Two of the early residents of the Wood River Valley were John and Lucy Loosley and William and Nellie Nicholson. Here we share a bit of their families' histories.

Loosley/Kizer Ranch

Established 1872

In 1871 John Loosley traveled with his wife Lucy and eight of their eleven children to Klamath Country from the Willamette Valley. They came by covered wagon to the Klamath Agency where John was to operate the gristmill for the US Government.

The site of the Agency was chosen because of the facilities for waterpower furnished by a spring, which created a 12-feet high fall. The waterfall supplied adequate power for running both a gristmill and sawmill.

John Loosley was “taken” with the level grassland in the Wood River Valley, and in 1872 he filed on a homestead along the banks of the crystal-clear stream, across from the fort. John and Lucy built a large home of boards, the first board house in the valley.

Soon word of the luxuriant grassland spread and it wasn’t many years before families on the 160 acres sprang up, including the older sons of John and Lucy. As the population grew, a school and church were built and that began the community of Fort Klamath.

John engaged in raising cattle. He was the first to keep cattle year round in the valley, by harvesting hay from the wild grasses. Later, from 1891 to 1918, John had a dairy herd.

By 1890 John and two of his older sons decided to start a creamery. The creamery was built on the bank of the Wood River and was the first creamery built in Klamath County. However, the milk and butter would freeze and not travel well and the creamery was closed.

In 1897 John, George and Fred dug an irrigation ditch from further up the Wood River to irrigate their lands. Now they could grow their grains with little or no expense. Crops increased a hundred fold.

John passed away in the early 1900s, when the cattle industry had become firmly entrenched in the lush valley. Lucy lived until 1912 doing what she could for others as long as she was able.

Both John and Lucy are buried in the old Fort Klamath Historic Cemetery along with four generations of their family. The old homestead is still in the family, currently managed by Randall T. Kizer and his wife Jeanie. The old box home has been replaced by a log home, built from logs cut on site.

The Loosley clan of 40 to 60 has a family reunion every year at the ranch, each hailing to that spot that ties them together.

First non-military board house.
First non-military board house.
Haying on the Loosley Ranch in 1920s.
Haying on the Loosley Ranch in 1920s.
John Loosley and sons
(l to r) Phil, John and Fred Loosley
Lucy Loosley Pioneer Woman of 1847
Lucy Loosley, family matriarch

Nicholson Home Ranch

Owned & Operated Since 1898


William Elmore Nicholson purchased the 320 acre “home ranch” in 1898 from George Shepard. By 1925, the ranch had expanded to 720 acres.

In October 1898, William Elmore married Nellie Sturges and together they raised their four children: Francis, Stewart, Theodore and Lloyd. The latter two were born on the ranch.

In 1925, due to poor health, William turned the ranch over to his sons, Theodore and Stewart, who formed a partnership.

The Nicholson brothers farmed the land and also started the Cloverdale Dairy. They raised some of the best Alsike Clover seeds in the Klamath Basin and increased their dairy herd to 100 cows.

Unfortunately, Bang’s disease struck the dairy herd and army worms infested the clover crop. Undeterred, the brothers developed the ranch land to pasture commercial beef.

In the early 1940s, Theodore and Stewart dissolved the partnership. Steward, along with his wife, Anita (Kight) and their children, William S. and Marie, took over ownership and operation of the home ranch.

In 2000, a partnership was formed with William S and his sons Larry, Gary, Brad and Jeff (and later, daughter, Lisa), keeping the original home ranch in the family.

The property remains as a working cattle ranch.


Nicholson Ranch looking NW
Nicholson Ranch looking NW
Bill & son, Larry.