Pennsylvania, in 1860, aged forty-four years. His mother was Catherine E. Unbewust, a native of Germany, who died in Pennsylvania in 1875, being at the time of her death in her fifty-sixth year. The parents of our subject had been parents of nine children, only two of whom are now living, our subject and a brother, Adam, near Moscow, Washington. Until arriving at the age of fifteen Mr. Unbewust worked about the coal mines of his native state, then engaged to run an engine in a factory. Afterwards he learned the trade of blacksmith, which trade he has followed more or less during all the subsequent years of his life. In the spring of 1877 he went to Yolo county, California, where he did blacksmithing for some years, then went to San Francisco, where he engaged in the vocation of the bar-tender in a saloon. This latter business, however, he followed only five months when he became so thoroughly disgusted with the entire traffic in liquor in all its details that he changed forever his occupation, and at the same time permanently eschewed all use of intoxicating drinks in any form and also the use of tobacco. From that time henceforth he has been a total abstainer. After leaving the barroom he returned to work at his trade in Yolo City, and in the spring of 1883 returned to his old home in Pennsylvania where he worked in the blacksmith shops of a railroad for a brief space of time.
On May 6, 1883, Mr. Unbewust was married to Catherine Elizabeth Smith, born in Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, December 4, 1858. She was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Smith, whose deaths occurred respectively in 1862 and 1902. In June, following their wedding, Mr. and Mrs. Unbewust came to Yolo county, where both worked during the harvest season, he in the field and his wife as cook for a heading crew. In September, 1883, they came to Sprague, Washington, where Mr. Unbewust worked as a blacksmith in the car shops. He also took a homestead at the time of coming here, and worked for a year and a half to earn money with which to make improvements on his land. He built a small cabin, one half of which served as a living house and the other half as a shop wherein he did a considerable amount of work for his neighbors. Later, he again followed his trade in Sprague for a number of months, after which he worked in the Walla Walla harvest fields and elsewhere in order to keep up the improvements of his homestead. He then started in farming on a small scale, but, as he had never had any experience at that business, and since all the elements of nature seemed to militate against him, he suffered great hardships and met poor success until the year 1897, when he had a good crop, received a high price, and nearly succeeded in clearing himself of a seventeen hundred dollar debt. The following year he rented several hundred acres of land, which he farmed with success, in fact every year since that time has found him more prosperous and successful than its predecessor. Since the year 1900 he has been cultivating two whole sections of land. He now owns four hundred and eighty acres of his own, all well improved, having a modern house, first class outbuildings, water system, orchard and so forth. He has also a large number of live stock, and some especially well-bred horses.
Mr. Unbewust is a member of the Harrington lodge, knights of Pythias, and is one of the leading citizens of his county.
The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Unbewust are Catherine E., deceased, Elizabeth D., Anna Martha, Christine, Georgia A., and Mary E.
Mr. Unbewust may well feel a pride in the fact of his signal success in Lincoln county against such overwhelming adversity as menaced him during his early years in the agricultural business, and which has been overcome only by his indomitable energy and determination to make a success of the life he chose to follow. He was reared in the Lutheran faith and has worked for the advancement of all that tends to benefit mankind. Being progressive, he cast his first vote for the success of the Republican party. He is a deep thinker and now, as things progress, he is feeling bound to investigate the claims of Socialism.