Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Murder and the Wobblies

Wobblies (members of the IWW) used street speaking as an effective tool of persuasion.  The corner of SW 6th and Stark was often crowded with transient workers during the "rainy season" who made up large, rowdy audiences for street speakers. University of Washington Library Special Collection.
            The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were a new kind of labor organization for the twentieth century.  After the harsh bloody fighting between labor and management in the 1880s and 1890s, it was time for a militant, confrontational group to take on the issues of the most oppressed workers in the country, women, children, transient workers and the unemployed. The racist, exclusionary policies of American labor unions of the nineteenth century had limited the power of labor and provided a divided front that could be easily sidetracked and defeated by management.  The IWW scrapped those old ideas and was an inclusionary group that organized across the lines of race and gender; anyone who identified as working class could become a Wobbly, as IWW members were known.
            The IWW represented only a small part of the working class, but their militant tactics of “cultural resistance,” use of popular music and slogans to get across their simple message of class consciousness and solidarity and their commitment to direct action made them highly visible.  Because of these tactics they became the most visible targets of anti-union feeling.   The IWW represented an important trend in the labor movement in Portland; pulling the lower levels of the working class to the left they helped labor leaders like Will Daly and Mayor Allen Rushlight to build power closer to the center of the political spectrum.  It was the alliance of the labor movement and the Progressive Party, symbolized by Daly’s career, which allowed them to create a highly organized labor movement in Portland.  Labor support helped William U’Ren, and other progressive leaders, push through the Oregon System and expand democracy to the working class.
            As the most visible and radical elements of the labor movement the IWW drew the attention and the anger of employers like a lightning rod.  Because of the power and organization of Portland’s Central Labor Council, even the most intransigent employers in Portland found it expedient to appear to be pro-union.  The radical IWW, who were even seen by average union members as too far to the left, made an easy target that the employers could hit repeatedly in an effort to drive a wedge between the upper levels of the working class and the lower levels.  The main tactic that employers used against labor was “divide and conquer.”  The employers were constantly pointing out the differences between the various elements of the working class and giving advantages to select groups, such as men with white skin as a way to keep the working people distrustful and competitive with each other.  It was a common practice for employers to use race as a wedge, often hiring Japanese, Hindu or Black workers as strikebreakers to keep the working class divided along racial lines.  A very clear example of this tactic is the 1910 strike at the St Johns Lumber Mill.  In February 1910 the lumber mill imported 200 Hindu workers as strike breakers, leading to several violent confrontations, the forcible expulsion of the Hindus from St Johns and an even more racially divided working class.
            Between 1910 and 1914 the labor movement in Portland reached the height of its power. With Oregon Federation of Labor president Will Daly as the city’s most popular commissioner and likely next mayor, it seemed as if the coalition of union members and small business owners that dominated the east side of Portland was on the verge of taking power.  The radical IWW saw that hope as a chance to pull things even further to the left and they capitalized on the opportunity by supporting a series of strikes and instituting a “free speech movement” in Portland.  Free Speech Movements were militant fights over public speaking laws in an effort to build IWW power and reduce the power of the city in which the fight was held.  Street speaking was the standard method that political activists and candidates had to get their message in front of voters in these days before TV and radio.  Most cities had limits on where and when such speaking was allowed.  IWW free speech fights were campaigns of civil disobedience against such restrictive laws.  Their usual tactic was to break the law openly and get their activists arrested in an effort to “fill the jails” and overwhelm the city.  Such fights had taken place all over the west by the time Portland’s turn came in 1913.
            Allen Rushlight, an eastside plumber, union supporter and progressive politician, was elected mayor in 1910 to replace Joseph Simon, the longtime leader of Oregon’s Republican Party Machine.  Simon, although he did a lot for the development of Portland as a city, had become the symbol of corrupt “ward politics” government and as such was as responsible as anyone for the adoption of the commission government that took over the city at the end of Rushlight’s term of office.  Rushlight, elected with high hopes by union members, proved a disappointment.  His progressive plans for the city were not achieved and he spent most of his time reacting to criticism and trying to suppress vice and the radicals of the IWW.  Rushlight like most of Portland’s mayors used the police force for political purposes: one of their most effective political uses was as a weapon of propaganda.  It was standard practice to use police raids for various crimes to divert public attention or to direct it into a specific channel.
Enoch Slover, Portland Police Chief was accused of being on the payroll of North End brothel owners.  He was always happy to use police raids to divert public attention.  In 1913 he tried to frame IWW organizer Gordon Napier for the murder of John A. Brown. Portland Police Historical Society.
            Enoch Slover, who served as chief of police for Rushlight’s entire term of office, became a symbol of the corrupt institution that the Portland Police Bureau had become.  Slover joined the Police Bureau in 1903 and distinguished himself as an officer during the Lewis & Clark Exposition, where his first beat was located.  He rose through the ranks quickly, promoted to sergeant before the end of 1903 and becoming Captain in 1905. Slover was accused of corruption and bribery many times in his career, the earliest recorded accusations against him came in 1904.  After serving as chief between 1911 and 1913, Slover intended to continue as a Police Captain, but he was fired from the Police Bureau for “conduct unbecoming a police officer.” Slover had been identified as the leader of a ring of corrupt cops who were on the payroll of brothel owners in the North End.  More than a dozen officers were fired at the beginning of Mayor H. Russell Albee’s term of office.  The mass firing was used as evidence that the Police Bureau had been cleaned up; once again Slover served a theatrical roll in a propaganda performance.
            All through the spring of 1913 the Wobblies were building power and agitating among the women workers who dominated the canning industry on the east side.  Mayor Rushlight and Chief Slover, responding to pressure from downtown merchants and eastside factory and mill owners, went after the IWW. The first propaganda police attack came when the wobblies were accused of killing John A. Brown, teamster foreman for the C.J. Cook Co.  The Cook Co. was one of the biggest excavation and demolition companies in the city and had been capitalizing on Portland’s growth as the crumbling old buildings downtown were replaced by new buildings.  The second propaganda attack against the wobblies came a few months later with the raids on the Monte Carlo Poolroom and the Fairmont Hotel, meeting places for homosexual men, and the resulting Greek Scandal.  The homosexual scandal, in the aftermath of the 1912 YMCA Scandal which created a strong anti-gay feeling in Portland, was used to harass and breed mistrust of immigrants and migrant workers, who made up a large percentage of IWW membership.
            The murder investigation, although unsuccessful, was used to discredit the wobblies and to try and discover the names of its members.  Murder was a typical weapon that was used against the IWW in two ways: some IWW organizers and members were murdered outright; others were framed for murder; either way effectively destroyed the leadership of the IWW. From the attempted frame up of IWW leadership for the murder of Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg in 1905 to the execution of Joe Hill for a murder he didn’t commit in 1914, frame ups were an effective weapon against the IWW.  In 1913 Chief Slover tried to frame Gordon Napier for murder.
            It started with an argument in the Elkhorn Café on NW 6th & Davis.  The café was next door to Wobblie Hall, the IWW headquarters and was frequented by IWW members as well as Teamsters and other union members.  Over the previous decade, as Portland unions fought employers on the issue of the “open shop” – a work place that allowed union members and non-union members as part of the workforce, conservative AFL unions such as the Teamsters and the International Longshore Association had grown more radical in their demands and methods and built solidarity with the IWW.  The “open shop” is a method that employers use to dilute the strength of unions and pit workers against each other – Portland unions and employers have still never settled this issue conclusively.  The Elkhorn was a place that you could always find support for the “Revolution.”  It is curious that John A. Brown, foreman for the C.J. Cook Co. and an outspoken opponent of unions would stop there for a drink.
            He did just that on the evening of March 24, 1913.  His companion on that occasion was Alfred Carter, a man who claimed to be a close friend of Brown’s.  Carter, who also worked for C.J. Cook on the excavation for the new Pittock Building, claimed that he and Brown stopped in at the Elkhorn for a couple of drinks after work and that he got into an argument with wobbly Gordon Napier.  According to Carter, Napier left the café and when Carter and Brown came out he led a group of wobblies who attacked them on the sidewalk.  During the fight Brown received a blow, possibly from a heavy salt cellar, which fractured his skull and killed him the next day.  Napier and Carter both got away after the fight, most likely with help from the wobblies, but several IWW members were arrested.  None of them would admit anything and stayed in jail rather than talk.  Carter was quickly found and although he was the original murder suspect, he accused the wobblies and the police went along with it.  Napier was picked up in The Dalles a couple of days later and returned to Portland to face a murder charge.
IWW demonstrations were often met by violent oppression, as seen in this photograph from San Diego.  During the Portland Free Speech Fight Dr. Marie Equi became enraged at the brutal methods the police used to clear the streets.  She often credited that experience for her commitment to political radicalism. University of Washington Special Collection.
            It seemed like an open and shut case, Napier confessed to the argument with Carter and the fight on the sidewalk, but he said that he had been after Carter and hadn’t fought with Brown at all. One of the witnesses, Ernest Lindsay, a Teamsters’ union member, was identified as the man who hit Brown, but he denied that he had been involved with the fight.  Lindsay’s testimony was so unbelievable that he was charged with perjury.  Napier was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, but police couldn’t get enough evidence to charge him with murder. The Grand Jury didn’t buy any of it and they returned “not true” bills on both Lindsay and Napier’s charges.  With no other suspects, the police dropped the investigation.  Solving the murder was less important than discrediting the IWW.
            A quick check of the history of Alfred Carter, the main witness against the wobblies, points to a different theory of the crime.  Carter, who sometimes was a union member and sometimes scabbed, was part of a burglary ring that stole building supplies and tools from construction sites. When Carter was arrested in 1910 for stealing tools police thought they had finally captured the ring that had been operating in Portland for a couple of years.  Carter and his nephew, Fred Haynes admitted that they were working for prominent contractor Edward M. Neylor.  Suddenly the investigation was dropped and no charges were brought against Carter, Haynes or Neylor.  The abrupt end of the case suggests that protection was involved, as it often kicked in before criminal cases could go to trial.  Haynes’ involvement with local burglary and bootlegging rings for the next two decades also provides a clue that the family had connections in the underworld.  Carter claimed to have been close friends with John Brown, but no one ever backed him up on that fact and there is no evidence that the two men were close.

            The basic question of the John Brown murder is: what were Brown and Carter doing at the Elkhorn Café?  Carter was not a union supporter and was a “known scab,” Brown was the foreman of a construction company that had been fighting with the Teamsters’ Union for at least the last two years.  Why would these two men choose a bar frequented by radical union members, right next door to Wobbly Hall, for a couple of drinks after work?  It is not surprising at all that Carter got into a loud argument with Napier.  Napier, who had a long record for radical activity in both Oregon and British Columbia, would have been a natural enemy of both Carter and Brown.  Carter would have been certain of finding a fight at the Elkhorn and he could easily have provoked a wobbly enough to get him to go for reinforcements, as Napier seems to have done.  Is it possible that Carter chose the Elkhorn because of the possibility of a fight and he used the fight as cover to kill Brown? Brown could have discovered Carter’s illegal activities, or he could have been involved in a deal with him, either situation could have provided a motive for murder.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Shooting At Birdlegs'

            Before his death in 1929 James H. “Birdlegs” Reed became one of Portland’s most legendary bootleggers.  He wasn’t a “moonshiner” – who made illegal liquor – and he wasn’t a “rum runner” – who smuggled it in – he was a nightclub proprietor who sold liquor and helped people have a good time.  Most of the time he was in business – at the Union Social Club on N. Park Ave and later at Birdlegs’ Roadhouse on the Baseline Rd (now Stark St.) – he was supplied with liquor by the Pullman Porter Bootleg Ring, which brought bonded liquor into Portland on the Southern Pacific Railroad.  The steady supply of high quality liquor and the protection provided by “fixers” such as Al Wohlers and later Tom Johnson allowed Birdlegs to operate without interruption for nearly two decades.
The Pullman Porters on the Southern Pacific Railroad, which made regular runs between Portland and Oakland, Ca., kept Birdlegs' Union Social Club, and a large part of Portland, in high quality bonded liquor all through Prohibition. Photo by Jack Delano. U.S. Library of Congress.
            Birdlegs, a blind man and an African American, opened the Union Social Club sometime before 1912.  Soon the Union was known as Portland’s highest-class “negro resort” that provided an elegant environment for drinking, gambling and interaction between the sexes.  Although Portland’s first jazz performance most likely took place at the Golden West Hotel, a few blocks away, music was popular at the Union and after 1914 it was not unusual to hear jazz there.
            The Union Social Club attracted a diverse crowd, although the majority of its customers were black, and it became a favorite hangout for African American prostitutes.  The old North End pastime of “trick rolling” – stealing money from drunks and prostitution customers – brought the heat down in 1912.  After several reports of men being robbed at the club, Police Chief Enoch Slover “declared war” on the club and staged several harassing raids there.  Ex-policeman, saloonkeeper and pimp Al Wohlers, the most powerful North End “fixer” of that time, provided protection, so Birdlegs never faced serious punishment, but the raids weren’t good for business and sometimes they seemed personal.  Like the time the Union was raided while Birdlegs was away.  The next day he bragged that it wouldn’t have happened if he had been there.  Within days the place was raided again and the police arrested more than a dozen people, including Birdlegs, who was there this time.
Police Chief Enoch Slover seemed to take a personal interest in Birdlegs Reed and staged several harassing raids on his Union Social Club in 1912. Portland Police Historical Society.
            After Birdlegs moved outside the city limits in 1919 his roadhouse became a focal point for violent crime.  Its prosperity attracted robbers and rivalry with other bootleggers caused several violent incidents, but the Union Social Club kept a low profile, with only one known incident of violence there.  The violence occurred in 1913, three years before Prohibition began, and it was the result of rivalry over a woman.
            Lena Smith, an attractive African American woman and part-time prostitute, was the cause of the rivalry between Allen Clarke and William “Mack” McPorter.  Smith would achieve greater notoriety in 1914 when she had cocaine smuggled to her in the city jail inside hollowed-out walnut shells.  She was not only a cocaine addict; she was a promiscuous woman who was loyal to no man.  Her simultaneous relationship with Mack McPorter and Allen Clarke created bad blood between the two men and they fought over her on more than one occasion.
            Mack McPorter, a bootblack at the Multnomah Hotel, confronted Clarke, a barber with a reputation for violence, over his relationship with Lena Smith in June 1913.  The argument became heated and McPorter brandished a knife.  Clarke, who was known as a “bad man,” pulled a gun and shot McPorter three times.  McPorter was hospitalized and Clarke was arrested for attempted murder.  McPorter didn’t appear in court to testify, probably because he was recovering from severe wounds, and Clarke was acquitted on a plea of self defense.
            McPorter slowly recovered from his wounds and nursed fantasies of revenge.  When he was released from the hospital in August, 1913, one of the first things Mack did was get a gun.  Late in the evening of August 18, 1913 Mack walked into the Union Social Club looking for Clarke.  Mack must have known where to find his rival as he made his way through the crowded nightclub to a back room where he was gambling.  McPorter didn’t say anything, but he fired his pistol several times, hitting Clarke and killing him instantly.  Bartender Johnny Patton tried to keep McPorter from leaving, but Mack pressed his gun into Patton’s stomach and pulled the trigger several times. The revolver clicked on empty chambers, but it was enough to make Patton let go of him and McPorter ran from the club.
            The murder of African Americans in 1913 was not a high priority for the Portland Police Bureau and they followed different rules than they did in investigating murders of Euro-American victims.  When Captain Joseph Keller and Patrolman J.W. Morelock arrived they found the Union Social Club empty except for the dead man, but there were about forty excited black people in the street.  Keller and Morelock pulled their guns and arrested the whole crowd.  One man ran and Captain Keller’s warning shots just made him go faster. He was never identified.
Police raids were expensive not only because police confiscated liquor and arrested the customers, but they often broke up the furniture too. U.S. Library of Congress.
            Standard procedure for solving a black-on-black murder at the time was to arrest all black people in the area and try and get one of them to confess.  After interrogating the forty suspects, Capt. Keller identified six who had witnessed the murder and who named “Mack Porter” as the killer.  Birdlegs Reed cooperated with the police and identified Lena Smith as the cause of the trouble.  During a “general roundup in the negro quarter” Keller arrested Lena Smith as a material witness.

            Mack McPorter was nowhere to be found.  The murder generated excitement for a few days, but when the killer couldn’t be found the police ceased investigating. McPorter had fled to Washington State where he remained at large until 1920 when he was picked up in Everett, WA on another charge.  The Everett police identified him as a murder suspect from Portland, but since no indictment existed for him no one ever tried to extradite him from Washington and the murder was forgotten.  The publicity didn’t hurt business at the Union Social Club, which continued to operate until 1918, two years into Prohibition.  After a major raid that year, Birdlegs closed the place and opened Birdlegs’ Roadhouse just outside the city limits on the Baseline Road.
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Smitty the Bootlegger


Here is another warm up exercise for my new book about Portland during Prohibition. A violent story about one of Portland's most vicious and colorful criminals.
Prohibition was an extremely unpopular law and enforcement was done so unfairly that it became very popular to resist the law.  Drinking became even more popular than it had been before it was outlawed.
            Wee Willie Smith, aka Smitty the Bootlegger, was one of Portland’s most colorful and violent bootleggers during Prohibition.  Smith, like many of Portland’s gangsters, was an athlete as a young man, but his sport was unusual – cricket.  This may have had something to do with his size. Smith was a small man who often went by the nickname Shorty.  No matter how small he was Smitty the Bootlegger was vicious, especially to cops who tried to arrest him.
            Shorty Smith often worked with Roy Moore’s gang and enjoyed the protection the “king of Portland bootleggers” afforded by his cozy relationship with the police.  Although Smith was arrested twice for assault with a deadly weapon, once for murder and numerous times for possession of alcohol and narcotics, he rarely served time in jail.  He was acquitted more than once and he usually got off with a fine if any punishment was exacted.
            Smith, who worked off and on as a taxi driver, started his criminal career with drug dealing for which he was arrested in 1920 and 1922.  By 1923 he had connected with Moore’s gang and was providing muscle for liquor distributors such as Jack Phillips and C.B. Corcoran.  Jack Phillips was Portland’s own version of Jay Gatsby; a talented and well-known student at Jefferson High School who returned from the Great War with a big thirst for booze and for money.  Phillips and Smith were sitting in C.B. Corcoran’s car near the corner of SW Eleventh and Jefferson on the night of February 2, 1924 when the first recorded violence of William Smith’s career occurred.
Wee Willie "Shorty" Smith aka Smitty the Bootlegger, part-time taxi driver, full-time criminal, was one of Portland's most colorful and violent bootleggers.
            Dr. J.A. Linville, 62 year old head of federal Prohibition enforcement in Oregon, stepped out of a shoe store on Eleventh and walked toward his car with his assistant William Kellar. The two Prohibition agents saw Corcoran’s car with the three men in it parked behind theirs and recognized it as a “bootlegger’s rig.”  Approaching the car Linville stepped onto the running board on the passenger’s side and confronted Corcoran, who was at the wheel.  Corcoran jammed the car into reverse and quickly backed up about eighty feet, smashing Linville into two telephone poles and a few trees, and dragging him most of the way.  Kellar ran up on the driver’s side and jammed his pistol into Corcoran’s ear, bringing the car to a halt and saving his boss’ life.
            Linville was badly bruised and several ribs were broken.  His clothes were almost completely ripped off, but he helped Kellar take Corcoran, Phillips and Smith into custody before collapsing. Smith and Phillips claimed they knew nothing about the nine gallons of whisky packed into the car, but Smith had a pint in his pocket and all three were arrested for possession of alcohol.  In court all three men pled guilty to liquor possession and were fined $500 each, charges of resisting arrest were dropped.  The fine was hefty, the equivalent of nearly $7000 each today, but it didn’t seem proportional with the physical harm Linville suffered.
            Smitty the Bootlegger went back to making liquor deliveries and providing muscle for Roy Moore’s gang, but somewhere he met Lillian Foley and added a new scam to his repertoire. Foley aka Blondie, a down and out alcoholic with a record for prostitution, would entice men to her room with promises of booze and sex.  Smith, in the next room with a weapon, would wait for an opportune moment and burst in on the couple and with threats extort money from the victim.  It’s an old con called the Badger Game. There is no way to tell how many times Shorty and Blondie pulled their scam or how many skid road hotels they used, but they were set up at the Arcade Hotel on February 17, 1925 when Willie Smith shot police “secret agent” John Fagerlie.
            The shooting of Fagerlie, better known as Handsome Hans, may have been a deliberate attempt at murder or it may have been a misunderstanding as Smitty claimed.  Although Moore enjoyed protection from the police, the violent methods of his gang must have rubbed Chief Leon Jenkins the wrong way.  Whether Handsome Hans was out to get Moore’s gang or not, he was an obvious target for a hit. Fagerlie, a former logger who had been arrested in a speakeasy, was a very efficient “stool pigeon.”  Handsome Hans passed his time spending freely in brothels and blind pigs (illegal drinking parlors) and gathering evidence that could be followed up by the Raiding Squad.  In just the first six weeks of 1925 Fagerlie had been responsible for more than thirty arrests.
John "Handsome Hans" Fagerlie, undercover "secret agent," nearly died when Shorty Smith shot him through the lung.  He survived but retired from police work after the shooting.
            Whether Wee Willie Smith deliberately tried to kill Handsome Hans or not, he didn’t succeed. Fagerlie was badly wounded and nearly died, but slowly recovered. The wound forced Handsome Hans to retire from police work, though so in that sense the shooting was very effective.  Smith’s next murderous attack lends credence to the idea that Wee Willie worked as a hitman, but details are too sparse to say for sure.
            After being acquitted on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, Smith married Foley and they set up housekeeping in an apartment on SE Ankeny.  They continued their nefarious business and Smith was arrested several times for possession of liquor.  He paid a fine of $300 for one arrest, but seemed to still be enjoying some level of protection. 
            The police were involved in the liquor business in order to contain it and violence was not part of the plan.  Roy Moore’s gang was dismantled in 1928 and the “king of the bootleggers” went to McNeil Island for a few years.  Violent rivals, such as the DePinto brothers tried to take over Moore’s business, but the Police Bureau proved to be good at eliminating competition.
Lillian "Blondie" Foley Smith was Smitty's wife and accomplice.  Her job was enticing victims back to her place with promises of booze and sex.
            It is unclear whether Samuel Taylor was working for the police when he hooked up with Lillian Foley Smith in August 1933.  He was a logger, like Handsome Hans had been, and he was a brother-in-law of police sergeant Lawrence Russell, so it is very possible that Taylor was a “secret agent” as well.  The set up was very familiar: Just like Handsome Hans, Sam Taylor met Blondie and was lured to her premises with promises of booze and sex.  Taylor went along, most likely with the intention to gather evidence for a search warrant.  Wee Willie, as usual, was hiding in the apartment with a weapon, this time a blunt instrument.  At some point Willie jumped out and beat Taylor to death.

            Just like before Smith claimed self defense, saying that the fight started when Taylor insulted his wife, Lillian.  Smitty lied on the witness stand, saying he only hit Taylor with his fists a couple of times.  Autopsy showed that Taylor had suffered a severe beating with a heavy object. Lillian backed up her husband’s story and juries always seemed to like Wee Willie.  After a few months in jail Smith was acquitted and released in April, 1934.  By that time the old order had passed. Mayor Baker was in retirement; Leon Jenkins was Inspector of the Night Watch; a new generation of underworld characters were ready to take over Portland’s vice industry.  Things may have gotten too hot for Smitty the Bootlegger, because he and his wife disappear from public records after his acquittal. Maybe they left town.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Murder Hotel

            Portland has always had a large population of transient workers who pass through the city at various seasons; in addition a portion of the transients stay in town year round.  Transient and resident hotels have always served this population in the North End and in the downtown area, creating neighborhoods with a fairly high incidence of alcoholism and violence.  The Read Hotel, located on SW Salmon between Third and Fourth from 1909 until 1967, was one of these residence hotels, but it stands out because of its unique history.  By the 1930s the Read Hotel had become a haven for ex-convicts and a hideout for wanted fugitives.  Connected to a powerful ring of bootleggers the Read had protection from the local police and often served as the headquarters for burglars, armed robbers and kidnappers who operated in Portland and throughout the northwest.
Attorney I.G. Ankelis was a member of the Ex-Newsboys Association.  Through his contacts in that group he was able to offer protection from the police for the Read Hotel.
            Located across the street from Lownsdale Square and directly between the Multnomah County Courthhouse, half a block west, and the Lotus Café and Cardroom, half a block east, the Read was directly in the center of a neighborhood notorious for crime, vice and drinking.  Violence against women was a common occurrence and there were at least two murders of women that are connected with the history of the Read Hotel.  Jean Miller, daughter of a prominent Portland family who became addicted to heroin in the 1920s, ran the hotel.  Miller had a long criminal record that included narcotics charges, the standard charge of “being an immoral woman” as well as a conviction for harboring a federal fugitive in 1938.  Miller’s relationship with corrupt lawyer I.G. Ankelis and bootlegger John Lowe helped protect the hotel from the police and there is evidence that the hotel was paying for this protection as early as 1918.
            The hotel served as a residence for many ex-convicts and other low paid workers. The history of the hotel in the columns of the Oregonian shows that even with protection from the police there were several arrests for bootlegging and prostitution associated with the Read.  At least twice young women were forced out the windows of upstairs rooms and injured in falls while attempting to get away from rapists.  There were also several beatings of women in rooms at the Read, some of them very severe.  Obviously we don’t know all of the crimes that were planned or committed at the Read, but we know of a few that can serve to illustrate.
Fay B. Wise has a long police record for burglary and served many years in both the Oregon and Washington state penitentiaries.  He had a long association with the Read Hotel and was involved with crimes there for more than ten years.
            The first high profile crime that can be definitely associated with the Read Hotel was the robbery of Birdlegs Road House in December, 1926.  Birdlegs was a popular roadhouse on Base Line Road near Rockwood owned by James “Birdlegs” Reed.  Reed, a well known blind African American gambler/club owner, had run the famous Union Club on North Park Avenue before prohibition.  After a high profile fight with Police Chief Slover and a series of raids against the Union Club, Reed relocated to the suburban roadhouse location, where he continued to sell high quality bonded whiskey to his customers.  Protection from the police didn’t protect Reed from other bootleggers.  On the night of December 20, 1926, two armed men held up the roadhouse, binding and gagging the customers before relieving them of cash and jewelry.  One of the customers tied up and gagged in Birdlegs that night was John Lowe, another black bootlegger who had been a rival of Birdlegs for many years. 
            A few days after the robbery Fay B. Wise and Neil Anderson were arrested as the robbers who had hit Birdlegs and several other roadhouses.  Anderson was a resident at the Read Hotel and was recently released from the Washington State Penitentiary.  Anderson had a long record for burglary and had been serving a sentence in Walla Walla after a violent shootout with police in Seattle.  Fay Wise, also recently a convict at Walla Walla, had a long record as a burglar as well.  After his 1926 arrest Wise claimed that he had been trying to go straight, but that bootlegger John Lowe had coerced him into the robberies.  Wise pointed to his wife and child in Portland as evidence of his desire to go straight, but his later record shows that he was never successful at “going straight.”  Wise and Anderson implicated John Lowe in the robberies and it soon became evident that Lowe was the “mastermind,” planning the robberies and serving as the “inside man.” Lowe was sentenced to twenty years in the Oregon State Penitentiary, ending the career of one of Portland’s most interesting and colorful bootleggers.
            Wise and Anderson both got four year sentences for robbery. Wise returned to the Read Hotel after his release in 1930 and then went back to prison on a burglary charge. After his release in 1935 Wise became a suspect in another violent crime connected to the Read Hotel in 1936.  Ada Haskins was a woman down on her luck who lived at the Read Hotel.  Little is known of her life, but she had gone through a painful divorce involving a sexually transmitted disease and her ex-husband had recently committed suicide.  When she was found garroted to death with a piece of baling wire in Washington Park on Sunday morning, July 25, 1936, the police thought she might have been depressed enough to commit suicide.
            Haskins’ sisters disagreed.  Mary Ash, of suburban Portland, and Eva Pollock, visiting from Kansas, said that she had been in good spirits and was planning to visit them on Sunday. Although their sister had suffered with health problems and depression, they insisted she was not suicidal. Some young boys who saw two men running away from the reservoir before Haskins’ body was found there and two IOUs in a desk drawer in her room at the Read made the police suspect that she had been murdered. Haskins had made two loans of $100 each to an ex-convict recently released from the Oregon State Penitentiary named William Rae.  Fay Wise, also recently released from Salem, had witnessed one of the notes and it was due on July 25th; the day Ada Haskins was found dead.
            The police picked up the two ex-cons and Captain John Keegan, chief of detectives, and Sergeant James Fleming gave them the “third degree.” Rae and Wise brought no complaints against the police and they may have been “protected” by the syndicate that handled relations between Portland’s underworld and its city government, but many arrestees during this time had complained of the Police Bureau’s abusive and harsh interrogation methods. Witnesses said that Haskins had been in a good mood the Saturday she died, looking forward to a date or “surprise party” she expected that night.  She was overheard on the phone discussing what to wear and she had her hair done in anticipation of going out that night.  She was seen talking with one man in the Read Hotel and getting into a car with another man later that evening, but witnesses couldn’t identify Rae or Wise.  After holding the two men for four days the police released them and ruled that Haskins had killed herself.  The verdict left many unanswered questions and her family was dissatisfied, but the case was closed once and for all.
            The hotel’s protection was provided by an attorney named I.G. Ankelis, a South Portland boy and member of the ex-newboys organization.  The ex-newsboys was a group of young men who would become very influential in Portland. Its membership included such people as Bobby Evans, Paul Ails and Terry Schrunk. Ankelis, a prominent defense attorney, defended many people charged with bootlegging, narcotics and burglary who worked for his fellow ex-newsboy members.  In 1934 Ankelis was disbarred after being charged with forgery and had only recently been reinstated on a probationary basis.  His probation would not be successful. In 1938 it would become clear that he was running a “shakedown” gang out of the Read Hotel.
Portland had many programs designed to help alcoholics stop drinking.  Programs like that at the Mar-dor Hospital attracted problem drinkers from the entire region to Portland.
            In July, 1938 federal agents raided the Read Hotel and arrested Anthony Garguilo and Lee Tombleson on kidnapping charges.  They were eventually convicted of kidnapping an Idaho farmer, driving him to Spokane and forcing him to pay $900 ransom before releasing him.  Jean Miller, the hotel’s proprietor, was convicted of harboring fugitives after she admitted to changing the hotel register to conceal the two men. She paid a $500 fine and received a year’s probation.  I.G. Ankelis, who was accused of masterminding and supervising the kidnapping, was convicted of harboring a fugitive and sentenced to 18 months, including six months on a federal road gang.  Things returned to normal at the Read Hotel, but the neighborhood got more violent during World War II.
            Checking into the Read Hotel on the night of September 19, 1947 was the last stop on a long downward spiral for Ethel Jane Rice. The 41-year-old divorced housewife from West Virginia had been in a spin since at least 1940 when her marriage broke up and a possibly illegitimate child was born in Glendale, CA. Ethel began to experience a severe drinking problem as her marriage broke up and the child was eventually put up for adoption.  She began a life of drifting that first took her to Seattle where she met James E. Rice.  Her marriage to Rice may have been bigamous, but she was going by his name when they arrived in Portland in June 1947.
            James claimed that he had brought her to Portland seeking a cure for her drinking problem, but he never reported her missing even though he hadn’t seen her in nearly two weeks.  Ethel had hit bottom, picking up men in the shabby hotels of downtown Portland. On September 19, Rutherford Beer, an ex-convict with a long record for burglary who worked as a janitor, walked along SW Salmon Street toward the Read Hotel.  He had been drinking heavily and probably staggered as he approached the steps to the hotel’s entrance. Seeing Ethel standing near the entrance to the hotel Beer said, “Are you waiting for me?” When she answered, “yes,” they signed into the hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Jim Courtney and went upstairs.
The Read Hotel attracted a large clientele of  of ex-convicts and criminals, like Rutherford Beer (pictured), and created a serious danger for Portlanders.

            Beer claimed that he caught her with his wallet in her hand and she refused to give it back.  That’s why he hit her “a couple of times.” Growling, “I’ll be back,” Beer stomped out of the room and went to have a few more beers at a nearby dive.  Ethel lay on the bed with blood all over her face.  She may have revived and tried to clean the blood off her face with a towel, or Beer may have done that when he came back to check on her, but she died on the bed before he got back. Beer said he was surprised that she would die from the “couple of blows” he gave her, but the coroner found multiple traumatic injuries; including a skull fracture and evidence that she had been strangled or throttled.  Beer pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to fifteen years.  He served less than ten years, dying in a single-car accident in Portland in 1957.  The hotel Read survived until about 1967 when it closed.  The building was demolished sometime after that.
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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hell Hath No Fury: The Strange Fate of Anna Schrader

Theresa Griffith Kennedy (the main author of this piece) and I have been working on this Anna Schrader/Torso Murder case for some time.  If you've been following the podcast Murder By Experts you already know some of the story.  Here is a little more and there is more coming. Hope you like it.
The apartment house (3rd from right) where Anna Schrader lived in 1930.  When someone fired a shot through the window she called the police, but they decided a "potted cactus" had fallen from the balcony above and came through the window.
            In 1946 Portland, the population had swollen to ten times its pre-war size, and was on the move.  The shipyards along the Columbia River laid off workers and River City entered the long, slow economic decline of the post-war period. Portland industries, which had always depended on transient workers, were contracting. Many of the transients were moving on, but a large portion of them were staying in place and looking for other work.  The city was bigger and more crowded than it had ever been. Violent incidents, murders and disappearances were all rising, and in such a volatile population it was easy to get lost in the shuffle.
            One of the women lost in the shuffle was Anna Schrader, an aging beauty who had been well-known to readers of the Oregonian in the pre-war period but had faded from public view over the last decade.  By 1946, now a widow in her early sixties, she had lost the refined Irish beauty that had long been one of her claims to fame.  Her reputation damaged by scandal and a long, bitter battle with the Portland Police Bureau and its former chief, Leon Jenkins, Schrader had become socially invisible.  In the spring of 1946, with Jenkins coming out of retirement to replace ailing chief Harry Niles, Schrader sensed she was on the verge of a comeback, but fate stepped in and altered her narrative. 

On April 5, 1946, her sixty-third birthday, a small ad appeared in the classified section of the Oregonian providing the only documentation of Anna Schrader’s odd disappearance.  The ten-word ad reading “Anyone knowing whereabouts of Ann Schrader please write Y502, Oregonian” would run three times over three weeks. The terse request would become the final epitaph for one of Portland’s most controversial, troublesome and flamboyant characters.  There is no record of who placed the ad, nor any record of any responses it may have received and no record that the police ever investigated the disappearance.  It is likely that a missing persons report was filed with the Police Bureau, as Anna Schrader had many wealthy and influential friends. She had even been close to several police officers, some of whom were still on the force, but corruption and rivalries diffused the proper focus of the Police Bureau and the new chief, Leon Jenkins, had far more reason to celebrate the disappearance of his least favorite Portlander than to get to the bottom of it.  As a result, Schrader, who hadn’t received significant public attention in more than a decade, simply faded away; her disappearance unnoticed, uninvestigated and forgotten.
Leon Jenkins was Police Chief from 1919-1933. When Harry Niles, his successor, fell ill in 1946, Jenkins came out of retirement to become chief again for more than a year. In this picture he is celebrating his birthday with a blackberry pie.
             Anna Schrader was born Anna Tierney on April 5, 1883 in the tiny town of Madelia, Minnesota.  The rural community had approximately 500 residents when she was born, didn’t even have a school until 1935 and still has fewer than 3,000 residents today.  Schrader’s father, Timothy Tierney, was an immigrant from Ireland who lost his wife to an early death, leaving behind seven grown children in the old country.  Her mother, Mary Rickart, more than twenty years younger than her immigrant husband, was from a pioneer family, and born and raised in Minnesota.  Schrader grew up with two older sisters, none of whom had formal education, but all of whom could read and write and were known for their sparkling Irish beauty.
Little is known of Schrader’s early life.  She was married at age eighteen to a man named Farney and came to Portland before 1910, nine years later.  Schrader arrived in the Rose City during a wave of female immigration that brought more than 7,000 young women per year to town, looking for careers or for husbands.  Some of them, like Louise Bryant, Portland’s most famous woman journalist, and Lola Baldwin, Portland’s first female police officer, found career opportunities and settled in, establishing roots.  Others, like Madge Wilson, found only tragedy.
Anna Schrader, whose allure and physical beauty drew the attention of many men, eventually found a husband.  In May of 1915 she married Edward Schrader, a railroad employee who rose to the position of Yard Master before his death in 1941.  It appears a hardworking husband was not enough for Anna Schrader; she wanted fame and social prominence.  And like many women before and after her, she found Portland’s society, with its unspoken class system and firmly closed ranks, difficult to enter.  That didn’t mean she wouldn’t try though.
            Naturally competitive, Schrader threw herself into political and social work, organizing her neighborhood for the Republican Party during the Presidential election of 1916.  Her candidate, Charles Evans Hughes, lost the election and Anna Schrader marked the occasion in her typical flamboyant fashion.  On December 25, 1916 the Oregonian reported, “Mrs. Anna Schrader will don her swimming suit and swim in the Willamette River as part of an election bet.”  She would be remembered for decades as a popular swimmer and for her activities with both the Republican Party and the YWCA.
Anna schrader was born in a small Midwestern town. She came to Portland in 1910 (at the age of 27) to escape a bad marriage.
            The attractive Mrs. Schrader, now in her thirties but already shaving seven full years off her age, was attracted to and had a fascination for tall men in uniform.  Soon after coming to Portland she was the Fire Department’s candidate for Rose Queen.  In those days, before the High Schools took over selection of the Rose Princesses, every community group had its own candidate.  Groups would raise funds by charging a penny a vote and Rose Princesses got a great deal of publicity.  It was during her campaign for Rose Queen that Anna Schrader met a strapping young policeman named Bill Breuning.  It would take a few years for their relationship to develop, but Portland would never be the same afterwards.
            William “Bill” Breuning was a powerfully built man, standing six feet one and weighing 235 pounds, who worked as an ironworker before joining the Police Bureau in 1914.  Breuning was recognized as a professional and competent officer, popular with his fellow officers and sought after for his ability to speak Yiddish; a necessary skill in the immigrant neighborhood of South Portland.  After returning from Army duty during the Great War, Breuning was promoted to sergeant in 1920 and lieutenant in 1926.  The married officer with the promising career began an affair with the attractive Mrs. Schrader in 1921.
            The two lovers met regularly at several downtown hotels, including the historic Cornelius hotel on SW Alder Street. Breuning then arranged for Anna to be hired as a “private detective” as a clever cover for their affair.  Sometimes Breuning and Schrader would meet at her northeast Portland home for dinner and sex, and on more than one occasion these trysts resulted in a “near miss” when Edward Schrader returned home early from work and Breuning was forced to make a hasty escape through the back door.  Despite the danger, the relationship seemed to fill the needs of both partners.  Breuning, with two children and a devoted wife in southeast Portland, had a passionate and beautiful lover, who was always eager to please him.  And Anna Schrader had a strong fantasy life in which she hoped she might upgrade her husband from a hardworking railroad man to the prominent police lieutenant decked out in his spiffy uniform, cap and gun belt.  Her dreams of upward social mobility were fueled by the affair and in time, she started planning to marry her lover, Bill.
            At the start the affair may have seemed like the perfect arrangement for Bill Breuning.  With his lover conveniently married he may have felt that his own home and family were safe.  As the affair progressed, though, Schrader began to pressure him to leave the wife he said he didn’t love and marry her.  This pressure soon began to tell on the relationship and after 1925 emotional and even violent scenes became commonplace between the two.  The prevailing social constructs of the time would have prevented Breuning from ever considering abandoning his wife and young children for a childless woman who had been married twice already.
            The human issues involved in the Schrader/Breuning affair appear as timeless and predictable as the melodramatic plots of the silent films that were so popular at the time; issues regarding what constitutes decent conduct and who is ultimately punished for attempting to break up a home with small children involved.  As many women before her, Anna Schrader must have realized she would never get what she wanted. Lt. Breuning would never leave his wife and children to give her the social station or romantic and sexual excitement she seemed to crave.  Schrader had to have realized, too, that she had been fooled and used into the bargain.  That bitterness must have been all consuming for her, as her later behavior seems to suggest.  Her intense love for Bill Breuning soon turned to hatred, as she brazenly informed the Oregonian reporters.
One of the very few pictures known to exist of Anna Schrader appeared in the Oregonian in 1929 during the sex scandal that accompanied her breakup with lover, Bill Breuning.
             By 1929 the relationship had deteriorated completely.  After several emotional and violent scenes Breuning withdrew and cut off all contact with his lover.  Schrader’s work as a “private detective” working for the police bureau had given her access to information that could be explosive if it became public and had also kept her in contact with other officers who became her friends and allies.  Breuning, in an effort to protect himself and discredit Schrader, began a rumor campaign blaming her for the affair and implying that she was emotionally unstable and a seductress.  Anna Schrader had been rejected and physically abused, but the rumors and the attack on her reputation were the last straw.  In August she borrowed a pistol for protection, from another police officer, and waited in her car in front of Breuning’s southeast Portland home.  She wanted to spur a confrontation with her ex-lover in order to “square” with him and get him to “take back” rumors that had “ruined her reputation” as she claimed.
            The following day (August 24, 1929) headlines in the Oregonian trumpeted, “Woman’s Bullets Miss Policeman. W.H. Breuning Victor in Sidewalk Scuffle.”  The confrontation had not gone well for Anna Schrader.  Confronting Breuning in front of his house she had drawn the pistol and threatened him with it.  Breuning grabbed the gun and during the struggle it discharged twice, not striking anyone.  Breuning threw Schrader to the ground, dropping on her with both knees and breaking her ribs in an effort to restrain her.  Breuning then called for the paddy wagon and Anna Schrader was carted off to jail, charged with “intent to kill with a dangerous weapon” and one of Portland’s earliest and biggest sex scandals had begun.
            Anna Schrader defended herself from her jail cell, “sobbing uncontrollably” and exposing her long-term love affair with Lieutenant Breuning.  She claimed that she had not intended to kill him, but only took the gun for protection because of his brutality in the past.  She said that the gun went off accidentally when he attacked her.  Breuning counter-attacked by publically repeating rumors he had been spreading, portraying Schrader as the aggressor, an alluring chippy, who had forced him into an illicit sexual affair, against his better judgement. He and his friends on the police force also appear to have tampered with evidence in an attempt to cover up the affair; visiting several downtown hotels where the couple had met, bullying desk clerks and unceremoniously ripping pages from the hotel registers.  The Oregonian and its readers loved the scandal; lurid story after lurid story, all with screaming colorful headlines, appeared in the paper for nearly two years.
            Edward Schrader, despite his humiliation, resolutely stood by his wife, urging her to bring assault charges against Breuning and suing the lieutenant himself for “alienation of affections” as a result of the affair. Schrader, realizing that her reputation had already been damaged beyond repair, decided to raise the stakes a notch.  In a momentous phone call to the Oregonian newspaper, she threatened to “rock Portland” by exposing a system of bureau-wide corruption within the police force.  She had worked as an informant and “private detective” for the bureau for nearly eight years.  During that time she had made many contacts and gathered a great deal of specific evidence on corruption and police involvement in the illegal liquor trade, all conducted of course, during the years of prohibition.
            The Breuning/Schrader scandal created harsh consequences for both parties.  Bill Breuning, who had enjoyed a promising career, was eventually dismissed from the force for “conduct unbecoming a police officer” in 1930. The loss was a devastating blow. It was the first in a series of scandals that shook Mayor George Baker’s administration, leading to his decision not to run for re-election in 1932.  Police Chief Jenkins tried to protect his boss and the bureau by sweeping the mess under the proverbial rug, but the public, hungry for salacious details wouldn’t let it rest and the vindictive Anna Schrader was happy to feed their hunger for scandalous misbehavior.  Jenkins tried to claim that it was Breuning’s conduct of being involved in an adulterous affair that led to his discharge, but it was clear Breuing’s most serious crime was in simply getting caught.
Anna Schrader never made good on her promise to deliver the evidence and her public charges were received skeptically by most Portlanders, who considered her nothing more than a fallen woman.  Mayor Baker was still very popular at that time, having served as mayor for over a decade, and Leon Jenkins’ reputation was considered spotless.  Schrader brought her charges to the public, with a series of rousing speeches, public appearances and radio talks, but Breuning’s charges of Schrader’s emotional instability were believed by many and Schrader’s emotional style of communication with others seemed to confirm them.  Schrader also received several threats, some she would claim were attempts on her life as well as documented violent attacks.
            On one memorable occasion during the Recall Election of 1930, three women, at least one of whom was employed in a downtown brothel/speakeasy, heckled Schrader during a speech in St Johns and then the woman and her two girlfriends viciously kicked Schrader in the shins repeatedly before all three women were hauled away by the police and later arrested.  When a gun was fired through the window of Schrader’s northeast Portland apartment on Ross Street, the police investigated and determined that a “cactus plant” had fallen from the upstairs balcony and come through the downstairs window – an unlikely occurrence, if it was possible, given the layout of the building and the law of gravity.
            Schrader participated actively in Recall Elections against George Baker and members of his administration in 1930 and 1932.  She testified about police corruption to a Multnomah County Grand Jury, pursued lawsuits against Breuning and the Police Bureau for false arrest, and acted as her own attorney on her false arrest case against Breuning.  During Breuning’s appeal of his firing to the civil service board, at which Schrader was present, John Logan, president of the board told her to “sit down and shut up,” and had her ejected by a matron when she refused to comply.
Schrader eventually won the suit against Breuning, receiving only a paltry token-award of $250.  Breuning, unemployed and bankrupt probably couldn’t pay.  George Baker declined to run for re-election, after barely surviving the recall in spring, 1932 and Schrader briefly became a candidate for mayor. She spoke among a group of candidates in a crowded election meeting at the United Artists movie theater on SW Broadway.  Then mysteriously, in 1930 Schrader began having a series of unusual car accidents and alleged burglaries at her home that may have been warnings.  Combined with the heckling and violent attacks Schrader had endured, she and her husband probably feared for their lives.
By 1936 Schrader had faded from view and entered a prolonged period of social invisibility.  Researchers can only speculate why she never gave her evidence, which she allegedly kept in a diary or a journal.  A pay-off seems likely, but many feel that Schrader was “unbribable” and not willing to be “shut up” for any amount of money. Yet shut up she did, most likely in fear of continued attacks against her life and that of her husband.  Edward finally passed away, from unknown causes in 1941 and still Anna Schrader kept her silence.  Bootlegging continued, Oregon’s restrictive liquor regulations still provided an incentive to avoid taxes and regulations and the powerful gangs that ran drinking, gambling, drugs and the sex trade remained unwilling to be regulated.  Those establishments still had full compliance from the city government, now under the control of Baker’s protégé, corrupt mayor Earl Riley, and in 1949 and 1950 Mayor Dorothy McCoullough Lee would receive some of the “Anna Schrader” treatment herself.
On April 12, 1946, right in the middle of Earl Riley’s reign, the first Torso Murder package was found floating in the foul waters of the Willamette River.  That same day saw the second appearance of the “whereabouts” add in the Oregonian requesting information on Schrader.  Some of the open and enduring questions of the Torso investigation are: how long had the victim been dead when the body parts started turning up; and what true age was the Torso suspected of being.  It seems significant that the first package appeared at least two weeks after Anna Schrader was last seen alive and well in Portland.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department and Oregon State Police, who investigated the Torso Case, were diligent, professional and thorough in tracking down and ruling out dozens of missing women, but they have never considered the possibility that Anna Schrader may have been the Torso victim.  Even today, nearly seventy years later, authorities are skeptical of the idea.  No one knows who the real Anna Schrader was. No one considers that if she was the Torso victim that fact alone would lead directly to some very specific suspects.  She has become part of a forgotten past. No one cares about Anna Schrader. 
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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Poor Madge

In Hidden History of Portland I describe the wave of young women who came to Portland in the early part of the twentieth century. The Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1905 brought about 1,600 young women to the city, seeking their fortune. By 1907 there were more than 7,000 a year coming to town. Many of them found opportunities here that were still not available to women in other parts of the country. For example in 1900 3% of American doctors were women, but in Oregon it was 9%. Mayor Harry Lane led the country in appointment of women to public office and women like Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, Dr. Marie Equi, Lola Baldwin and Louise Bryant were able to make successful careers in Portland. Most women didn’t find such great opportunities though and some of them didn’t survive.
The 1905 Lewis and Clark Expo drew about 1,600 young women to Portland looking for a new life. By 1907 more than 7,000 a year came here. Portland Police Historical Society.
We don’t know where Madge Wilson (aka Madge Doyle and Nellie Doyle) came from. She might have been a Portland girl or she might have come to town looking for a new life. What we do know is that while the Lewis and Clark Expo was in full swing in the summer of 1905 she was already working with John “Jack” Doyle a drug addict and pimp who worked hotels in downtown Portland. Doyle got his girls hooked on opium and used their addiction to keep them in virtual slavery. Madge, like many of Jack’s girls, took his last name as if they were married. In July Madge and Jack were arrested while smoking opium in bed with two other men at F.A. Clark’s “fashionable” rooming house at SW Fourth and Salmon, across the street from the city jail. Clark called in a complaint of burglary when he found money missing from his room. Suspecting the “peculiar” lodgers who had checked in that day he had the police pay them a visit. Madge was undressed and smoking opium when the police opened the door. Two of the men were “in a stupor,” but the third climbed out a window before being apprehended. The men gave obviously false names, but Madge Wilson, claiming she was 21, was booked under her real name.
Little Egypt was the first "exotic dancer" to reach widespread popularity. She performed her dance of veils at Expos and World Fairs all over the country including the Lewis & Clark Expo. Portland Police Historical Society.
Henry Hose came to town for the Expo. He was a soldier in Company K of the U.S. Tenth Infantry. The Tenth had recently returned from combat duty in the Philippines and were in transit through Vancouver Barracks when they were tapped for parade duty at the Expo. Military parades were a popular form of entertainment at the time and after three years in the Army Hose had done plenty of marching. It isn’t clear whether Hose served in the Philippines, but the Tenth Infantry served several combat tours during the Insurrection so it is likely that he did. We can’t say for sure whether Hose suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, an unknown and unrecognized illness at that time, but he was certainly suicidal when he checked into the Winchester House, a large wooden transient hotel on the corner of SW Third and Burnside, where Dante’s is today.
Third and Burnside has always been a dangerous intersection, but in 1906 it was also a very popular intersection. Across the street from the Winchester House in one direction was the Sailor’s Union Hall. In the other direction was Ericson’s famous saloon. The Winchester House was a crumbling old building that catered to Portland’s poorest residents. I wouldn’t say it was Portland’s first “skid road” hotel, but it was an early one. Hose, recently discharged from the Army, did what many visitors did in Portland – he blew all his money on a drinking spree. He was down to his last quarter when he woke up on October 19, 1906. Madge Doyle, “neither attractive nor peculiarly bad looking” according to the Oregonian, was in bed with him. Madge and Henry had spent several days together; she was very helpful in getting rid of his money. When he showed her the quarter and said he wanted to have breakfast she demanded that he spend the money on a quart of beer for her.
It wasn’t just thirst. Madge told him that “there was a man once who spent everything he had on her and went hungry.” She said that if Henry cared for her he could do no less. Henry Hose seemed to have a very romantic imagination as he recounted his crime. He described a doomed love for a tragically flawed woman who couldn’t return his love. He claimed that she goaded him into killing her before he slashed her to death with a straight razor. How she welcomed the blows without fighting and the only reason he didn’t kill himself immediately was the razor broke. He demanded that the state hang him and finish the suicide pact. Evidence didn’t really match Henry’s story though. Deputy Coroner Arthur Finley testified that Madge was choked and hit on the head with a beer bottle and only after she was unconscious was her throat slashed with the razor.
The Oregonian liked to dramatize these cases and point out simple minded morals. Henry Hose participated fully, playing the sympathetic fallen man led to violence by a fallen woman. While there was no actual corpse-kissing as in the murder of Professor Herbert, the following year, Henry Hose kissed the photo of his victim and claimed to be haunted by dreams of her at night. The morals were: Vice is bad. Drugs are bad. And young women need to be protected from predatory men. Did you think the War on Drugs was something new?
Hose went to the gallows before Christmas and Madge Doyle was soon forgotten, but her story played out hundreds of times in that neighborhood. “Lover” TaToruelle of the 1920s and Stormy Jean Duncan in the 1940s continued to use drugs to enslave young women into prostitution from that very same corner. Jo Ann Dewey, the young woman who was abducted and murdered in 1950 was a frequent visitor to Burke’s Café, located directly across Burnside from the Winchester House. My new book, with JB Fisher, Portland on theTake tells more about it.

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