Posts Tagged ‘Cottage Grove’


May 11, 2012

During my research and efforts to collect the Stories of Highway 99, I discovered the treasure trove of information stored in the small local museums.  Each is different from the others, some are crowded in small buildings also used for other purposes and some located in a donated house but there are others.  The very special Cottage Grove museum is located in an octagonal building, a former Catholic Church. They have added an annex to increase their displays.

Not only are the kinds of buildings different but so are the themes and character of the museums themselves, with what they display and how the displays are presented.  

The Cottage Grove Museum has a display from a survivor of the Titanic, gorgeous dresses from the past and some beautifully restored leather goods. A pair of chaps so remarable they belong in a parade, or a movie. That’s only the beginning: trunks, a cooling board, so much more. It’s understandable, the town itself has a preserved historic district, a museum just for the Bohemia Gold Mine District, and an exceptional genealogy library. 

My visit did add more to the stories I’m working on, filling in some of the gaps. It also let me see how the town developed, in more than one phase.  The original wagon road was built on the west side of the river but the railroad came through on the east side.  Like a few other Oregon towns, the railroad caused a major move of business.  In Cottage Grove, it wasn’t peaceful, a feud developed with stories that included kidnapping a post office, jailing a sheriff– and others.  For anyone interested in Oregon history, it’s a good place to visit.   



February 8, 2012


After marveling at how different each town along Highway 99 is from the others, I’ve discovered a common link I hadn’t expected.  Indian Mary.

In the Grants Pass area, Indian Mary was known as the wife of Umpqua Joe who had been a scout for the army.  He built a cabin on a bluff in a beautiful area.  When he passed, Indian Mary applied to the government for the spot and the cabin.  She got it as the smallest reservation in the country.  Now  it’s Indian Mary Park in Josephine County. 

A long way up the road, Cottage Grove had an Indian Mary also.  She was from the Calapooya group of natives and often worked for several of the settler’s wives.  The Mc Farland family and others.  The Mc Farland family thought of her as part of the family and buried her in their family cemetary when she passed.

I am bothered as I read about these women and write about their history.  So often I hear my contemporaries complain that many of our emigrants don’t learn our language right away like they did when they emigrated from Europe.  I don’t believe for one minute that both these women were named Indian Mary at their birth and by their own families.  How degrading that we, emigrants in their land couldn’t even be bothered to learn their names.   I wonder just how far we’ve really come and if I’ll find still more women of the Oregon past who are called Indian Mary.