Baca County History

by the Plainsman Herald

Orville Ewing’s Travels: The 1930’s


I mentioned in a previous post the large number of Orville Ewing postcards available for sale online, but there are also over 300 newspaper references to his 30 plus years of travel.

Orville Ewing 1938
Orville Ewing outside the Springfield Courthouse Leaving on his First Journey in 1938

UPDATE:  April 2020.  This past week I received another scan of the picture above.  Since we already have it the picture isn’t that big of a deal as our local museum has that one, but the stamp on the back is unusual.  Orville often talks about being a painter and artist, but this one is almost like a business card.

Beginning in 1938 with a a couple of references in the March 11, 1938 issue of the The Spokane Daily Chronicle and the March 11th 1938 Fresno Bee Republican in Fresno California.

Fresno Bee Headlines 1938 in the paper providing the article announcing Orville’s departure

Both papers report Orville setting off for San Francisco as follows:

“In an ox drawn ancient stagecoach mounted on balloon tires and equipped with a radio in a nanny goat Orville Ewing Colorado pushed on today towards San Francisco a destination he said he hoped to reach in 15 months.  If he keeps up a schedule you and we’ll deliver on June 10th 1939 to the Golden Gate exposition officials a letter of greeting from Mayor Earl Deeds of Pritchett.

Ewing said he expected to make a hundred miles a month Salt Lake City Christmas he said would provide all his dairy requirements throughout the trip.

The Berkeley Daily Gazette – Feb 15, 1939  Reported Orville dressed as a pioneer woman and spectators murmuring “Poor things look so tired” referring to Orville’s two plodding oxen Tom and Jerry

In The DePauw University Paper, October 9, 1939  Above Glen Thomas wrote  a great little snippet on Orville’s travels in an article called “Wandering Son Returns To Greencastle After 26 Years Of Nomadic Life”. Thomas writes,

With two goats, an ox, a hen, a dog and a covered wagon of questionable stability, Orville Ewing, former local artist, returned to Greencastle Friday after 26 years of nomadic life in the West. He thought that his home town “had growed a lot”, and that the girls skirts shrunk during his absence.

Orville explain that in 1913 a Greencastle painters life was not the life for him, so he off the freight and headed for Colorado.  Since that time he has traveled throughout the west. In 1937 he acquired his present outfit and traveling companions and decided to travel the country pioneer style.

Wearing a bright orange shirt, leather vest, black cowboy hat, & a well weather skin, he shows clearly the type of outdoor life he is led since his departure from Greencastle.

The ox-drawn wagon is covered with tan canvas, has red wheels and a green body. Hanging from both sides or pans pots and feed bucket semicolon well from a full extension at the rear, his daily wash things out to dry.

When traveling his dog and his hen ride on the back of the ox and the goats are on leashes connect the back of the wagon. Mr Ewing who is 51 years old spend his first morning in town looking in vain for a hitch rack on which to tie his ox.  He was also unable to find the old Locust Street Church which she claims was located in the front yard erector hall Orville has however, succeeded in locating many of his old Greencastle friends.

Now that he is back, Mr Ewing space intends to go into the goat herding business if he can find suitable pasture.  He said that he’s thinking of asking for permission to use a part of the campus near East college.

Mapping Orville’s Travels(This should be interesting)

Guess what folks…only 29 more years to go.   See you next time.

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