HeadlinesBy Finn J.D. John

When the story first hit the newspapers, it all seemed very clear and simple:
An Albina man got drunk and beat up his wife. Her brother went looking for him to teach him a lesson, and brought along a friend who happened to be a police officer. The wifebeater, tracked down at a local saloon, came out shooting, and moments later the innocent, luckless policeman lay dying on the sidewalk as the wife-beating murderer fled into the night.
For newspaper readers on the morning of Dec. 19, 1907, it was like a Vaudeville stage tragedy come to life. There was a good guy – brave, valiant Joseph P. Sivener, on a mission to deliver a much-deserved thrashing to his no-good, wife-beating brother-in-law; a bad guy – Melville Bradley, the aforementioned brother-in-law, whose surly, shifty-eyed mugshot appeared next to the story in the paper; the fair damsel – poor, battered Mrs. Bradley; and an innocent victim: the poor policeman, who was just doing his job when sudden and undeserved death came and bore him away from his devastated wife and four tiny children.

Orlando MurrayBy Finn JD John

Early in November 1906, 21-year-old Orlando Murray went to pay a call on a 22-year-old acquaintance named Lincoln C. Whitney. The main subject of their conversation was to be Murray’s 16-year-old sister, Mary. Secondary topics for the two men’s tete-a-tete included wedding bells and a baby shower – not necessarily in that order – and, last but not least, a .38-caliber revolver.
The conversation did not go well.
Whitney had met Mary when she’d traveled from her Portland home to Hubbard, where Whitney lived, to work in the hop fields for a week. Whitney had, Orlando Murray said (and, later, testified), sweet-talked the cute young out-of-towner into bed with fair promises of marriage, then disappeared as thoroughly as he could. Meanwhile, several weeks after their brief liaison, Mary suddenly found herself in a very awkward position.

Airships ar ExpoBy Finn J.D. John
In 1904, a sharp-eyed 61-year-old hustler named Lafe Pence stepped off the train in downtown Portland for a meeting of the National Mining Congress.
The conference he was attending has been long forgotten. But had the group chosen Seattle or Bakersfield to hold it, the very shape of the hills in Portland would be different today.
Pence had the kind of colorful Western background that you’d expect in a man who sets out to literally move mountains.

Falling SchoolBy Finn J.D. John
For the criminally minded Oregonian of yore, dynamite had much to recommend it. It was relatively easy to buy the stuff, surprisingly easy to steal it from a construction depot, and almost shockingly simple to brew up at home using a few simple, innocuous ingredients from the local drugstore.
Furthermore, when used in a criminal enterprise, dynamite was like a first-class ticket to the front page of the local papers. A lot of crooks really enjoyed the ensuing notoriety.

Whale killersBy Finn J.D. John
In August 1949, some residents in the small town of St. Helens started noticing a very unpleasant smell coming from a neighbor’s orchard.
Upon investigation, police easily found the source: a large, oddly-shaped, obviously home-built galvanized steel tank, about 13 feet long and six feet wide, with great marks of rust and corrosion all over it.
Inside it, they found a dead whale.



Burkhart airplaneBy Finn J.D. John
In January of 1910, deep in the bowels of an old, obscure building at 10th and Everett in Portland, Albany natives Johnny Burkhart and “General Willie” Crawford were hard at work on a secret project when they heard a knock on the door.
They waited for the knocker to go away. He did not. The knocking grew more insistent. Finally, unable to ignore it any longer, Johnny and Willie opened the door.
Their visitor was a newspaper reporter. Apparently their secret project wasn’t as secret as they’d thought. Somebody had told somebody, and this newsman had come to see for himself.

Miller on a unicycleBy Finn J.D. John

Many people today still think of bicycles as toys for children or for highly specialized hobbyists and exercise buffs — like fencing foils. Others think of them as indispensable but unexciting tools for modern life. But for most of us, it’s hard to imagine the bicycle as a cutting-edge modern wonder.
But in the early 1870s, that’s just what bicycles were: fast, exciting, dangerous things that could make an ordinary human fly like the wind.

AeroplaneBy Finn J.D. John
On June 8, 1912, the streets and parapets of downtown Portland were thronged with about 50,000 people, craning their necks at the roof of the Multnomah Hotel. Atop the roof of the 10-story building, arranged at the end of a tiny 150-foot-long strip of overlapping 20-foot planks, stood one of the spindly box-kite-like contraptions that were still the state of the art in aircraft design.
They were there to watch something that had never been done before, anywhere, and it was about to happen right before their eyes

S.S. Great RepublicBy Finn J.D. John
If you had been an expatriated American in the South American nation of Costa Rica in the early 1880s, you might have run across a fellow American named Thomas Doig. Perhaps you might have met him at a saloon, or maybe at a dinner party someplace.
You’d soon learn your new friend was a bit of a V.I.P. In fact, he was the top admiral of the Costa Rican navy ... but he’d probably hasten to add that that was not as big a deal as it sounded. In fact, the Costa Rican navy had just one ship, a converted commercial vessel formerly known as the Pelican.

"Bunco" KelleyBy Finn J.D. John
In the shadowy world of late-1800s Portland waterfront folklore, there’s nobody who quite cuts the figure of a man named Joseph Kelley — better known by the nickname he carefully cultivated: Bunco Kelley.
Kelley was a crimp — that is, one of those tough waterfront characters involved in the trade of furnishing sailors, willing or not, to ship captains in need of a crew.
Kelley was also an easy and chronic liar with a real flair for a dramatic story — which means it’s often difficult to tell his fact from fiction.
In today’s article, we’ll explore the facts of Bunco Kelley’s life as best we are able to know them. Next week, we’ll turn to the spectacular legends that grew up around this unusually colorful bad guy.


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: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.