The story of Oregon journalism adequately told would be an index for the story of Oregon. To the limit of their resources in money and commitment the newspapers have reflected the community.

In the late 1800's papers were either political, religious or literary. And long before movies were making people stars, political meetings were creating heroes.

Orin Patterson of Canyon City was one such man. He owned and published the Long Creek Eagle which he renamed the Blue Mountain Eagle late in the 1800's.

Patterson led a larger than life existence in those days. He served as a mayor of Long Creek in 1894, was elected county judge, was appointed as a commissioner for the US Circuit Court, and represented both Grant and Harney county at the 1894 Republican State Convention. He also worked hard to get the Fair established.

Orin's son Harold met and married Bessie Davis in 1929. Bessie, who hailed from a small town near Centralia, Washington held a job in Salem at Labor & Industry prior to marriage.

Bessie and Harold had three children together and she took great pleasure in being a housewife. She did experience being a working mom though when, in 1936, Bessie became deputy treasurer for the county. She assisted Julia Mosier with the bookkeeping duties.

Bessie was active in the P.T.A., and Eastern Star. She was a past Noble Grand and past Worthy Matron. She is an avid bridge player who still enjoys playing hostess for others. And she obviously still enjoys playing hostess in the Patterson house, her home.

Diminutive and demure, Bessie Patterson is keeping the legacy and memory of the Pattersons alive.

She is living in the house Orin built nearly 100 years ago. It has a museaum feel to it as it is furnished with antiques and framed photos of Orin in all stages of his life.

She politely and proudly takes me through the rooms. She is a bit taken aback that the focus of this story is her memories. And so she shared with me historical journals she has collected over the years. The stories are excerpts from local papers which chronicle life here in the past 60 years. Her memories of the Patterson family is thrown into relief against the life of those days.

Just before leaving, she mentions to me how her family always had the largest produce in the county. "All the prize-winning veggies which were not picked up by exhibitors went home with Orin," she remembers. To the victor goes the spoils.

Bessie is a strong link to the past, both publicly and privately, and as such is a wonderful resource for the community.

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

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