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Friday, December 31, 2010

La Residence Sociale and Marie-Jeanne Bassot

Almost one hundred years since Esther Lovejoy first began her work with Marie-Jeanne Bassot at the Residence Sociale in the Levallois-Perret district northwest of Paris their work lives on and has shaped the community. Lovejoy, U.S. donors (including members of the Portland Woman's Club) and the American Women's Hospitals (which Lovejoy directed) provided funds for post-war expansion and renovation of the center.
Today La Residence Sociale hosts a day care center for children and other children's social services.
In her House of the Good Neighbor (New York: MacMillan, 1919) facing p. 19 Esther Lovejoy published an image of the playground behind La Residence (Marie-Jeanne Bassot is to the right of the tree):
Today, with upgrades, La Residence continues to provide play space:
To honor her work, Paris named the nearby square Place Marie-Jeanne Bassot and today it is a bustling center of shops, restaurants and offices.

On the map below Place Marie-Jean Bassot is at the bottom, just above Rue Baudin. L'Avenue de l-Europe leads to Place Georges Pompidou and to the Quai Michelet on the Seine River.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Esther Lovejoy's Paris Settlement House, La Residence Sociale, Still Going Strong, and Esther Lovejoy's Christmas Eve 1917

During her wartime service in France in 1917-1918 Esther Lovejoy lived and worked at a settlement house, La Residence Sociale, in a working-class factory district of Paris. Settlement houses were reformers' solution to early twentieth century urban problems -- an oasis of social services in the midst of inner city needs.
The best known U.S. settlement house was Chicago's Hull House, directed by Jane Addams joined by a host of reformers. Addams famously outlined two roles for social settlement houses -- the "objective value" providing services to urban residents in need, and the "subjective value" to settlement house workers themselves who were forging new careers in social service, often women who carved out new opportunities.
Esther Lovejoy worked with Marie-Jeanne Bassot, the Parisian Jane Addams, and experienced both the objective and subjective sides of its service. After her return to the States she continued to support and raise funds for the Residence Sociale and was a frequent visitor. Lovejoy and Bassot maintained a strong friendship and worked as colleagues in social reform.
In association with conference travel this month I had the incredible good fortune to visit the Residence Sociale.



La Residence Sociale is still in use today -- more in the next post about its work and the neighborhood honoring Marie Bassot.
For today, let me share part of what Esther Lovejoy wrote about her Christmas Eve of 1917 at La Residence Sociale, from her House of the Good Neighbor (MacMillan, 1919), a book about her experiences in France during the First World War.
Lovejoy had bronchitis and sciatica and came from a military camp to La Residence Sociale on Christmas Eve to recuperate. The only person there was the cook, Madam Fleuret.
"The room was lighted by a solitary candle supplemented by a reluctant fire in the grate and the feeble flames made wavering, fantastic shadows on the wall. My storm coat was hanging on the hat-rack in the corner. It was surmounted by a German helmet showing a bullet-hole, which the American boy who gave me the helmet said was made by an American bullet . . . [Madame Fleuret left] me alone with that German ghost . . . As the fire burned lower his features seemed dimly outlined. He did not look like a Hun. There was nothing about him to suggest Bismark or Von Hindenburg. I had seen so many boys in the War Zone that boys were on my mind and heart. Perhaps that is why he looked so young, so like an innocent boy protesting against a cruel fate that had marked him for this sacrifice. He was dead -- cut off in his youth when he had just tasted life and found it sweet, and somewhere, beyond the Rhine, this Noel night was bleak and blank to his mother. No he was not a Hun. He was just a boy, an average type of the uncounted millions of the boys of different nations that had died in that same zone during the succeeding ages of war. . . there in the corner stood War--not the martial figure of Mars as it is usually depicted, but a fair young boy cut off in his youth when life was very sweet." (Lovejoy, House of the Good Neighbor, 214-18).
Lovejoy worked for the next fifty years to provide medical humanitarian relief. This was a result of her belief, forged in the war, that social justice and international health -- not war, poverty and disfranchisement -- were the only possible paths to take.
May all of us take action along this same path to peace, social justice and health as we end 2010 and enter 2011.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

First Absentee Ballots in 1920 Election in Oregon

The 1920 campaign was the first in Oregon to provide for absentee ballots.
Certainly this was a postwar measure to provide an opportunity for service personnel to vote. The 1919 statute also provided absentee status for students, "any officer or employee of the United States or of this state" and "commercial travelers."
This article from the Oregon Journal, October 25, 1920, 2, indicates that 42 people had applied for an absentee ballot; by election day this had swelled to over 100.
Portland city ordinances provided for voting machines in 1919 but it does not seem that they were a feature of this election.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Esther Lovejoy's 1920 Congressional Campaign and the Fred Lockley Bump

For her 1920 campaign for U.S. Congress from Oregon's Third District Esther Lovejoy drew on the vital lessons she and other woman suffrage activists had learned about the importance of the media and mass campaigning. That fall her campaign received an important publicity bump from journalist and author Fred Lockley.

Lockley's Oregon Journal column “Observations and Impressions of the Journal Man” was a combination of interviews with famous and not-so-famous Oregonians, book reviews, and visits to interesting Oregon places. Lockley featured Lovejoy in his column five times during the general election season. Across these columns Lockley reviewed the House of the Good Neighbor (using the review copy that a media-savvy Lovejoy had sent to him) and with the congressional campaign in mind emphasized her father’s populist politics against the lumber interests in Seabeck. Another installment recounted her struggles as a department store clerk to work her way through the University of Oregon Medical Department and to gain an education under challenging economic circumstances. Lockley also featured her public health activism in Alaska and with the Portland city health department, recounting the story of her son Freddie's death from what she considered tubercular milk and her pure milk crusade. He also wrote a final column on her recent wartime work in France. All contributed to a narrative of Lovejoy's strength, perseverance, experience and competence for office as a people's candidate who had risen from challenging circumstances and would not forget it.

Lockley was conscious of the power of his column and had good insights into Lovejoy's life and work. In the September 25, 1920 installment he wrote: "'Who's Who' doesn't ask how much money you have, but what you have done. It recognizes the aristocracy of intellect rather than of mere money. If you will look in the 1920 edition of 'Who's Who' you will find a brief record of the accomplishments of Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy of Portland. Dr. Lovejoy is anxious to have in the next edition an added paragraph to the effect that she is the first woman ever sent to Washington to represent Oregon in Congress. No one has ever accused Dr. Lovejoy of lack of ambition of or loafing on the job. . . ." Such characteristics would make her a good member of congress.

Susan Badger Doyle has a great entry on Lockley in the Oregon Encyclopedia with information on his life and publications, including posthumous collections from his column.

In our own day we are familiar with the Stephen Colbert bump for books, music, organizations and projects. Historians of Oregon medicine know and appreciate the Sara Piasecki bump. Fred Lockley's "Observations and Impressions of the Journal Man" functioned in the same way in early twentieth century Oregon.

Fred Lockley, “Observations and Impressions of the Journal Man,” Oregon Journal  August 8, 1920, 2:2; September 19, 1920, 4:4; September 22, 1920, 6; September 25, 1920, 6; September 27, 1920, 6.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oregon Women Candidates for Statewide Office 1914-1920 (Including Esther Pohl Lovejoy)

Thanks to dedicated archivists and librarians at the Oregon State Library and Oregon State Archives, we can now use the lists of state office campaign expenditures to track women candidates.
This week I'm honored to be making a presentation to the Mary Leonard Law Society, the Marion County chapter of Oregon Women Lawyers on early women candidates and office holding before and after the achievement of suffrage.
So, from the campaign expenditure reports, here is the list of women candidates who ran for state offices from 1914-1920 -- from the first state election after the achievement of full voting rights in Oregon to 1920, when Esther Pohl Lovejoy made her bid for U.S. Congress from Oregon's Third District.
Two, Manche Langley and Celia Gavin, were lawyers and Marian Towne studied law for a term. Cora Talbot and Esther Lovejoy were both physicians. Socialist, Progressive Party and Prohibition candidates joined Republicans and Democrats in this Progressive Era election period.
Not many achieved victory. But locating them is an important step to understanding the full range of women's efforts to exercise the full range of citizenship rights through office holding.
This list does not include the many, many local races that will yield more important perspectives in this broad field of study.
But for now, here are the women who ran for state office in Oregon from 1914-1920:

1914
Primary Election May 15, 1914

For Representative, Eighth Representative District
Marian B. Towne, Jackson County, Democratic

For Representative, Eighteenth Representative District
Cora C. Talbott, Multnomah County, Democratic
Mrs. L. (Lizzie) Gee, Multnomah County, Progressive
Maria L. T. Hidden, Multnomah County, Progressive
Lora Cornelia Little, Multnomah County, Progressive

General Election, November 3, 1914
                                                 
For Superintendent of Public Instruction
Flora I. Foreman, Columbia County, Socialist

For Representative, First Representative District
Mrs. Fannie M. Penn, Marion County, Independent
Mrs. Z. A. (Zanana) Rosebraugh, Marion County, Independent

For Representative, Eighth Representative District
Marian B. Towne, Jackson County, Democratic-Progressive -- Elected

For Representative, Eighteenth Representative District
Cora C. Talbott, Multnomah County, Democratic
Mrs. L. (Lizzie) Gee, Multnomah County, Progressive
Maria L. T. Hidden, Multnomah County, Progressive
Lora Cornelia Little, Multnomah County, Progressive
Lucia Faxton Addition, Multnomah County, Prohibition
Mrs. Mary L. Mallett, Multnomah County, Prohibition
Sadie Althouse, Multnomah County, Socialist

(Note: Kathryn Clarke, Douglas County, Republican won a special election in January 1915 for Senator, Fifth Senatorial District)

1916
Primary Election May 19, 1916

For Delegates to National Conventions – State at Large
Bertha Mason (Mrs. G.L.) Buland, Multnomah County, Republican
Helen I. Tomlinson, Multnomah County, Democratic

For Representative, First Representative District
Mrs. Alice H. Page, Marion County, Republican
Mrs. Hattie Cameron, Marion County, Democratic
Mrs. W. A. Chapman, Marion County, Democratic

For Representative, Eighth Representative District
Marian B. Towne, Jackson County, Democratic

For Representative, Eleventh Representative District
Mrs. Ella J. Metzger, Polk County, Republican

For Representative, Fifteenth Representative District
Manche Langley, Washington County, Democratic

For Representative, Eighteenth Representative District
Mrs. Maria L. T. Hidden, Democratic
Mrs. June Nissen, Multnomah County, Democratic
Mattie M. Sleeth, Multnomah County, Democratic

For Representative, Twenty-ninth Representative District
Sylvia McGuire (Mrs. Alexander) Thompson, Wasco County (party not listed here)


General Election, November 7, 1916

For Electors of President and Vice-President
M. Frances Swope, Multnomah County, Prohibition
Selma J. McCone, Multnomah County, Socialist

For Representative, First Representative District
Mrs. Hattie Cameron, Marion County, Democratic
Mrs. W. A. Chapman, Marion County, Democratic

For Representative, Eighth Representative District
Marian B. Towne, Jackson County, Democratic

For Representative, Fifteenth Representative District
Manche I. Langley, Washington County, Democratic

For Representative, Eighteenth Representative District
Mrs. Maria L. T. Hidden, Democratic
Mattie M. Sleeth, Multnomah County, Democratic-Prohibition
Mary L. Mallett, Multnomah County, Prohibition
Katherine Brandes, Multnomah County, Socialist
Ina Coleman, Multnomah County, Socialist

For Representative, Twenty-fourth Representative District
Bessie Baird, Wallowa County, Socialist

For Representative, Twenty-ninth Representative District
Mrs. Alexander Thompson, Wasco County, Democratic--Elected

1918
Primary Election, May 17, 1918

For Representative in Congress, Third District
Maria L.T. Hidden, Multnomah County, Democratic

For Representative, Eighteenth Representative District
Mrs. Alice McNaught, Multnomah County, Democratic

For Representative, Twenty-third Representative District
Ella Terpening, Umatilla County, Democratic

For Representative, Twenty-ninth Representative District
Mrs. Alexander Thompson, Wasco County, Democratic--Elected

General Election, November 5, 1918

For United States Senator in Congress, To fill vacancy in term ending March 4, 1919
Martha E. Bean, Malheur County, Socialist

For State Treasurer
Pauline Sears, Malheur County, Socialist

For Superintendent of Public Instruction
Inez Augusta Lusk, Coos County, Socialist

For Representative, Eighteenth Representative District
Alice M. McNaught, Multnomah County, Democratic
Maria L.T. Hidden, Multnomah County, Prohibition
Ada Wallace Unruh, Multnomah County, Prohibition-National
Emma Wold, Multnomah County, National
Alvina Hagen, Multnomah County, Socialist
Julia Jackson, Multnomah County, Socialist

For Representative, Twenty-third Representative District
Ella Terpening, Umatilla County, Democratic

For Representative, Twenty-ninth Representative District
Mrs. Alexander Thompson, Wasco County, Democratic -- Elected


1920
Primary Election, May 21, 1920

For Delegate to the National Convention – State at Large:
Maria L.T. Hidden, Multnomah County, Democratic -- Elected

For Delegate to the National Convention, Third Congressional District
Ethel (Mrs. F.O.) Northrup, Multnomah County, Republican -- Elected
Alice M. McNaught, Multnomah County, Democratic
Bessie M. Richards, Multnomah County, Democratic -- Elected

For Electors of President and Vice-President of the United States
Harriet C. Hendee, Multnomah County, Republican
Celia Gavin, Wasco County, Democratic

For Representative in Congress, Third District
Esther Lovejoy, Multnomah County, Democrat
Mrs. Alexander Thompson, Multnomah County, Democrat

For Commissioner of the Public Service Commission of Oregon, District Composed of the Counties Lying East of the Cascade Mountains
Rhea Luper, Morrow County, Republican

For Representative, Nineteenth Representative District
Mary Strong (Mrs. William S.) Kinney, Clatsop County, Republican

For Representative, Twenty-sixth Representative District
Kathleen W. Kivett, Baker County, Republican


General Election November 2, 1920

For Presidential Electors
Mary H. Jewitt, Lane County, Prohibition

For Representative in Congress, Third District
Esther Pohl Lovejoy, Multnomah County, Democratic-Prohibition

For State Senator, Twelfth Senatorial District
Emma Rayner, Clackamas County, Socialist

For Representative, Nineteenth Representative District
Mary Strong (Mrs. William S.) Kinney, Clatsop County, Republican -- Elected

Oregon Secretary of State, Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon to the Twenty-Eighth Legislative Assembly, Regular Session, 1915, for the Biennial Period Beginning October 1, 1912, Ending September 30, 1914 (Salem: State Printer, 1915), 89-102; Oregon Secretary of State, Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon to the Twenty-Ninth Legislative Assembly, Regular Session, 1917, for the Biennial Period Beginning October 1, 1914, Ending September 30, 1916 (Salem: State Printer, 1917), 107-126; Oregon Secretary of State, Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon to the Thirtieth Legislative Assembly, Regular Session, 1919, For the Biennial Period Beginning October 1, 1916, Ending September 30, 1918 (Salem: State Printer, 1919), 68-79; Oregon Secretary of State, Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon to the Thirty-first Legislative Assembly, Regular Session, 1921, For the Biennial Period Beginning October 1, 1918, Ending September 30, 1920 (Salem: State Printer, 1921), 82-98.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oregon Woman Suffrage Centennial (1912-2012) Gets the Baton

Just back from a successful and consequential conference in Spokane, Game Changers and History Makers: Women in Pacific Northwest History, with thanks to organizer Shanna Stevenson.
Today, more history is being made. Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown will accept the "baton" (actually a banner, it seems) from the Washington Women's History Consortium as they conclude their official suffrage centennial commemoration (1910-2010) in Olympia on what they are calling the "Day of Jubilation."
I'm not able to join them today, but I'm cheering on Jan Dilg, Project Director of Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote 1912-2012, Eliza Canty-Jones, Editor of the Oregon Historical Quarterly, Mary Beth Herkert, Oregon State Archivist, Secretary of State Brown, and Andrea Cantu-Schomus, Secretary of State Director of Communications. They represent Oregon on this historic day of action.
Follow and join Oregon's planning at the Century of Action website.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thanks Archivists and Librarians! Candidate Expenditure Records Uncovered

Thanks to wonderful archivists/librarians Austin Schulz at the Oregon State Archives and Alice LaViolette and Dave Hegeman at the Oregon State Library I've been able to find campaign expenditures for Esther Lovejoy's primary and general election run for U.S. Congress in 1920.

The 1908 Oregon Corrupt Practices Act mandated that all candidates report campaign expenditures to the Secretary of State, who would then make them public, and limited the amounts they could spend (what great ideas . . . ). But where were these reports? They were not published separately until the 1960s. Some of the big ledgers remain safely in the Oregon State Archives but thanks to these dedicated history detectives we now know that all of the figures are published in the Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of Oregon for pertinent years, available at the Oregon State Library and the Oregon State Archives and at other repository libraries in the state.

In the May 21, 1920 primary Lovejoy and her supporters (including former Governor Oswald West who contributed $50) outspent her opponent Sylvia Thompson by almost three to one: $1134 to $385.
And here is the campaign expenditure list for the third district seat from the general election on November 2, 1920 (90 years ago today):

Both the 1920 primary and general election data come from the Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon 1921.

In the general election Lovejoy's Republican opponent C.N.McArthur raised $1380 to the Lovejoy coalition's $3609 and F.T. Johns's $168. More in subsequent posts about the outcome of this race.

While I was in the candy store I gathered more treasures. Some I'll share in an upcoming post. But I can't resist posting this one today from the Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon, 1913 for the campaign expenses for supporters and opponents of the woman suffrage measure in 1912:

Some things to consider on this election day. Thanks Alice, Dave and Austin for preserving and retrieving the treasures.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dancing and Voting in the Oregon Primary Election of 1920

Here's another gem from the Oregon primary election on May 21, 1920, when Multnomah County Democrats chose Esther Pohl Lovejoy over her opponent Sylvia McGuire Thompson for the party nomination for U.S. Congress.
Some workers received the day off, including these employees of the Northwestern National Bank. When the polls opened they fulfilled their obligation as voting citizens and cast their ballots, then took off in cars provided by the bank club for Bonneville, Oregon for "sports and dancing."
 Oregonian, May 21, 1920, 4.

Before the Bonneville Dam was constructed the area in Multnomah County was popular for picnics and, evidently, sports and dancing. On its website the Salem Public Library has a beautiful digital image of Bonneville taken in 1915 from the Oregon State Archives collections.
Dancing and voting: sounds like a great tradition to perpetuate.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Esther Lovejoy Wins Democratic Primary for U.S. Congress May 21, 1920

Back to our thread on the 1920 primary election for U.S. Congress, Third District.
The primary presented voters and historians with something unique in Oregon history -- two female candidates vying for the same office. On the one hand, this was not what women activists had hoped for -- two qualified women running against one another for the same office could bring division to the entire activist community. On the other hand, it was a tangible result of expanded female citizenship to be celebrated -- accomplished women wanted to put their hats in the ring.
As we've seen, Esther Lovejoy brought considerable credentials to the campaign: Portland City Health Officer 1907-1909, suffrage activist at the local and national levels, wartime service in France, president of the Medical Women's International Association and acting president of the Medical Women's National Association, and director of the American Women's Hospitals, a transnational medical relief organization. And author. She was a local, national, and transnational figure.

Sylvia McGuire Thompson, seen here from Sunset: Pacific Monthly (October 1917) served locally in the 1917 and 1919 regular legislative sessions and in the special 1920 session, where her House Bill #1 became Oregon's ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment for federal woman suffrage.
For a variety of reasons I explore more in the biography, and particularly because this was a seat for U.S. Congress, Lovejoy's national and international experience won out. She garnered 57 percent of the primary vote.
More on the general election in the next postings.

Friday, October 1, 2010

"An Ordinance to Prohibit . . . Any Marriage Brokerage Business . . ." Portland, 1909

Two previous posts featured Portland press coverage of Oregon marriage agencies. In this post -- the Portland city council's 1909 reaction and more specific evidence about why many Portlanders were opposed to the agencies.

In 1909 the Portland City Council passed Ordinance 20070, "An Ordinance to Prohibit in the City of Portland, the Carrying On of Any Marriage Business, Prohibiting the Publication and Circulation of Advertisements for Matrimonial Purposes . . . " September 24, 1909 (Charter and General Ordinances of the City of Portland, Oregon in Force April 15, 1910 p. 515)

Section 1 declared that "No person shall, in the City of Portland, for hire or for any direct or indirect remuneration, conduct or carry on or cause to be conducted or carried on, any matrimonial agency, or marriage brokerage business, or introducing club, or any similar occupation or calling by whatsoever name it may be called.

Section 2 made it illegal for anyone to publish any advertisement or notice in a newspaper or magazine in the city "the substance or effect of which is that any person desires to meet or to make acquaintance of, or to correspond with, another person of the opposite sex with matrimony as the object, or that any such person desires a companion of the opposite sex."

The ordinance provided a penalty of up to $500 and ninety days in jail.

A 1915 case in which Simon Weyrick was convicted of violating the marriage brokerage ordinance suggests that law was passed because many Portlanders viewed such agencies as fronts for prostitution and the exploitation of women.  Police arrested Weyrick on June 7, 1915 for conducting a marriage bureau and confiscated his files. (S. Weyrick Held; Women Accusers," Oregonian, June 8, 1915, 4). The Oregonian ("Marriage Broker Fined," Oregonian, June 13, 1915, 2:5) reported that Weyrick would "advertise for a woman to take charge of a rooming-house, a woman companion for an elderly gentleman, or for a woman to be employed in other capacities." He asked prospective employees to come to his office and asked about marriage "to one or other gentlemen with which he was in touch" and made a "proposition" that they try "companionship for a certain period of time." Weyrick, the Oregonian concluded, might be credited with the "introduction of trial marriages in Portland."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interstate Introducing Society 1905

More in this set of postings on marriage agencies in early 20th century Oregon.Today the "Interstate Introducing Society: The Most Reliable Marriage Club in the World."
The Oregon Journal ("Marriage Bureau Owner His Own Best Customer," Oregon Journal, March 16, 1905, 1, 6) reported the case of Andrew Cochran of Condon, Oregon, who came to Portland in search of a wife and paid $350 to become half partner in J.H. Hamilton's Interstate Introducing Society "with offices in the Lange hotel, Sixth and Washington." When Hamilton went to Seattle Cochran "began an inventory of his property" and took the file of Sarah Emily Keyes of Milwaukee, Oregon out of circulation and went to visit her. The story ends with their marriage.


There are many messages embedded within the story. For some readers it was obviously an advertisement for the Interstate Introducing Society -- Cochran achieves his goal and as readers learned at the close of the article, his new wife Keyes was a wealthy property owner. Yet the article also pokes fun at him, has him using what might be a country bumpkin dialect, and avoiding a chivaree the night before his marriage. Keyes is a woman of considerable property but interested in marriage. One reading of the tale is that she is an objectified woman, her ad part of the "property" of the agency. Yet she is also a participant in the process, reading the Matrimonial Register and making selections among the men advertising themselves.
We also learn that the agency required membership fees and introduction fees and connected interested and paid up parties with others by publishing a Matrimonial Register.
Come back for the next posting -- the city of Portland's reaction to marriage agencies.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matrimonial Agencies Run Amok in Oregon

In the next several posts I digress from the narrative of the 1920 primary election in Portland to report about the early twentieth century version of internet dating -- matrimonial agencies, matrimonial papers and an organization called the "Interstate Introducing Society: The Most Reliable Marriage Club in the World."

It is impossible not to notice these headlines while reading microfilm from early twentieth century Portland newspapers. Next to an article on "one of the most animated meetings ever held by the state board of health" from the Oregon Journal for March 20, 1905 p. 8 is the irresistible headline "Says His Wife is a Fire Worshiper":


Oregon Railroad and Navigation section foreman Ballard Brooks and Nellie Cooper met after he subscribed to a "matrimonial paper" and read her "advertisement." Brooks lived in Weatherby, Oregon in Baker County because the OR&N required that he live near his section. He "decided that it was necessary to annex a wife" and, because there were "no women in that section" he got a subscription to a "matrimonial paper" featuring entries from women describing themselves to potential mates. 

Ballard and Nellie corresponded, arranged a meeting on October 24, 1903, and married that same day.

There were "numerous trivial and incidental charges and counter-charges of infidelity and similar things" the Oregon Journal noted. But Ballard could not abide Nellie's "fire-worshiping" and filed for divorce. We yearn for Nellie's side of the story here. Perhaps Baker County historians can locate it for us.

Stay tuned for more, including the "Interstate Introducing Society" and why Portland decided to take action against them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Esther Pohl Lovejoy Campaign 1920: Credentials, Networking, PR, and the Check is in the Mail

Esther Pohl Lovejoy declared her 1920 candidacy as a Democrat for U.S. Congress from Oregon's Third District (Multnomah County/Portland) on March 11, 1920 on a visit to the Pacific Northwest. Lovejoy was then the chair of the medical humanitarian relief organization the American Women's Hospitals headquartered in New York City and sponsored by the Medical Women's National Association. She was also acting chair of the MWNA. And she was also the president of the fledgling Medical Women's International Association. And she had, that February, represented Oregon along with Effie Comstock Simmons, at the National American Woman Suffrage Association's "victory" convention, which oversaw the transformation of NAWSA to the League of Women Voters. This, combined with her wartime medical work and her record as an Oregon suffragist and in municipal office as Portland City Health Officer from 1907-1909, was a strong record upon which to build a campaign.

Pohl decided to run, but had also to manage the Medical Women's National Association convention in New Orleans in May. She was also part of a NAWSA delegation to Connecticut to urge that state to ratify the Nineteenth (woman suffrage) Amendment. No one else had filed for the primary as a Democrat. She campaigned, set up an organization, and returned to New York in April, planning to return after the May 21 primary in which she stood unopposed.

Two weeks later, Sylvia Thompson, who had served in the Oregon House in the 1917 and 1919 sessions, announced her candidacy for the seat. Thompson was part of a faction in Oregon that opposed Democratic senator George E. Chamberlain, Lovejoy's ally from previous campaigns and suffrage work in the state.

Lovejoy's supporters rallied to define her candidacy as one in which her national and international experience and current commitments would make her a successful representative of Oregon. A great example is "Dr. Lovejoy is Too Busy to Return Here for Campaign Work," Oregon Journal, April 28, 1920, 3.

The article has it all -- credentials, networking, and PR. Clare Pierce, the daughter of former Democratic state senator Walter M. Pierce, reports on Lovejoy's activities -- the upcoming MWNA convention in New Orleans, her work with the national suffrage organization in the ratification of the 19th Amendment at the request of NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt, and by the way, Herbert Hoover has just written the foreword to the second edition of Lovejoy's House of the Good Neighbor, a record of her wartime medical service with the Red Cross.

Did the strategy work? Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Portland Doctors Invite Candidates for Grilling in 1920 Primary

The Portland City and County Medical Society wanted candidates on the record in the 1920 primary season.

Society president Dr. A. E. McKay sent out invitations to all candidates for legislative and other office to sign up for a five minute time slot at the group's May 5 meeting "in which to state what he can and will do for the medical profession and for public health." Physicians pledged to vote for those candidates who had a pro-health policy record.

McKay noted that the society "has come to a realization that if proper health laws are to be passed and enforced, and if the people are to be protected against medical frauds, the physicians must take an active interest in the candidates for office."

This was music to Esther Pohl Lovejoy's ears. She was a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress from Oregon's third district (Portland and Multnomah County) with the best support of public health of anyone in the field. But she would not be in Portland on May 5, 1920. And she hoped that the reasons why would help and not hinder her campaign. Stay tuned for more  . . .


Oregon Journal, April 28, 1920, 2.

Monday, September 13, 2010

L(ucetta) A(melia) Smith, M.D. Redux

A wise scholar and kind friend recently told me that she hopes I never find all of the answers. I agree with her -- the quest is the thing, a continuous reward. But here is a bit more information on a woman who has been the subject of at least two separate quests involving historical detection and identification . . . . and some thoughts on the nature of historical research in the bargain.

In the summer of 2009, amid work on my biography of Esther Pohl Lovejoy, I was researching other nineteenth century women physicians in Oregon at the incredible Historical Collections & Archives at the Oregon Health & Science University. As archivist Sara Piasecki blogged at the time, we found evidence in an alumni register that the L.A. Smith, M.D. who graduated from the Willamette University Medical Department in 1868 was a woman. This would have made her the first woman to graduate from medical school in Oregon and the West. Who was she? We tried to find out more. Of course, the practice of using initials was pervasive -- women professionals often did it, but it makes the job of the historian a complicated one.

Then, in December 2009, Sara Piasecki uncovered additional materials from registrar, historian, and supporter of women students at OHSU Lucy Davis Phillips. When I was able to comb through the materials it became clear that Davis Phillips had also been on the trail of L A Smith. But because we did not have access to the records of her search we followed paths that she had also explored without knowing that they led her (and us) to dead ends. Now with these materials at hand we could find out more.

In those new materials are letters from Davis Phillips to various people trying to track down L A Smith. In 1937 she wrote to the Association of American Medical Colleges trying to clear things up. Did they have an L A Smith, a woman student, graduating from Willamette in 1868? "Somewhere I got the name Lucella Amelia for this person," she wrote, "but I am beginning to suspect that the name was confused with Lucetta Amelia Smith, a graduate of Ann Arbor, who was in Roseburg, Oregon for many years" now living in California. Additional correspondence supported the idea that the 1868 graduate L A Smith was a man and Lucella was really Lucetta Amelia Smith, who practiced for some time in Roseburg. So the case was closed and Angela L. Ford and Ella A. J. Ford have the distinction of being Oregon's first medical women graduates in 1877.

Was I disappointed? Sure, a bit. But glad to have at least some of the questions answered.


Imagine, then, my delight at finding Lucetta Amelia Smith, M.D. in the 1928 edition of Women of the West: A Series of Biographical Sketches of Living Eminent Women in the Eleven Western States of the United States of America ed. Max Binheim, (Los Angeles: Publishers Press, 1928) 164-5 on the same page with Lillian Tingle. Here is more about the twentieth century woman physician who, while not the "first" L A Smith, was a significant figure in Oregon and women's medical history:

"SMITH, Lucetta Amelia (Miss) M.D., born in Ionia, Michigan, September 8, 1880, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose G. Smith, a resident of Oregon for nineteen years. Physician. Graduated from the University of Michigan, 1906. Interneship, Woman's Hospital of Chicago, 1906-1907. Member of local Medical Ass'n, President of local Business and Professional Women's Club. Member: American Medical Woman's Assn, National Fed. of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, University Woman's Club, etc. Home: Masonic Bldg., Roseburg, Oregon."

Lucetta Amelia Smith, M.D. occupies a different place in the story of Oregon medical women than we first supposed. The quest for L A Smith undoubtedly gave me more perspective on early graduates in Oregon than I would have had otherwise. And now Lucetta Amelia Smith joins the ranks of her important cohort of colleagues -- women who came to Oregon with medical degrees who worked in their profession and for the advancement of women. Calling all Roseburg historians -- we want to know more!  And never mind finding all of the answers -- the quest is its own best reward.

Finally, what more can I say about an archivist who is willing to go on this journey with a researcher. Brava and thank you, Sara. You are the very, very best.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sarah A. Evans, Portland Market Inspector 1905-1935


Sarah Evans, clubwoman and activist, decided that the position of market inspector was too important for the women of Portland to lose, even at the salary of $65 per month. The position was vacant when Mayor Harry Lane reorganized the city board of health in August 1905 and appointed Esther C. Pohl, M.D. and two of her medical colleagues, A J Geisy and George F. Wilson. There were six applicants: Sarah A. Evans, Ernest H. Garton, Mrs. R. Allgood, Mrs. A.R. Linning, Mrs. W.J. Tallman and Miss Emma Chapard. At a special meeting on August 11, 1905 the board elected Sarah Evans to be the new Portland Market Inspector with the recommendation of the School of Domestic Science. (The records of the Board of Health are all located at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center under the fabulous care of City Archivist Diana Banning and her staff.)

Evans was a charter member of the Portland Woman’s Club and the Portland Young Women’s Christian Association and one of the founders of the Oregon Federation of Women’s Clubs serving as president from 1905 to 1915. She represented clubwomen interested in “municipal housekeeping” and the domestic science movement that motivated Portland women to begin the market inspection crusade. For a decade she edited the Women’s Clubs section of the Oregon Journal beginning in 1904. And she would be a vital part of Oregon’s 1906 and 1912 suffrage campaigns.

In 1905, when Upton Sinclair was publishing a serialized version of The Jungle, his undercover discoveries of horrible conditions in Chicago meat packing, in the socialist journal the Appeal to Reason, and before the publication of the book in 1906, Evans was getting up early in the morning to inspect markets and report her findings in detail to the press and board of health.

Her reports read like Sinclair and, unfortunately, like Fast Food Nation and other contemporary investigations. But she also noted progress in the campaign. Her report for September 1905 was, in part:

… “The Excelsior Market on East Morrison and Union Avenue refused me admission.  I was compelled to call a policeman.  When I made the examination I found the place filthy . . .
In a market on Morrison Street I found a great quantity of chickens cooped in a small cellar where they were making sausage and had pickled meat standing open. While I was making my examination I saw a rat run over a firkin of meat that stood open on the floor, and gnaw some that stood out of the brine. I gave them twenty-four hours to get the chickens out and the place cleaned up. Upon returning I found that my orders had been carried out.
…. I visited the Commission Merchant and was hold by him ‘that frequently veal came in when the quarters, from various causes would be sour. It was then sent to the markets that the hides might be saved and such parts of the animal as had not yet soured, that there might be as little loss to the shippers as possible.’ He had been doing this for eighteen years, he said, and had never thought of it as being unhealthy. I have his promise that in his house, at least, it will not occur again. . . .
. . . “During the month I have received four written complains and numerous verbal ones, and with one exception, I found them well-founded.”

Her reports to the board of health are filled with descriptions of coal tar dyed shrimp, dyes in catsup and meat additives; she called the Humane Society about treatment of live chickens at one market. In June 1906 she noted progress in refrigerated counters at many markets and a “sentiment for better market conditions seems to prevail.”

The incident of refusal to admit Evans was not an isolated one. In September 1906, after the proprietor of the Western Market “forcibly resisted” Evans’s efforts to take away a sample of meat for analysis, she sought and Mayor Lane gave her the “authority of a special officer” with police powers.

Sarah Evans and Esther Lovejoy were close friends and colleagues. One of my favorite images is of the two of them at the health office in City Hall in 1907 at the incomparable Historical Collections & Archives at Oregon Health & Science University.

Evans retired in 1935 at the age of 80 after thirty years as market inspector. Along the way that original salary of $65 grew and she got expenses covered. At her retirement the Oregonian reported (along with the two images below “Sarah A. Evans First Inspector,” Oregonian June 23, 1935, I:2) that she received a pension of $40 per month from the city. She died in 1940.


Someone out there must know where this picture and more from her "treasured collection" are today -- won't you let us know?

Portland had led the way for other groups, including the Consumers’ League and the National Federation of Women’s Clubs, to adopt pure food and market inspection goals. You’ll be able to read more about it in the Lovejoy biography.

See also

Encyclopedia of Northwest Biography, ed. Winfield Scott Downs (New York: American Historical Company, 1943) s.v. Evans, Sarah Ann (Shannon), 220-23.

Sandra Haarsager, Organized Womanhood: Cultural Politics in the Pacific Northwest, 1840-1920 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997), 291-300.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"It is understood that one or more members of the [health] board are in favor of appointing a man . . ."

More on the Portland health board's market inspection/women in appointed office story from 1905.

By July 6, 1905 mayor Harry Lane, M.D. was organizing his new administration and there was still no woman candidate on hand for the office of market inspector. Portland women had lobbied successfully for the post before Lane's election, but the city council had underfunded it. Lillian Tingle, director of the Portland School of Domestic Science, had held the post for two months but resigned on July 1 because the salary was too small.

The Oregon Journal ("No Successor Found to Miss Tingle Yet," Oregon Journal, July 6, 1905, 6) worried that Tingle's two months of accomplishments would be lost if the office was not soon filled. And the paper reported that "It is likely that in case a woman cannot be found to take the position a man may be appointed. It is understood that one or more members of the board are in favor of appointing a man, and Dr. Biersdorf, city health officer, so expressed himself today."

Lane, on the other hand, believed that "there are many good women who could be secured to fill this position."

Would Portland women lose this important appointed office that many had fought so hard to achieve? How would they resolve the dilemma of low salary?

What a difference a month would make. Stay tuned -- Portland got a new health board (including Esther Pohl) and a new market inspector who would keep the job for twenty years.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Portland Market Inspection Crowd Cheers Woods Hutchinson, M.D., April 1905


More nuggets from the Portland women’s 1905 campaign for market inspection and a female market inspector.

At an April 14 meeting of pure food activists working for market inspection in Portland Dr. Woods Hutchinson, who had recently resigned as secretary and health officer from the Oregon State Board of Health, “happened in.” He got cheers from the crowd when he confessed that he had changed his mind about women and civic power: “while I have never favored women’s suffrage,” he said, “when I see a movement of this kind I confess that I wish the women had the power of the ballot as well as the power of public opinion.” And, referring to the Portland health board’s Mae Cardwell, M.D. he said, “The best man on the board of health today is a woman.” (I think he meant this as a compliment!)



The assembly decided to “‘stick to the fight’ until it was won” and “the suggestion was here made that one of the deputies of the inspector [they still hoped for a large staff] be a woman. This was moved and carried unanimously.”

The Portland market inspection campaign apparently transformed Hutchinson’s thinking and he became a supporter of woman suffrage and women’s health activism. A woman, “may educate herself as she will, may dress as she pleases, may preach, vote, practice medicine,” he wrote in 1914. “Any sanitarian or public-health officer of experience will cheerfully testify that the strongest force in the community for the protection of the public health is the influence and work of the women” including the “at one time much scoffed at” women’s clubs. “Why on earth woman should not be given exactly the same voice as man in determining how the food, water, and other vital interests of her children should be kept pure and wholesome, and in personally seeing that they are so kept, is a question to which . . . there is  no answer!” Woods Hutchinson, Civilization and Health (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1914).

British-born Woods Hutchinson (1862-1930) received his medical degree from the  University of Michigan Medical Department in 1884, taught anatomy at the University of Iowa from 1891-1896 and pathology at the  University of Buffalo from 1896-1900 before coming to Portland, where he served as the secretary of the newly established state health board and state health officer from 1903 until 1905. He left Portland and for many years was on the faculty of the New York Polyclinic. He gained great notoriety as a lecturer and writer on public health issues and published over a dozen books before his death in 1930. 

And it appears that his brief association with the market inspection campaign in Portland made him a woman suffragist.

See:

“Women in Earnest,” Oregon Journal, April 14, 1905, 1, 8 (quotes and image from 8)

Herman W. Knox, ed. Who’s Who in New York 7th ed. (New York: Who’s Who, 1917), s.v. Hutchinson, Woods, 564.

“Dr. Woods Hutchinson,” New York Times, April 27, 1930, 29.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 26, 2010: 90th Anniversary of the Federal Suffrage Amendment -- Esther Lovejoy and Portland Women Celebrated in 1920

August 26, 2010 is the 90th anniversary of the final ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Amendment. So, a brief break from the Portland board of health in 1905 to commemorate what Esther Lovejoy and Oregon women were doing 90 years ago.

When the news came that Tennessee had ratified by a cliffhanging one-vote margin (thanks to the mother of youngest Republican legislator Harry Burn who urged him to support it) women in Oregon celebrated the federal amendment and the eight years of suffrage since Oregon women gained the vote in 1912.

Portland women planned a gala suffrage luncheon for Saturday, August 28 at the Benson Hotel in the midst of a noontime "blowing of whistles and ringing of bells," according to the Oregonian ("Women of Portland Celebrate Saturday," Oregonian, August 26, 1920, 1). Sarah Evans spoke on the Oregon suffrage movement and Esther Lovejoy, then a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress from the Third District, spoke on the work of women in the future.

Happy Anniversary -- and join us in taking action.  Visit the Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote 1912-2012 site.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lillian Tingle, Market Inspection and the Question of Salary

In 1905 Portland women came together in a coalition to demand the inspection of Portland markets through the city health department and to call for the appointment of a woman to that post. The city council reluctantly agreed after a great deal of public pressure and Lillian Tingle became the first market inspector in Portland. It was a triumph for women's activism in public health and domestic science.
On July 1, progressive mayor Harry Lane, M.D.'s first day in office, Tingle resigned at the city board of health meeting. The reason? Salary. The Oregon Journal (July 1, 1905, 2) reported it this way:


Before accepting the new post of market inspector for the city on May 1 Tingle was director of the Portland School of Domestic Science at a salary of $125 per month. When less-than-enthusiastic Mayor George Williams and the business-oriented city council agreed to create the post under public pressure they had not funded it and asked the health board to foot the bill of a salary of $65 per month. Supporters raised the additional question of transportation costs, but the mayor said he could do no more.
Tingle had taken the post at almost half of her director's salary. According to the Biennial Report of the Oregon Superintendent for Public Instruction (1907) in 1905 the average monthly salary for female teachers across the state was $43.50 (men made more -- $55.69) and they were calling for raises to these small salaries. For this former director in expensive Portland who also had to pay for streetcars to take her to markets all across the city $65 a month was not enough.
The Journal reported: "when asked whom she would recommend as her successor" Tingle "stated that she did not know any one competent to fill the position who would accept it."
The situation underscores the challenges women activists faced as they worked to create new institutions and carve out appointed civic offices available to women. Tingle, with graduate training in domestic science and considerable administrative experience, had taken the post as women celebrated victory. But with the city council unwilling to authorize enough salary and expenses they exercised a great deal of control over the situation. Perhaps they hoped to squelch the whole business. As the Journal noted, the "clean shop crusade is likely to languish."
Tingle moved on. She wrote a "Domestic Science" column for the Oregonian, headed the domestic science department for all Portland High Schools and, when the University of Oregon called in 1917, relocated to Eugene to found the U of O's first Home Economics Department. ("University Lures Miss Tingle Away," Oregonian, June 14, 1917, 6). She died in Eugene in 1951.
Faced with this dilemma -- a new city post in the health department created as a direct result of women's activism that was severely underfunded -- what would Portland women do?  More soon on the rest of the story.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lillian Tingle: Portland's First Market Inspector, May-June 1905

When Esther Pohl served on the Portland City Board of Health from 1905-1907 (following Mae Cardwell, who was the first woman on the city board from 1903-1905) and as Portland City Health Officer from 1907-1909 (the first woman in the U.S. to hold such a position in a large city) she worked with Sarah A. Evans, Portland's market inspector from 1905-1935. Evans gained notoriety for her work and she and Pohl became lifelong friends.

But Sarah Evans was not the first market inspector in the city. That honor goes to Lillian Tingle. The story of Portland women's grassroots movement for pure food and a market inspector that I'm blogging this week helps explain why.


Lillian Tingle, Oregon Journal, April 14, 1905, 8

As an 1895 graduate of the Educational Trust School of Domestic Economy in Aberdeen, Scotland with additional graduate work at Gordon's College in Aberdeen in chemistry and physiology Tingle was an early participant in the domestic science movement that led to instruction in home economics on a scientific basis in public and private schools and in colleges and universities. Women scientists like Tingle found employment in this movement and worked with civic and women's groups to build cleaner and healthier communities. Tingle taught in Scotland and in North Dakota and then came to Portland sometime in 1901 or 1902 to work in the office of the state Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop a course of study for domestic science in the state. And she then accepted the directorship of the Portland Y.W.C.A.'s School of Domestic Science, the position she held in the spring of 1905 when Portland women visited food markets, established a boycott, and called for the appointment of a market inspector.

Portland's city council and mayor George Williams were reluctant to do so, but with public pressure agreed to appoint a female market inspector with the advice and recommendation of the board of the YWCA's School of Domestic Science. Lillian Tingle was their unanimous choice and she accepted the position on April 24, 1905 to begin May 1.

Why did Lillian Tingle resign two months later? Stay tuned!

For more on the domestic science/home economics movement see Margaret Rossiter, Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982)
See also:
"Women in Earnest: Demand That Meat Markets of Portland Shall Be Kept Clean," Oregon Journal, April 14, 1905, 1.
"Woman Named as Inspector of Markets in Portland," Oregonian, April 25, 1905, 16.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mae Cardwell, M.D.: Crusader for Cleanliness!


Esther Pohl served as one of three physicians on the Portland Health Board from 1905-1907 and as Portland City Health Officer from 1907-1909, all under the administration of Democratic mayor Harry Lane, M.D. Pohl came to the board of health just as Portland women had scored an important civic victory -- the appointment of a woman as market inspector to enforce codes of clean food, including meat, to support the health of Portlanders.
One of the leaders of this pure food and market inspection campaign was none other than Mae Cardwell, M.D., a path breaker and leader of Oregon women and medicine. She was an advocate for a woman sanitary inspector for Portland as early as 1901 in the Home Department of the Portland Woman's Club, according to club records at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
In April 1905 Cardwell was one of three physicians on the city board of health (Pohl's predecessor) and worked with a coalition of Portland women, including members of the Y.W.C.A. and the Consumer's League, to get the city council under Mayor Williams to hire meat and market inspectors as part of the board of health.
On April 10 a group of women toured Portland's markets and were nauseated by what they encountered. And they held a mass meeting on April 14 to set up a boycott and demand action by the city council. The Oregon Journal (April 14, 1905, 1) gave it front page headlines.



The article, in addition to providing great information about the campaign, carries the added thrilling bonus of an early image of Mae Cardwell.


At the mass meeting, Cardwell "congratulated womankind on the growth of her influence in the past few years and the attention with which she is listened to now."

Women physicians, according to Regina Morantz Sanchez in Sympathy and Science: Women Physicians in American Medicine, participated in the Progressive Era public health movement in great numbers across the nation. This was certainly true of Portland. In coalitions and as members of women's clubs and groups like the Consumers' League, Mae Cardwell, Esther Pohl and other women doctors made a powerful impact. And as Karen Blair notes in The Clubwoman as Feminist, while some histories give most of the credit to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, women in their organizations changed the nation's policies about pure food, sanitary markets and consumer health and empowerment in the first part of the twentieth century and beyond.

In the next few posts more from this market inspection campaign, including new faces and links to the career of Esther Lovejoy.




Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fred Clayson, the Christmas Day Murders 1899, and Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland

We last read of Esther Clayson’s brother Fred in Skagway, Alaska as a new gold rush arrival from Portland in August 1897. Fred soon prospered as a risk-taking outfitter and head of F. H. Clayson and Company [pictured here in an advertisement in Skagway newspapers reprinted in Howard Clifford, The Skagway Story (Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Publishing, 1975), 44]. By the fall of 1899 he had saved some $40,000 by Esther’s estimate, enough to make him a millionaire in today’s dollars.




Fred was heading from Dawson, Yukon to Skagway in December 1899 via bicycle – a new fad for traveling on the iced trails – and disappeared on Christmas Day, December 25, 1899. The family hired a private detective, Philip Maguire, to assist the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with the investigation. The Oregonian interviewed Esther for a story on January 19, 1900 (“May Have Been Murdered” p. 8) when it became apparent that her missing brother had probably been murdered and featured this likeness of Fred.




Fred’s body and the bodies of two other men murdered with him were found in the Yukon River after spring thaws – Fred’s on May 30, 1900. George O’Brien was convicted for their murders by a Dawson, Yukon jury and he was hanged on August 31, 1901.

After a send-off funeral in Skagway by the Arctic Brotherhood, a Yukon/Alaska fraternal organization, Esther’s mother Annie brought Fred’s body back to Portland and buried him in the plot that would become the resting place of many in the family, including Esther, at Lone Fir Cemetery. Annie planted holly trees there to commemorate her youngest son’s death on Christmas Day. The holly trees still guard the family plot.

In Esther’s view, written in notes for an autobiography at Historical Collections & Archives at OHSU, “the short life of my brother was far more significant than his tragic death and more thrilling in its living realities than the detective stories founded upon his murder.” And there were and are many such detective stories. See, for example:
Henry Woodside, “The Great Yukon Murder Case,” Wide World Magazine 8 no 44 (December 1901): 154-162
Allan Curtis, “Christmas Day Murders,” Canadian West 13 (Fall 1988): 81-85 and 14 (Winter 1988): 126-133
Ed Ferrell, Frontier Justice: Alaska 1898: The Last American Frontier (Westminster, MD: Heritage Books, 2007), 5-11.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Esther Pohl in Alaska

The Alaska/Klondike gold rush drew much of Esther Pohl's family from Portland in 1897-1898. Her husband Emil and brother Fred were on the first ship from Portland in July 1897. That fall Esther's brother Will, her mother Annie Clayson, and her younger sisters Charlotte and Annie May joined them.

Esther attended post-graduate medical clinics in Chicago that fall of 1897 and joined her family in Skagway in the spring of 1898. That spring the area suffered a severe epidemic of spinal meningitis and both she and Emil put their medical skills to work. In notes for a biography in the Esther Lovejoy Collection at OHSU, Esther recalled that "in this emergency the minister of the little church with the big stove took the lead. Funds were raised and a log-stable built for mules was converted into a hospital for meningitis cases." 

According to Howard Clifford (The Skawgay Story [Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Publishing, 1975], 30) this was the Presbyterian Reverend Robert McCahon Dickey, who raised funds and dedicated the Union Church in December, 1897. There is a splendid image of the church at Alaska's Digital Archives. It served as the town's first school and, according to Clifford, "a community hospital, humane society, and a club for both men and women." Perhaps Esther or Emil or both provided medical care here in the building's function as hospital.

Esther Pohl would become Portland City Health Officer in 1907. Here in Skagway some nine years earlier she had a powerful first-hand experience with an epidemic and in organizing a public health response. And she would draw on all of these experiences as a leader of transnational medical relief after the First World War.