Tales of the Oregon Country, by Carole Nielson, Nielson Publishing, Shady Grove, Ore., 2019, $15 plus shipping (email [email protected] for ordering information)
While growing up in southern Oregon, Carole Nielson heard plenty of old-timers’ tales and was hooked. In adulthood she researched local history, revealing her findings in short, well-written articles, many of which appeared in Wild West over a 20-year period (1993–2013). Of the dozen stories that appear in Tales, her first book, seven of them were first published in this magazine.
Her Oregon subjects are varied—a monstrous male grizzly named Old Reelfoot; Takelma (or Rogue River) Indian Umpaqua Joe; early settler Joe Beeson, who spoke up for the rights of area Indians; Indian fighter Benjamin Wright; Gin Lin, a Chinese immigrant who found gold; courageous pioneer Mary Ann Harris; and the three DeAutremont brothers (Roy, Ray and Hugh), who decided to hold up a train in 1923 with deadly results. The handful of other stories are equally compelling, dealing with marvelous mountain man Joe Meek; the challenged 1846 Applegate wagon train; Chief John (aka Elk Killer); frontier bride Carissa Birdseye; and Huckleberry Alice, who became a legendary “picker” on Huckleberry Mountain (10 miles southwest of Crater Lake). As you read through the narrative, two things become abundantly clear—Oregon had its share of frontier drama, and Nielson provides a satisfying taste of it.