Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mommy's Little Helper? Beer as "Tonic " and "Invigorator"

Just before selling the brewery in 1903, Mrs. Beck advertised her beer:
Why Certainly!
This beer is good for you.

I know nothing better in the shape of a tonic or invigorator. That's the way doctors talk about Salem beer, well knowing its beneficial effects on young and old who need a mild, harmless, pure invigorant.
Or maybe he's just a creepy old man?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Oly - Salem Connection, 1903

In addition to the Weinhard brand, the other active major brewing legacy is the Oly stubby. Interestingly, both involve Full Sail in Hood River.

But in another history, Salem could have had at least one of them!

Most readers of CT will already know the story behind Session, Full Sail, and the mold for the Oly Stubby. If not, here's the Oly stubby. Same mold!

There's a campaign - I don't know how active - to bring back the Oly stubby. As cool as that would be, I like what Full Sail's doing with it even better. It's a modernized reinterpretation, neither a slavish reproduction in packaging nor insipid industrial lager inside. It's the best kind of homage: With a supremely civilized tip of the cap, it suavely moves forward with change.

But it turns out that Salem has a long history with Oly, and it's too bad Session or something like it couldn't have been brewed here.

On June 5th, 1903, the Capital Journal announced that Margaret M. Beck (the widow, I believe, of Seraphin Beck) had sold the Capital Brewery to Stanislaus Zynda for $75,000 the previous day. Beck had purchased the brewery for $30,000 "a few years ago," so she turned a nice little profit. Zynda had been manager of the Whatcom Brewery in Washington. The paper noted that the "young Salem attorney," Carey Martin, had brokered the deal.

A month later, on July 7th, 1903, L.F. Schmidt of Olympia announced he had purchased the Capital Brewery and incorporated the Salem Brewing Association.

New Corporation Takes the Place of the Old Capital City Brewery


The Salem Brewing Association, in corporated with a capital stock of $60,000, succeeds the old Capital Brewery of this city. The new company is composed of L.F. Schmidt, president; Stanislaus Zynda, secretary and manager; and E. Eckerlin of Salem, treasurer.

This company is strong financially, its officers are experienced men in the brewing business, and with the enterprising management and up-to-date methods which they will ensure the concern they will build up a large business at Salem, which is a natural distributing point for the whole of Western Oregon.

President Schmidt has been in the brewing business since 1875. He built the Centennial brewery at Butte, one of the largest in the West, and then with great pluck and determination went to the brew-master's school at Worms, an ancient city on the Rhine, where he took a full course, returning to his property in Montana. He located next at Portland and then went to the Sound, where he built the Whatcom and Olympia breweries and made a large and valuable property out of each of them, the value of their stock increasing four hundred per cent under his management, and the beer getting a reputation second to none on the Pacific Coast, and the output at Olympia reaching 5000 barrels in July and at Whatcom will go 1500 barrels in June. He had just added the Salem property and will now take the steps necessary to increase the capacity of the Capital Brewery to ten thousand barrels a year. With the fine barley and hops and the excellent water that this brewery is supplied with, there will be built up a reputation for Salem brew that will make this plant one of the most valuable in the West.

Among the improvements contemplated and fully provided for are doubling the capacity of the ice plant. The fine hygenic ice that is now made from distilled water will be made for family use, but a cheaper ide will be made for cold storage purposes. Malting will be conducted on a much larger scale. A side track will be constructed with the permission of the S.P. Co. to handle barley and malt by the car load. Two large rooms will be used for malting and a dry kiln will be built. The company will ship in seed for growing the special varieties of barley used for making the special brews of beer made only by these breweries. A bottling house will be built with a capacity for 150 dozen per day.
Interesting detail about distilled water for ice-making. The water perhaps wasn't so great here. (For more on Salem's water in 1909, see here.)

The company immediately started advertising that they were selling Olympia beer here.
As it will take some time to place our product in the market...we made arrangements to handle the Olympia and Bellingham brews...
For more on the history of Oly, see the Brewery Gems article here. (There's a difference on the acquisition date, 1902 v. 1903. We'll see what we can learn...the news articles seem pretty clear that it was 1903, however.)

Oly started selling the stubby in 1935. Curiously, Sick's had the Ranier brewery, which purchased the Salem Brewing Association in 1943 (see end of note here).

The Sound seemingly always owned Salem Beer! Unfortunately, Prohibition just messed everything up...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ale, Offal, and Adultery - Robert Burns and the Stool of Repentance

Robert Burns was born on January 25th, 1759. Saturday the Northwest St. Andrew's Society is holding a Burns' Night Dinner in his honor. If you've got a hankering for some haggis, this is your chance!

So here's some fine beer poetry from Burns in his honor. Prost!

From The Works of Robert Burns, vol 3 (p. 244)

Gude ale comes and gude ale goes;
Gude ale gars me sell my hose,
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon—
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon !

I HAD sax owsen in a pleugh,
And they drew a' weel eneugh:
I sell'd them a' just ane by ane—
Gude ale keeps the heart aboon 1
0 gude ale comes, &c.

Gude ale hauds me bare and busy,
Gars me moop wi' the servant hizzie,
Stand i' the stool when I hae dune—
Gude ale keeps the heart aboon!
0 gude ale comes, &c.

The bulk of this song is by Burns, although a line here and there belongs to an older strain of even less delicacy. The closing verse has reference to the old ecclesiastical mode of punishing a certain class of offences by placing the culprit on a "cutty stool" before the congregation in church. The air to which it is sung is very effective, and goes by the jolly title, "The bottom o' the punch-bowl."
A Dr. Adair of Harrowgate narrated an August 1787 trip with Burns (cited here, p. xxv) and eludicates the indelicate class of offenses for which the stool might be merited:
At Dunfermline we visited the ruined abbey, and the abbey-church, now consecrated to Presbyterian worship. Here I mounted the cutty stool, or stool of repentance, assuming the character of a penitent for fornication; while Burns from the pulpit addressed to me a ludicrous reproof and exhortation, parodied from that which had been delivered to himself In Ayrshire, where he had, he assured me, once been one of seven who mounted the seat of shame together.
So I think we know into what class of behavior "mooping" falls!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chinatown's "Bell Tower" - Brothel or just False Alarm?

In his piece on Chinatown, Ben Maxwell referenced a brothel called the "Bell Tower."1
The east side of Liberty Street between Court and State was a Chinese settlement of evil repute. Bell Tower, a bawdy house with very sinister reputation was located there as was another place or two with similar reputation but catering to Oriental patronage. A Chinese prostitute was stabbed to death in 1895. Other Chinese occupied rookeries on Ferry Street and tumble down structures at Commercial and Trade owned by Ed Hirsch.

Just what was going on in Salem's Chinatown in 1895? Records are few, extant histories are incomplete and sometimes deliberately vague in the name of propriety, and everything else is shrouded in old-timey nostalgia.

In addition to Maxwell, two other writers have taken a run at one part of the "bell tower" story. While we don't think Capital Taps can do any better with an elegant or satisfying narrative, we can at least do a better job of sharing some of the evidence. Our conclusions cannot be firm, but we think there's more to be wrung from the newspaper accounts!

What appears to be the primary evidence for the Bell Tower brothel is a horrible murder, a shocking episode of domestic violence. We'll see, though, that the scene of the crime was near the fire bell tower in the alley, and that there's no reference to a brothel by this name. At the same time, it appears to be common knowledge that the victim was a prostitute, working out of a boarding house. We'll also look at the ways different writers selected different points of emphasis.

The Salem Pioneer Cemetery lists the victim as Toyo Watanabe. Murdered on the 4th, she was buried on the 8th of October, 1895.

The news reports on the 5th and 6th are full of lurid detail. But sometimes they quiet down and the details seem reliable. On the 5th the Statesman mentioned that Toyo was studying English and apparently learning to write it. She spelled her name differently (even the spelling of English names in the paper wasn't entirely stable, however).
[Her] reception room had but little furniture in it, one or two chairs, a plain heating stove of cheap make, a large and expensive Saratoga trunk, locked, and a small parlour table, on which were some ordinary nick-nacks such as a woman of her class might keep about her, together with some large-sized, calendared writing paper on which was scrawled, in characters that spoke of a beginner in the art of writing, and no doubt made by the woman herself, who was known to be illiterate but anxious to learn this particular accomplishment. Such cramped and irregular writing as it was, it was difficult to decipher it...[we] read "Philli Coup H." "Hair Oil" "Meigle Toyo" "Miss Meigle Toyo," "$50," "3120," "210," "Heppbin," "Mrs. Willie Heppbin," and other matter, and besides this there were several telegrams, more or less back dated, addressed to William Heppbin, from Portland, Albany and elsewhere. (It will be remembered that this woman was involved in a police court scandal some months since with young Wm. Heppburn of this city, who has since gone east.)
This forcibly abandoned scene of domestic self-improvement and striving remains touching across the years.

The "police court scandal" had unfolded earlier in the year. Though the reports do not mention a name of any brothel, they are clear on Toyo's profession. In March, the Capital Journal reported
Young Heppburn, who is so infatuated with a Japanese woman in this city, with whom he ran away, is now involved in a peck of trouble. Last evening in a dispute with a Chinaman, in a Chinese restaurant, on Court street, Hepburn cut the former on the head with a teapot, cutting a serious gash...Young Hepburn appeared before Judge Edes this morning...
Two months later, he was in court again. From the Statesman:
Judge Edes yesterday announced his decision in the case against William Hepburn on preliminary hearing for larceny, accused by his quondam Japanese "lover." The judge decided to hold Hepburn to the grand jury...
The Capital Journal added that the charge was "larceny of a diamond ring and other jewelry from a Japanese courtesan."

Perhaps readers will offer better interpretations. But as I read it, the most likely interpretation is that Toyo was working as a prostitute in a Chinese boarding house. Prostitution might have supplemented her income or it could have been her primary job. One of her clients become possessive. Whether the man he attacked with the teapot was another client, was a pimp or other "protector," or perhaps was Toyo's actual lover, Hepburn saw him as a rival.

Whether Toyo saw Hepburn as more than a client is not clear. If they had indeed "run away" together, if she had herself written out her name as his wife, then perhaps there was more of a relationship. But it's also not difficult to imagine her writing her name at his request, part of services rendered, but perhaps fearful of his violence and jealousy.

(I suppose it's possible the writing was his, left after he murdered her - but this requires that all the news reports and the participants at the inquest conspiring to cover-up a murder. Possible, but not likely. In any case, speculating on the identity of the murderer is beyond the scope of this post!)

On October 5th, 1895 Statesman reported:


Mouye Toyo Yields Her Life to the Passionate Rage of a Chinese Lover

Not for six long years, or since William Hawkins shot Harvey Ogle to death in June, 1889, has this community thrilled to the shock of murder, until 7:30 o'clock last night, when the wild screams of a woman and shrill, prolonged notes of a police whistle gave out their startling alarm and summoned officers and citizens to the scene of an atrocious butchery that has no parallel in the criminal records of Salem and but few elsewhere.

Chief of Police Dilley and Officer Bert Savage, who were in the immediate neighborhood at once rushed to the house of Mouye Toyo, a Japanese courtesan on the east side of Liberty street about midway between State and Court streets...
The paper was not at all ambiguous or euphemistic about Toyo's occupation. Though the press also sensationalized the murder and played up the element of race, it's hard to think the talk of prostitution was a smear and wholly fabricated. We have documented a clear pattern of prostitution in downtown Salem from 1893 to 1912, and the rhetoric of the newspaper writers suggests they expected readers to accept it as a matter of course. It was normal, though regretted and ostensibly not part of polite society; but it was not exceptional.

Here is the east side of Liberty, the block bounded by Liberty, State, High, and Court streets in the 1895 Sanborn map (click on it for a larger view). Several houses are labeled "Chinese" and you can see the fire bell structure in the center of the block on the alley. Note also the stables downtown (great photo here) where the Grand Theater would be built in 1900. Just off-map is a large chicken coop!

Here's a detail of the fire bell ("drive under" it says!) and of the houses immediately to the west, fronting Liberty. This is essentially where the Metropolitan and Engleberg Antiques are located, and the bell on the alley directly behind.

I believe the house furthest west is the same house shown in the newspaper, though the footprints are different, with the paper's diagram being more schematic than to scale. (North is also to the right rather than up.)

Below the "back yard" portion of the diagram are the words "bell tower." I believe Maxwell construed this as a caption, identifying the name of the brothel, rather than as a something merely locating the tower in the alley behind the back yard. (He also called Toyo a "Chinese prostitute" and all the evidence clearly shows she is Japanese - this points to what I assume is Maxwell's habit of writing from memory rather than notes, and stressing the narrative hook over strict historical detail.2)

It's possible, of course, that the house was called the "bell tower" brothel, named in popular talk for its proximity to the fire bell, but that name is nowhere used in the body of the news articles. Not in the news pieces about the murder, not in the inquest articles, and not in the burial notice. With the lurid details the articles do include (and even embellish in some instances!) you'd think they'd include this detail if it was significant.

Over the years writers have been skittish about the extent of prostitution downtown. Certainly, the history of Peppermint Flat has been neglected. Writing in the Statesman in January 2004, Capi Lynn appears to deemphasize the possibility that the murder victim was a prostitute.
Years ago, when helping renovate Pioneer Cemetery, [a researcher] asked a long-time caretaker if he knew any details of Watanabe's life.

"Maybe she was a `business' woman," the man said.

Some reports referred to Watanabe as a courtesan. Others suggested that she might have been married.
The newspapers were full of claims that she was a prostitute!

A decade earlier, writing in the Japanese Discovery of Salem, Oregon, volumes 7 and 8 (summer 1992 and summer 1993), Barry Duell devoted much research and several pages to the case and never once mentions prostitution. Since he is writing about sister-city type exchanges and relations, it is not surprising that he might want to play down anything touching on vice. But the length of his omission is remarkable nonetheless, as he even quotes and footnotes the same news articles cited here.

Perhaps in another post we can discuss the possible identity of the killer (who was never found) and the ways the Salem media represented Chinatown and its "Celestials." Duell does discuss this in some depth, and CT may not have anything to add, however. We'll just add that the episode shows Chinatown as a lively border zone where Anglo, Japanese, and Chinese mixed and traded - and killed.

1Though this is quoted from the Salem Online History article, "Salem's Chinese Americans," the passage is from Ben Maxwell's article, "The Chinese in Salem", published in Historic Marion County, volume 7, 1961, pp. 9-15. While the online article credits Maxwell at the end as a reference, the article is in fact mostly just long stretches of quotation. It and other similar instances of pastiche should be revised to identify the long quotes, reformatted as republication, or rewritten as new work.

2We are aware that CT has the opposite problem! Drilling into perhaps an overabundance of detail at the expense of a good story. Such is life...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Beer Poetry for a Birth Day: Stafford Considers Capote

William Stafford was born on January 17th, 1914. Toast the birth day of one of Oregon's finest!

It seems like a good time for another installment of beer poetry! (Tea Party Bookshop is hosting a celebration and reading from 2pm - 4pm on Sunday.)

Browsing his poems with drink in mind (and in hand!), I'd say he thought about coffee far more often than beer. Perhaps he didn't drink alcohol. Neither eating nor drinking provided much of his imagery, however. It didn't seem to be a way he related to the world or to other people.

I did find one poem that uses fermentation as a metaphor, and I'm certain he was thinking of grain, not grape. (Needless to say, this is not very representative of Stafford's poetry.)

In 1959 Truman Capote saw this notice in the New York Times:
Wealthy Farmer, 3 of Family Slain

A wealthy wheat farmer, his wife and their two young children were found shot to death today in their home. They had been killed by shotgun blasts at close range after being bound and gagged....

Capote spent four years working on a book about the murders, In Cold Blood. Harper Lee was his assistant.

A few years after the book came out, Stafford wrote a poem.
Holcomb, Kansas

The city man got dust on his shoes and carried
a box of dirt back to his apartment.
He joined the killers in jail and saw things
their way. He visited the scene of the crime
and backed people against the wall with his typewriter
and watched them squirm. He saw how it was.
And they - they saw how it was: he was
a young man who had wandered onto the farm
and begun to badger the homefolk.
So they told him stories for weeks while he
fermented the facts in his little notebook.

Now the wide country has gone sober again.
The river talks all through the night, proving
its gravel. The valley climbs back into its hammock
below the mountains and becomes again only what
it is: night lights on farms make little blue domes
above them, bright pools for the stars; again
people can visit each other, talk easily,
deal with real killers only when they come.

I find it an odd poem, and I don't know what to make of it - but that's perhaps why it's interesting to me. Stafford was born, raised, and educated in Kansas. I feel like I'm supposed to read him and the poem in solidarity with the "homefolk" and against the "city man."

Stafford also seems to distrust the product of fermentation - Truman Capote, the "homefolk", all of them are getting a little carried away, "sophisticated" in a use we don't see much any more - even though it's hard not to think that he himself fermented experience in his own notebooks, journals, and poems. As I read it, the poem quivers with more than a little ambivalence about creativity and the thefts or invasions it might entail when raw experience is fermented by someone else into art. Even though I feel the poem pushing for it, I can't maintain straight up some alignment of Stafford-homefolk-good and Capote-city man-bad.

Does anyone have a different reading?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not in my Neighborhood: Downtown Tries to Fend off "Ill Fame" and "Moral Defamation," 1893

Sanitation and prostitution were long-time problems, not limited to the typhoid scare of 1909 or peppermint flat between 1900 - 1910. They also tapped into fears and anxieties. In 1893 almost two decades earlier, managing dirt and disorder, whether represented by the raw sewage variety, or by the metaphorical and menacing "other," was also top of mind. Two episodes that year show intense interest in drawing a line between clean and dirty society. Both show that the line was generally difficult to draw and more than a little fuzzy.

Encroachment of Houses of Ill Fame on a Business Block

The business block just north of Hotel Willamette now possesses a full-fledged red-windowed bawdy house. This is an insult to hitherto respectable business block in Salem.

Looking out of the hotel dining room and staring people in the face is a low dive. Ladies passing on the street are apt to be brushed or jostled by the women on the street. The home is rented by some one in Portland and is owned by the Hirsch estate of that city. A window as been draped in red to catch attention from State street.

The place formerly had better tenants but was vacant six months.

There should be a vigorous protest form all who live in that block.

The next day a quasi-editorial note appeared.

Bawdy Houses Forcing Their Way Towards Commercial Street

No action has been taken so far to remove the house of ill fame from opposite the Hotel Willamette. It is an injury to that property and an injury to the entire business interest of the city.

The city authorities should consider this matter at once. The city police should be ordered by the mayor or by the city council to raid the house that has recently been opened in the same block with Ladd & Bush bank and other prominent business houses of the Capital city of Oregon.

THE JOURNAL wishes to sound a warning against this encroachment by houses of prostitution upon the best business blocks in the city. Such things cannot be tolerated across the street from our only first-class hotel, and in the block with our principal bank and leading business house. The disreputable office should be confined to the territory it now occupies and wiped out if that is possible. If that cancer is allowed to spread it will take its next step into Commercial street. THE JOURNAL considers it the duty of police and magistrates to use all their power and authority to drive out this vile traffic before it becomes established and thus save our moral defamation and injury to property.

It is not necessary to call names in this matter. A newspaper is not a public prosecutor, nor defamer of individuals. It is not necessary to state that a Salem business man in good society pays the rent for these women. The facts are not hard to get at. But the city government should act.

Later that fall, attention turned to Chinatown. The view of Chinatown is mostly appalling, and yet nativist rhetoric was hardly atypical then and still sometimes echoes today. Nevertheless, the problem of raw sewage was real, and was a problem of infrastructure, not merely of assimilation or respect for cultural differences.

The Authorities Gently Reminded of Filthy Chinatown

A sure way to spoil an appetite for several meals ahead is a trip through the alley in the rear of the China dens on Liberty street.

The foul smell arising from the carcasses dumped into this alley, is only equaled by the stench that emanates from the back doors of the row of dens that front on Liberty and State streets.

If it is true that this race of people live on dead cats, rats, etc., the den must now have on hand a surplus stock in that line. In this alley near the tower of the fire bell, which they are now using as a dumping ground for their surplus edibles, lie a number of putrid carcasses that give rise to an oder that would do credit to a soap factory.

The writer observed in this alley, through the sense of sight, emphasized by that of smell in two dead cats, one that has laid for many days and another that is swollen to immense proportions, just nearing the ripening stage, and if not removed will thicken the atmosphere around with its odor in a day or two.

In this same locality lies a decomposing rat that contributes its share to excite the olfactory nerves, and to this is added the fragrance of a dead chicken and odor arising from bones of meat that are dumped into the alley with more or less flesh on them. The idea one gets of Chinese life at their backdoor is anything but exalted and the closer one gets to their dens the more nauseating the smell.

There is one place on Liberty street where they never take the trouble to carry the slop pails to the back door, but empty it out a at [sic] side window where stands a pool of their filth which is very unsightly as well as deleterious to the sanitary conditions of the surroundings.

The white residents in the neighborhood of Chinatown are beginning to complain, and they as well as the entire population of the city should be protected against the filthy habits of these uncanny people.

That part of the city known as Chinatown, centrally located in the Capital City, is a fruitful source of disease and moral degredation [sic] and is becoming a menace to those ow[n]ing property or doing business in that vicinity. Within easy stone throw are three Chinese or Japanese houses of prostitution besides one conducted by American demi monde.

Chinatown should be renovated, forcing the denizens to conform to sanitary laws as well as moral laws or that hole should be depopulated.

For more on Chinatown, see the rehash of Ben Maxwell's article. More on Salem's multiculturalism here.

On Wednesday, January 20th, as part of honoring the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, at the Library will be a showing of the film, The Ku Klux Klan in Oregon 1920-1923.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gilgamesh Brewing and Citrusy Hops

What's up with that? and Beervana beat me to it, so go check out what they have to say!

Turner seems an unlikely place to celebrate the cradle of civilization, so it's exciting to note that this weekend marked something of a coming out party for a new brewery, Gilgamesh Brewing!

The line-up hits CT's core interests as well as core fears: Citrusy hopping and heroic, stunt beers.

The thing is, the combinations are intriguing enough that they could be home runs. Mint isn't that far from hop, and so while Chocolate Mint Stout sounds more like a Girl Scout cookie than a beer to me, I am at the same time totally willing to suspend my disbelief and harbor not-so-secret hopes for some "wow."

Earl Grey tea is flavored with the citrus bergamot, and CT loves them amarillo and other citrusy hops, and while my basketball loving friends tell me Black Mamba Ale sounds too much like a Kobe homage out here in Blazerland, the beer itself might be terrific. The combos are unexpected and appear thoughtful, and they might be great.

We look forward to learning and tasting more!

Also, while on the topic of citrusy hops, the news that Widmer had to ditch a batch of beer because of a power outage brought the new Deadlift to our attention. It's got the same Nelson Sauvin (and possibly also Summit) hops of the Drifter Pale Ale, and an imperial IPA with that citrusy hopping profile sounds terrifically appetizing for winter.

(Though in the spring I found Drifter a little too sweet, the malt balance grew on me in the cooler and darker fall, and it has wormed its way into CT's heart as an essential "plan B" backup brew - which means that since Salem's selection too often doesn't permit plan A, I enjoyed Drifter more often than any other beer in 2009 - and it would be my beer of the year for 2009!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Steaming Manure Piles" and the Typhoid Scare of Christmas 1909

Remember Portland's "boil water" notice around Thanksgiving? As far as we know, no one got sick.

But right before Christmas in 1909, Salemites were sick, and it was clear that Salem had a sanitation problem.

Almost a year earlier, in January 1909 during his address to the Legislature, Governor Chamberlain gave prominence to the question of "water supply for state institutions."
As the population of the State increases, that of the charitable, penal, and reformatory institutions increases in the same proportion. The question of a more ample and purer water supply is becoming a vital one, and particularly with reference to the insane asylum. The health of the unfortunates confined in this institution must suffer unless something is done in the very near future to relieve the conditions as to water, for an epidemic of typhoid fever and other diseases always is imminent under present conditions.

He didn't have to wait very long. By December the paper was full of reports of bad water.



A number of leading physicians took issue with Dr. W. B. Morse yesterday as to his statements made in Saturday morning's Statesman and a number of emphatic declarations were made to the effect that the present siege of typhoid fever in this city is directly traceable to the water.

"Boil the water. Take all necessary precautions to this effect. As long as this is not done there will be typhoid in the city." Such is the substance of statements made by a large number of physicians.

One physician declared "There are more cases of typhoid in Salem just at present than there are flies"...

Up to late yesterday afternoon 159 cases of typhoid fever have been reported to City Health Officer Dr. O. B. Miles...These 159 cases include all those who have been ill of the disease during the past year. This number does not indicate that there are that many ill at the present time.

Two days later, city council had met and acted.

Council Allows Sanitary Inspector's Salary - Conditions Become Such that Prompt Action and Speedy Clean-up in Every Section is Unecessary Filth and Garbage Said To be Largely Responsible for Disease Which Stet Prevelent Here [this subhead appears to have missed an entire editorial stage!]

At last awakening to the fact that many of the alleys of the city are disease ridden with filth, that steaming manure piles in back yards are a menace to life, and that tepid streams wherein dump the garbage of a hundred homes are carrying with them the fate of men, women and children, the city council agreed last evening to appoint a sanitary inspector and to fall in line with a campaign to clean the city and rid Salem of the infection which is all to prevalent....[again, the editor was AWOL!]

In speaking of the situation, Dr. W. B. Morse, member of the state board of health, said yesterday..."I have examined in this town privy vaults which drain into ditches and that are rotten with filth. I will feel safe in asserting that there is not a stream in this town but is carrying typhoid infection through the city into the river."

The quotes might seem a little hysterical perhaps, but people were dying, and 159 cases was more than 1% of Salem's population. By comparison, that would be closer to 2000 cases today.

Moreover, the problem with raw sewage, which was draining directly or indirectly into the Willamette, was far from trivial. In some cases Salemites were using the creeks directly as sewers; in others groundwater seeping through outhouses would filter into creeks. Livestock, too, might be the source of contaminants. Since the drinking water was drained from a submerged and hardly filtered "crib" under Minto Island*, the drinking water was neither clean nor safe.

Safe drinking water is a problem for all developing cities, of course. Maybe you've read The Ghost Map, about a London cholera epidemic in 1854. Closer to home, Portland had started using mountain water from the Bull Run Watershed in 1895. According to the City of Portland,
Within two years the City's health officer documented a phenomenal decrease in the number of cases of typhoid fever and the lowest death rate on record at the time.
It's not surprising that in the midst of Salem's typhoid epidemic there was talk of "pure mountain water."
T. B. Kay, president of the Board of Trade, addressed the council on the matter of sanitation in the city....He advised that as it will take some time to bring mountain water into the city the present supply though be put through a system of filtration before it was turned into the city mains. He cited that Oregon City takes its water supply from the Willamette, but filters the water and the result is that the water is as pure if not purer than that of the Bull Run water used [in Portland? - a line or more is missing]

Beer, of course, was safer than tap water. Before fermentation, the solution of grain-derived fermentables is boiled with hops. This kills most bacteria. Even so, contaminated water might contain off-flavors or aromas - this is one reason why mountain water was said to be especially "sweet." And given Lachmund's understanding of this, his steadfast opposition to improved water is not easy to understand. So it wasn't until 1937 that Salem got its mountain water and an enduring respite from boiling.

* The photo caption says the images are circa 1935, but they're clearly earlier than that, and Mauldin identifies them in his book as from 1898. Surely this is right.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Early Salem Beer Press: 1866 Notice of Westacott's Ale

As a pleasant coda to the Minto/Westacott story, here's an unexpected find: What we believe is the first notice of Westacott's brewery, from June 1866, just one year after the civil war ended and seven after statehood:
THE ALE BREWERY - Very few of our citizens are aware of the many improvements being slowly but constantly added to the city. It will be news to most of our readers to learn that Westacott & Co. have recently erected and just put in operation an Ale brewery, a short distance above town, where the best quantity of pure malt dale may be had for a reasonable price. We have tried some of the ale made at the brewery, and for all the uses of a malt liquor we believe it to be far superior to any imported article, for the reason that it is a pure article, and entirely free from the drugs which make up most of the other ales generally sold.
There are lots of interesting things going on in this!

First, the ongoing Salem theme that its citizens aren't aware of the good things going on in the city. Seems to me that's a perennial theme among Salem bloggers!

More specific to beer is the implied denigration of Sam Adolph's beer locally (est 1862) and of "imported articles" (probably from Portland). Third is the pervasiveness of adulterated foods and the claim that other beers are "drugged" - though of course we also have to allow for some newspaperly exaggeration. Fourth, is the notion that the base of Mission street was "above" town. The brewery was upstream. This was 12 years before Bush House was built in 1878, and the Salem settlement was concentrated north of Pringle Creek, several blocks from Mission. The Willamette's course also changed in the 1881 flood (Minto & Brown had islands up to this point), and what we call the slough today was still, I believe, connected to the main stem in 1866.

Also interesting is that Lewis (Maxwell gives Louis, who is a son) Westacott's obituaries omit mention of his brewery.

And as a bonus to the bonus, just above the beer note, is this notice, which gives a little more flavor for early Salem:
MATHENY'S WHARF - We made a visit on Saturday last to the new wharf now in course of construction at the foot of Trade street. The wharf will front 170 [?] feet on the river, with a depth of fifty feet the whole length. It will run back on Trade street 362 feet, including the two-story warehouse. The warehouse in front will be 40 [?] feet front by 80 feet deep and one story in height. The warehouse for general storage, in the rear, is 40 [?] by 35 [?] feet, and two stories high, and will be connected with the water front by railway and cars. The whole improvement is to be of the most substantial character, the front wall being ten feet at the bottom, narrowing to four at the height of fourteen feet, and of solid masonry. It will cost from seven to eight thousand dollars, and will be a great credit not only to the enterprise of Mr. Matheny, but also to the Capital city, and a valuable improvement.
Matheny, of course, is the family after whom the Wheatland ferry boats have been named. This Salem Matheny is Jasper, while the Wheatland one is his father, Daniel.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Louis Lachmund - Hops Man, Politician, Iceman

Like T. A. Livesley, Louis Lachmund was a hops dealer with a large reach. He came out west for hops, became mayor, state Senator, and was President of the Capital Ice and Cold Storage Company for 20 years. Though Lachmund also ended up in a big house, unlike Livesley he didn't build it, and today there are no Salem landmarks associated with his name.

Lachmund first came into view here in the Statesman year-end review of 1902, published on January 1, 1903.

A better view comes from the potted biography in Oregon Voter, March 1, 1919:
An unusual combination of ardent enthusiasm and canny conservatism, an impetuous speaker who is slow to enter a conflict but once in it compresses positive convictions into a few thunderous exclamations, the meaning of which is not a whit obscured by their unconventional wording or picturesque delivery—such is the impression made by Salem's new senator. Louis Lachmund is a man of unusual success in his private undertakings and along with his business career has taken such an active part in public affairs that he brings to the legislature an experience which with his forceful personality is bound to make him an influential and effective member.

Born 49 years ago last Sunday in New York City; out of school when only twelve years old; a newsboy and office boy; bank clerk and bookkeeper until 19 and at 20 sent to the Pacific Coast on the responsible mission of opening a branch office in Puyallup, Washington, for a big hop brokerage firm — such was his start. In 1895, when 25 years old, he opened up a hop brokerage agency of his own in Salem, and about ten years later embarked in the hop growing business on his own account, soon adding fruit growing to his farming venture. He fought prohibition to the last ditch, but had seen the handwriting on the wall in time to center on fruit culture, and today operates 270 acres of his own land in producing and marketing prunes peaches, pears and English walnuts. He has 170 acres in prunes alone, being one of the large prune producers in the Pacific Northwest. While he has not entirely abandoned dealing in hops he now gives that business little attention.

When the fruit juice industry was first established Lachmund took an active part in encouraging and fostering it, and in connection with his extensive farming activities he also is manager of the Green Fruit Department of the Pheasant Northwest Products Co., whose plants in Salem should be visited by every member of the legislature who wants to be posted on how a new industry has been developed to the point that it affords a market for the specialized fruit and berry products of the Willamette Valley and is instrumental in extending their use into every part of the world, especially in the form of loganberry juice.

In local civic affairs Lachmund's career has been stormy but consistently for the industrial progress of Salem. He served as councilman and mayor and many controversies raged around his policies. He has been exceedingly active in the commercial club, is a Mason, an Elk (Past Exalted Ruler) and a Cherrian. He is married and has a home in Salem as well as on his large fruit farm in Mission Bottom.
One of the biggest controversies involved Salem's water source. Lachmund foiled the City's first attempt to stop using water from the increasingly polluted Willamette River.

According to Frank Mauldin, in his book, Sweet Mountain Water: The Story of Salem, Oregon's Struggle to Tap Mt. Jefferson Water and Protect the North Santiam River, in 1910 the City formed the Mountain Water Committee to explore alternatives to Willamette River water. They recommended buying the Salem Water Company and connecting to the Santiam River, but a change in administration torpedoed the effort. In 1911 Louis Lachmund took office as Mayor and in May vetoed the bond sale to buy the company. Since he would know that better water would make better beer, it's not easy to understand why he killed the project outright instead of trying to modify or otherwise improve it. It was not a popular decision.

In an editorial the day after the veto, the Statesman wrote
Mayor Lachmund wrote the word FAILURE in large letters across the title to his administration last evening, when he handed in his veto of the water ordinance, and put Salem in the position of standing before the whole state as a mossbank town, unwilling to take up the reasonable burdens of a vigorous and progressive city.
The Capital Journal added
All efforts to get the mayor into conference with progressive and disinterested property owners who have staked their fortunes on the improvement of the city...were unavailing. His headquarters were in the back room of the cigar store and all who wanted to see him had to go there.

Lachmund did not remain Mayor very long. In the primary of 1912, Dr. B. L. Steeves was elected mayor outright, with 62% of the vote. As the incumbent, Lachmund got only 26%.

In part because of Lachmund, it took another quarter century to get clean water. In August 1935, the City purchased the water company and in October 1937 Santiam water from Stayton Island begin flowing in Salem taps.

Water wasn't his only controversy. Apparently hops contracts could be contentious and misunderstood, and Lachmund's business activities are visible in litigation and appellate court decisions. Perhaps hops futures were new and required litigation to define and settle. In a couple of cases, however, Lachmund looks more like a difficult businessman. This was the end of the gilded age, of course, and perhaps the controversies were more typical than exceptional.

Lachman's obituaries revise slightly some of the details in the Oregon Voter biography. Born in 1870 he joined Horst Brothers in 1889 and the next year was sent to Puyallup and then on to Yakima. In 1895 he was appointed the General Manager of Horst Bros west coast operations.

In Capital Taps' first visit to the Supreme Court, we see in Roehm v. Horst, 178 U.S. 1 (1900), that Horst Bros was a New York firm and was dissolved in 1896 upon the retirement of Paul R.G. Horst. The other brothers continued the business under the same name. It appears, then, that Paul R.G. Horst invested in a new firm, Horst Lachmund Company, headquartered in Salem. According to the Acts of the Legislature of West Virginia (1897), it was incorporated in 1896:
HORST LACHMUND COMPANY, purchasing and selling hops and dealing In the same upon commission and receiving consignments therefor; principal office, Salem, Oregon; charter issued April 9, 1896; expires July 1, 1898; corporators, Paul R. G. Horst, New York City; Louis Lachmund, North Yakima, Washington ; John L. Edson, Metuchen, N. J.; Henry Z. Schocke, Hoboken, N. J. ; Otto Von Schrenk, New York City; capital subscribed, $1,000.00; amount paid in,$500.00; capital authorized, $10,000; par value shares, $100.00.
I suppose a Virginia corporation is something like "a Delaware corporation." The company was active all over the west coast, including California, and in 1897 the California Supreme Court (Brewer v. Horst-Lachmund. Co. (1900) 127 Cal. 643, 60 Pac. 418) found that telegraph communications could reliably establish a contract. Lachmund's firm claimed they did not and tried not to buy hops they'd agreed to buy in a telegraph exchange. (The case was significant enough to merit a footnote in the Cambridge History of Law in America!)

And in Lachmund v. Lope Sing, 54 Or 106, 111, 102 Pac 598 (1909), Lachmund's firm appears heartlessly to have refused delivery of hops that graded lower than the contract, and instead of paying a lesser price for the lesser hops, tried to foreclose on the hops ranch. The courts were not amused.

There's a couple of other appellate cases out there, and if CT has any lawyerly readers with an interest in history, perhaps you'll be able to tease out more significance than I. And if this many cases made it to higher courts, the lower courts must be full of Lachmund litigation!

The legal record, in any event, shows the reach and size of the hops business. It also shows the volatility of hops pricing and how easy it was for the movement in hops prices to make a futures contract, presumably agreed upon at first with fair market pricing, in time skew deeply to one side's advantage. (Hops derivatives and hops hedge fund weren't around yet!)

The Polk directories show Lachmund moving twice before 1917. His third house, into which he moved shortly before the 1917 directory was compiled, is still standing, though no longer at the original site of 925 Court street. The Court street address was in the fashionable neighborhood near the Capitol, called "piety hill" by some. A son of Abigail Scott Duniway had built the house.

Here's a view of the house in situ at 925 Court street, just in front of the Capitol. It sat in the footprint of today's fountain or slightly to the east of it. Over at SHINE they've got a nice little piece on the house and its moves. It was on the Willamette University campus and was the home of its President for a while. Today it is on State street near 25th.

In this detail map of the original site, with Court street running through the middle and Summer and Capitol on the sides, you can see the original east-west orientation of the second Capitol, which when it was rebuilt after the 1935 fire rotated 90 degrees and became a north-south orientation. The centerline of the Capitol was also moved a little to the west to be in line with Summer street rather than with the alley between Summer and Capitol streets.

Later, Lachmund owned the big Spanish Colonial on Gaiety Hill, the Jarman house, right by the library. Here are three more views of it. (His obituaries called it "Fry Hill," after Daniel Fry's
, rather than Gaiety Hill.) Obviously, he was successful.

Lachmund died on October 15th, 1943, the same day Sick's Brewing Company announced the purchase of the Salem Brewing Association (the entity the Capital Brewery had become). Lachmund's obituaries graciously noted his public service, especially his work on the Parole Board and on integrating parolees back into society. He was buried in City View Cemetery.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Madam McGinnis in the Census - decade by decade

Happy New Year!

With the symbolic roll-over from 2009 to 2010, from the aughts to the teens, and to get ready for the 2010 census, it seemed like a good time to visit the census records for Hattie McGinnis. Like the pioneers before her, she also came west, and her movements recorded at ten year intervals tell a story of mobility and seeking opportunity - and probably also of escaping the past.

Oh, I'd love to have a photo of Madam McGinnis! But we haven't found one yet.

Though the records are not entirely consistent, they mostly agree that she was born in Ohio in the 1840s. She is first visible in the 1880 census, and she and James McGinnis show up in Arkansas. They didn't make an obvious appearance in the 1890 census.

But by 1900, we have a more-or-less complete entry. Hattie had moved to Peppermint Flat in Salem. She was listed without James, and the residents of her brothel at 142 Ferry were all enumerated: Pauline Phillips, age 23; Ida Bunell, 26; and Dora Mason, 27. Down the street, at 122 Ferry, Emma Thomas and Ruth Doe were also listed. (Map shows south side of Ferry between Liberty and High.)

Pauline Phillips killed herself not long after the census. According to the paper, her family, the Reisners, lived in Denver, but they weren't obvious in the census.

In 1910, again only Hattie was listed in the census. Her brothel was larger: Olive Ritchie, age 25; Pearl Vivian, 30; Gladys Hayes, 24; and Madge Kelley, 20. Each of the ladies declined to give their place of birth, and instead just listed the United States. Since they were all likely using pseudonyms, the vagueness is not surprising. In the household were also two servants: Un Toy, age 50, from China; and K. Samoti, 26, from Japan.

In 1910 the Oregon Supreme Court had upheld McGinnis' conviction, and I have not yet determined whether she left town. She disappears from the Polk directories. In any event, by the time that Governor West had "cleansed" the district in 1912, she must have left.

In 1920 Hattie is reunited with James and they appear in San Diego. We'll have to learn more about their activities in San Diego.

Finally, in 1930 there is a James McGinnis in prison in San Diego. No Hattie. More work is necessary to determine if this is the same James McGinnis.

So the census - the staple of genealogical researchers everywhere! - gives us at least an outline of a narrative.

Mission Mill and the Marion County Historical Society today officially merge. Hopefully this will be the start of something "absolutely" wonderful. CT's wish for the new year? That MCHS finds the means to start publishing more and to put their archives online. There's no reason old issues and articles shouldn't be indexed, online, and more easily available! One of our New Year's toasts is to the new, combined entity. Prost!