are Border Days grand marshals
Idaho County Free Press
Joe helped to start the annual Joe Wilson Sausage Feed in White Bird, now into its third year and serving more than 200 people. The couple celebrated a milestone anniversary in December. And there was a little run-in with the U.S. Forest Service on Joe’s part. More on that later.
Now, the couple has been chosen as the 2010 Border Days grand marshals.
“What an honor. First we were White Bird Days grand marshals and now this,” Joe smiled.
Wilson was just a young boy of 16 when he married “the older woman.” Ada Gotzinger was 18.
“We had met at Brushy Flats School earlier,” Joe said. “When it was time to marry us, the priest had to call to Boise and get permission because of my age.”
There may have been skepticism by many about young love and how long it would last, but the Wilsons have proved it can: They were married 75 years ago, Dec. 27, 1934, in Grangeville.
Both their parents ranched along the Snake River, a life their families came to know and love. After Joe and Ada married, they went to Baker City, Ore. where he worked as a ranch hand, then worked a while at dairy business before he took a job at the Cornucopia gold and silver mine.
“It was during the Great Depression and there just wasn’t any money and no one really knew what to do,” Joe said. “But I tell you, I knew how to work, even if the pay wasn’t much.”
Joe dug tunnels and drilled granite in the wet and cold underground for between $1.50 and $3 a day, moving up in pay as he worked up to becoming an actual “miner.”
“That’s what I wanted to do and I was given a chance to prove myself,” said the now-92-year-old.
Joe worked at a variety of additional jobs until World War II started. He herded sheep for his mother-in-law and built roads for the U.S. Forest Service. He worked at several other mines including the Deadwood Mine out of Cascade and the Golden Anchor Mine out of Riggins.
“I got my greeting from President [Franklin] Roosevelt that said it was time to come on in,” Joe said. “I was told I could get a deferment because of my ranch work but I said, ’no sir, I will not!’ I was not about to be one of those draft dodgers; I wanted to serve my country.”
During World War II, Joe was trained to work with artillery pack mules and he served in the Philippines and then the Japanese mainland once the war ended.
Fifty-seven years ago in 1952, he and Ada settled at their ranch at Slippy Creek, between Slate Creek and White Bird. Together they have raised four kids and have several grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. This summer they will add a great-great-great-grandchild.
A spry man full of smiles and stories, Joe ran into a bit of trouble last year.
“For years, the family has had land at Adams Camp and for years I have allowed the Forest Service personnel access to that bordered Nez Perce National Forest land so they can cross over and not have to walk as far, carrying equipment for clean up crews and whatnot.”
“I never thought anything of that, certainly didn’t charge them for it,” Joe said.
Last summer Joe noticed that access road was full of potholes and so he called up Mike Cook at the Forest Service and asked if he could purchase a pile of gravel the USFS had at the Grangeville Salmon Road pit.
“He told me no, they couldn’t sell it like that,” Joe recalled.
What happens next, he concedes, is something, in hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have done — if he had understood the “ridiculous” consequences.
“I used my tractor and scooped up some of that gravel to spread out on those potholes,” he said. “I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”
It may not have been had a Forest Service employee not stopped him and asked what he was doing.
“She asked if I worked for the Forest Service and I said no and then she was upset about the gravel I got on the roadway,” he said. “We had a few words.”
Afterwards, Joe and his son went up and cleaned all the gravel from the roadway.
“It was spotless!” he said.
Ten days later the FS employee was at his house and gave him a ticket for $279.
In the end, Joe was advised by his lawyer to pay the fine.
“It just wasn’t worth it to fight it, but I still don’t think it’s right,” he shook his head. “But it’s hard to fight the government.”
Serene and thoughtful, Ada, 94, added to Joe’s remembrances with the quietly-spoken additions of dates and names.
When he said proudly, “We have good kids,” Ada smiled.
“Yes, she said,” and listed what one of their daughters had done for her in making her favorite potato salad.
“Ada can’t get around very well anymore,” Joe sighed. “She’s been in the hospital and is better now but I just don’t know if she’s be able to attend Border Days — it might be too much. But I’ll be there.”
Joe said he has had a good, long life that wouldn’t have been nearly the same without the hard work and support of his wife.
“She’s kept me together,” he smiled at her, eyes twinkling.
A slight smile spread across Ada’s face.
“Yes,” she nodded.
Wemhoff, Park are Border Days Royalty
By Lorie Palmer
Idaho County Free Press
Wemhoff, who will enter her senior year at Nezperce High School this fall, is the daughter of Jim and Rhonda Wemhoff. She is the granddaughter of Ralph and Sally Terhaar of Greencreek and Jean Wemhoff of Winona. She has one brother, Michell, 16, and one sister, Raquel, 11.
Explaining exactly where Wemhoff is “from” is a bit confusing.
“I am centrally located — I live in the Nezperce School District, have a Kamiah address, a Grangeville phone number, go to church in Greencreek, most of my relatives live in Cottonwood and I call Winona home,” she laughed.
Wemhoff has served or is serving in a variety of capacities in her school and community including as associated student body secretary, as a member of Future Farmers of America, the National Honor Society, Girls Club, Knowledge Bowl and Pep Club, as well as CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) and Greencreek High School Sodality. She is also a nine-year member of the Greencreek Active Workers 4-H Club where she is the club secretary and the president of the Winona Wranglers club. She is also active in sports, having played volleyball, basketball and softball, in addition to competing in High School Rodeo.
“Being Border Days queen is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Wemhoff stated. “You get to be a role model for young girls and a symbol for the whole celebration. You also get to meet many wonderful people, have fun and represent Grangeville.”
She recalls one of the funniest moments of her reign came when she was riding her brother’s horse, Bart, and she almost ran into a fence.
“I had to pull him up and I almost fell off,” she laughed. “It was super scary!”
Wemhoff previously served as Clearwater Valley Roundup Association (CVRA) queen in Kamiah (2008). She rides her nine-year-old Palomino Quarter Horse gelding, Eldon, and is sponsored by The McGregor Company of Grangeville.
Following graduation in 2011, Wemhoff plans to attend college and major in nursing.
Wemhoff especially thanks all those who helped her during the past year including the Border Days committee and royalty coordinator Bob Mager; McGregor Company; her parents; Peggy Wright for making chaps; princess Chelsea Parks “for all the hard work and crazy adventures”; Guy and Caroline Parks; and for “all the fans who enjoy the sport of rodeo just as much as I do,” she said.
Song: My Maria by Brooks and Dunn
Book: The Twilight Series
Singer: Brooks and Dunn
Food: Prime rib
Movie: The Man From Snowy River
Park is the daughter of Guy and Carolynn Park and granddaughter of Carole Nation, all of Grangeville.
Park was a member of the Border Days Triple Bar Drill Team from 2004-2009.
“Horses have always been the love of my life as far back as I can remember,” Park recalled. “My Pinto, Jessie Joe, and I have developed quite the bond over the years. Border Days has been a part of my life since 1992, as I have attended every rodeo since then and always dreamed of being part of it.”
Park plans to become a flight attendant and travel the world. She said she enjoys working with people. She is currently employed at Asker’s Harvest Foods.
“I would like to thank Asker’s for sponsoring me as well as Gem, Final Touch Salon, Irwin Drug, Inland Title Company, Idaho Country Properties, the Border Days Committee and my mom and dad for all their support,” Park said.
Park said she has become more confident through her royalty experience and would encourage any interested young lady to try out for royalty.
Song: She’s Country
Colors: Pink and blue
Books: Twilight series
Singer: Jason Aldean
Movie: 8 Seconds