The Harney County Historical Society began in 1955 and applied for and received IRS 501(c)3 tax exempt status in July 1959. We own and operate the Harney County Museum through the efforts of many member volunteers. Persons visiting the museum can see many exhibits and explore historical information about the county. We welcome donations to the museum if they have a known identified connection to Harney County history or it's residents. In 2019 we absorbed the Harney County Pioneer Association and now host the annual Pioneer Day event each year honoring those who have contributed for many years to Harney County's past.
Who we are
Our organization is run by a board of directors supported through contributions of our membership who donate time, talent and financial support to our continued prosperity. To become a member you can print out a membership form from our "Newsletters" tab and submit it to our P. O. Box. We welcome others who want to help us achieve our mission.
President and Chairman of the Board: Jim Withee was born in Burns Oregon in 1960, the youngest of 5 children of Dolores and Ray Withee. He attended Slater Elementary, Lincoln Jr. High, Burns Union High School, Taft Community College, and Treasure Valley Community College. He worked at Edward Hines Lumber Co in the 70's and in the woods and for Otley Trucking. He has worked at the Courthouse the past 20 years. He married Shana Weisgram in 1988 who is the 4-H agent in Harney County. They have four Children. Jim enjoys, fishing, hunting, hiking, exploring Harney County, and visiting museums. He is actively involved in the Archeology Road Show and the Cultural Crawl.
Vice President and Vice Chairman: Mildred Fine was born and raised in Harney County. She lived on the property where the museum is now located. She also attended Burns Grade School and Burns Union High School where she was in the band and was a cheerleader. She has been a faithful volunteer for many years at the museum and has enjoyed sharing the exhibits with local residents and travelers from all over.
Secretary: Lindsay A. Wilcox: Lindsay moved to Burns full-time in the summer of 2021 but began visiting Harney County in 2015 when she adopted 2 mustangs from the BLM at the Hines BLM horse corrals. She met many nice people and had the opportunity to purchase a home in 2019 and did so. She visited the Harney County museum for the first time in 2015. She is a life-long lover of museums and visits them whenever she can. Her interest in museums inspired her to obtain two AA degrees in Fine Art and Museum Studies in San Luis Obispo, CA. She studied full time figure drawing and figure sculpture at The Art Students League of New York for 31/2 years in the 1990’s. She also have a B.A. with a double major in Classics and Ancient Philosophy from San Francisco State University obatined in 1987. Since obtaining herMuseum Studies degree she volunteered for the San Luis Obispo History Center helping to plan and set up shows and work in their shop. Over the course of her artistic life, she has also helped to plan, curate and set up several art shows. Lately, she has developed a keen interest in conservation issues, especially in textiles. She is really excited to join the Harney County Historical Society Museum Board as Secretary. Being able to contribute to the community by helping the Harney Museum is a dream come true
Treasurer: Deborah Arntz moved with her family to Harney County from Kansas in 1976. She worked 20 years for USDA Farm Service Agency, 9 years for Oster Professional Group and 2 years for the Burns Paiute Tribe. When her kids went to college so did she completing her BS at EOU in accounting and her MBA in finance and accounting from Regis University. After being away for 11 years she has returned to the Farm Service Agency. Her husband is a 4th generation Harney County resident and 3 members of his family have presided over Pioneer Days. She loves traveling, helping non-profit organizations, and history.
Director: Terri Salsbery Hellbusch My family arrived in Harney County in 1884 and we have 6 generations of family who were born in Harney County (I am 4th generation). I am a Hines Grade School Lumberjack and a Burns Union High School Hilander. Edward Hines Lumber Company was our bread and butter while I was growing up – my Dad was a mill sawyer and then the sawmill superintendent. I know lots of us old timers remember the good ole days of the mill running full strength and the logs trucks coming from every direction with HUGE logs on them, the rail road cars coming and going full of products, and the hobos who also hitched a ride on the train cars. A large number of students paid their way thru college by working at the mill. I worked for 30 years in public education, five years at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and five years at the Forest Service.
I’ve been married to Fred Hellbusch for 50 years and we have two children Tony and Angela (married to Olin Sitz), three granddaughters, Jordyne, Kendra, Natalie, one grandson Dustin, a great grandson Ryker and a great granddaughter Addee.
My great grandfather, Claude Brown, built many houses and buildings that are still standing in Harney County. My grandmother, Claudia Corrie, owned and ran the Whitter Hotel. My parents, Bud and Mary Salsbery along with Bob and Patti Engstrom started B & B Sporting Goods in 1964, now Harney County Sporting Goods.
I enjoy family activities, spending time at our cabin in the forest, sporting events, hiking, camping, recreation and my #1 passion is traveling. I have been very fortunate to travel to most states in the US; and have traveled extensively internationally. My Mom gave me the travel bug and I treasure all the wonderful trips we had together.
Director: Steve Grasty was born in Nyssa, Oregon in 1951 to Eugene and Phyllis Grasty. His great great great aunt is listed in the Malheur County historical records as the "first white child born on the lower Malheur" (1870). Steve came to Harney County in 1971 to work at Burns Automotive Parts where he worked until 1983. He is married to Cynthia (Cindy) Ward, Cindy's parents started the first radio station in Harney County in the late 50's.They have 2 adult children, 4 grandchildren and 2 great grandkids. Steve and Cindy purchased the Big A Auto Parts Store in 1983 and operated it until the end of 1995 when they sold the business and he was appointed to fill a vacant Commissioner position on the County County. Steve was elected to the position of Harney County Judge and served in that role from 1999 thru 2016. Steve is committed to preserving the history of Harney County.
Director: David Vickstrom
Director: Timothy Colahan. Burns Hilander and former Harney County District Attorney.