June in Oregon History

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"All June I bound the rose in sheaves, Now, rose by rose, I strip the leaves." Robert Browning

"While in the Spring and Autumn the water of our river is remarkably pure and wholesome, it is very liable to pollution from the sewerage of towns from up the river, from the general drainage of the valley, and in the Summer freshet of the Columbia by the sewerage of Portland itself, as it is carried up the river by the backward-setting current, sometimes caused by the rapid rise of the stream below. 

Harvey Scott, History of Portland, 1890 

June 1, 1925 

The U.S. Supreme Court declared the Oregon Compulsory Public School Attendance Bill unconstitutional on June1, 1925. 


Pierce vs. Society of Sisters (1925)
by Robert Bunting

On June 1, 1925, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (268 U.S. 510), the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional an Oregon law making public school attendance mandatory. In its ruling, the court upheld the right of private schools to exist and for parents to govern their children’s education.

The Compulsory Public School Attendance Bill was an initiative to amend the Compulsory Education Act that compelled children between the ages of eight and sixteen to attend public schools. Inaugurated by the Scottish-rite Masons of Oregon, the initiative measure appeared on the November 7, 1922, Oregon ballot.

June 2, 1907

Oregon artist and educator Constance Fowler was born on June2, 1907.


Constance Fowler
by Roger Hull

Constance Fowler was a painter, printmaker, author, and educator during a career that spanned more than sixty years. Best known for the expressive realism of her wood engravings and oil paintings produced in the 1930s and 1940s in Oregon, she later worked in personal variations of abstract movements that dominated American art after 1950.

Born June 2, 1907, in International Falls, Minnesota, Constance Edith Fowler attended public schools in Minnesota and moved with her parents and sister to Pullman, Washington, in 1923. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Washington State College in 1929 and studied art for another year at the University of Washington before moving with her family to California and, in 1932, to Salem, Oregon. In 1935, she was hired to teach art at Willamette University.

June 3, 1850

Chief Telokite, Tomahas, Isiaasheluckas, Clokomas, and Kiamasumkin—members of the Waiilatpu band of the Cayuse Indian Nation, known as the Cayuse Five—were hanged in Oregon City in front of a crowd of spectators on June2, 1850.

whitman mission  

Whitman Massacre Trial
by Ronald Lansing

On November 29, 1847, Protestant missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and twelve others were killed by members of the Waiilatpu band of the Cayuse Indian Nation. Scores of other pioneers were held captive.

The killings, which came to be called the Whitman Massacre, happened at a Protestant mission in a remote part of the Oregon frontier, near what is now Walla Walla, Washington. For years, politicians in Washington, D.C., had debated whether or not to proclaim the Oregon frontier as a U.S. territory. The tragedy and the need to protect U.S. citizens from Native uprising was the catalyst that prompted Congress to cease debate and take action. In order to dispense justice to the new U.S. possession, President James K. Polk dispatched a governor, judge, prosecutor, marshal, and militia, who were instructed to bring the Whitman murderers to justice.

June 4, 1851

The Willamette Stone, the initial point for all land surveys in Oregon, was placed in the Tualatin Mountains (Portland's West Hills) on June 4, 1851 .


Willamette Stone and Willamette Meridian
by Champ Clark Vaughan

Land surveys accomplished under the U.S. Government's Rectangular Survey System are the basis for the establishment of land titles and boundaries within Oregon. The initial point for the land surveys in Oregon is referred to as the Willamette Stone; and the principle survey meridian, running north and south, is named the Willamette Meridian.

In 1850, two years after Oregon had attained territorial status and become part of the nation’s public domain, Congress passed the Donation Land Act to resolve the problems caused by escalating immigration, preemption settlement, and land claims. The primary purposes of the act were to create the Office of Surveyor-General of Oregon, to provide for the survey of public lands, and to make donations of public lands to settlers. 

June 5, 1977

The Portland Trail Blazers won the NBA Championships on June 5, 1977.

blazer parade  

Portland Trail Blazers
by Jack Ramsay

Portland beat Chicago, 3-2, in the opening round of the playoffs as Walton contained Bulls center Artis Gilmore in Game 3. Then the Blazers overcame the loss of the injured Twardzik to defeat Denver, inspired by a brilliant performance by Johnny Davis in the decisive Game 6. In the Conference Finals against the Lakers, Herm Gilliam came to the team’s rescue in Game 2, Walton out-played Kareem Abdul-Jabbar throughout the series, and the Blazers swept Los Angeles 4-0.

In the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, Maurice Lucas provided the psychological boost the Blazers needed to win at home after losing the first two games in Philadelphia. Gross and Hollins were outstanding throughout the series, Davis was rock-steady, and Walton came up with a classic performance in Game 6. Every player off the bench gave the team something positive, and the Blazers took the 1977 NBA Championship on June 5.

June 6, 1914

The arches of the Great Light Way were turned on for the first time with much fanfair on June 6, 1914. 

great light way  

Great Light Way (3rd St., Portland)
by Dan Haneckow

Portland’s Third Street reinvented itself as The Great Light Way in June 1914 by installing a series of arcaded lights over each intersection from Yamhill to Madison streets.

Third Street merchants were concerned that the commercial center of town was drifting to the west, away from the Willamette River. The Broadway Bridge had opened the year before, routing a new stream of traffic from the east side directly onto Seventh Street, which was renamed Broadway in the hopes of establishing a new downtown theater district. Third Street boosters, who feared becoming part of the rundown “wholesale district” along the river, felt they needed a counterweight to retain retail and entertainment activity. 

June 7, 1967

The Oregon Beach Bill, which would “forever preserve and maintain the sovereignty of the state heretofore existing over the seashore and ocean beaches of the state…so that the public may have the free and uninterrupted use thereof," passed on June 7, 1967.


Oregon Beach Bill
by Charles K. Johnson

Oregonians struggling to maintain public access to Pacific Ocean beaches won a decisive battle in 1967 with the passage of legislation commonly known as the Beach Bill, which established public access to Oregon’s beaches from the first dune to the sea. It was a right most Oregonians thought they already had.

In 1913, led by Governor Oswald West, the Oregon legislature established the state’s ocean beaches as a public highway. For over fifty years, the crafty maneuver became a part of Oregon folklore and the public perception of ownership, and access to the state’s beachfront was a source of pride for Oregonians who regularly took advantage of its pristine, if chilly, beauty.

June 8, 1860

General William Selby Harney was relieved of his department command in Oregon on June 8, 1860, for instigating the "Pig War" against Great Britain.


William Selby Harney
by Greg Shine

A brash, opportunistic cavalry officer with an explosive temper and a vindictive predilection for conflict with Indians, fellow officers, and foreign powers, Gen. William Selby Harney led the U.S. Army’s Department of Oregon from 1858 to 1860. During his time in Oregon, he expanded military roads and protection while waging war against Native people in Washington Territory and narrowly avoiding war with Great Britain.

Born on August 22, 1800, Harney was a tall, redheaded Tennessean who counted Andrew Jackson as his mentor and Jefferson Davis as his friend. After accepting an officer’s commission in 1819, he used his connections to the Democratic Party to rise quickly through the army’s ranks. Service in the Seminole Wars in the 1830s honed his skill and reputation in savage warfare against Indians, as did later duty in the Mexican War in 1847, frontier service in Texas in the late 1840s and 1850s and the Plains and Midwest in the 1850s, and a return campaign to Florida in 1857. In 1855, at the Battle of Ash Hollow in western Nebraska, soldiers under his command indiscriminately killed Brulé Lakota men, women, and children, earning Harney the sobriquets The Butcher and The Big Chief Who Swears.


June 9, 1855

Through the Walla Walla, Cayuse, and Umatilla Treaty of June 9, 1855, the tribes lost 6.4 million acres of land and billions of dollars in resources. 


Walla Walla Treaty Council 1855
by Cliff Trafzer

The treaty council held at Waiilatpu (Place of the Rye Grass) in the Walla Walla Valley in May and June of 1855 forever changed the lives of Native Americans living in north-central and eastern Oregon. The fate of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Indians who lived in that part of Oregon became closely tied to that of the Nez Perce, Palouse, and Yakama, who also participated in the treaty council. None of the tribes requested the council or wanted to surrender their lands, but representatives of the United States government championed the grand council and representatives of the tribes attended to protect their people and tribal interests.

By 1855, Oregon Indians had some knowledge of American policies, which included written treaties, conscribed boundaries, and surrender of traditional Indian lands. The Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla people attended the Walla Walla Council to listen, learn, and voice their position about the sacredness of the earth that held the bones of their ancestors. They attended to protect their secular and sacred interest, not to surrender their homelands, sovereignty, or way of life.

June 10, 1959

Oregon celebrated 100 years of statehood in a grand centennial fair on the Columbia River, running from June 10 to September 17, 1959.



Centennial Exposition of 1959
by David Kludas

Oregon became the thirty-third state on February 14, 1859. A century later, Portland hosted the Oregon Centennial Exposition and International Trade Fair to commemorate one hundred years of statehood. The fair, which lasted from June 10 to September 17, took place on sixty-five acres along the Columbia River north of the city. Exhibits and entertainment were housed in an eleven-acre arena, the Gayway amusement park bordered the ten-acre International Garden of Tomorrow, and Adventureland covered eighteen acres.

Visitors strolled through the mammoth Exposition building, where more than 200 companies, government agencies, and private and public organizations had exhibits. Nineteen Oregon counties and twenty-two foreign countries were also represented. Local businesses such as Alpenrose Dairy, Hyster, KXL Radio, Tektronix, and West Coast Airlines had displays, and the Atomic Energy Commission used 5,000 square feet to laud the benefits of nuclear energy. There was even a pool so the International Water Follies could perform a water ballet. 

June 11, 2008

Accomplished dentist Edward Wah, great grand-nephew of Doc Hay, died on June 11, 2008.

Edward Wah
by Jodi Varon

Edward Eng Wah, D.M.D., practiced dentistry in both Portland and John Day. The great-grandnephew of Oregon herbalist Ing Hay (Wu Yunian; also know as Doc Hay), the proprietor and practitioner of herbal medicine at the Kam Wah Chung Mercantile Company in John Day, Wah spent much of his childhood in and around the Kam Wah Chung. His firsthand accounts of Ing Hay’s medical practice and daily life are important to understanding the significance of Ing Hay and the Kam Wah Chung to the Chinese and EuroAmerican communities in John Day and rural eastern Oregon.

Family and historical records disagree about Wah's birthplace and date. Parents Bob Wah (Ng Bark Wah) and Rose Wah (Lee Shee) married in Har Ping village, Kwangdung Province, China. Bob Wah's Petition of Naturalization lists Edward Wah's (Ng Gim Wah) birthplace as Lewiston, Idaho, on August 10, 1933, while a personal history references Wah's birthplace and birth date as China on October 10, 1931.

June 12, 1771

Patrick Gass, the first member of the Lewis & Clark Expedition to publish an account of the journey, was born on June 12, 1771.


Patrick Gass
by William Lang

Patrick Gass was one of the early enlistees in the expeditionary force led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to survey the Missouri and Columbia Rivers in 1804-1806. In addition to his participation in the great journey, Gass was the author of the first published account of the expedition.

Gass's journal, which covered events from May 1804 to September 1806, was one of four kept by expedition members other than Lewis and Clark. In a published exchange of letters, Meriwether Lewis warned printer David McKeehan not to publish an unauthorized account of the expedition, but McKeehan publicly rebuked the threat and brought the Gass journal out in July 1807. By 1814, when Nicholas Biddle published the first official account of the expedition, the Gass journal was in its seventh edition, some with engravings depicting expeditionary events.

June 13, 1901

The Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers was founded and incorporated on June 13, 1901.

sons and daughters  

Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers
by Merle Miller

In 1873, there was a growing desire on the part of many of the early immigrants who settled the Willamette and other valleys of the Oregon Territory to organize an association to collect pioneer reminiscences, document the early history of the territory, and gather material for an archive. A few pioneers signed a call for a meeting to be held at Butteville, on the Willamette River.

After several meetings, the Oregon Pioneer Association was effected on October 18, 1873, with Hon. F.X. Mathieu as president and J.W. Grim as vice president. The first annual reunion was held at Butteville on November 11, 1873.

As a successor to the old Oregon Pioneer Association, Sons and Daughters of Oregon Pioneers was founded and incorporated on June 13, 1901. The organization has over 1,100 members worldwide. Its principle place of official meetings and business is Portland.

June 14, 1927

The first runners in the Indian Redwood Marathon set off from San Francisco to Grants Pass (480 miles) on June 14, 1927.

flying cloud  

Indian Redwood Marathon
by Wayne Morrow

On June 14, 1927, eleven Native Americans stood in front of San Francisco's City Hall waiting for the starter's gun that would begin a grueling footrace. The finish line was 480 miles north in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The Indian Redwood Marathon was conceived and organized by Chambers of Commerce in San Francisco, Grants Pass, and other towns along the route. Their newly designated "Redwood Empire" stretched from San Francisco north on Highway 101 to Crescent City, then east on Highway 199 to Grants Pass.The purpose of the run was to attract visitors to the Redwood Highway, which had been built through the area, which was rich in natural beauty, with mountains, rivers, and redwood trees. 

June 15, 1970

Runner Steve Prefontaine appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on June 15, 1970.


Steve Prefontaine
by John Killen

For Steve Prefontaine, running was a way to find confidence, a way to stand out and to prove himself. It was also an art form. “Some people create with words or with music or with a brush and paints,” Prefontaine told reporter Don Chapman. “I like to make something beautiful when I run....It's more than just a race, it's style....It's being creative.” Pre, as he was called, helped create a distance-running legacy that reached from the beginning of the running boom in the United States to the birth of Nike. He helped set in motion a movement that solidified the University of Oregon as a mecca of track and field and turned Eugene into Tracktown, USA.

Prefontaine set eight collegiate records while running for the Oregon Ducks and at one time held every American distance running record, from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters. As his reputation as a competitive runner grew, Prefontaine took on the Amateur Athletic Union, battling the organization over its hold on the lives of athletes. By combining talent with outspokenness, he cut a wide cultural swath that even decades after his death influences distance running worldwide. Prefontaine is in both the National Track & Field Hall of Fame and the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

June 16, 1969

Gov. Tom McCall signed the bill creating the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Environmental Quality Commission on June 16, 1969.

clean air week  

Department of Environmental Quality
by James V. Hillegas-Elting

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) administers and enforces environmental laws pertaining to the air, soil, and surface and ground water and serves as the Environmental Protection Agency’s delegate in ensuring compliance with federal laws such as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Created in 1969, the DEQ is an autonomous agency that superseded the Oregon State Sanitary Authority (OSSA).

The Oregon legislature created the DEQ during Tom McCall’s second year as governor (1967-1975), one element of what some journalists called “the most extensive shake-up of state government” in Oregon history. For decades, the state had centralized its oversight of water and air quality and solid waste management. The Oregon State Sanitary Authority (1938) was responsible for water quality, and the Oregon Air Pollution Authority (1951) oversaw air quality; the Air Pollution Authority was made part of the OSSA in 1959. In 1967, McCall led efforts to strengthen the OSSA, and in early March 1969 his legislative allies, including Republican Senator Victor Atiyeh, proposed Senate Bill 396 to separate the Sanitary Authority from the State Board of Health and create a new agency. 

June 17, 1892

The Bull Run Timberland Reserve, covering 142,080 acres, was established by presidential proclamation on June 17, 1892. It was the first forest reserve in Oregon.


National Forests in Oregon, 1892-1933
by Gerald W. Williams

The first forest reserves in the state were established in 1892-1893, although management of the federal forests did not begin until the summer of 1898. The origin of the Cascade Range Forest Reserve dates from the summer of 1885, after William G. Steel visited Crater Lake near the southern end of the 300-mile Cascade Range. Steel stopped in Salem to meet with Judge John B. Waldo, who suggested that federal protection for the entire Cascade Range was needed. Steel began with the effort to make Crater Lake into a national park.

On February 1, 1886, Pres. Grover Cleveland, by executive order, suspended homesteading in ten townships around Crater Lake and northward to encompass the Diamond Lake area. It was the first withdrawal of public land in Oregon for scenic or forestry purposes. Congress would establish Crater Lake National Park in 1902.

Waldo and Steel led an effort to obtain a much larger forest reserve along the crest of the Oregon Cascade Range. In early 1891, Congress was reconsidering provisions in the nation's land laws. An amendment (Section 24) attached to the legislation would allow the president to establish forest reserves. The act, signed on March 3, 1891, was later referred to as the Creative Act or the Forest Reserve Act.

The first attempt to use the law in Oregon was by the City of Portland. In the early 1890s, Henry Failing, chair of the Portland Water Commission, asked that a forest reserve be created around the new municipal watershed. The Bull Run Timberland Reserve, covering 142,080 acres, was established by presidential proclamation on June 17, 1892. It was the first forest reserve in Oregon.


June 18, 1941

Tenor saxophonist Jim Pepper, an internationally recognized and influential jazz musician, was born on June 18, 1941.


Jim Pepper
by Jack Berry

Tenor saxophonist Jim Pepper was an internationally recognized and influential jazz musician. He is best remembered for "Witchi-Tai-To," his elaboration of a Comanche peyote chant learned from his grandfather Ralph Pepper, a ceremonial leader of the Kaw Tribe in Oklahoma. "Witchi-Tai-To" may be the most recorded and performed Native American song of all time.

Born in Salem, Oregon, on June 18, 1941, Pepper was raised in the Parkrose District of Portland. He began moving between cultures as a dancer during his early teens. Encouraged by his parents, Gilbert and Floy Pepper, he alternated between tap and Indian dancing at school assemblies, powwows, and on Portland television with Grandfather Ralph. Beginning with the clarinet and then saxophones and flute, Jim Pepper's extraordinary ear and facility as an instrumentalist led to underage appearances at Portland jazz venues such as the Shadows and the Cotton Club.

June 19, 1971

Gov. Tom McCall signed the Oregon Bicycle Bill, on the seat of a Schwinn, on June 19, 1971.


Oregon Bicycle Bill
by Jeff Mapes

On June 19, 1971, Governor Tom McCall, with his usual flair for publicity, stood on the steps of the Oregon Capitol to sign a bill on the seat of a ten-speed Schwinn bicycle. McCall and Don Stathos, the chief sponsor in the Oregon House of what was known simply as the Bicycle Bill, praised the legislation for seeking to make the roads friendly for cyclists.

The Bicycle Bill required the State of Oregon to accommodate bicycling and walking on all new road projects and transportation agencies to spend at least one percent of the state highway fund to accomplish that goal. The first of its kind in the United States, the Bicycle Bill foreshadowed the national Complete Streets movement that began to take hold three decades later to encourage the adoption of policies aimed at providing safe access to the streets for all users.

June 20, 1861

General Philip Sheridan and Company K were relieved of their duties at Fort Yamhill, Oregon, on June 20, 1861; Sheridan immediately traveled east to fight in the Civil War. 


Philip Sheridan
by David Lewis

Before he gained fame as commander of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War, Philip Henry Sheridan served in Oregon on the Columbia River and at the Grand Ronde Reservation.

In August 1855, Sheridan commanded a cavalry detachment assigned to a survey team that was laying out a railway route from Fort Reading, California, to Portland. The following spring, he and his detachment were ordered to relieve the Ninth Infantry, who were under attack by a group of Indian warriors at the blockhouse at the Middle Cascades of the Columbia River.

His name is memorialized in Oregon by the city bearing his name in Yamhill County. Sheridan holds the annual Phil Sheridan Days in June, and his house remains on the site of Fort Yamhill.

June 21, 1943

Minoru Yasui lost his case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled on June 21, 1943, that while Yasui did not lose his U.S. citizenship, his rights could be overridden—based on race—in time of war.


Minoru Yasui
by Peggy Nagae

Minoru Yasui was born in Hood River on October 16, 1916, the third son of Japanese immigrants Shidzuyo and Masuo Yasui. In 1939, Yasui became the first Japanese American to graduate from the University of Oregon School of Law and the first Japanese American member of the Oregon Bar. He made national history by challenging the constitutionality of the military curfew imposed on Japanese American citizens in World War II.

With the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Yasui, who had been working for the Japanese Consulate in Chicago, resigned his position and returned to Oregon. He expected to be called up for service since he had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry Reserve, but the army refused to accept him for active duty.

During World War II, the loyalty of American citizens of Japanese descent was challenged. Lt. Gen. John L. DeWitt of the Western Defense Command argued that military necessity justified the imprisonment of Japanese aliens and Japanese Americans alike, even though other authorities believed that there was no need to fear the Japanese in the United States.

June 22, 1757

George Vancouver, whose expedition to the Northwest produced the first accurate map of the lower Columbia River, was born in England on June 22, 1757.

vancouver chart  

George Vancouver
by William Lang

The role George Vancouver played in Oregon history is tangential, yet it is foundational to the developments that radically changed the region during the early nineteenth century. In 1791-1795, Vancouver led the most thorough scientific maritime exploration of the Northwest Coast of North America, which included the creation and publication of detailed maps of the coastlines of present-day Oregon and Washington and the complex waterways of Puget Sound. Vancouver and his officers laid down dozens of place-names in the region, including Mount Rainier, for British Rear Admiral Peter Rainier, and Mount Hood, for Lord Samuel Hood of the British Admiralty Board. Most important, in October 1792, Vancouver sent two longboats under Lt. William Broughton one hundred miles up the Columbia River, an expedition that produced a detailed map of the lower river. When published in 1798 in Vancouver’s A Voyage of Discovery, Broughton’s map became the first to accurately represent the lower Columbia River. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark used the map to orient themselves on the river in 1805.

June 23, 1900

On June 23, 1900, Daniel Williams forged his wife Alma's signature on a land relinquishment, prompting an investigation into her murder and sending Williams to the gallows. 


State of Oregon v. Norman Williams
by Diane Goeres-Gardner

In May 1904, in State of Oregon v. Norman Williams, an Oregon jury made legal history by convicting a man of murder without having a body as evidence. In a legal system based on precedent, the case continues to be cited in murder cases today.

Daniel Norman Williams was born in Sombra, Ontario, on January 17, 1857. He served three years in a Nebraska penitentiary for assaulting and nearly killing his sister-in-law. After being released from prison in 1894, he went to Colwell, Iowa, where he met thirty-one-year-old Alma Nesbitt. They traveled to Oregon and filed adjoining homestead claims twenty miles outside Hood River before being secretly married on July 25, 1899, in Vancouver, Washington.

Alma worked hard to improve her 149.35 acres by building a house and other small outbuildings. In October, her mother, sixty-nine-year-old Louisa J. Nesbitt, joined her. That winter the women moved to Portland, where Alma worked as a housekeeper.

On March 8, 1900, the trio boarded a Portland train for Hood River. When they arrived that evening, Williams rented a wagon, and they headed to their homestead. That was the last time either woman was seen alive.

June 24, 1837

James W. Virtue, Baker County sherrif, Oregon Commissioner of Mines, U.S. Centennial Commissioner, and once the richest man in Eastern Oregon, was born on June 24, 1837, in Ireland.


James W. Virtue
by Gary Dielman

As early as 1871, James William Virtue—one-time sheriff of Baker County—was recognized nationally for his expertise as a miner when President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him U.S. centennial commissioner. His charge was to help plan "an international exhibition of arts, manufactures, and products of the soil and mine," to be held in Philadelphia in 1876 as part of the centennial celebration of American independence.

Appointed commissioner of mines for Oregon in 1885, at the unanimous recommendation of the legislature, Virtue promoted the state as an investor’s paradise at such events as the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans and in his visits to Chicago and New York City. He illustrated his point with a display of 1,500 pounds of gold and other mineral specimens from the state.

June 25, 2011

Betty Roberts, the first women to serve on the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court, passed away on June 25, 2011.

betty roberts  

Betty Roberts
by Gail Wells

Betty Roberts was a thirty-two-year-old housewife with four children when she went back to college in 1955. Her decision went against the wishes of her banker husband and the conventions of 1950s society. That marriage did not last, but Roberts’s step toward independence bore abundant fruit, putting her on the path to a long career in Oregon law and politics. She broke two significant gender barriers, becoming the first woman to serve on both the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court.

Betty Lucille Cantrell was born in Kansas on February 5, 1923, the youngest of three children of David Murray and Mary Pearl Higgins Cantrell. She spent most of her childhood in Wichita Falls, Texas. After her father became disabled from drinking tainted bootleg liquor, her mother took in laundry to support the family through the bleakest days of the Great Depression. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal made an indelible impression on young Betty: “I began to understand that government is good when it helps its neediest citizens,” she wrote in her 2008 memoir, With Grit and By Grace: Breaking Trails in Politics and Law.

June 26, 1844

The Provisional Government amended the no-slavery law in Oregon on June 26, 1844. The amendment prohibited slavery, gave slaveholders a time limit to “remove” their slaves “out of the country,” and freed slaves if their owners refused to remove them. The effect was to legalize slavery in Oregon for three years. 

or constitution  

Black Exclusion Laws in Oregon
by Greg Nokes

Oregon's racial makeup has been shaped by three black exclusion laws that were in place during much of the region's early history. These laws, all later rescinded, largely succeeded in their aim of discouraging free blacks from settling in Oregon early on, ensuring that Oregon would develop as primarily white.

White emigrants who came to present-day Oregon during the 1840s and 1850s generally opposed slavery, but many also opposed living alongside African Americans. Many were nonslaveholding farmers from Missouri and other border states who had struggled to compete against those who owned slaves. To avoid a similar competitive situation in Oregon, they favored excluding blacks entirely, although a small number did settle in region. A few immigrants brought slaves to Oregon during this time, taking advantage of the lack of enforcement of Oregon's anti-slavery laws.

Oregon's small white population had voted on July 5, 1843, to prohibit slavery by incorporating into Oregon's 1843 Organic laws a provision of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance: "There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.'' The law was amended, however, on June 26, 1844, by the provisional government's new legislative council, headed by Missouri immigrant Peter Burnett. As amended, the law prohibited slavery, gave slaveholders a time limit to “remove” their slaves “out of the country,” and freed slaves if their owners refused to remove them.

June 27, 1952

Harriet "Hattie" Redmond, activist and president of the Colored Women’s Equal Suffrage Association, died on June 27, 1952.


Harriet "Hattie" Redmond
by Janice Dilg

Harriet “Hattie” Redmond was a leader in the long struggle for Oregon woman suffrage, especially during the successful campaign of 1912. The right to vote was especially important to Redmond as a black woman living in a state that had codified black exclusion laws in its constitution. Redmond’s work for voting rights helped lay the groundwork for the Black Civil Rights movement of the mid-twentieth century. Her parents, Reuben and LaVinia “Vina” Crawford, were emancipated slaves who instilled their quest for freedom and full citizenship in their daughter. Hattie helped bring those dreams to fruition through her civic activism.

Harriet Crawford was born in about 1862 in St. Louis, Missouri, the oldest of eight children. The family lived briefly in Hood River, Oregon, before permanently settling in Portland by 1880. There they became a prominent family in the city’s nascent African American community of several hundred people. Vina Crawford worked as a domestic, and Reuben Crawford worked as a skilled ship caulker. He was also active in the Republican Lincoln Club and the Portland Colored Immigration Society. The family attended the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church on Northwest Seventh (now Broadway) and Everett after its founding in 1907. Hattie Redmond held suffrage meetings and lectures at the church in 1912.

June 28, 1803

Jason Lee, the first Protestant missionary in the Northwest and a strong advocate for resettlement of the Willamette Valley, was born on June 28, 1803.

jason lee  

Jason Lee
by Dale E. Soden

Few names in the history of early nineteenth-century Oregon are better known than that of Jason Lee. As the first Protestant Christian missionary to the Pacific Northwest, Lee exemplified the effort to convert northwestern Indians to Christianity and assimilate them into Western culture. Lee also played an important role in promoting white settlement in the Willamette Valley. While generally failing in his efforts to Christianize Native Americans, he helped lay the foundation for the annexation of Oregon to the United States. 

Born on June 28, 1803, in Stanstead, Lower Canada (present-day Quebec), Lee was the youngest of fifteen children. Fatherless at the age of three, he had to provide for himself by age thirteen. Ten years later, he declared himself a Christian during a religious revival. By the age of twenty-six, he had enrolled at an academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, to prepare for the ministry. Shortly thereafter, he made known his intention to become a missionary to Indians in the West.

June 29, 1953

William L. Finley, biologist, photographer, writer, filmmaker, and public official, died on June 29, 1953.


William L. Finley
by Oliver Tatom

Oregon's birds have had few better friends than William Lovell Finley. As a biologist, photographer, writer, filmmaker, and public official, Finley spent his life tirelessly advocating for the protection of wildlife, especially birds. His efforts led to the creation of three National Wildlife Refuges in Oregon, and a fourth was named in his honor.

Finley was a native Californian, born in Santa Clara on August 9, 1876. His family moved to Portland when he was ten years old, where his father founded a mortuary. Finley collected bird skins and eggs from an early age, and at eighteen he and several friends formed the North-Western Ornithological Association. He returned to California to attend the state university at Berkeley, but his summer breaks were spent in Oregon photographing birds with his friend and partner, Herman Bohlman.


June 30, 1857

President James Buchanan’s executive order of June 30, 1857, officially established the Grand Ronde Indian Reservation.

grand ronde governance  

Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
by David Lewis

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon is a confederation of over twenty-seven tribes and bands from western Oregon, southern Washington, and northern California. The tribes were removed to the Grand Ronde Reservation in 1856 by the U.S. government in order to free the land for American pioneer settlement and to alleviate the mounting conflicts among the tribes and settlers, miners, and ranchers. The community lived on the reservation until 1954, when Congress passed the Western Oregon Indian Termination Act (PL 588). The act took effect in 1956, when the treaties and the reservation were terminated. The tribe existed as a nonrecognized government for twenty-seven years until Congress passed the Grand Ronde Restoration Act on November 22, 1983.

Before the 1850s and removal to the reservation, there were about sixty different tribes from six different language groups in western Oregon. The U.S. military forced at least twenty-seven of those tribes, about 2,000 people, to resettle at the Grand Ronde Agency in the southern Yamhill valley in 1856. The tribes were the Kalapuyans, which included the Santiam, Tualatin, Mary’s River, Yamhill, Yoncalla, Winefella, Mohawk, and Long Tom tribes; the Chinookans, which included the Clackamas Oregon City, Watlala, Multnomah, and Cascades tribes; the Molala Northern, Santiam, and Southern tribes; the southwestern Oregon tribes, which included the Rogue River, Cow Creek Umpqua, Takelma, and Chastacosta; and a few people of other tribes like the Shasta, Klamath, and Klickitat. The name Rogue River refers to a number of tribes in the Rogue River area, mainly the Dakubetede and Chastacosta (Athabaskan), the Shasta (Hokan), the Takelmas, and some neighboring tribes or bands.