Biography: Ruby Purdin ~ 1898-1998

RUBY MORGAN PURDIN’S grandfather, Wesley Morgan, left a plantation in Mississippi and moved to Horse Creek, California, after the Civil war. Ruby was born April 9, 1898, to Wesley and Grace Bratt Morgan in Horse Creek, twenty-eight miles down the Klamath river from Yreka.

Ruby lived there with her parents and two brothers, Ernest, born in 1891, and D. D., born in 1900. In 1910 she moved to the Burnt Hill Creek area near Pistol river with her mother and stepfather, Walter Doolittle.

Too far from the schools to travel back and forth daily, ruby first lived with Abe and Emma Hardenbrook and their sons Dallas and Homer, at their home near Carpenterville and attended the Irma school. Her teacher was Mr. Hewitt who lived in Roseburg and came to Carpenterville for three months in the summer to teach the ten children attending Irma school. The children were Myrtle, Lola and Linda Clarno, Nettie, Brother and Stan Colgrove, Homer and Wilbur Ostrander, Alice Hill and Ruby.


Later on Ruby boarded with Willy and Linnie Paskins Walker at their home in Pistol river (the Jay Walker Ranch), and attended the Pistol River School. Before operating the cheese factory at Pistol River, the Walkers made and shipped butter to San Francisco until 1907 or ’08, shipping it out from Arch Rock at Pistol River and down to the Rogue River. To pay for their room and board, Ruby helped Mr. And Mrs. Walker with their children, Jamie, Charlie and Mildred, and assisted with the housework. She would walk home on Friday evening and back on Monday morning.

In 1915 Ruby married Harley Benjamin Gardner. Harley was born in Wedderburn in 1890 to Benjamin and Becky Gardner. Ruby and Harley lived on the Gardner Ranch, seven miles up Pistol River. The ranch had formerly belonged to Harley’s grandparents, Mr. And Mrs. William Forgey, who bought the pre-emption claim from a Mr. Preston who had homesteaded it.

Ruby used to tell about the time she observed a hog drive to Crescent City. One of the men, Elmer Miller, came in and asked her for a big needle and thread. Ruby thought is was crazy when he told her he was going to sew the hogs eyes shut so that they couldn’t see. That would make them easier to drive. It was a two day drive and the first day they went from Pistol River to the Warnock place between Pistol River and Brookings. The Warnocks raised potatoes and saved the little ones for the hog drivers who fed them to the hogs. The second day they drove the hogs on to the Smith River, where, being full of potatoes, they weighed more. Timber was plentiful and worth nothing in the early 1900′, but pasture was a necessity, so the early ranchers in Curry County girdled millions of dollars worth of timber to clear the land.

While on the Gardner Ranch, Ruby and Harley had three children, Raleigh, born in 1918 in Crescent City, Rose Gardner Walker, born in 1920 in Brookings and Ben, born in 1925 at the ranch. The three children attended school several miles downstream from the ranch, at a little building in a prairie next to the swinging bridge that was used by the children coming to the school from the south. The teach stayed alternate years with the Gardners and the Austin Ralfs.

Ruby and Harley were divorced and Ruby married Pearl Purdin in 1938. They moved to Nesika Beach, about seven miles north of Gold Beach, and resided on the property known then as Green Gables. Ruby and Pearl lived and worked there until the war. In March, 1942, they worked for the Coos-Curry Fire Patrol on their lookouts at Brushy Bald, up Euchre Creek and later at Edson Butte Lookout up the Sixes River. While working on the Edson Butte Lookout in the fall of 1942, at about 5:00 A.M., on an overcast day, Ruby heard a noise like a “Kerosene can with small rocks in it being shaken,” and woke Pearl. There was also some thunder and lightening and Pearl teased her about getting him out of bed to show him some lightening. What she had apparently heard was a Japanese plane, possibly the same one that had dropped a bomb on Mt. Emily. It dropped fire bombs and flares between Edson Butte and Grassy Knob, which was only a few miles from where they were. The plane then circled over them and headed back to sea.

In 1943 they ranched on the Dr. Cartwright place in Langlois and in 1944 on the Kate Bailey Ranch in Wedderburn which as the time was leased to Milt Moore.

Beginning in 1944, Ruby and Pearl worked for ten summers for the Forest patrol and spent their winters raising cattle on their forty acres on the top of Kimble Hill on the Rogue River. They then ranched in eastern Oregon until the bought the Bill Jennings Ranch on Floras Creek in 1956 and resided there until 1961 when Ruby moved back to Gold Beach.

Ruby lived in Gold Beach until her death on September 14, 1998, at age 100.