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The Perkins House is a 4000 square-foot late Victorian style house, mixed with Italianate, that was completed in 1886 by James A. Perkins, the founder and the first citizen of Colfax.
James Perkins was born in 1841 in Illinois to Joel and Margaret Perkins.
He arrived to the Palouse River area in 1870 to start a saw mill with Thomas Smith.
He built a small log cabin, which is the oldest building in Colfax today, on the land that he purchased, and named the settlement "Belleville", but later changed the name to Colfax in honor of the current Vice President then, Schuyler Colfax (1823-1885).
In 1873, James married Sarah Jane (Jennie) Ewart (1855-1935), a daughter of Captain James Ewart and his wife, Jeanette. Jennie was much younger than James, but in those days, arranged marriages like this one were quite common. It was done for the "good of the town," according to Psychic Jane Stewart, who did a walk thru of the Perkins house with us.
James and Jennie had 4 children: Minnie Belle (1874-1965), Myrtle May (1875-1966), Stella (1879-1920), and Sumner Ewart (1884-1959).
In 1884, the old cabin was moved to its current location to make way for the new and larger house that would fit the family better.
The new house was the center of many social and business gatherings, as both Mr. and Mrs. Perkins were busy participating in community affairs.
James Perkins was a very influential figure with a great vision and drive to better the town of Colfax. He was a savvy businessman, who seemed to be well liked and respected, and his advice was often seeked. He passed on the chance to become a governor of Washington, as well as the nominee for the U.S.Senate.
He became a president of the Bank of Colfax, councilman on the city council, a mayor of Colfax, and helped to get Colfax designated as the county seat of Whitman County. He was also the Chairman of the Republican County Central Committee, and a real estate agent for both the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company, and the Northern Pacific railroad, to name a few.
James Perkins passed away in 1920.
The Perkins House stayed in the Perkins family until 1968. Ethel Perkins ( Sumner's wife) was the last occupant in the house.
Whitman County Historical Society took over ownership of the Perkins House in 1970, saving it from being demolished. They have done restorations of the log cabin and the main house. The Perkins House was placed on National Register of Historical Places in 1972, and is now a wonderful museum filled with some original items owned by the family, as well as donated antiques. It is open to the public and small events.
Many psychics have gone by the house, and it seems that they all feel that there is both a male and a female spirit there.
Psychic Jane Stewart agrees, as she believes that the female spirit in the house is Ethel Perkins and the male spirit is Mr. Colfax,who visited the house frequently. Mr. Colfax doesn't stay there all the time. He likes the office area upstairs by the nursery; The chair in there is said to move across the floor.
Ethel travels the stairs and likes the living room and the kitchen area. She also likes to have visitors and likes Valoree Gregory, who works there .
Our evidence from the main house matches the reports. We recorded male and female voices in the house. We were also able to get the spirit to communicate with us in the Music room using flashlights. We believe it was Ethel.
During our session, Valoree Gregory saw shadow movement in the hallway.
Earlier during a tour in April, we were in the master bedroom upstairs and the closet door opened on its own. We couldn't debunk that.
Also, during a session in the office upstairs, Valoree's hair was touched and the Ovilus said the words, "pulled hair." In the music room, the rocking chair seems to move on its own.
Doors on the China cabinet have opened on their own, and the alarm system goes off on the receiving end, but not at the house.
Psychics have also seen a woman outside in the backyard. Psychic Jane Stewart saw a woman with a blonde hair and blue eyes wearing a blue dress. She doesn't go in the main house. She likes the swing out back. We seem to record a female voice from the backyard each time we visit. Whoever she is, she has a lot to say.
We also did a session with a flashlight in the old Cabin, where people have seen a man by the window. It didn't take long for the spirit to start communicating with us. He said it was James Perkins.
The Perkins house is definitely haunted and holds its own secrets. But we will let the sleeping dogs lie, and remember all the great things the Perkins family did and be grateful to be able to still visit this great house and the history it holds.