One Man's Place in History

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), January 20, 2013 | Go to article overview

One Man's Place in History


Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

The story of Wiley Griffon, one of Eugene's first black residents, gave a University of Oregon scholar the opportunity to detail local racial attitudes in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day- related presentation on Saturday.

Retired UO sociologist and local historian Douglas Card gave an illustrated talk on streetcar operator and janitor Griffon Saturday at the Lane County Historical Museum. Griffon is well known to local history buffs, at least in part because of a charming photo that has survived showing him and the mule-powered streetcar he once operated here.

In "Wiley Griffon: More Than a Mule-car Driver," Card made the point that historical evidence about Griffon shows as much about Eugene and Oregon's uneasy relationship to race as it does about the actual person in the photo.

Assisted by researcher Debbie Bitterlich, Card pored over U.S. Census material, mortuary records, court documents, newspaper accounts and other sources to come up with a portrait of Griffon's life.

"Most people know about Wiley Griffon the mule-car driver," Card said, showing the picture of Griffon standing with a small streetcar that ran along tracks from the train station in downtown Eugene south on Willamette Street and then east along 11th Avenue to the university.

But then he gave an example of the kind of racism that Griffon's story illustrates. In most early accounts of Eugene history, Griffon is simply called "Wiley."

"Never once did we give him the dignity of a last name," Card said.

The Oregon that Griffon encountered when he arrived here in 1890 had an ambiguous relationship to race. Although early legislators had passed laws forbidding slavery in the Oregon Territory (in 1843) and in the new state of Oregon (in 1859), there also were laws excluding free black people from living here - on penalty of whipping, though Card said there is no evidence that penalty was ever applied.

As a result, he said, the percentage of black people in Oregon's population remained vanishingly small - about a third of a percent - right up to World War II, when many blacks moved here to work in the shipyards. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

One Man's Place in History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.