I don’t think I was more than five or years old down at Raymond when there was talk one afternoon about all those “crazy” Imans over in Skamania. I’d never been there, though my dad sometimes went on duck or elk hunting expeditions there of the sort that the kids didn’t get to be involved with. Sometime he and Jimmy Wells would take the long drive down and join in a group which would scan valleys moving in a “V” formation to scare up animals over ridges. Or they’d spend all day down in tules along the Columbia hiding in duck blinds hoping for something to fly overhead.
Anyway, there were a bunch of Imans overe there, all descendants of Felix Grundy Iman and his sons and daughters several generations ahead of us. They’d come out of Illinois along the Mississippi in the 1850s and so had been among the early settlers. In fact it was often said that Theodore Columbus Iman, my great grandfather was the first child born of settlers in Washington State, though it’s not likely — perhaps within the first dozen of what would become Skamania County, and maybe even before Washington Territory split off from Oregon, and before statehood.
In any case, Imans had been around for a long while. Twenty years or so after they’d arrived, a brother of Felix Grundy had headed West. He was known as Lewis/Louis “Eyman”. The story about that told by the brothers was that since they were both entrepreneurs they thought it best to differentiate their last names in order not to confuse customers and clients. There’s a lot of meaning packed into that rationale which we’ll want to unease, though the account is likely off base. Some snickered at the time when they heard this one, knowing that the brothers had children committed to marrying one another, and putting a bit of distance between the names might help obfiscate the situation in some minds.
Families are full of stories.