Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Radical Astoria

I picked up this ca. 1915 postcard photograph at an antiques store in, of all places, Astoria. It shows the staff of Toveri, the Astoria Finnish-language daily newspaper that was the voice of the western district of the Finnish Socialist Federation from 1907 to 1931. They are posed outside their Taylor Street offices which also housed the newspaper's book publishing arm, the Pacific Development Society. The convoluted history of Toveri was tracked in "Ethnicity and Radicalism: The Finns of Astoria and the Toveri, 1890-1930," by the late P. George Hummasti  (Oregon Historical Quarterly 96:4).


Find the Teachers—Then THINK!

During the early 1920s, and the brief but frenetic heyday of the Ku Klux Klan in Oregon politics, this postcard was one small instrument of alarm and persuasion. At issue in 1922 was a vote for or against a bill that would abolish private elementary and high school education in Oregon. The target: Catholic schools. The purport: “Americanization.” Other potentially affected parties: Lutheran and other religious schools, and private schools and academies.
This postcard points to another fear: from a few nuns who taught in public schools. The Committee on Americanization of Public Schools was an arm of the Klan in Oregon, and its secretary, Fred L. Gifford, was the head of the Klan in the state.

The law passed. It was, however, ruled unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court before it went into effect. See the Oregon History Project for a biography of Gifford, and the Oregon Encyclopedia for Eckard Toy’s piece on the Klan, along with links to other ephemera and related items.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

To London and Holland


We’ve been to Denmark, and we’ve been to Norway. We haven’t yet made it to Berlin, but we have perused nearby Waterloo. This past weekend, we hit both London and Holland.


Hotel at London, 1945
Ben Maxwell photo, Salem PL
We did all this by automobile, and without leaving the state, for all those places are Oregon communities. Last weekend, en route to and from a Restore Oregon historic barn workshop at the Hanley Farm near Jacksonville, we made a side trip to London, a crossroads community south of Cottage Grove. Somewhat known today as the site of Territorial Seeds’ test acreage, London had a slight flourishing in the early years of the twentieth century as a mineral springs resort, with the Calapooya Mineral Springs Hotel and a bottling plant. The London post office opened in 1902 and closed in 1918, but a school, church and a few houses remain to mark the townsite.

Holland—named for a farming family, not the Netherlands—was a post office from 1899 to 1954, situated in the Illinois River valley south of Cave Junction. We passed through on our way home from a splendid overnight stay at the Oregon Caves Chateau (on its last night of the season).
Holland General Merchandise, September 29, 2014

Denmark and Norway, both on the southern Oregon coast, mark the presence of immigrants from Scandinavia. Waterloo is a curiosity, and so is Berlin, five miles from Berlin in Linn County. Waterloo got its name from a family feud, which had dire results for one party. Berlin is derived from the Burrell family and their casual hostelry; colloquially, Burrell’s Inn. When a post office was to be established in 1899, Burl Inn was a suggested name; Berlin was a compromise. The post office closed in 1937. See the entry on Berlin in Lewis McArthur’s Oregon Geographic Names for another Berlin tale from World War II—very curious!

I nearly forgot--we've been to Rome as well. The photo depicts Terry's mother Dovie Jess on a bridge over the Owyhee River near Rome, on the "old" I-O-N Highway. That's the road between Boise and Winnemucca via Rome: the Idaho-Oregon-Nevada highway. Rome was reputedly named because some of the Owhyee River cliffs were thought to resemble the ruins of ancient Roman temples. You can see a few fragments to the right of the bridge.