Finn J.D. John

"Offbeat Oregon:" Unusual stories of historic Oregon ... suggestions welcomed.

Image: UO Libraries##Defendant William Dalton as he appeared in court, along with some of the witnesses who helped convict him, drawn by the Morning Oregonian’s courtroom sketch artist for the Dec. 10, 1901, issue.

Offbeat Oregon: Murderers mess with wrong woman

It was after 10 p.m. on a Thursday night, and Multnomah County District Attorney George Chamberlain was dressing for bed when the telephone rang. He seized the receiver. “Who’s there?” ...

Image: Flux Magazine##William Begg as he appeared some 40 years after the shipwreck, posing with the salvaged figurehead from the Glenmorag’s bowsprit.

Offbeat Oregon: Getting shipwrecked and nearly killed was luckiest break of man’s life

March 19, 1896, was probably the best, luckiest, and all-around most wonderful day of William Begg’s long and happy life. But it sure didn’t look that way at the time. In fact, as he ...

Image: Oregonian##A photo illustration of the Baker Theatre from the Portland Morning Oregonian in 1902.

Offbeat Oregon: Mayor Baker’s theater defined Portland culture for decades

Most modern Oregonians interested in Portland history don’t quite know what to make of George L. Baker. Baker served longer in the office of Mayor of Portland than anyone ever has, before or since. ...

Image: Oregon Historical Society##The “flag” that appeared at the top of the The Firebrand’s front page.

Offbeat Oregon: Anarchist newspaper editors jailed for publishing 'naughty' articles

The editors and writers of Anarchist-Communist newspaper The Firebrand, published in Portland and distributed nationwide from 1895 to 1897, surely expected to get some resistance from the establishment. ...

##A postcard featuring the Marion County Courthouse as it appeared about 20 years after the trials of Mattie Allison and Wilf Saunders were held in it.

Offbeat Oregon: Albany man’s efforts to ‘ruin’ his ex-girlfriend ended badly for him

Albany man’s determination to “ruin” his ex-girlfriend ended badly for him On Nov. 4, 1885, a 27-year-old man was strolling down an Albany street with an attractive 20-year-old brunette. ...

Image: UO Libraries##An engraving of convicted murderer Charles Fiester, published in the Portland Morning Oregonian on June 11, 1898, the day after his hanging.

Offbeat Oregon: Convicted murderer faked catatonia for two years to avoid gallows

Charles Fiester really, really didn’t want to die. Fair enough; most of us don’t. His wife, Nancy, hadn’t wanted to die either; but she’d been trying to leave their 30-year marriage ...

Image: Library of Congress##Cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi’s 1565 map of the known world includes Quivira at the extreme northwest corner of the North American continent, at around 42 degrees north latitude.

Offbeat Oregon: Was the legendary gold-and-turquoise city of Quivira located on the Oregon Coast?

In the late 1530s, Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza of the Spanish colony of Mexico started hearing rumors of a string of rich, gold-encrusted cities far to the north. Of course, no 1500s Spanish colonial administrator ...

Image: Salem Public Library##Salem as it appeared looking west from the dome of the capitol building in the late 1800s.

Offbeat Oregon: Was Joe Drake a murderer, or just an innocent patsy?

On April 1, 1884, an event occurred that probably should have tipped 25-year-old woodcutter Joseph Drake off that bad things were coming his way: His neighbor, David Swartz, filed for divorce ...

Image: Oregon Historical Society##
A line of Tillamook Guerilla Rifle Club members practice taking up a battle position behind a berm in March 1942, in this photo by an Oregon Journal photographer.

Offbeat Oregon: If Japan had invaded, the Tillamook Guerillas were ready

Early 1942 was a really nerve-racking time to be an Oregonian — especially if you lived on the coast. The United States had just gone to war against a country that was already famous for being able ...

Image: Port of Portland##A pilot’s-eye view of the Troutdale Airport as it appears today.

Offbeat Oregon: Massive passenger jet landed at tiny airfield by mistake

It was about 4 a.m. on August 12, 1962, and United Air Lines Flight 861, a red-eye flight from Chicago to Portland, had just landed. The 81 passengers were unbuckling their seatbelts and peering ...

Image: NY Historical Society##This woodcut image from the 1837 edition of the Davy Crockett Almanac probably depicts the story of the time Davy and a panther found themselves on the same tree branch together, which is mentioned in the comments about the joint occupancy of Oregon with Great Britain.

Offbeat Oregon: Davy Crockett in Oregon territory? Yes, in song and legend

Nearly everyone knows the story of David Crockett — the Tennessee mountain man and future politician turned folk hero who died at the Alamo in 1836. Most of us just remember the details from ...

Image: Café Unknown##C.S. “Sam” Jackson II at the controls of the “Newsroom Dragonfly” in 1947.

Offbeat Oregon: Crash changed face of Portland journalism

A few days before Christmas in 1947, a young ex-Navy flier, looking to kill a little time before dinner, invited a friend to come out for a quick spin around a nearby golf course in his new helicopter. An ...

Image courtesy Mike Nolan##State Senate President Marshall Cornett, holding the door of his new Beechcraft Bonanza, chats with Dr. C.V. Hugh, who went with Cornett to pick up the airplane from the factory in Witchita earlier that year.

Offbeat Oregon: State lost leaders in 1947 crash

On the afternoon of Oct. 28, 1947, a brand-new airplane lined up and took off from McNary Field in Salem. It was a gleaming red-and-white beauty, one of the very first examples of a model that ...

Image: Herb Neufeld##The interior of a Ford Trimotor as seen from the viewpoint of a passenger. This particular aircraft, a model 5-AT-B (serial number 8), was built in 1928 was once displayed at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum.

Offbeat Oregon: Fatal crashes made 1933 a rough year in Oregon aviation

Commercial air travel has become so safe and so banal — especially for the poor fish packed into “coach” seating — that it’s sometimes easy to forget what a new experience ...

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