“We Are Here” Honors Native Americans (Bronze Replica, Part 2 of 3)

(Part 2 of 3: Bronze replica on North Main Street, 
stories from 2011 to 2020)

Honoring Rogue Valley Native Americans.
Making of the bronze replica. 
34 photos.
Artist: Jack Langford.
Ashland Public Art Series.

“The ‘We Are Here’ sculpture has had a healing effect on the valley.” 

Russell Beebe

Summary of “We Are Here” – Part 1

“We Are Here” is a sculpture that honors the First Nations of the Rogue Valley. In addition to a sculpture, it has been called a wood carving, a Spirit Pole and a Prayer Pole. The bronze replica is located where North Main Street and Lithia Way meet, a very visible location just one block from the Plaza. 

"We Are Here" location map
The red arrow points to the location of “We Are Here” (#1) on North Main Street near where Lithia Way joins it. Other numbers on the map indicate additional additional public artworks. (map from Ashland Public Arts Commission page at City of Ashland website)

Local attorney and arts patron Matthew Haines felt called to have the wood carving made from an alder tree that was cut down. He hired Russell Beebe, of Anishinaabe Native heritage, to be the sculptor (wood carver). The late Takelma elder Grandma Aggie (Agnes Baker Pilgrim) was the model for Takelma woman on “We Are Here,” shown in the photo below.

"We Are Here" Ashland
“We Are Here” prayer pole, Takelma woman modeled on Grandma Aggie (photo by Peter Finkle, 2009)

Grandma Aggie performed ceremonies for the tree and then the Prayer Pole, including at the original September 30, 2006 dedication. Within a few years, Beebe and Haines realized that the soft alder wood of the sculpture would deteriorate irreparably if it continued to be exposed to the elements for many years. There was only one way to save “We Are Here” — to move it indoors. But that meant losing this visible, public location for an artwork that honors Native people of the Rogue Valley.

From wood to bronze, the story continues

After discussing alternatives, Haines and Beebe decided that a bronze casting of the sculpture would be ideal. However, they faced two daunting challenges: first, find the money for a bronze of this size, and second, find someone local with the skill to cast a bronze from this huge, complicated wood carving. As often happens in happy-ending stories, everything clicked into place. Here is the story as I heard it.

Haines, Pilgrim and Beebe, October 29, 2004
Lloyd Matthew Haines, Agnes Baker Pilgrim and Russell Beebe, October 29, 2004 (photo by James Royce Young)

This was not a simple bronze casting. The statue was not only 19’ to 20’ tall, it was also complex. The carved branches of the tree and the details of the carving called for years of experience with bronze work. It also meant a very large budget. 

As Haines was mulling these problems, a buyer unexpectedly appeared for one of Haines’ buildings that was not even for sale! The purchase took place and he had some extra money. 

Jack Langford

Jack Langford, a local bronze artist, has been a professional sculptor since 1980. He has operated bronze foundries in Israel, Maine and now in Southern Oregon.

At the same time Haines was trying to determine who would have the skill locally to cast a bronze of this size, Langford was hit with a one-two punch that rocked him. He had just completed the complex and expensive process of moving his entire sculpture studio from Talent to Ashland. After only one week in the new studio, the building owner told him to leave, and to clear out within a week! He came out of the meeting with the building owner reeling both mentally and emotionally. His friend Jesse Biesanz, a stone worker, happened to be there visiting. Jesse heard his plight and said, “I have an idea.” The next day, Biesanz brought Haines to meet with Langford.

Jack Langford
Jack Langford (left) and Kevin Christman at a bronze pour at Jack’s studio. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Langford’s extensive experience working with bronze met Haines’ need. Haines offered Langford the “We Are Here” commission. Soon after, Langford found space at Jackson Wellsprings where he could work on it. The bronze casting project was underway.

Bronze casting of “We Are Here” 

Jack Langford worked on the bronze casting of “We Are Here” for almost a year. With his son as assistant, he began in June 2012 by erecting a scaffold around the wood statue and making a mold of it. Writing “making a mold” oversimplifies the complex process. With a statue this large, they could only create molds a small section at a time. “We Are Here” required 55 molds all together to create the bronze replica!

Starting at the bottom, they made each mold by painting a flexible polyurethane material over the wood of a small area.

This material captured every detail of the wood carving – cracks, knots and all – without harming it. They then applied a rigid epoxy-like material over the flexible layer. 

This photo shows flexible polyurethane molds in Jack Langford’s studio. Note: These molds are for a different sculpture, not “We Are Here,” but the process is the same. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)
"We Are Here"
“We Are Here,” Jack Langford applying polyurethane flexible molds. (still photo from Glen Paris-Stamm video)

After the two layers were removed together, each flexible mold was transformed through many steps into a rigid mold made of fused silica powder.  Fused silica molds could withstand the heat of liquid bronze. Each individual bronze casting is a complex, multi-stage, labor-intensive process. It is an art and a science, and both have to be balanced every step of the way. 

Finally, Langford would have to reassemble the 55 small bronze castings back into one sculpture. We will get to that in a moment. 

The rigid ceramic molds are made, through a multi-step process, in this room of Jack Langford’s studio. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

2,000-degree melted bronze was poured – very carefully, wearing padding and face protection – into each of the 55 silica molds!

Jack Langford
Kevin Christman (left) and Jack Langford are carrying a ceramic crucible filled with liquid bronze, melted at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Note: This bronze is for a different sculpture, not “We Are Here,” but the process is the same. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)
Jack Langford
Photo of liquid bronze being poured into ceramic molds. Note: These molds are for a different sculpture, not “We Are Here,” but the process is the same. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)
Brief video of liquid bronze being poured into ceramic molds. Note: These molds are for a different sculpture, not “We Are Here,” but the process is the same. (video by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Hammering freed each bronze casting from its silica mold. I winced when the hammering began. Jack assured me, with a laugh, that he was not damaging the sculpture.  

Jack Langford
Jack Langford is breaking the rigid ceramic mold off of a cooling bronze casting. Note: This mold is for a different sculpture, not “We Are Here,” but the process is the same.(photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

The photo below shows what the bronze looked like just out of the mold, with lots of silica sand still stuck to it. Precision sandblasting removed every bit of the silica.

"We Are Here"
“We Are Here” bronze casting process. Shortly after this piece was removed from the silica mold, some of the white silica is still attached to the bronze.(still photo from Glen Paris-Stamm video)

Finally, the molds were combined back into one piece. It took a surprising amount of  pounding, clamping, tacking, welding, torching, grinding and polishing to get the bronze “We Are Here” that we see at North Main Street and Lithia Way today.  

Here is a peek at the welding.

Here is torching of the sculpture. Langford used a patina torch to apply a concentrated flame to the entire surface of the bronze replica. Then, while the bronze metal was still hot, he and Beebe ground the entire surface with small wire brushes to smooth out rough spots. The patina torch and wire brush sanding were both done twice.

"We Are Here"
“We Are Here,” Jack Langford applying patina torch to bronze. (still photo from Glen Paris-Stamm video)

The final step was polishing the entire surface of “We Are Here” with carnauba wax, followed by buffing with a soft cloth. This was also done twice.

Two changes from the wood sculpture to the bronze replica

Before Langford began his work, he and carver Russell Beebe met at the wood statue. Langford explained that in the transition from wood to bronze, he could make adjustments to the statue if Beebe wanted any. Beebe considered this and requested two changes.

The first change was thinner wings for the Canada goose at the top of the statue. As he was carving the tree, Beebe kept the wings thicker than he would have liked in order to be sure the wood didn’t crack or break. For the bronze replica, Langford made molds for only the outer side of the wings. Then Beebe came to Langford’s studio and sculpted thinner, more detailed wings in clay for the bronze casting.

"We Are Here"
“We Are Here” – Russell Beebe is carving the clay mold for Canada goose inner wings on bronze replica. (still photo from Glen Paris-Stamm video)

These two photos show the comparison. Wings on the bronze “We Are Here” are much thinner, with beautiful detail that is missing from the original wood statue. We as viewers benefit from the close cooperation between the wood carver artist and the bronze worker artist.

Second was another detail I had never noticed. Because of the shape of the tree in the original carving, Beebe had to carve the stag (deer) antler connecting with the Canada goose, as if it were goring the goose. When the bronze casting was created, Beebe and Langford made a slight adjustment in this area so the stag antler is free standing and no longer appears to be goring the goose.

You can compare the two for yourself by viewing the original wood “We Are Here” prayer pole at Southern Oregon University Hannon Library and the bronze replica on North Main Street one block from the Ashland Plaza. Currently (April 2021), the SOU library is closed to non-students. However, “We Are Here” is placed near a large window. You can’t walk all around it and see it up close, but you can see it through the window.

"We Are Here" Ashland
“We Are Here” at SOU Hannon Library. This is the original wood sculpture. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2015)

A memorable day

One of Langford’s most memorable days creating the bronze was October 29, 2012. On that day, Oregon Shakespeare Festival hosted an evening event featuring Grandma Aggie, Russell Beebe, Dan Wahpepah, Brent Florendo and others. Grandma Aggie gave a talk about the Oregon Trail of Tears in 1856.  

After dark, Langford poured bronze into a mold, as Grandma Aggie and 80 other people looked on. This was his final bronze casting for “We Are Here.” Fittingly, this casting was of Grandma Aggie’s face near the top of the sculpture. 

This photo shows Grandma Aggie and her daughter Nadine Martin looking on as Russell Beebe uses a hammer to remove the ceramic mold from the bronze casting of Grandma Aggie’s face. As mentioned above, this was the final bronze casting for the bronze replica of “We Are Here.” (photo by James Royce Young)

The bronze replica base

Jesse Biesanz made the base for the bronze replica, and also used his boom truck to lift the bronze sculpture into place on the base. This base has a theme of river rocks, as does Biesanz’s base for “We Are Here” in the SOU library. 

"We Are Here" Ashland
River rocks on base of “We Are Here” bronze replica, base created by Jesse Biesanz. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

“This is about healing.”

Grandma Aggie

Installation and Dedication, May 2013

"We Are Here" bronze replica dedication
At the dedication for “We Are Here” bronze replica in May 2013. From left, Jack Langford, Dan Wahpepah, Matthew Haines, Grandma Aggie. (still photo from Mandy Valencia video, May 24, 2013)

The bronze replica of “We Are Here” was installed and dedicated in May of 2013. Continuing the theme of ceremony associated with “We Are Here,” there was a small blessing ceremony with Grandma Aggie, her daughter Nadine Martin, Matthew Haines and Jack Langford when the sturdy steel band to anchor the sculpture was bolted into place. More ceremony, with offerings and songs, took place at the bronze replica dedication.

"We Are Here"
“We Are Here” bronze replica is being installed at its site, May 2013.(still photo from Glen Paris-Stamm video)
James Royce Young took this wonderful photo of wood carver Russell Beebe shaking hands with bronze artist Jack Langford at the dedication of the “We Are Here” bronze replica. Russell Beebe carved the original wood “We Are Here” from the alder tree. It is now at SOU Hannon Library. Jack Langford made the bronze replica from the wood original. (photo by James Royce Young)

Langford did not work closely with Grandma Aggie on the bronze replica, as he did with sculptor Beebe. However, Langford told me he was deeply moved by Grandma Aggie’s words to him the day his bronze replica of “We Are Here” was installed. She told him that she felt the presence of Spirit just as strongly in the new bronze replica as she did in the original alder tree prayer pole.

When the bronze replica was installed at the site, Grandma Aggie said, “What a gift Jack has. I want to praise and thank him too. My name is Taowhywee, my Native name. My English name is Agnes Baker Pilgrim, and I’m the oldest living descendant of the Takelma Indians that once lived in this valley for 22,000 years that we know of. I’m very proud to stand here today and honor this statue that they’ve done, that the bronze man Jack has done. What a beautiful spiritual thing it is to my heart. It will touch the lives of people that come by. Now this will be here into perpetuity. It is a great honor to the ancient people of this land that lived here for over 22,000 years.”    

Detail photos of bronze replica

See some details of the bronze replica below. When I view it up close, I am amazed by how many details of the wood carving – including cracks and knots in the wood – are captured by the bronze replica.

Part 1 of this series of articles about “We Are Here” described the creation of the original wood carving prayer pole, and its dedication on September 30, 2006. Click on the image below to read Part 1.

Part 3 of this series of articles about “We Are Here” will describe the challenge of moving the original wood carving from North Main Street to Southern Oregon University Hannon Library. Here is a preview photo.

PREVIEW photo: “We Are Here” in the process of being moved to SOU Hannon Library, December 18, 2012. (photo by James Royce Young)

References for Parts 1, 2 and 3:

Aldous, Vickie. “Downtown sculpture to be cast in bronze,” Ashland Tidings, April 18, 2012. (accessed 5/21/2020)

Aldous, Vickie. “Native people sculpture will move to SOU,” Ashland Tidings, November 3, 2012. (accessed 5/21/2020)

Anon. “Native Americans of the Rogue Valley,” North Mountain Park Nature Center, Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, Version 4: May 2010.
http://www.ashland.or.us/Files/Native%20American%20Background%20Booklet.pdf

Anon. “We Are Here,” Book Marks, Hannon Library Newsletter, Volume 24, No. 1, Fall 2013.

Anon. “Takelma Tribe,” NPS.gov. (accessed 1/10/2021) https://www.nps.gov/orca/learn/historyculture/takelma-tribe.htm

Anon. “Takelma Legends,” native-languages.org website. (accessed January 17, 2021)
http://www.native-languages.org/takelma-legends.htm

Ayers, Jane. “’Grandma Aggie’ leaves a lasting impact,” Ashland Tidings, December 3, 2019. (accessed May 21, 2020)

Beebe, Russell. Interview and personal communication, June 2, 2020 and other dates. Thank you, Russell, for sharing your photos with me.

Beebe, Russell. Website, accessed May 14, 2020.
http://www.russellbeebe.com/index.html#

Bernhagen, Jaimie. “’We Are Here’ Event with Oregon Shakespeare Festival,” Red Earth Descendants website, October 14, 2012. (accessed May 21, 2020)

Biesanz, Jesse. Interview and personal communication, August 2020.

Cardwell, James, “Southern Oregon Pioneers,” Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 8, 1882, page 3, from http://truwe.sohs.org/files/cardwell.html

Darling, John. “’Grandma Aggie’ dies at 95,” Ashland Tidings, November 27, 2019. (accessed May 21, 2020)

Doty, Thomas. Website, accessed May 14, 2020.
https://www.dotycoyote.com/culture/sculpture_installation_1.html

Gray, Dennis J. “The Takelma and Their Athapascan Neighbors,” University of Oregon Anthropological Papers, No. 37, 1987.

Haines, Lloyd Matthew. Interview and personal communication, May 13, 2020 and other dates.

Hall, Aaron. “Exploring with Beavers, Nature’s Ecosystem Engineers,” Defenders of Wildlife website, September 28, 2016.
https://defenders.org/blog/2016/09/exploring-beavers-natures-ecosystem-engineers

Kuiryamf. “’We Are Here’ statue relocated to Hannon Library,” The Siskiyou, January 15, 2013. (accessed May 14, 2020)
https://siskiyou.sou.edu/2013/01/15/we-are-here-statue-relocated-to-hannon-library/

Langford, Jack. Interview and personal communication, May 20, 2020 and other dates.

Martin, Nadine. Many thanks for reviewing the article.

Norman, Julie. Video of the dedication day and dedication ceremony.

Norman, Julie. Interview and personal communication, August 2020 and other dates.

Paris-Stamm, Glen. 31-minute Video. “Artist on Your Doorstep presents: Jack Langford, Sculptor, ‘We Are Here'(prayer pole now in bronze),” City of Ashland website (accessed January 18, 2021)
http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=18059

Also available directly on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD73OiZBf6Q

Pilgrim, Agnes Baker (Taowhywee). Grandma Says: Wake Up World, Blackstone Publishing, 2015.

Pilgrim, Agnes Baker. Website, accessed May 14, 2020.
http://www.agnesbakerpilgrim.org/Page.asp?PID=108

Rose, Karen. May 25, 2002. “Takelma Indians: An Essay on Native Americans in the Rogue River Area,” Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society, Hugo, OR. For the entire article go to http://www.hugoneighborhood.org/takelma.htm 

Sapir, Edward. “Notes on the Takelma Indians of Southwestern Oregon,” American Anthropologist, Vol. 9, No. 2, April-June, 1907.

Valencia, Mandy. “We Are Here,” Ashland Daily Tidings, December 21, 2012.

https://ashlandtidings.com/archive/-we-are-here–04-27-2018

Valencia, Mandy. 5-minute Video. “We Are Here Dedication Ceremony,” Ashland Tidings website, May 24, 2013. (accessed January 18, 2021)
https://kzclip.com/video/9d5d_FoTkq4/we-are-here-dedication-ceremony.html

Valencia, Mandy. 4-minute Video. Russell Beebe carving eyes in the bronze We Are Here statue, Ashland Tidings website, April 2, 2013. (accessed January 18, 2021)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TqrdKFuu-E

Valencia, Mandy. 3-minute Video. Color heating of the We Are Here bronze statue (Jack Langford and Russell Beebe), Ashland Tidings website, April 15, 2013. (accessed January 18, 2021)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fB4eP7F88M8

Wahpepah, Dan. Interview, August 10, 2020.

Young, James Royce. James took many of the photos from the creation of “We Are Here” in both wood and bronze, as well as photos of the 2006 dedication and the 2012 move to SOU Hannon Library. I thank James for sharing so many of his photos with me.

“We Are Here” Honors Native Americans (Part 1 of 3)

(Part 1 of 3: Original wood carving on North Main Street, 
stories from 2004 to 2012)

Honoring Rogue Valley Native Americans.
Creation of the original wood carving.
Introducing Grandma Aggie.
The 1856 Oregon Trail of Tears
Sculptor: Russell Beebe.
Ashland Public Art Series.

Setting the scene

Grandma Aggie speaks to the Gateway Alder, October 29, 2004. (photo by James Royce Young)

“On October 29, 2004 Agnes Baker Pilgrim met with a small gathering of people at the base of the Gateway Alder [tree]. There she led us in a ceremony that was the beginning of a path. Grandma Agnes began the ceremony by offering tobacco and lighting fires, one fire for each of the Four Directions, in tins around the Gateway Alder. She then asked for blessing and guidance from the Sprits of the Four Directions as she communed with the tree. Here she is seen speaking directly to the Gateway Alder.” 

James Royce Young
"We Are Here" Ashland
“We Are Here” prayer pole detail, Takelma woman modeled on Grandma Aggie (photo by Peter Finkle, 2009)

What is “We Are Here?”

On his website, Russell Beebe wrote: “From the Blessing of Ashland’s Gateway Alder Tree has emerged a 20 foot monument to the First Nations of Southwest Oregon. The tribes honored in this work are the Shasta (male figure) & Takelma (represented by the inspired likeness of Agnes Baker Pilgrim) Nations. The sculpture is titled ‘We are Here.’ Designer and Sculptor is Russell Beebe – of Anishinaabe Native heritage. Special thanks to Lloyd Matthew Haines.”

“We Are Here” is a sculpture that honors the First Nations of the Rogue Valley, and is part of the City of Ashland public art collection. In addition to a sculpture or statue, it has been called a wood carving, a Spirit Pole and a Prayer Pole. 

When American settlers arrived in the early 1850s, they found the Shasta, Takelma and other tribes living in the Ashland area and throughout Southern Oregon. When Hargadine and Helman made the first donation land claims in January 1852 in what is now Ashland, there was a Shasta winter village called K’wakhakha at the site of the Ashland Plaza. 

The late Grandma Aggie said that her people, the Takelma, had performed a sacred Salmon ceremony on the Rogue River for 22,000 years. “We Are Here” remembers the Native Americans who lived on this land before the settlers came and “claimed” it.

Between 1852 and 1856, there were four years of conflicts and broken promises as local Native Americans tried to defend their ancestral land. Suffering from diseases and hunger, as well as deaths from the fighting, the remaining Shasta and Takelma were forcibly marched in 1856 to the Siletz Indian Reservation, 150 miles north along the Oregon coast. Through the years, Native Americans have moved back to Southern Oregon, some like the Shasta and Takelma because it is their ancestral homeland.

Where is “We Are Here?”

"We Are Here" location map
The red arrow points to the location of “We Are Here” (#1) in downtown Ashland, on North Main Street near where Lithia Way joins it. (map from Ashland Public Arts Commission page at City of Ashland website)

We Are Here is located where North Main Street and Lithia Way meet. It is a very visible location at the west gateway to downtown Ashland, one short block from the Plaza. 

The first challenge

Lloyd Matthew Haines owned the sort-of-triangular lot where North Main Street and Lithia Way come together, which you can see on the map above. He wanted to build there, but it was challenging. Two groups of people opposed his plan. One loosely organized group opposed just about any downtown development, and they were very vocal. The second group objected to cutting down the large 53-year-old alder tree on the property.

Alder tree cut for "We Are Here"
The Gateway Alder tree before being cut down, October 29, 2004. (photo by James Royce Young)

Haines instructed his architects to try to design the building around the tree, thus saving it. The architects concluded that the lot was too small for that to work. They said the tree had to go.

An inner calling

Haines felt an inner calling that the tree should be made into “a piece of art that represented the Native American people and their presence in the valley.” As he put it, he knew “that’s what I needed to do.” He contacted wood carver Russell Beebe, of Anishinaabe Native heritage, and Takelma elder Grandma Aggie (Agnes Baker Pilgrim) to ask for their help. 

How Matthew Haines first met Russell Beebe and Grandma Aggie 

Haines knew the two of them from a tree carving project at his house a few years before. An oak tree had died from old age. Rather than cut it up for firewood, Haines thought of honoring the tree and the land by carving something from it. He contacted the Siskiyou Woodcraft Guild to see if someone would be interested in the project. Russell Beebe responded, and within two days of seeing the tree he came to Haines with a plan for a sculpture that was eventually called “My Relatives.” 

Russell Beebe carving
Russell Beebe is shown carving the sculpture called “My Relatives” from a white oak tree, 2003. (photo montage by James Royce Young)

Russell Beebe wrote of his design for “My Relatives”: “At first glance the big tree gave me an indication of how my design would evolve, from the juncture of the first large branch down to the base. The very uniform trunk offered freedom to create while the divergence of the branch above would dictate form. This and Mr. Haines’ desire that the sculpture honor the Tree, our Wildlife and the Native Peoples who once lived in the area gave me the spectrum to create.”

Beebe introduced stone worker Jesse Biesanz to Haines at this time, and Biesanz later went on to build the stone base for each “We Are Here” sculpture.

When “My Relatives” was complete, Beebe invited his friend Grandma Aggie to see the carving. This was when she and Matthew Haines first met.

Opposition and resolution

Now back to the alder tree and the proposed building at North Main Street and Lithia Way. There was still the large group opposed to new downtown development, with enough power to have stopped several other downtown projects in previous years. The building project was appealed to the City Council by opponents. Appeals like this tend to be contentious. 

At the Council meeting, Russell Beebe presented plans for the alder tree carving. Grandma Aggie followed him and spoke on behalf of the project. She said that Haines’ plan for the “We Are Here” sculpture was a small but important step toward honoring Native people. Haines and Beebe both told me they could feel the entire energy of the room shift as Grandma Aggie was talking.

“This is about healing.”

Grandma Aggie

She reminded council members and the audience that people whose ancestral lands these are were nearly wiped out. Since then, Native people have been consistently ignored and marginalized for more than 150 years. Despite the painful history, she said, Native people have returned to the Rogue Valley and Ashland.

Then she said something that cut through all the bickering. “You wouldn’t know that we exist. There’s nothing visible of Native people anywhere here except Dead Indian Road.” Beebe described that moment to me: “Everyone was stunned and that was the end of the protest.”

After her talk, the City Council approved the building and sculpture with little opposition.

Russell Beebe envisions “We Are Here” design

Russell Beebe wrote in 2006: “The original design for this sculpture evolved in just a few hours as I sat by the living alder tree. With Mr. Haines’ thought of ‘family’ in mind, the ‘story of old’ came through in my sketches and remained constant regardless of changes made. All I had to do was visualize and understand what the tree showed me, then let my hands do their work.” Beebe felt that his design represents “the story told by the old ones about our duty to walk in balance with nature.” 

When I interviewed Beebe in June of 2020, he added to the story. He told me he was sitting in a bar and restaurant by the alder tree that day. “So I got a hamburger and I sat at the table and just looked at the alder. By the time I finished the hamburger, I had my design figured out. It was that quick.”

Blessing the alder tree

Haines asked Grandma Aggie to perform a ceremony of blessing and thanks for the alder tree before it was cut down (see first photo above). A few people gathered with her on October 29, 2004 for ceremony and prayer. 

Haines, Pilgrim and Beebe, October 29, 2004
Lloyd Matthew Haines, Agnes Baker Pilgrim and Russell Beebe at the initial blessing ceremony, October 29, 2004 (photo by James Royce Young)

She wrote in her 2015 book that “we talked with that tree about what we were going to do with it, that it is going to be made into perpetuity. ‘We are going to carve on you, we’re going to make you beautiful. You’ll live forever, but we’re going to move you up here.’ We talked to it like a human being.”

This intentional beginning with ceremony started “We Are Here” on the path to be more than just a statue. When the wood carving was installed on North Main Street in 2006, there was ceremony in the context of a community celebration. When the wood carving was moved to Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University in 2012, there was ceremony. When the bronze replica was installed on North Main Street in 2013, there was ceremony. 

"We Are Here"
Grandma Aggie blessing the finished sculpture of “We Are Here” during installation September 19, 2006. (photo by Julie Norman)

Why is the Alder tree referred to as “mother?”

According to Beebe, the alder is not a long-lived tree, but it plays an important role in the natural process of regeneration, a role so valuable that it is called “mother.” Alder trees grow along streams all over the world. When flood or fire destroys the stream-side landscape, alders are among the first large plants to grow back. They grow quickly and spread their branches and leaves. Slower growing trees and plants then get established beneath the protection of the “mother.” With a smile, Beebe ended this story: “And after about 60 years, she says ‘okay children, you’re on your own.’ Then she’s done.”  

Moving the alder tree to Russell Beebe’s studio

When the alder tree was cut, it turned out that it was near the end of its short life. According to the arborist who took it down, it had about ten years to live. 

Beebe said, “When they cut the tree down, they were going to lower it down on to Main Street, so they stopped traffic for a bit. When they lowered it down on to the street, whoever was at the controls [of the crane] let go a little too quick, so they kind of thumped it on the street. When they did that, it broke a big branch off, one that was going to be part of my design. So, what to do? My original design was quite different.”

“Faced with this tree with a broken limb, my original design was gone,” Beebe continued. “I had to go with what was given me. So everything changed and evolved, and was way better because of that broken limb. Now everything kind of emerges from the tree, represents the soul of the tree.”  

Russell Beebe carves the alder tree

This is how the alder tree looked when it arrived at Russell Beebe’s studio.

Alder tree used for "We Are Here"
The Gateway Alder tree at Russell Beebe’s studio, before carving, November 30, 2004. (photo by James Royce Young)

I had the honor of being able to spend several hours with Beebe at his rural outdoor studio. When I visited, he was nearing completion of an Iroquois teaching pole carving for someone in upstate New York. Here is a photo of it in process. 

Russell Beebe sculpture
Iroquois Teaching Pole, carved by Russell Beebe. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Unlike the straight Iroquois teaching pole that was laid on its side for carving, the “We Are Here” sculpture with its large branches was carved with the tree upright. Beebe set up scaffolding around the tree and began carving from the top down.

"We Are Here" - Russell Beebe carving, 2005
Russell Beebe stood high on scaffolding as he began carving “We Are Here.” This photo shows him carving the stag, February 21, 2005. (photo by James Royce Young)

The Shasta Man and Takelma Woman are both toward the top of the sculpture. Before he started on the Takelma Woman modeled on Grandma Aggie, Beebe asked Aggie to bring him traditional Takelma garb, a cradle board and whatever else she wanted to bring. He said, “I wanted to get that right.” 

As he was carving the tree, neighbors would stop and look and ask questions about it. “One of my neighbors suggested putting more fish in there,” Beebe told me. At that point, the main salmon was partially carved. The neighbor asked, “Wouldn’t that look cool to have more fish? What do you think about that?” Beebe thought about it, and decided to add more fish. He liked that it became a community sculpture, not just “his” sculpture.

"We Are Here" Ashland
“We Are Here” at SOU, salmon detail showing “more fish.” (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Beebe wrote: “The more than 1,000 hours I spent carving this piece were delightful.” “Emotionally, this work brings forward those ancient ones of my own distant native roots and touches my heart. I feel the steady drumbeat of the seasons.” Through this wood carving, Beebe tried to capture not only the spiritual history (and current presence) of Rogue Valley First Nations people, but also the spiritual history of his own people. 

His grandfather was his first teacher in carving wood, and also introduced him to tribal traditions. Beebe is a descendant of the Anishinaabe tribe in the north central United States and south central Canada. As an adult, Beebe received his “spirit name” Wabashkigamash. He tries to express his Native traditions in his work and in how he lives his life.

Russell Beebe carving "We Are Here"
Russell Beebe carving “We Are Here,” showing the scaffolding that surrounds it, 2006. (photo by James Royce Young)
"We Are Here" - Russell Beebe signature
Russell Beebe’s signature on “We Are Here” wood carving prayer pole. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

What is represented on the alder tree carving

Beebe said, “Where we live now, once were the Takelma, the Shasta and many other tribes. I couldn’t put them all on here, but I included those two.” The Shasta Man and Takelma woman each have a child, who represent the future.  

Representing the Takelma is Grandma Aggie as she looked in her 30s, wearing her regalia. Beebe told me with a laugh, “I got the blessing from her daughter Nadine. She came out one day and looked at my depiction of the 30-year-old [Aggie]. She said, ‘That’s mom.’ So I got it right.”

Then he included many animals without whom the Native people would not have survived: the deer (stag), the eagle, the salmon, bear, beaver, coyote, snake and cougar. The spirit figure of Raven is included. “The dragonfly was put there just for Aggie,” he added. The dragonfly is one of her spirit animals.

Grandma Aggie wrote, “The First Nations include not only the Takelma, Shasta, Tututni and other tribes, but also the Salmon Nation, the Bear Nation, the Tree Nations, and all the species of life in this region.” She had a true “big picture” perspective embracing all of life, as I learned when I attended her deeply emotional memorial service in 2019.

"We Are Here"
The dragonfly is one of Grandma Aggie’s spirit animals. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

The Native people had ceremonies for all of these animal nations. Beebe asked if I was familiar with the Salmon Ceremony, which Grandma Aggie reestablished in the Rogue Valley in 1994 for the first time since the 1856 Trail of Tears. I told him I had seen a video about the Salmon Ceremony during Grandma Aggie’s 2019 memorial service. He said, “That’s all part of Indian life, everybody having a few bites of the first salmon caught, and then returning the skin and bones back to the river. There’s a thank you in that, a reverence, which is what this [sculpture] is all about.” 

“We Are Here” is a Spirit Pole and Prayer Pole  

“Attaching an Eagle feather to this really turned it into a Spirit Pole, as Aggie terms it. For us, seeing the Eagle feather on there also turned it into a Prayer Pole. Individuals would pray there. Sometimes we would have ceremony.”            

Russell Beebe

Russell Beebe was honored by being asked to place a sacred Eagle feather high on the sculpture. Traditionally, the presence of an Eagle feather is what transforms this wood carving into a spirit pole or prayer pole.

"We Are Here" eagle feather
“We Are Here” eagle feather, hanging on Takelma Woman’s hand on the wood carving at its original site. (photo from Russell Beebe collection, circa 2006)

Grandma Aggie wrote: “Our Native students that are going to come to Southern Oregon University, they need something here to show them that there’s been Native people here on this land.” “Also, to remember the ancient ones of the land would be this tree, to stand in perpetuity in honor of the First Nation people.” “So there is now a spirit pole in Ashland that came through an attorney, Matthew Haines.”

“We Are Here” was called “a memorial to the First Nations” by Matthew Haines, who funded it. Through the presence of the Eagle feather and ceremony, it has become much more than a memorial.

Beebe described the meaning of spirit pole to me. It honors the spirits of the Native people and wildlife who lived in this area long ago. But it is not just about remembering the past. He added, “In our minds, they are still here.” The spirits of those who are gone, both people and Creation, are still with us in the present day.

When the Eagle feather is attached, “We Are Here” is also a living place of prayer, as much as any church or temple. Through the years, many community prayers and ceremonies have taken place at this prayer pole. Native people also come individually or in small groups to offer prayers here.

Installation day photos

"We Are Here" installation
“We Are Here” lowered onto its base, September 19, 2006. (photo by James Royce Young)

“We Are Here” was moved from Russell Beebe’s studio to its location on North Main Street on September 19, 2006. The move included ceremony by Grandma Aggie and Dan Wahpepah.

Short excerpt of Grandma Aggie and Dan Wahpepah singing at “We Are Here” installation on September 19, 2006. (from video by Julie Norman)

Dedication day: September 30, 2006

“Everywhere I go around the world, I pray.
I don’t care what religion you belong to.
My church is the sky and earth, and I pray for all in between the sky and earth.
We’re all part of the fabric.”

Agnes Baker Pilgrim
"We Are Here" dedication day flyer
Flyer for the dedication of “We Are Here” on September 30, 2006. (flyer artwork and photos by James Royce Young)

“We Are Here” was dedicated September 30, 2006, a day the Ashland City Council had recognized as First Nations Day.

The 1856 Oregon Trail of Tears

Beyond the meaning of the sculpture itself, the dedication had special meaning because it was the 150thanniversary of the local native people’s Trail of Tears. Between 1852 and 1856, there were many battles in Southern Oregon between settlers and the Native Americans who were defending their ancestral land. Suffering from diseases, hunger and deaths from the fighting, in 1856 the remaining Shasta and Takelma (as well as other tribes) were forcibly marched to the Siletz Indian Reservation, 150 miles north along the Oregon coast.

In her 2015 book, Grandma Aggie gave emotional resonance to the dry facts listed above. She wrote, “I remember how hard it was when I was a child growing up because in those times, in Lincoln County, there was signs on restaurants and different places where Indians and dogs weren’t allowed. And you know, I grew up from that era, but I am not bitter about it. What was is what was. I know I am limited. I can only change right now. I can’t change anything a minute ago, an hour ago, a week ago, or a year ago, so I know I am limited. So, what I did is I forgave all that in my background, of what happened to our people. The Trail of Tears that started here in Southern Oregon in 1856. They were all gathered up here, then run north. They lived here for over 22,000 years, and they actually felt that the Creator had given them this land, it was theirs eternally, forever and forever, as long as the grass grew and the water flowed. It was a hard time for my people in those times, you know, going up in rough terrain in inclement weather. They were force-marched in stormy weather with just moccasins on their feet. They could take one thing, and most of them just carried food wrapped in what they could carry. So then their moccasins wore out, and the elders fell along the wayside. The young were taught to take care of the elders, so they would run back and pick them up, and they were beaten. The guards told them that if they did that again they’d just leave the elders by the wayside for the animals to eat.

“It was a terrible time for them, over two hundred miles of this land going north and to trails where there was no trails. I can fathom how hard it was. And then, after all that journey, when they did get up to Siletz, the agent had used up a lot of the money, so there wasn’t enough blankets to go around. There wasn’t enough food, and many of them perished. It was awful. It’s a wonder I sit here.” 

Grandma Aggie's book
Grandma Aggie’s book from Ashland Library (photo by Peter Finkle, 2021)

Dedication Day gathering and ceremony

Dedication day included a three-hour gathering at Briscoe School, which opened with a song by Whistling Elk Drum circle, led by Dan Wahpepah. 

Whistling Elk Drum group, Ashland
Whistling Elk Drum circle plays at the “We Are Here” dedication September 30, 2006. Dan Wahpepah is wearing the black shirt. (photo by James Royce Young)

Speakers included Robert Owens Greygrass (Master of Ceremonies), Agnes Baker Pilgrim (Takelma elder), Lloyd Matthew Haines (father and funder of the Project), Russell Beebe (sculptor), Kate Jackson (City of Ashland representative), Dennis Martinez (topic: Indigenous Stewardship), Robert Kentta (topic: Trail of Tears and cultural restoration), Thomas Doty (story teller), John Michael Greer (topic: Takilma language), Shelly Vendiola (topic: youth and poverty) and SOU Professor David West (topic: history and the present day). 

Several hundred people then walked from Briscoe School along North Main Street to the “We Are Here” site at the corner of North Main and Lithia Way. A dedication, with prayers and blessing ceremony, followed at the site. Grandma Aggie blessed the sculpture and the assembled people. The ceremony included a Native American tobacco offering.

Grandma Aggie in front of “We Are Here” on dedication day, September 30, 2006. Notice that the Takelma woman on “We Are Here” is modeled on Aggie when she was in her 30s. (photo by James Royce Young)

After he described how meaningful the dedication was, Beebe laughed and told me, “I have a funny story for you. I talked to you about offering tobacco. My son brought a pouch of tobacco [to the dedication] and we started making tobacco offerings at the base of the sculpture. Many of the people gathered had no idea what we were doing, but they wanted to do it also. Soon all the stones at the base of the sculpture were covered with tobacco. I was hanging around after everybody had left. Along comes this homeless guy. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He wasn’t looking at the sculpture at all. He looked at that tobacco, and he was just scooping it up, like ‘Thank you God.’ That was the giving back part; that was just wonderful.”

"We Are Here" Ashland
Tobacco offering at the “We Are Here” dedication on September 30, 2006. (photo by James Royce Young)

Two problems surfaced after a few years

The story of “We Are Here” does not end with the 2006 dedication. After installation, the sculpture was donated to the City of Ashland as public art. Because of its uniqueness, Beebe performed maintenance on the sculpture annually. Within a couple years, he began to see problems.

"We Are Here" maintenance
Russell Beebe performing annual maintenance of “We Are Here” wood carving. (from Russell Beebe collection)

The first problem was unanticipated. Do you remember that a large branch broke off when the tree was “thumped on the street” during its removal process? The site of the broken branch is now the head of a stag in the carving. Beebe didn’t realize until after the carving was completed that due to the “thump,” a crack extended into the center of the tree. He told me “every spring we would see mold developing.”

"We Are Here"
“We Are Here” from above, showing site of crack behind the stag’s head. (photo from Russell Beebe collection)

The second problem is that alder is a soft wood. The crack complicated the problem of maintaining a soft wood out in the elements. It required extensive maintenance, and Haines was the one who funded Beebe to do that. Beebe told me, “Often I had to recarve where it was starting to rot in spots.” 

At some point, Beebe and Haines realized that “We Are Here” would deteriorate irreparably if it were exposed to the elements for many years. It would have to be moved indoors in order to survive long-term. 

"We Are Here"
“We Are Here” showing wear from the elements, and mold growth due to moisture entering the soft alder wood. (photo from Russell Beebe collection)

Haines told the Ashland Tidings in 2012 that “it was important to him to keep some version of the sculpture downtown. He said the sculpture is a symbol of reconciliation and healing.” In this, he was in sync with the vision expressed by both Beebe and Grandma Aggie.

“The ‘We Are Here’ sculpture has had a healing effect on the valley.” 

Russell Beebe

Part 2 of this series of articles about “We Are Here” will describe the bronze replica that was crafted and now stands on North Main Street.

"We Are Here" Ashland
Here is a sneak peak of the “We Are Here” bronze replica, showing a detail of the salmon. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Part 3 of this series of articles about “We Are Here” will describe the challenge of moving the original wood carving from North Main Street to Southern Oregon University Hannon Library. 

References for Parts 1, 2 and 3:

Aldous, Vickie. “Downtown sculpture to be cast in bronze,” Ashland Tidings, April 18, 2012. (accessed 5/21/2020)

Aldous, Vickie. “Native people sculpture will move to SOU,” Ashland Tidings, November 3, 2012. (accessed 5/21/2020)

Anon. “Native Americans of the Rogue Valley,” North Mountain Park Nature Center, Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, Version 4: May 2010.
http://www.ashland.or.us/Files/Native%20American%20Background%20Booklet.pdf

Anon. “We Are Here,” Book Marks, Hannon Library Newsletter, Volume 24, No. 1, Fall 2013.

Anon. “Takelma Tribe,” NPS.gov. (accessed 1/10/2021) https://www.nps.gov/orca/learn/historyculture/takelma-tribe.htm

Anon. “Takelma Legends,” native-languages.org website. (accessed January 17, 2021)
http://www.native-languages.org/takelma-legends.htm

Anon. Ashland City Council Land Acknowledgment, February 2, 2021.

Ayers, Jane. “’Grandma Aggie’ leaves a lasting impact,” Ashland Tidings, December 3, 2019. (accessed May 21, 2020)

Beebe, Russell. Interview and personal communication, June 2, 2020 and other dates. Thank you, Russell, for sharing your photos with me.

Beebe, Russell. Website, accessed May 14, 2020.
http://www.russellbeebe.com/index.html#

Bernhagen, Jaimie. “’We Are Here’ Event with Oregon Shakespeare Festival,” Red Earth Descendants website, October 14, 2012. (accessed May 21, 2020)

Biesanz, Jesse. Interview and personal communication, August 2020.

Cardwell, James, “Southern Oregon Pioneers,” Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 8, 1882, page 3, from http://truwe.sohs.org/files/cardwell.html

Darling, John. “’Grandma Aggie’ dies at 95,” Ashland Tidings, November 27, 2019. (accessed May 21, 2020)

Doty, Thomas. Website, accessed May 14, 2020.
https://www.dotycoyote.com/culture/sculpture_installation_1.html

Gray, Dennis J. “The Takelma and Their Athapascan Neighbors,” University of Oregon Anthropological Papers, No. 37, 1987.

Haines, Lloyd Matthew. Interview and personal communication, May 13, 2020 and other dates.

Hall, Aaron. “Exploring with Beavers, Nature’s Ecosystem Engineers,” Defenders of Wildlife website, September 28, 2016.
https://defenders.org/blog/2016/09/exploring-beavers-natures-ecosystem-engineers

Kuiryamf. “’We Are Here’ statue relocated to Hannon Library,” The Siskiyou, January 15, 2013. (accessed May 14, 2020)
https://siskiyou.sou.edu/2013/01/15/we-are-here-statue-relocated-to-hannon-library/

Langford, Jack. Interview and personal communication, May 20, 2020 and other dates.

Martin, Nadine. Many thanks for reviewing the article.

Norman, Julie. Video of the dedication day and dedication ceremony.

Norman, Julie. Interview and personal communication, August 2020 and other dates.

Paris-Stamm, Glen. 31-minute Video. “Artist on Your Doorstep presents: Jack Langford, Sculptor, ‘We Are Here'(prayer pole now in bronze),” City of Ashland website (accessed January 18, 2021)
http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=18059

Also available directly on YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD73OiZBf6Q

Pilgrim, Agnes Baker (Taowhywee). Grandma Says: Wake Up World, Blackstone Publishing, 2015.

Pilgrim, Agnes Baker. Website, accessed May 14, 2020.
http://www.agnesbakerpilgrim.org/Page.asp?PID=108

Rose, Karen. May 25, 2002. “Takelma Indians: An Essay on Native Americans in the Rogue River Area,” Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society, Hugo, OR. For the entire article go to http://www.hugoneighborhood.org/takelma.htm 

Sapir, Edward. “Notes on the Takelma Indians of Southwestern Oregon,” American Anthropologist, Vol. 9, No. 2, April-June, 1907.

Valencia, Mandy. “We Are Here,” Ashland Daily Tidings, December 21, 2012.
https://ashlandtidings.com/archive/-we-are-here–04-27-2018

Valencia, Mandy. 5-minute Video. “We Are Here Dedication Ceremony,” Ashland Tidings website, May 24, 2013. (accessed January 18, 2021)
https://kzclip.com/video/9d5d_FoTkq4/we-are-here-dedication-ceremony.html

Valencia, Mandy. 4-minute Video. Russell Beebe carving eyes in the bronze We Are Here statue, Ashland Tidings website, April 2, 2013. (accessed January 18, 2021)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TqrdKFuu-E

Valencia, Mandy. 3-minute Video. Color heating of the We Are Here bronze statue (Jack Langford and Russell Beebe), Ashland Tidings website, April 15, 2013. (accessed January 18, 2021)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fB4eP7F88M8

Wahpepah, Dan. Interview, August 10, 2020.

Young, James Royce. James took many of the photos from the creation of “We Are Here” in both wood and bronze, as well as photos of the 2006 dedication and the 2012 move to SOU Hannon Library. I thank James for sharing so many of his photos with me.

Scenic Drive: History Comes Alive!

* 23 Homes more than 100 years old!
* Oregon history comes alive at 531 Scenic Drive.
* 30 Photos.
* Garden of the Month, April 2020.
* Tree of the Year 2004.
* Modern architecture, and more.

I started my Scenic Drive walk here. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

I walked Scenic Drive wearing a mask in April of 2020, when the people of Ashland and the entire State of Oregon were being asked to “Stay Home, Save Lives” in order to slow the spread of the pandemic coronavirus. Going for walks was acceptable, as long as we didn’t gather in groups of people.

I began at the “beginning” of Scenic Drive, where it meets Strawberry Lane, and where the first house number is 5 Scenic Drive. 

I was drawn to Scenic Drive this month for two reasons. My first motivation was the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for April, located at 467 Scenic Drive. In addition, I counted 23 homes on Scenic Drive more than 100 years old, built between 1880 and 1915. I know WalkAshland readers love the local history I learn and share here, so be prepared for plenty of history, gardens and architecture in this article.

Old Ashland maps show part of Scenic Drive was originally called Woolen Street, named for Mr. Woolen, who subdivided his farm acreage here to create land for houses. 

Modern Architecture

5 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Before we explore historic houses, let’s start with the modern houses at this end of Scenic Drive. The first house that caught my eye was also the first house number. I spoke with a neighbor, who told me two architects live in and designed this house. 

39 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

I spoke with Greg at 39 Scenic Drive. He built much of this attractive 1988 house himself. What really makes the house stand out is the moose antlers mounted on an outside wall. How often do you see moose antlers on the outside of a house? As for me, never before this. Greg told me he purchased the antlers in Alaska from someone who makes spending money by finding places where moose shed their antlers in the winter. I learned something new that day.

Here they are, the moose antlers at 39 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)
Log house at 35 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

I also met the owner of the log cabin at 35 Scenic Drive. I think I got lucky meeting Scenic Drive neighbors out in their front yards because the day I walked was the warmest, sunniest day of the week. You can see from the house photo that it is made of round logs. This is different log-house construction than one I saw – and learned about – on Westwood Drive. You can read about the Westwood Drive log house made with tongue-in-groove D-logs at https://walkashland.com/2019/07/19/westwood-street-log-house-and-eco-house/

45 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

This is a lovely, modern Swedish-chalet style house. A neighbor told me it was made using straw bale construction for the exterior walls. 

Historic houses

Now let’s continue down Scenic Drive, looking mostly at a variety of historic houses. I won’t describe and show photos of every one of the 23 houses more than 100 years old along Scenic Drive. I will show houses that either caught my eye or have unusual stories to go with them, then I will list the other historic houses at the end of the article. I will also point out a few modern houses that struck me.

79 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

The Craftsman style house set above the street at 79 Scenic Drive was built in 1910 by R.L. Coombe. Born in the Australian island state of Tasmania in 1874, somehow he found his way to Ashland in 1910. That same year, he and his wife Florence built this new home. 

Coombe was one of the leading plasterers in the Rogue Valley, specializing in interior plaster and exterior stucco work. Among the local buildings he worked on were the 1910 Emil and Alice Applegate Peil House and the 1912 Ashland Carnegie Library. You can see in the photo that 79 Scenic Drive has a stucco exterior.

The National Register description of the house says, “As might be expected the exterior of the house was clad in delicately colored stucco with highly detailed quoins and other details, a veritable tour de force of a master craftsman. Sadly, upon leaving Coombe family ownership this original material was painted, forever hiding the original design intent.”

95 Scenic Drive — Do you miss the orange aluminum siding? (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

95 Scenic Drive was built about 1915. I talked with current owner, who was working in her beautiful large garden. She told me the house was originally one story with a basement. In the 1970s, downstairs was made into a separate entry apartment. Orange aluminum siding was added to the exterior! Orange? Aluminum? To a historic house?  

In 1997, the current owners did a renovation to remove the orange aluminum siding (yay!) and restore the upper story gable. Let me say now that there was one benefit of the aluminum siding. When it was removed, the original Victorian-style fish scale decorative shingles were in good condition on the gable. These shingles indicate that this 1915 house was a transitional architectural style between Victorian style and the new Craftsman style.

This house detail at 95 Scenic Drive shows the Victorian-style fish scale decorative shingles on the gable. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)
Here is one example why the street name was changed from Woolen Street to Scenic Drive. This photo was taken on Scenic Drive at the top of Church Street. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

240 Scenic Drive was built in 1977, so it’s not a historic house; but in a sense it is historic. It is noteworthy because it was long the home of Lenn and Dixie Hannon. Lenn was a long-time Oregon State Senator, and Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library is named after him.

345 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

One of the oldest houses on Scenic Drive, the simple Vernacular style house at 345 Scenic Drive was built about 1886 by Lysander Sackett. The most notable owner of the house after that was H.C. Mecham. According to the Ashland Tidings of March 21, 1910, Mr. Mecham “recently invested in a home on Woolen Street” (the original name of Scenic) and also recently “purchased the planing mill from Carson-Fowler Lumber Company.” A planing mill took lumber that had been initially cut to size in a sawmill and finished it to meet the needs of different types of construction or furniture building.

The simple, attractive house at 365 Scenic Drive was built in 1885 and has a prime spot at the corner of Wimer Street. I’m not sure if the porch detail is original, but if not I expect it has been there a long time. 

View from 365 Scenic Drive, down Wimer Street. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)
407 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

This beautifully renovated 1889 house at 407 Scenic Drive is independently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of the best examples in Ashland of the Queen Anne/Eastlake architectural style. It was built in 1889 by S. Pedigrift, a mason and plasterer who seems to have lived in Ashland only three or four years.

Notice especially the matching Queen Anne style bay windows. George Kramer wrote in the National Register nomination form that the bay windows are so typical of “Eastlake fancy work” style that Pedigrift may have purchased them from a catalog and incorporated them into the house design.

Through the mid-20th century, the owners of the house also cultivated orchards up the hillside behind the house. Robert Dooms, who owned the house and lived there from the mid-1950s to 1988, told George Kramer that when he was a child in Ashland, the previous owner Robert Johnson “paid him $1 a pound for picking cherries, apricots, and peaches behind the house.”

Ashland Tree of the Year 2004, a Monterey Cypress at 407 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

The architecture is not the only impressive sight at this address. The 2004 Ashland Tree of the Year lives here. It is a massive Monterey Cypress, possibly planted in 1889 when the house was built.

Ashland Tree of the Year 2004, a Monterey Cypress at 407 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Ashland Garden of the Month for April 2020

Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for April 2020, at 467 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

467 Scenic Drive was chosen as the Garden of the Month by the Ashland Garden Club. Ruth Sloan of the Garden Club wrote: “The lovely garden at 467 Scenic Drive is the Ashland Garden Club’s Garden of the Month for April. It is a work-in-progress by homeowners Elaine Yates and Michael Costello who have had this property for 3.5 years. Although the yard had good bones, with handsome hardscape and fruit trees, the garden had been greatly neglected in recent years.”

467 Scenic Drive. (photo by Larry Rosengren)
467 Scenic Drive. (photo by Larry Rosengren)

Describing the garden, Sloan wrote: “Heathers, grape hyacinths, forsythia, azaleas (in the deer-proof back yard), and rosemary are the stars right now but soon the rhododendrons will burst forth so Elaine encourages readers to delay until late in the month or early next month visiting to admire the garden from the street.”

I have learned a lot and enjoyed being a member of the Ashland Garden Club. You can learn more about the club at https://ashlandorgardenclub.org/about/

467 Scenic Drive, house built in 1903. (photo by Larry Rosengren)

Before we move on along to the highlight of my Scenic Drive walk, I must mention that 467 Scenic Drive was built about 1903 in the Vernacular style of the early 1900s.

531 Scenic Drive, the oldest house on the street

531 Scenic Drive as it looks today. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

When I got to this house, the oldest one on Scenic Drive, I felt like I stepped into a time machine. Come with me, and let’s journey together.

John L. Carter was a sign painter. When he moved to Ashland, he expanded his business to house painting as well. He and his wife Fannie were married in 1845, probably in the northeast where they were both born. I don’t know what year they arrived in Ashland, but the couple built this house around 1880. It was the first house on Woolen Street (now Scenic Drive), very near Orlando Coolidge’s nursery. 

531 Scenic Drive, photo taken in 1993 when Casey Bright was repairing the foundation. You can see just a little of the original vertical 1 1/4 inch thick barnboard walls below the gray asphalt shingles that had been applied over the barnboards at a later date. (photo provided by Casey Bright)

It was a simple house, built in the vernacular architectural style. The original 1880 house was a small two-story rectangular box — the gray building in the photo above — with 1 ¼” thick barnboard walls and layers of newspaper glued to the walls for insulation. Sadly, John Carter died only two years after they moved in, but his widow Fannie continued to live in the house until her death in 1905. 

In this 1995 photo, Casey and Jennifer Bright are on their newly constructed front porch with their daughters Jesse and Lily. (photo provided by Casey Bright)

Casey Bright was working in the front yard when I walked up and started to take photos of the house. He told me that when he and his wife Jennifer decided to move to Ashland in 1992 with their two young girls, this was one of the properties they looked at. The house and yard were a wreck. The house had been abandoned and was falling apart. There were rusty old appliances scattered around the yard. The healthiest part of the scene was a thriving patch of blackberry vines, about 20’ wide and 50’ long and 10’ high. That’s not normally the kind of thriving one looks for in a property! 

Casey laughed as he told me his wife was the visionary in the family. Back in 1992, as the two of them were standing looking at the wreck-of-a-yard, his wife turned to him and said, “This would be a great place for the girls to play.” Casey decided to trust his wife’s vision. He also was and is a contractor, so he agreed that the two of them would buy the house and take it on as a project. 

One reason Casey trusts his wife’s vision when it comes to houses is because she is an interior designer. I found out that Jennifer’s business, Twist Design Studio, can be found online at http://www.twistdesignstudio.com.

This photo was taken mid-renovation in 1995. (photo provided by Casey Bright)

The Bright’s could not find any early photos of the house, so they looked at other vernacular architectural-style houses built in the same period and incorporated those elements as they renovated their house. They were honored by the Ashland Historic Commission for their attention to detail with a Historic Preservation Award in 1997.

When the Brights renovated the house, they found original newspaper insulation glued to the barnboard walls. They left it in place, and built this “picture frame” in the new wall to showcase a small part of the newspaper insulation. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Once we started talking about the history of the house, Casey invited me in (keeping physical distance) and showed me a wall where newspaper had been used for insulation. To memorialize that history, Casey and Jennifer created a frame for a small section of one wall to show the newspaper, as you can see in the photo. 

Original newspaper insulation at 531 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

When I looked closely (see photo above), I saw page 1 of a newspaper called The New Northwest from Portland, Oregon, an issue dated September 29, 1871. After I got home, I looked up the name of the newspaper and began another journey.

Abigail Scott Duniway 

The New Northwest is important in Oregon history. The newspaper was founded by pioneer Abigail Scott Duniway on May 5, 1871 to press for women’s right to vote (women’s suffrage). Northwest historian G. Thomas Edwards considered the founding of Duniway’s newspaper to be a key event launching the women’s rights movement in Oregon. 

Duniway was also a rare voice standing up for the rights of all people in Oregon, including Native Americans and Chinese immigrants. She published the newspaper until 1887.

Women’s right to vote

Oregon voters (all male) defeated women’s right to vote measures in 1884, 1900, 1906, 1908 and 1910. When a women’s suffrage referendum finally passed in 1912, Oregon Governor Oswald West asked an elderly Abigail Duniway (seated in the photo) to sign the official Oregon Proclamation of Women’s Suffrage. She was also honored for her decades-long struggle by being the first woman registered to vote in Multnomah County.  

Abilgail Scott Duniway (seated) is signing Oregon’s Equal Suffrage Proclamation with Governor Oswald West. (photo from the Library of Congress, accessed at the Oregon Encyclopedia)

For more of my time machine journey meeting women who led the women’s rights and women’s right to vote movement of the late 1800s (including the female 1884 Presidential candidate my grandmother was named after), see my in-depth article: History Converges at a House on Scenic Drive.

531 Scenic Drive, original fir wood floor is still in the house. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Now back to the house. In addition to some original walls and newspaper insulation, the fir wood floor in the living room is also from the 1880 house. Reviewing his long journey with this house, Casey told me with a smile, “28 years later, I’m still working on the house, now with the help of my teenage son.”

Unofficial Little Free Library on Scenic Drive, near Maple Street. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

As I reached the end of Scenic Drive, I saw a family outside in their front yard at 546 Scenic working on their garden and building a new fence. I was happily surprised to see an unofficial Little Free Library artistically built in to the fence. You’ll notice that they have a section for children’s books on the lower level.

I will close with a quote from Abigail Scott Duniway that is as important today as it was more than 100 years ago.

“The young women of today, free to study, to speak, to write, to choose their occupation, should remember that every inch of this freedom was bought for them at a great price. It is for them to show their gratitude by helping onward the reforms of their own times by spreading the light of freedom and truth still wider. The debt that each generation owes to the past it must pay to the future.” 

Abigail Scott Duniway

I would like to recognize the Scenic Drive houses more than 100 years old that I did not describe in the article:

* 67 Scenic Drive, built 1909, Craftsman style
* 71 Scenic Drive, built c1910, Bungalow style
* 101 Scenic Drive, built 1910, Bungalow style, 1990s remodel changed it so much that it’s no longer considered historic
* 160 Scenic Drive, built 1910, Bungalow style, 1990s remodel changed it so much that it’s no longer considered historic
* 125 Scenic Drive, built 1905, Craftsman style architecture, enlarged and modified in 1990s, but still has most of its historic characteristics
* 275 Scenic Drive, built 1888, Vernacular style
* 283 Scenic Drive, built 1884, added to in 1888, Rural vernacular style
* 299 Scenic Drive, built c1886, Rural vernacular style, 1990s remodel changed it so much that it’s no longer considered historic
* 309 Scenic Drive, built 1910, Bungalow style, according to the National Register, a 1890 house here was razed, then this house was built in 1910. 
* 319 Scenic Drive, built c1900, Craftsman style
* 337 Scenic Drive, built c1905, Vernacular style, on a heavily landscaped lot
* 338 Scenic Drive, built 1888, Vernacular style, this is one of the few 19th century houses on the downhill side of Scenic Drive. It has been beautifully restored, but the 1990s remodel changed it so much that it’s no longer considered historic.
* 355 Scenic Drive, built 1911, Craftsman style
* 361 Scenic Drive, built 1905, Craftsman style, the projecting bay windows are not compatible with the historic architecture
* 447 Scenic Drive, built c1915, Bungalow style, but much altered and extended through the decades
* 487 Scenic Drive, built c1910, Craftsman style, by Henry Leavitt who had orchards in the area. 
* 532 Scenic Drive, built c1890, Vernacular style

References:

Bright, Casey, author interview, April 11, 2020.

Chambers, Jennifer. Abigail Scott Duniway and Susan B. Anthony in Oregon: Hesitate No Longer, The History Press, 2018. 

Duniway, Abigail Scott. Speech given at National Woman Suffrage Association Convention, Washington, D.C. March 4, 1884 [Abigail Scott Duniway Papers*]

Duniway, Abigail Scott. “Ballots and Bullets,” speech given at National Woman Suffrage Association Convention, Washington, D.C., circa January 21-23, 1889 [Sunday Oregonian 9 Sept. 1906]

Edwards, G. Thomas. Sowing Good Seeds: The Northwest Suffrage Campaigns of Susan B. Anthony. Portland, OR: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1990; pg. 16, as noted in Wikipedia, April 14, 2020.

Kramer, George. National Register Nomination Form for 407 Scenic Drive.

Kramer, George and Atwood, Kay. National Register of Historic Places, Skidmore Academy Historic District, August 14, 2001.

Sloan, Ruth. “467 Scenic Drive, Garden of the Month, April 2020,” Ashland Garden Club.

Stone, Jason. Portland New Northwest 1871-1887, at Historic Oregon Newspapers, University of Oregon, accessed April 14, 2020. https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/history/newnw/

Ward, Jean M. “Abigail Scott Duniway (1834-1915),” Oregon Encyclopedia, accessed April 15, 2020.

History Converges in a House on Scenic Drive

531 Scenic Drive

When I walked Scenic Drive recently, I was interested in the oldest house on the street. 531 Scenic Drive was built in 1880. Little did I know the learning adventure on which this house would take me. Come join me on a trip through time, space and Oregon history.

531 Scenic Drive, Ashland, Oregon. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

The original 1880 house was a small two-story rectangular box with 1 ¼” thick barnboard walls and layers of newspaper glued to the walls for insulation. When Casey and Jennifer Bright bought the house in 1992, it was abandoned and falling apart. They lovingly restored it and received a Historic Preservation Award in 1997 from the Ashland Historic Commission.

Casey invited me in (keeping physical distance) and showed me a wall where newspaper had been used for insulation. To memorialize that history, Casey and Jennifer created a frame in a small section of the wall to show the newspaper, as you can see in the photo.

Original newspaper wall insulation, framed during renovation. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

When I looked closely, I saw the masthead of a newspaper called The New Northwest from Portland, Oregon, an issue dated September 29, 1871. After I got home, I looked up the newspaper, stepped into the time machine, and began my history journey, which I will share with you.

“The New Northwest” newspaper masthead, part of the insulation at 531 Scenic Drive. (photo by Peter Finkle, 2020)

Abigail Scott Duniway

Abigail Scott Duniway portrait, between 1870 and 1890, with her signature and her motto “Yours for Liberty.” (photo from Library of Congress)

 The New Northwest is important in Oregon history. The newspaper was founded by pioneer Abigail Scott Duniway on May 5, 1871 to press for women’s rights, especially women’s right to vote (known as women’s suffrage). Northwest historian G. Thomas Edwards considered the founding of Duniway’s newspaper to be a key event launching the women’s rights movement in Oregon. 

Abigail Scott Duniway was born into a farm family in Illinois in 1834. Though she had only about one year of formal schooling, she learned to read and write. More important – she loved to read and write. When her parents and their nine children took the long Applegate Trail to Oregon in 1852, 17-year-old Abigail was given the responsibility of writing a daily journal of their trip. Their wagon train was led by Jesse Applegate, part of the family that blazed the Applegate trail. 

In Oregon, Duniway married, farmed, taught school and owned a millinery (hat) shop. When she founded a weekly newspaper in 1871 at the age of 36, she broke with the past and made writing her career. 

Her newspaper was based in Portland, but she had large aspirations, as evidenced by the paper’s name: The New Northwest. The paper’s motto was “Free Speech, Free Press, Free People.” Here’s how she described her newspaper in an 1884 speech: 

“No sooner had we begun to agitate the question of equal rights than men responded to our plea; and the result was, first, the establishing in 1871, and its maintenance ever since, of a weekly journal, the New Northwest, devoted to the promulgation of equal political and financial rights between the sexes; and secondly, to the respectful bombardment of biennial legislatures with the pleas, plans and purposes of women, who made the paper their standard-bearer, and who had learned to recognize the ballot as the basis of all rights under any government claiming to be ‘of the people and by the people.’”

Duniway was also a rare voice standing up for the rights of all people in Oregon, including Native Americans and Chinese immigrants. She published the newspaper until 1887.

Though lacking formal schooling, she sounded like a politician and psychologist. In an 1889 speech, she referred to 15 years of travel throughout the Oregon Territory (later the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho) speaking on behalf of women’s right to vote: 

“The Declaration of Independence and the Preamble and constitution of the United States formed the basis of my many sermons through all those weary years. … we can only secure our right to vote by and through the consent of voters; and we have only gone ahead in the prosecution of our case when we have succeeded in gaining men’s consent. Whenever our demand for our right to vote is based upon an alleged purpose to take away from men any degree of what they deem their liberties, or own right of choice, we simply throw boomerangs that recoil upon our own heads.”

As noted in her speech excerpt above, Duniway recognized the uncomfortable fact that in Oregon only men voted (white males, actually). In order to pass women’s right to vote, women had to convince male voters they would gain more than they would lose by allowing women to vote. How to accomplish this led to large conflicts within the Oregon women’s suffrage movement, often pitting Duniway against the majority of women activists.

In 1871, Duniway had invited national women’s suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony to do a speaking tour in the Northwest. They traveled around Oregon for six weeks, then went north to the territory of Washington. Being seen with Anthony gave Duniway’s fame in Oregon a huge boost.

Susan B. Anthony portrait photo by Mathew Brady, about 1870, the year before she toured Oregon. (photo from Library of Congress)

Oregon women first got women’s suffrage on the state ballot for the 1884 election. In this first opportunity to decide whether women should have the right to vote, only 28% of male voters (11,223 men) said yes.

Was the low “yes” vote the fault of the anti-liquor Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, or was it the fault of Duniway’s unwillingness to collaborate with others who did not share her approach?

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and Oregon

 The nationwide movement that became the WCTU began on December 22, 1873 in Hillsboro, Ohio. Inspired by an evening talk, 50 women began the very next day to ask every druggist, grocer, physician, innkeeper and saloon owner in town to sign a pledge that they would no longer sell alcohol. The thirteen businesses that did not sign found groups of women praying and singing in their establishments. This shook up the patrons and owners so much that within a few weeks, nine of the thirteen non-cooperating establishments were out of business. 

The news from Hillsboro, Ohio swept across the country. In August of 1874, the formal Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was formed in Lake Chautauqua, New York. The primary goal of the organization was prohibition of alcohol, in order to protect women and children, and to improve men. 

Like today, domestic violence was often fueled by drunkenness. Unlike today, wives had no legal recourse and little or no community support. Women of the 1870s had few legal or property rights. In most states, the home, the land, the family possessions, even the wife’s earnings if she made money, all belonged to the man.

These simple, stark facts explain two important points. One, women of all social classes had friends whose lives were devastated by the effects of alcohol, so the WCTU message touched a nerve – and a real need – and swept like wildfire throughout the country. Second, despite what most of us learned in history class, the WCTU was not solely an anti-alcohol crusade. It was actually one of the strongest forces for women’s rights in the late 1800s.

According to Sarah Gelser: “While suffragettes appealed mainly to middle- and upper-class white women, the WCTU also served and attracted working class women and women of color. The participation of working class women was demonstrated by the organization’s support of the noon rest hour, employment agencies, labor unions, and vocational training. The participation of women of color was just as striking, with large numbers of African American and Native American women officers and members.”

Thinking about this in hindsight, it seems as though Duniway would have benefited greatly by building bridges with the Oregon WCTU and expanding her base of support for women’s suffrage in the 1884 election and beyond. Instead, she was angry that WCTU didn’t support her tactics of quietly lobbying men’s groups behind the scenes in order to convince men to vote for women’s suffrage.

Granted, the WCTU could be “in your face” when it came to their tactics. On top of that, in 1883 the Oregon chapter invited national WCTU President Frances Willard for a large convention. Because of Willard’s presence and inspiration, the Oregon WCTU was very active in the years 1883 and 1884.

Duniway believed, and some historians have written, that the WCTU scared the liquor industry (nationally and in Oregon), and also scared many traditional beer and whiskey drinking males in the state of Oregon. 

One could make a case that increased WCTU activity made the liquor industry (with lots of money to spend) more active campaigning against women’s suffrage. The industry and many male voters may have believed that allowing women to vote would lead to a law banning the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Illustration by LM Glackens making fun of the WCTU on the cover of Puck magazine, January 15, 1908. One lady carries a banner that says: “The lips that touch corn likker shall never touch ourn.” (from Library of Congress)

Whatever the reasons, Oregon’s male voters defeated women’s right to vote measures on the ballot four more times – in 1900, 1906, 1908 and 1910. Oregon women’s suffrage finally passed at the ballot in 1912. 

In light of the discussion in the last few paragraphs, it is interesting to note that in 1914, the first election after women got the right to vote, statewide prohibition passed by a vote of 136,842 to 100,362. As of “January first, 1916, the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors within the State of Oregon, except upon prescription of a physician or for scientific, sacramental or mechanical purposes” was prohibited. 

If you want a surprising example of how Oregon prohibition affected Ashland in 1916, click on the link to read my article: Wah Chung and the Chinese Community in Ashland: Late 1800’s and Early 1900’s

1912 – Women’s suffrage finally passed in Oregon

When the women’s suffrage referendum passed on the sixth try in 1912, an elderly Abigail Duniway (seated in the photo) was asked by Governor Oswald West to sign the official Oregon Proclamation of Women’s Suffrage. Though it was the sixth try here, Oregon still gave women the right to vote eight years before women achieved that right nationally. Duniway was also honored for her decades-long struggle by being the first woman registered to vote in Multnomah County.   

Abigail Scott Duniway (seated) signs the Oregon Proclamation of Women’s Suffrage in 1912, with Governor Oswald West on the right. Also standing is Dr. Viola M. Coe, the acting President of the National Women’s Party. (photo from Library of Congress)

A quote for all young women

Here is an important quote from Abigail Scott Duniway that is just as applicable today as when she said it more than 100 years ago.

“The young women of today, free to study, to speak, to write, to choose their occupation, should remember that every inch of this freedom was bought for them at a great price. It is for them to show their gratitude by helping onward the reforms of their own times by spreading the light of freedom and truth still wider. The debt that each generation owes to the past it must pay to the future.” 

Marietta Stow

Marietta Stow. (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

 Our journey next leads us to the connection between fellow-suffragist Marietta Stow of California and Abigail Scott Duniway of Oregon. In San Francisco, Marietta Stow had also founded a newspaper (Women’s Herald of Industry) that featured women’s issues. The paper only lasted from 1881 until 1885, but it gave her a strong platform. 

Both the Republican and Democrat parties of the time ignored women’s rights. Some leading suffragists, such as Susan B. Anthony, believed their best hope for success was to work with one of the major political parties, despite being ignored. Others, like Stow, thought women needed to take the lead and form their own political party. In July 1884, Stow took the big step of forming the Equal Rights Party. 

Because she knew and respected Duniway, Stow nominated Abigail Duniway as the Equal Rights Party candidate for President. Surprisingly, she did this in a newspaper article without consulting with Duniway first! 

Duniway responded in her own newspaper, The New Northwest, saying she would not accept the nomination. She believed women running for office in 1884 would distract from and weaken the movement for women’s right to vote. Duniway wrote that “a disenfranchised candidate of a disenfranchised people will make a sorry run for any office.”

My grandmother and Belva Lockwood

After Duniway’s refusal, Stow turned to Belva Lockwood as the 1884 Presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party. Lockwood was nationally known, and her life story was quite extraordinary.

This is my paternal grandmother, Belva Hovey Finkle. (photographer unknown)

This gets us to the connection with my paternal grandmother. I feel a special affinity for women who fought for the right to vote in the late 1800s because my grandmother Belva Finkle, born in 1891, was named after Belva Lockwood. My great-grandparents must have been strong supporters of women’s right to vote.

Belva Lockwood’s life

Belva Lockwood between 1880 and 1890. (photo from Library of Congress)

Lockwood was born into a farm family in 1830. She went to college, became a seminary teacher, then at the age of 40 decided to attend law school. Every step was a battle. At this time, there were only a handful of female lawyers in the entire country, and law schools refused to admit her. She was finally admitted to the National University law school in Washington DC. When she graduated in 1873, they refused to give her a diploma! Frustrated, she sent the following letter to the ex officio president of the law school, none other than the President of the United States, Ulysses Grant. 

SIR,

You are, or you are not, President of the National University Law School. If you are its President, I desire to say to you that I have passed through the curriculum of study in this school, and am entitled to, and demand, my diploma. If you are not its President, then I ask that you take your name from its papers, and not hold out to the world to be what you are not.

Very respectfully, 
Belva A. Lockwood

According to an article at The George Washington University (formerly National University) website, “She never received a direct reply—but a week later, her diploma arrived in the mail.”

She became a successful lawyer, but she was denied the ability to practice law in Federal courts because she was a woman. Again, she was not one to give up. “In 1879, a bill was passed through both houses of Congress and signed by President Rutherford B. Hayes which allowed Belva to become the first woman to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States.” [N.Y. Library] By the way, President Hayes and his wife visited Ashland the following year, in September 1880.

Belva Lockwood’s signature from Supreme Court records (from Library of Congress)

The 1884 Presidential election

“I cannot vote, but I can be voted for.” 

Belva Lockwood, 1884

When Marietta Stow asked Belva Lockwood to be the Equal Rights Party candidate for President, Lockwood said yes. Stow was her Vice-Presidential running mate. Lockwood campaigned for equal rights for all Americans in order to make the United States “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” In addition to rights for women, she believed Native Americans should become U.S. citizens. She went further than most reformers by her opposition to the discriminatory Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which halted most Chinese immigration for decades. She called it “anti-Christian and unconstitutional.” This was diametrically opposed to the position of Stow, who was very racist despite advocating for women’s rights. 

Voting ballot for 1884 election. (from collection of the Oakland Museum of California)

Lockwood was officially on the ballot of only eight states, though that in itself was a huge accomplishment. Nevertheless, she campaigned nationwide. Lockwood and Stow received 4,194 votes in those eight states. Remember, this was a time when women could not even vote for President of the United States. 

I am honored that my grandmother was named after such a trail-blazing woman, who along with many other courageous women and men contributed to the increase of liberty, freedom and mutual respect we continue to fight for today. I am glad that my visit to 531 Scenic Drive in Ashland, Oregon took me on this learning journey.

*****

My thanks to the Ashland Tidings for publishing an edited version of this article on April 30, 2020.

References:

Anon. “Women show ability,” The Sunday Oregonian, September 29, 1912, Section Five, p5, at https://thebrewstorian.tumblr.com/post/172330891121/mrs-conklin-miss-louie-church-some-things-i/embed

Anon. State Suffragists Prepare for Fight Part 1,” Oregonian, November 1, 1912, 4.  

Anon. “Nevertheless, They Persisted: Women’s Voting Rights and the 19th Amendment,” Oregon Historical Society website, accessed April 23, 2020.
https://ohs.org/museum/exhibits/nevertheless-they-persisted.cfm

Anon.   Belva A Lockwood Collection [1830-1917], New York State Library, accessed April 15, 2020.
http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/msscfa/sc21041.htm

Bozeman, Anne, “The Presidential Campaigns of Belva Lockwood” (2009). Undergraduate Research Awards. 4. Georgia State University.
https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/univ_lib_ura/4

Breedlove, Anne M. “San Francisco Women Newspaper Publishers,” California History at The Free Library online, accessed April 15, 2020.
https://www.thefreelibrary.com/%22Inspired+and+Possessed%22-a079588561

Bright, Casey, author interview, April 11, 2020.

Chambers, Jennifer. Abigail Scott Duniway and Susan B. Anthony in Oregon: Hesitate No Longer, The History Press, 2018. 

Duniway, Abigail Scott. Speech given at National Woman Suffrage Association Convention, Washington, D.C. March 4, 1884 [Abigail Scott Duniway Papers*]

Duniway, Abigail Scott. “Ballots and Bullets,” speech given at National Woman Suffrage Association Convention, Washington, D.C., circa January 21-23, 1889 [Sunday Oregonian 9 Sept. 1906]

Edwards, G. Thomas. Sowing Good Seeds: The Northwest Suffrage Campaigns of Susan B. Anthony. Portland, OR: Oregon Historical Society Press, 1990; pg. 16, as noted in Wikipedia, April 14, 2020.

Gelser, Sarah Anne Acres. “Beyond the Ballot: The Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Politics of Oregon Women, 1880-1900.” M.A. thesis for Oregon State University, December 7, 1998.

Hardy, Sarah B. “Suffrage and Temperance: Differing Perspectives,” Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote, 1912-2012, accessed 4/27/2020.
http://centuryofaction.org/index.php/main_site/document_project/suffrage_and_temperance_differing_perspectives

Kramer, George and Atwood, Kay. National Register of Historic Places, Skidmore Academy Historic District, August 14, 2001.

Jensen, Kimberly. “Woman Suffrage in Oregon,” The Oregon Encyclopedia, accessed April 24, 2020.
https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/woman_suffrage_in_oregon/#.XqIQcC85RUM

Norgren, Jill, Belva Lockwood: ‘I cannot vote, but can be voted for,’ at HistoryNet.com, accessed April 15, 2020. https://www.historynet.com/belva-lockwood.htm

Oregon Secretary of State website, accessed May 12, 2020.
http://records.sos.state.or.us/ORSOSWebDrawer/Recordpdf/7255099