Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Tribes repatriate ancient monolith

A 15,000-year-old carved artifact taken from the Wallula area in the early 1900s and displayed east of Portland City Hall for 86 years was returned to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in July of 1996.

The 10-ton basalt stone covered in petroglyphs was noticed by Portland engineer J.P. Newell in the spring of 1897 when his engineering crew, working on the Oregon Railroad and Navigation Company line, sat on the stone while eating lunch. Newell mentioned the stone to a museum curator, and in 1910 another curator had the railroad bring it to Portland. Because the stone originally sat on ceded tribal lands, the CTUIR claimed the stone under the 1990 federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The stone’s original location was five miles west of Wallula, 20 feet south of the railroad tracks at mile post 205.16. According to a consensus of tribal elders, the stone was used during manhood trials for the tribes’ young men. When a Native boy reached the age where he thought he should become a man, he submitted to a course of instruction to give him strength, courage and respect for his elders. One test of courage involved sending him to a spot in the direction of unfriendly neighboring tribes, where he was required to spend a day and a night. The Wallula stone marked a spot where the lands of different Northwest tribes came together.

“This stone is a part of our tribal history,” said Armand Minthorn, a member of the CTUIR Board of Trustees. “Our elders have told us stories about how it was used. It is important to us to bring the stone home and have it be part of our lives once again.”

A flatbed truck provided by the Army Corps of Engineers transported the artifact to Mission, and a 60-ton crane lifted the stone into its final resting place in the center of the Niix-Ya-Wii Warriors Memorial adjacent to the CTUIR tribal offices during a repatriation ceremony on July 27, 1996. Portland Mayor Vera Katz offered apologies on behalf of her city, and said she hoped their efforts would provide an example for others. “It wasn’t ours, we never paid for it, we never asked anyone’s permission to pick it up and take it away from where it belonged, to satisfy our own curiosities. ... Eighty-six years is a long time to wait, but we’re glad it’s back in the hands of those who will honor and care for it as it deserves.”
Ken White, left, of the maintenance department of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, works with Kai Bolen, center, and Leon Shockman, both of Shockman Brothers crane contractors, to place the 10-ton Wallula Stone in the center of the Niix-Ya-Wii Veteran's Memorial in Mission in this July 1996 EO file photo.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Train depot heist leaves thieves empty-handed

Multiple law enforcement agencies and special agents from Union Pacific Railroad and an express shipping company were called to Milton-Freewater in 1939 after a puzzling robbery of the Milton-Freewater train depot that left the would-be thieves with nothing to show for their trouble.

A package was stolen on July 13, 1939, from the express agency in Milton-Freewater’s train station. The package contained approximately $38,720 in negotiable bonds issued by the Eugene Bible College, which at the time of the robbery was defunct and in liquidation. The owner of the bonds, Laura Harris, had shipped the bonds to Eugene to be checked and the serially numbered securities, made out to Harris and her daughters, had arrived at the train station the day before the robbery. The coincidence led some of the investigators to believe the heist was an inside job.

Because of the failure of the college, the bonds were worth about 10 cents on the dollar “if anyone would buy them,” said a trustee of the college. Included in the package of securities were checks, also made out to Harris, as partial payments for liquidation of the bonds. But as the college had stopped payment on the checks as soon as the robbery was reported, the package was worthless to anyone but Harris and her daughters.

The bonds were found July 19 in brush along the tracks about a thousand yards west of the train depot. The worthless checks, however, were still missing. Speculation was that the thief took the package thinking it was an express currency shipment and, finding the bonds instead, simply threw them away.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kinzua teen rules over tiny town

Like Gulliver in the fictional land of Lilliput, Otis Cody towered over a tiny town built in the community of Kinzua. By July of 1971, 19-year-old Cody had been building the miniature logging town for seven years, and his model community covered a good share of the hillside behind his family’s home.

The town of Codyville included tiny logging equipment, homes and even paved roads. Log decks and stacks of tiny finished lumber dotted the hillside. And when Cody was not hammering and sawing to add to the town, he was managing the weeds — though he left a few to serve as trees. “It gives me something to do,” Cody said.

Deer from the forest around Kinzua often wandered through the town at night, leaving only tracks. Human vandals, however, once raided Codyville under the cover of darkness and caused damage that took weeks to repair.

The adults in Kinzua, including Cody’s parents, loved to show off the miniature town to visitors. Ray Cody worked as a truck driver for Kinzua Corp., while his wife worked on a manufacturing line in the mill, along with the wives of several other Kinzua employees.
Otis Cody looms over his miniature logging town in July of 1971 (East Oregonian file photo)
“We’re proud of the town Cody has built,” said Allen Nistad, Kinzua’s general manager.

The town of Kinzua was owned by Kinzua Corp., which operated a lumber mill south of Fossil in Wheeler County. Kinzua was founded in 1927 to house the mill workers and included its own post office and a Union Pacific rail line to ship lumber to Condon. Once the timber supply started to decline and operating costs increased, the mill was shut down and operations moved to Heppner in 1978. Kinzua Corp. removed all the buildings of the town, including Codyville, and allowed the area to return to a natural state. The only thing remaining of the original site is Kinzua Hills Golf Club, a member-owned six-hole golf course 11 miles east of Fossil.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Uncharged, man insists on fine anyway

An altercation over money on a Pendleton street in 1919 resulted in a conviction and fine, but not exactly in the manner the assaulter had hoped.

Judge Thomas Fitz Gerald, enjoying a quiet afternoon in his office at the Umatilla County Courthouse, was disturbed at 3 p.m. on July 28, 1919, when a young couple entered and asked where they could find a policeman. “A fellow swatted me,” the young man said, “and I want him pinched.” The judge told them they could find an officer somewhere on the city street, and they left.

An hour later, Fitz Gerald was again required to remove his boots from his desk when another young man entered his office and asked if he was the police judge. When Fitz Gerald replied that he was, the man confessed to hitting another man in the street earlier in the afternoon and wanted to turn himself in. “If he has me pinched it’ll cost me $10 or so. Can’t you let me pay up now?”

Fitz Gerald told the man, who said his name was J.O. Hales, that no charges had been brought against him, and that until the victim acted he could do nothing. But Hales insisted that he be allowed to pay a fine and have the matter settled, saying that money matters between himself and his victim were the cause of the strife.

The judge was stumped. Finally, he asked Hales if he wanted to have a charge of assault and battery lodged against himself. Hales agreed, and pleaded guilty immediately.

“Ten dollars,” said the judge.

“Ten dollars?” gasped Hales, who had obviously hoped his preemptive actions would result in a lower fine.

“That is our fine,” Fitz Gerald told him. “Assault and battery, guilty, $10.”

The self-convicted man fumbled through his pockets and ponied up the cash, then left the courtroom. Fitz Gerald never saw either the original accusers or Hales in his office again.