Death and Oregon’s Settler Generation: Connecting Parricide, Agricultural Decline, and Dying Pioneers at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
by Peter Boag
Loyd Montgomery murdered his parents and a visiting neighbor in 1895 during a rural depression that greatly impacted Linn County’s local economy and marked a shift from agrarian ways of life. The Montgomerys belonged to a branch of the region’s most notable pioneers, and their death coincided with the reality that a generation of early Oregon pioneers that was quickly passing. Memorializing pioneers became increasingly popular in the late nineteenth century, with statewide and local organizations hosting annual reunions that focused on celebrating hardship overcome by perseverance. In this article, Boag “connects parricide, depression, and celebration,” with the common theme of death “in a triangulation of cause, effect, and remembrance that provided meaning to how a large number of Oregonians experienced the complicated transition to the twentieth century.”
Stealing from the Dead: Scientists, Settlers, and Indian Burial Sites in Early-Nineteenth-Century Oregon
by Wendi A. Lindquist
In 1835, Hudson’s Bay Company physician Meredith Gairdner sent his most valued specimen to physician and naturalist John Richardson — Chinook leader Chief Comcomly’s skull. As the early nineteenth century practice of phrenology emerged, scientists sought skulls to measure and examine for common traits that might lead to an eventual cultural hierarchy. Many were intrigued by Native head shaping practices and were emboldened to rob gravesites in the name of science and research. Lindquist concludes that, “among other things… [their] research demonstrated that Natives lacked the innate ability to assimilate into American society, providing many nineteenth-century whites with the justification they needed to mistreat Indians.” Euro-Americans eventually saw Native burial sites as places to experience remnants of what they considered a dying race.