Civil War

Smithfield plaqueBy Finn J.D. John
Oregon in general, and rural southern Oregon in particular, has been referred to more than once as the “Dixie of the West Coast.”
So perhaps it’s not surprising that the only Confederate flag known to have waved in the northwestern quarter of the continental United States during the Civil War flew proudly over the Beaver State, for a few weeks in 1862.
Now, that “only flag” claim has to be qualified a bit. The entire northwest quarter is rather a large patch, and plenty of emigrant farmers, gold miners and ex-Army ruffians were sympathetic to the South’s cause; surely somebody, somewhere, hoisted the stars and bars over a shoddy Jackson County prospector’s cabin or loathsome San Francisco waterfront flophouse.

Douglas Cty CourthouseProbably not what you’re thinking

By Finn J.D. John
It was Christmas Day in 1866. Officially, the Civil War had been over for a year and a half. Unofficially, though, not everybody agreed that its outcome settled things ... especially in Douglas County, Oregon.
At the time, Douglas County was like a microcosm of the United States. There was a Republican majority in the more populous and powerful northern part of the state, which had voted itself into full control of county government, much to the fury of the resentful, disenfranchised Dixie-friendly majority in the south of the state.

Lou SouthworthBy Finn J.D. John

In middle-school history classes, most Oregonians learned that Oregon was a “free” state in the runup to the civil war.
The familiar map of slave states and free states was a source of some pride, since everyone today sees the ludicrous injustice of the slavery system.
But the map was wrong.
The new state of Oregon was, in fact, unique in the country. Black people in Oregon in 1859 were neither slaves nor free; they were simply illegal.

McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: Purchase copies online at: Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.