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How Bennett Flat Became the County Seat

..by way of Franklin, Wallowa City, and Enterprise

February 11, 1887 marks the date that Wallowa County was legally separated from Union County. The formation of a new county set off a fierce competition for the county seat. Joseph was designated the interim county seat until the voters could determine the final location.

Not surprisingly, the Chieftain, which at the time was located in Joseph, came out strongly in favor of the County Seat remaining in Joseph. Frank D. McCully, the state representative who introduced the legislation to form Wallowa County, was the owner of the Chieftain and the editor was McCully's first cousin.

However, there were some ambitious business men who thought otherwise. Despite threats of a boycott by Joseph residents against anyone who started a store in Bennett Flat these pioneer entrepreneurs took action to establish a new town that would be a contender for the County Seat.

A letter published in the Union County newspaper The Oregon Scout in the spring of 1887, declaimed Bennett Flat as the most beautiful town site in all of Wallowa County. "There is (sic) golden chances here for good live energetic men in all departments of business. We hope to see this the model town of the valley in a few years, in which such things as factions, cliques, rings and saloons will be unknown."

Read more: How Bennett Flat Became the County Seat