Cavalry saddle draws interest

William Chiles of Sherwood became interested in turn-of-the-century military attire. He may attend next year's Camp Logan Day. Photo Carolyn Chiles

JOHN DAY - A Cavalry saddle belonging to William Chiles of Sherwood drew the attention of many passers-by at Larry McGraw's Camp Logan booth in Trowbridge Pavilion during the Grant County Fair.

McGraw had an expansive photo display of the first Camp Logan Day, a military camp re-enactment, held in May near Prairie City. During the fair, McGraw heard that there may be more similar saddles in the area. He's hoping they might show up for next spring's Camp Logan Days.

According to Chiles, his Cavalry saddle was in poor condition when his family bought it at the Sumpter Flea Market in the mid- to late 1990s. The McClellan saddle is easy to identify, he said.

"They look uncomfortable, because it has a big gap down the middle," said Chiles, "But actually it's pretty comfortable."

The flea market treasure also had a brass plate identifying it with "U.S." and the brown leather tree was intact, although the rest of it was rough. The color identified it as being used after 1906, but when it was reconditioned, the color was changed to black and it was dressed up with skirting to represent an officer's saddle from a prior date.

In 1995-96, Chiles was part of the Oregon Army National Guard Unit at Redmond. He and some of his friends became interested in turn-of-the-century military attire and participated in parades and other military activities, such as a change of command ceremony. The group acquired uniforms representing circa 1856, and some had black powder pistols.

Chiles has since sold his horse and was discharged from the National Guard in February 2003. But his interest in history and Camp Logan Day may bring him to Grant County for next spring's event which is expected to be expanded to be a two- or three-day activity. William's mother is Carolyn Chiles of Mt. Vernon.

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