Finn J.D. John

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

Ben Maxwell/ Salem Public Library##Howard A. Black, curator at Grant County Museum in Canyon City, Oregon, holds the skull of Berry Way and a “California collar,” or noose, of the type Way was hanged with, in this 1963 photograph.

Offbeat Oregon: “Paint your Wagon” meets “Perry Mason,” but playing for keeps

Exactly 155 years ago today, Deputy Frank McDaniels returned home in Canyon City after a long and grueling manhunt. McDaniels was exhausted. But he’d gotten his man. He had murder suspect Berry ...

Image: UO Libraries: A political cartoon by the legendary Tige Reynolds, on the front page of the April 13 edition of the Portland Morning Oregonian, illustrated the response to assistant librarian M. Louise Hunt’s refusal to invest in war bonds.

Offbeat Oregon: Librarian’s crime: Failure to lend money to government

On April 12, 1918, Oregonians opened their newspapers to learn that there was a traitor in their midst. “PORTLAND LIBRARIAN RADICAL IN DECLARING LOYALTY TO KAISER!” shrieked the Salem ...

Image: Northern Illinois University Libraries##A drawing of Deadwood Dick Sr. from the Beadle’s Half-Dime Library catalogue.

Offbeat Oregon: Deadwood Dick's far-fetched adventures

Between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the 20th Century, the most popular form of fictional entertainment in America was dime novels. Dime novels were cheap paperback novelettes printed ...

Image: UO Libraries##Portraits of three of Alfred Belding’s victims, published in the Sunday Oregonian on July 13, 1902: his wife, Sylvia Maude McCroskey Belding; his mother-in-law, Deborah McCroskey; and his father-in-law, Lemuel McCroskey. No portrait of George “Gyp” Woodward was published.

Offbeat Oregon: 'Unwritten Law' couldn't help man when he murdered his in-laws, too

Alfred Lester Belding may have intended to try to claim the protection of the “Unwritten Law” when he made his plans for revenge. But, reviewing the historical record, it seems more likely ...

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 ...

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