Thursday, August 27, 2020

Lottie Dennick's Corvallis Brick Yard

 A woman in 1880 running a brickyard! 

I wondered:  who was Lottie Dennick and how did she come to be operating a brickyard?  This is what I learned by reading old newspapers.

Lottie Amanda Baldwin was born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1842.  After graduating from the Rockford Female Seminary in 1867, she taught school in several Midwestern states.

She married George F. Dennick in 1872. George had been an officer in the union army during the Civil War.

The couple moved to Oregon in 1873 reportedly in the hopes of improving George's health.  They lived for a time in Salem where Lottie became the first women in Oregon to receive a teaching certificate called a “Life Diploma.”

To earn this, a candidate had to provide “satisfying testimonials of good moral character and a marked success in teaching for a period of 3 years, of which at least 1 year must have been in Oregon.”  The candidate also had to score 90% or better on an examination in the subjects to be taught.

In the fall of 1875, the couple moved to Corvallis.  The next May, Lottie opened a school in her home, teaching primary students for $1.00 per month. In addition to reading and spelling, the curriculum also included singing and gymnastic exercises.  In 1877, George purchased the brickyard (buildings, equipment, and 60,000 bricks) from H. Elliott.  Two years later (in February of 1879), George died, leaving Lottie a widow with 2 young sons:  George B. (“Bert) and Logan. To support the family, Lottie took over the operation of the brickyard and, according to the Corvallis Gazette Times (9/7/1888), “...she carried it forward and made a success of it.”

In 1880, she oversaw the installation of a new kiln.  She also advertised in the newspaper that she would take wheat and hay in exchange for bricks. In 1888, Mrs. Dennick supplied over 100,000 bricks for construction of the Benton County Courthouse.  According to the note she wrote on the back of her business card, these bricks were used in the courthouse foundation.  Her card was among the items deposited in the time capsule in the courthouse cornerstone.

In addition to running the brickyard, Lottie Dennick was active in the WRC (the ladies' auxiliary of the GAR organization of Civil War veterans) and the WCTU (temperance movement).  She was also active in the women's suffrage movement.  According to the Lincoln County Leader (3/27/1917), she “did all she could to enfranchise women. She believed it was wrong for women to pay taxes and have no voice in making the law.”

In 1893, Lottie moved to the coast and homesteaded 4 miles south of Waldport.  Later she moved to Newport to live with her son Logan.  She died in March of 1917 and is buried in the Crystal Lake cemetery in Corvallis.

Quite a life!

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Chiaki (Jack) Yoshihara

 The Benton County Historical Society's Philomath Museum is hosting an exhibition of posters from the Smithsonian on “Righting a Wrong:  Japanese Americans and World War II.”

At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, there were a number of Japanese immigrants (who were not allowed to become naturalized citizens) and American-born citizens of Japanese descent in Benton County.  Almost all were OSU students.  Within 4 days, 35 American citizens of Japanese ancestry who were students at Oregon State signed a letter to the school's president expressing their “unswerving loyalty to our country, the United States of American, and to all her institutions.”  They also expressed their desire to continue their studies and for “any opportunity to prove our mettle and our devotion to the College and to our State and Nation.”  An additional signee, Molly Kageyama, had graduated and was working in the admissions office.  There were no other Japanese or Japanese-Americans living in Benton County at the time.

Two other students grew up in Oregon but were not citizens because they had been born in Japan. As they were not citizens, they did not sign the letter. One, Marjorie Horagami, had been born while her immigrant parents were on vacation in Japan.  She did not even realize she wasn't a citizen until she was 18. 

The other student who was considered a Japan alien was Chiaki (Jack) Yoshihara.  His mother's first marriage did not work out and, pregnant, she returned to Japan.  Jack was born 3 months after she arrived there.  When he was 3 years old, he and his mother came to Oregon on the last ship allowed into the United States before immigration from Japan was prohibited.  After his mother remarried, Jack's parents operated a restaurant in Portland.  He graduated from Benson High School and enrolled at Oregon State.

In 1941, Jack was a sophomore engineering student at Oregon State.  He was also an athlete who wrestled and was a kicker and left end for the football team.  That year, Oregon State was invited to be the West Coast representative at the Rose Bowl. Everyone, including Jack, was excited.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U. S. government banned all large gatherings on the West Coast for fear large crowds would become an attractive target. The Rose Bowl could not be held in Pasadena, California.  Fortunately for Beaver fans, Duke offered to host the game in North Carolina and arrangements were quickly made to travel there.

But Jack Yoshihara could not travel with the team because people born in Japan were considered security risks and were not allowed to travel more than 35 miles from home.  Oregon State tried to obtain special permit for Jack to go with the team but FBI agents arrived and informed the coaches that no exception would be made.  The rest were allowed to go.  Oregon State won the Rose Bowl game 20 to 16.  A banquet was held for the team when they returned to Corvallis.  Jack was highlighted in the program which will be on display in the Corvallis Museum when it opens.

In February of 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which allowed the military to create security zones and remove any or all people from them.  By April, those of Japanese heritage (both immigrants and their children who were birthright citizens) were ordered to register and then report to an assigned temporary detention center.  Jack Yoshihara and many of his classmates were ordered to the Portland center at the Pacific Livestock Exposition center.  Later they were sent to an incarceration camp in Minidoka, Idaho, arriving in the middle of a dust storm.  At the camp, Jack was named fire chief for one section of the camp. He also worked in the fields and delivered parcels.  He contacted the football coach at the University of Utah who arranged for a scholarship and a job.   Utah was far enough inland that Jack was allowed to leave. Other OSU Japanese-American students also arranged to continue their education at schools away from the West Coast.

Jack played several positions for the Utah football team during the fall of 1942.  The newspapers there frequently referred to him as their “Rose Bowler.”  After marrying, he left Utah for jobs in Detroit and other cities in the east.  After the war he returned to Portland, became a member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union and worked in refrigeration for Fred Meyer.

In 1988, the 1942 Rose Bowl team was inducted into the Oregon State Hall of Fame.  Jack Yoshihara was included in the ceremonies and presented with a Rose Bowl ring.  In May, 2007, the Oregon legislature passed a bill allowing OSU and other state institutions to award honorary degrees to individuals who were forced to leave college for incarceration in one of the camps. Jack Yoshihara was one of five students who attended the 2008 Commencement to receive this degree.  Eleven other degrees were presented to family members of other students.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon