SENECA - The Oliver Ranch, located 3 miles east of Seneca, is one of 17 Oregon Century Farms and Ranches which received honors and certificates at the Oregon State Fair in Salem.
This prestigious designation is awarded to family owners who have operated the farm or ranch continuously for 100 years or more.
J.C. Oliver III, wife Tinka, and children Kati and Alec, who own/operate the ranch, along with Arlene Oliver, attended the ceremony and accepted the award on Aug. 31.
Joseph Cayton Oliver came from Azores, Portugal, and mined for gold and cut wood before finding work in 1878 as a ranch hand west of John Day. In time, the family - including Will and Henry Gregg, Lizzie Gregg and George, Herman and Frank Oliver - began their own ranch east of John Day with a few head of cattle. The Oliver Brothers Ranch, originally founded by J.C. Oliver on July 9, 1889, increased their holdings by homesteading and buying other ranches. Sheep were their main commodity until the 1930s. As partners died or left ranching to pursue other interests, ownership changed hands to include Herman Oliver's daughter and son-in-law, Anna and Sam Keerins and Frank's son and daughter-in-law, J.C. "Joe" Oliver II and Arlene Oliver.
In 1942, Joe and Arlene acquired half of the partnership, which consisted of land on the John Day River, the Tebo Place and Bear Creek Place. They operated the ranches until the 1970s when their son, J.C. Oliver III, joined the operation.
The Tebo Place was sold in 1978. All the ranches were incorporated under the name J.C. Oliver, Inc., and some are still run under that name.
Joe died in 1996 and Arlene now lives in John Day.
In 1985, J.C. Oliver III took over operation of the Bear Creek Place, where he and his family live and raise cattle, horses and hay. This is now the Oliver Century Ranch.