2126 S.W. Halsey St. Troutdale, OR, 97060
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Edgefield - Blackberry Hall
5 pm doors, 6:30 pm event
Free. First come, first served. Arrive early!
All ages welcome
Qualifies for “Attend a McMenamins History-Sponsored Event” Experience Stamp.
Why not stay the night? Receive 15% off your hotel room that evening using the code HISTPUB or mention it when you call the hotel.
5 pm doors, 6:30 pm eventFree. First come, first served. Arrive early!All ages welcome
Presented by author and journalist R. Gregory Nokes
In 1887, a gang of horse thieves operating in northeastern Oregon
plotted the robbery and murder of as many as thirty-four Chinese gold miners in
Hells Canyon, in one of the most horrific crimes in the early American West.
Among the gang was a fifteen-year-old boy, Robert McMillan, who confessed on
his deathbed a few years later in Walla Walla to his role in the crime.
An all-white jury had earlier found McMillan and other members of
the gang innocent of the crime after the ring leaders fled. McMillan’s
confession to his father tore the close-knit McMillan family apart. It took
several more years for his father to disclose the confession to a Walla Walla
newspaper. But by this time, his son was dead and the crime was already being
The crime was covered-up for more than a century until a county
clerk in Oregon’s Wallowa County found the long-lost records of the
investigation and trial in an unused safe she was cleaning to donate to a
museum. The rediscovery of the crime set in motion a series of events that
brought new attention to the mistreatment of Chinese miners and railroad
builders in the Pacific Northwest.
About the Speaker:
R. Gregory Nokes has traveled the world as a reporter and
editor. He is author of three non-fiction Western histories. His latest
book is The Troubled Life of Peter Burnett: Oregon Pioneer and First
Governor of California, published this year by Oregon State University
Press. His earlier books are Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon
in 2009, and Breaking Chains: Slavery on Trial in the Oregon Territory
in 2013, both also published by OSU Press.
Greg’s second book, Breaking Chains, tells the little-known
history of slavery in early Oregon, focusing on an 1852 slavery case, Holmes
vs. Ford, the only slavery case adjudicated in Oregon courts. Nokes’ book
was a finalist for the 2014 Oregon Book Award for non-fiction. Prominent
Northwest author Jane Kirkpatrick has said, “This is how history should be
His 2009 book, Massacred for Gold, tells the story of the
long-forgotten 1887 massacre of nearly three-dozen Chinese gold miners in Hells
Canyon on the Oregon-Idaho border. The book inspired the Oregon Public
Broadcasting program, “Massacre at Hells Canyon,” which aired on OPB-TV in
January. Nokes and others installed a memorial to the fallen miners at
the massacre site.
Greg spent more than forty years in journalism, during which he
traveled to more than fifty countries. As a reporter in Washington, D.C. for The
Associated Press, he covered the State Department and traveled with several
presidents and secretaries of state on foreign trips. Greg started his career
as a reporter for the Medford Mail Tribune, and finished at The
Oregonian, where he was both an editor and reporter. He retired from
journalism in 2003 to embark on a second career as an author and lecturer on
A native of Oregon, Nokes did his undergraduate work at Willamette
University. He attended Harvard University as a Nieman Fellow in 1971-72. Nokes
and his wife, Candise, live in West Linn, Oregon.
For more information on this speaker and his books, check out:
These monthly, free events are open to everyone interested in Oregon and Pacific Northwest history. Co-sponsored by like-minded historical and civic organizations, we bring you experts, scholars, first-person experiencers and historians who expound on topics from Lewis and Clark to shipwrecks, hop growing to women pioneers and far, far beyond. It's like being back in the classroom - except this time you get to settle into comfortable seats and enjoy a drink or two with dinner while you listen and learn.
This event is eligible for a History Pub Stamp
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