Listeners Offbeat Oregon History page on Facebook. New historic photographs are frequently posted. This link takes you back to my personal hub page at finnjohn.com. It opens in a new browser window. Thrice-weekly RSS audio edition (podcast) and iTunes feed Listen to the Offbeat Oregon History show on Stitcher Internet Radio. Offbeat Oregon History page on Facebook. New historic photographs are frequently posted. Offbeat Oregon on Twitter. This is where you'll find most of the "pop history" community. Offbeat Oregon on Pinterest

Heroes and rascals...
shipwrecks and lost gold ...

Welcome to Offbeat Oregon History, a public-history resource for the state we love. Here's what you'll find here:

  • A weekly newspaper column published in about a dozen Oregon community newspapers;
  • An archive of columns we've published since 2008, with pictures (arranged by date of first publication);
  • A daily podcast (7 to 12 minutes long) optimized for mobile-device listening via iTunes, Stitcher, or the podcatcher of your choice;
  • An active Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest boards;
  • Two pop-history books (and counting!): Heroes and Rascals of Old Oregon and Love, Sex and Murder in Old Oregon. (And Bad Ideas and Horrible People of Old Oregon is coming Summer 2021!)

Enjoy! And if you have any comments on stories, suggestions for column topics or other feedback — or if you're coming by the OSU campus and have time for a cup of coffee with a fellow history dork — drop me a note at fj-@-offbeatoregon-dot-com any time!

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— WASHINGTON & CLATSOP COUNTIES — 1940s —

On the lam from the FBI? Try hiding out in a small, friendly Oregon town!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! In the spirit of the American tradition of the season, today we’re going to explore the stories of two Missouri men whose New Year’s Resolutions probably once included “Give up crime” and “Hide from the F.B.I.”

This is the sort of thing that used to be very easy to do in Oregon, which is actually the only state (so far as I have been able to learn) to have ever had one of its U.S. Senators serve under an alias which he adopted while running from law enforcement. (That would be John M. Hipple, a.k.a. John H. Mitchell — a cool, amoral Gilded Age rascal after whom the town of Mitchell is named — who in 1860 abandoned his wife and family in Connecticut, “borrowed” $4,000 from his employer, and fled with his mistress to the West Coast to start a new life under a new name.)

Hipple’s adventure is another story, although it's worth circling back to if you're not familiar with it. Today we are going to talk about two other fugitives, both of whom had the bad luck to be on the lam 90 years after Hipple’s successful scampering-off. Their luck would not be as good as his.

Like Hipple, neither was a killer. One of them was arguably not even a “real” criminal. But both of them were fugitives from justice who were caught “laying low” under aliases in little towns in Oregon, and both were caught through the media — in one case, the newspapers, and in the other, a radio show....

(to continue reading, click here)

Audio (podcast version) of this article:
— FEBRUARY 2021 —

Coos Bay shipwreck became the scene of a massive, drunken looting party

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ON THE MORNING OF NOV. 5, 1915, at the back of the entrance to Coos Bay, a big steamship could be seen towering improbably over the beach, stuck fast in the sand close to shore.

This was the Santa Clara, a 233-foot steamer on the Portland-San Francisco run.

The Santa Clara didn’t much look like the scene of a humanitarian disaster, jutting out of the sand nearly plumb and level and nearly high and dry; but appearances were deceiving. Sixteen people died trying to get ashore when she first struck, three days before.

Nor did the wreck scene look like a very likely place for a massive, boozy free-for-all mob rampage … but a little later on that day, after a small army of looters swarmed aboard and found certain very desirable refreshments among the ship’s cargo, things would be different.....

(to continue reading, click here)

Audio (podcast version) of this article:
— MARCH 2021 —

Oregonians played a prominent role in the 1930s’ most horrific murder

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OREGON DIVORCEE AGNES Anne “Annie” LeRoi arrived in Phoenix in the first few months of 1931 with her best friend and roommate, schoolteacher Hedvig “Sammy” Samuelson. They were climate refugees: Sammy had tuberculosis, and at the time the only cure for “consumption” was a dry climate and rest.

Back then, many patients with TB waited until they were so far gone that the climate couldn’t save them; essentially, they moved to Arizona to die. Sammy wasn’t one of them; her case was mild. But, although she didn’t know it, she, too, was moving to Arizona to die. She had less than nine months to live. So did Annie.

Neither one of them would die of tuberculosis, though....

This article is still under its initial two-month embargo, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it. Then, on May 14, 2021, a link to the full article will appear in this space!

— APRIL 2021 —

Not all fugitives hiding out in Oregon were running from the law

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SOMTIME IN 1915, a 40-year-old Black woman named Frankie Baker stepped off the train at Portland’s Union Station. She had come to stay; Oregon would be her home for the rest of her life.

At that time, Portland had a a reputation as a good place to hide out when you were on the lam. It was far off the beaten path; but the town had all the cultural perquisites of civilization, or most of them anyway. Plus, the people of Oregon had a reputation for minding their own business.

So a lot of people who got into trouble back east came to Portland hoping for a fresh start. And yes, Frankie was one of them.

But she wasn’t running from the law, or from an abusive spouse. She was running from a popular song.

Frankie Baker, you see, was the Frankie — of “Frankie and Johnny” fame. ...

This article is still under its initial two-month embargo, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it. Then, on June 11, 2021, a link to the full article will appear in this space!

— MAY 2021 —

The Offbeat Oregon story for May 2021 will appear in this space.

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A brief introduction to this story will be posted shortly after the first of the month. The full story will be under embargo for two months, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it; then, on July 9, 2021, it will appear in this space!

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

— JUNE 2021 —

The Offbeat Oregon story for June 2021 will appear in this space.

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A brief introduction to this story will be posted shortly after the first of the month. The full story will be under embargo for two months, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it; then, on August 13, 2021, it will appear in this space!

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

— JULY 2021 —

The Offbeat Oregon story for July 2021 will appear in this space.

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A brief introduction to this story will be posted shortly after the first of the month. The full story will be under embargo for two months, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it; then, on September 10, 2021, it will appear in this space!

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

— AUGUST 2021 —

The Offbeat Oregon story for August 2021 will appear in this space.

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A brief introduction to this story will be posted shortly after the first of the month. The full story will be under embargo for two months, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it; then, on October 8, 2021, it will appear in this space!

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

— SEPTEMBER 2021 —

The Offbeat Oregon story for September 2021 will appear in this space.

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A brief introduction to this story will be posted shortly after the first of the month. The full story will be under embargo for two months, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it; then, on November 12, 2021, it will appear in this space!

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

— OCTOBER 2021 —

The Offbeat Oregon story for October 2021 will appear in this space.

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A brief introduction to this story will be posted shortly after the first of the month. The full story will be under embargo for two months, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it; then, on December 10, 2021, it will appear in this space!

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

— NOVEMBER 2021 —

The Offbeat Oregon story for November 2021 will appear in this space.

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A brief introduction to this story will be posted shortly after the first of the month. The full story will be under embargo for two months, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it; then, on January 14, 2022, it will appear in this space!

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

— DECEMBER 2021 —

The Offbeat Oregon story for December 2021 will appear in this space.

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A brief introduction to this story will be posted shortly after the first of the month. The full story will be under embargo for two months, during which participating newspapers have exclusive rights to it; then, on February 11, 2022, it will appear in this space!

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for supporting your community newspapers and radio stations!

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