Andrew Jackson (A.J. or Jack) Splawn was a cowboy, ranch owner, and politician in the early years of settlement in Yakima, WA. Born in 1845 in Helm County, Missouri, Splawn spent much of his childhood in Linn County, Oregon, before following his older brother Charles to eastern Washington. At sixteen years of age, he hired out as cowboy for Major John Thorp and soon participated in his first cattle drive to Fort Kamloops, British Columbia. He subsequently took part in a variety of cattle drives to British Columbia, Idaho, Montana, and eastern Oregon. During this time, he encountered bandits and hostile Indians, as well as other perils. In 1870 he established Robber’s Roost, a trading post unique to central Washington. Indeed, given the importance of the trading post, Robber’s Roost served as the name for the present town of Ellensburg until 1875, when John Shoudy named the site for his wife, Ellen. In the 1880s, Splawn purchased Springdale Ranch in Cowiche Valley and imported the first Hereford cattle to the Northwest. Later he exported his prize-winning Herefords to Alaska, Hawaii, and China. Splawn promoted the first packing house in the Pacific Northwest and served as outside partner of Frye and Co. of Seattle.
In 1903, A.J. Splawn stepped away from ranching to take part in politics. He served as Washington state senator from 1903-1905, Democratic candidate for governor in 1905, and mayor of North Yakima in 1911. As mayor, he was called on to rid Yakima of prostitution and the Chinese opium trade.
Splawn served as first president of the Tieton Water Users’ Association in the early 1900s. He was also co-founder and first president of the Yakima Valley Transportation Co. He was an early member of the Yakima County Horticultural Union, livestock agent for the Great Northern Railroad, organizer and first president of the Pacific International Livestock Exposition in Portland, leader in the Washington Livestock Association, and organizer and early president of the Washington State Fair.
A.J. Splawn died in March, 1917, of a disease contracted from a parrot at a pet store. He was survived by his wife, Margaret Larsen Splawn.
Margaret Cecilian Larsen was born April 28, 1873, in Independence, Kansas, to John H. Larsen and Hester Elvina Tilton Larsen. In 1878 the family traveled to Tillamook, Oregon, where John Larsen established a trading post. Later they moved to Garibaldi, where Margaret’s mother became postmistress, and then the Dalles, where her father established shipping yards for grain, wool, hides, furs, and pelts. Margaret attended St. Mary’s Academy at the Dalles, graduating in 1891. She taught school in Washington and Montana for seven years and married A.J. Splawn in 1897. Together they had three children: Andrew J. Splawn, Jr., Homer B. Splawn, and Lallooh Splawn Carpenter. Only Homer and Lallooh survived to later adulthood.
After A.J. Splawn passed away in 1917, Margaret Splawn continued to operate the ranch. She was also active in the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Twentieth Century Club, the Yakima County Pioneer Association, the Yakima Valley Historical Society, the Oregon Historical Society, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Columbia River Archaeological Society. In the 1940s, she helped to edit and republish A.J. Splawn’s Kamiakin, his account of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest and his experiences driving cattle. Margaret Splawn passed away on December 13, 1954.
This collection comprises manuscripts, notes, newspaper clippings, select photos, and printing plates collected by Homer B. Splawn relating to Splawn family history, with particular emphasis on the 1880s to the 1980s. The collection includes research notes, poems, and stories written by Margaret Splawn in her capacity as editor of her husband’s book Kamiakin and as leader in the Yakima Valley Historical Society. Also included is correspondence initiated or received by Homer B. Splawn as he researched Splawn and Larsen family genealogy. The collection includes limited business records of A.J. Splawn’s ranch and the subsequent Margaret C. Splawn estate, including awards earned by Splawns’ Hereford cattle, property deeds, and an expense ledger. In addition, the collection includes meeting minutes and notes of the Yakima Sons of the American Revolution and the Yakima Valley Historical Society—groups in which Margaret and A.J. Splawn led and participated. Published manuscripts included in this collection are Kamiakin, by A.J. Splawn, and Story of Margaret Larsen Splawn, by Homer B. Splawn and Lalloh Splawn Carpenter.
Please note that, while organizing A.J. Splawn's book Kamiakin, Margaret Splawn gathered together and edited her husband's notes. Some materials in Series II: Margaret (Larsen) Splawn may, therefore, have been written by A.J. Splawn and edited posthumously by his wife.
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
Open to the public for educational research.
Preferred Citation :
[Name of document or photograph number]. MS10, Homer B. Splawn Papers. Archives and Special Collections, Brooks Library, Central Washington University.
Arranged in eleven series: Series I: A.J. Splawn; Series II: Margaret (Larsen) Splawn; Series III: Splawn family business records; Series IV: Larsen family genealogy; Series V: Splawn family genealogy; Series VI: Yakima Valley history; Series VII: Oversized; Series VIII: Photos and printing plates; Series IX: Published manuscripts; Series X: 3-D objects; Series XI: Audiovisual materials. Within series, folders are arranged alphabetically.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I: A.J. Splawn
Article—“History of Washington" (photocopy)
Biography by Homer B. Splawn
Organization membership—Washington Cattlemen’s Association
Pamphlets—“Hall of Great Westerners"
Professional correspondence—“Letter to the Editor of the Yakima Republic"
Response to Kamiakin
Response to Kamiakin
Response to Kamiakin
Response to Kamiakin (article)
Speech—First draft on Northern Pacific irrigation bill