History of Wasco County,
by Wm. H. McNeal
(approximately 29 pages when printed)
SOME OF THE MUSICIAL HISTORY OF WASCO COUNTY
As far as our studies can determine there has never been any attempt to tell anything about the Musical History of Wasco County, yet there has been more outstanding people connected with our Musical History than any other subject or profession in our history! the keenly feel our limitations in this field. To write about music requires a musical education. "People who have that education have never wrote any history for our children, to refer to. We ask tolerance for the mistakes you will observe. We trust someday someone better qualified, will tell the story.
Indians First Musicians
Our first musicians, if they can be called that, was of course our American Indians. Without study their songs and music was a simple reflection of the primitive life they lived. The drums and tom toms merely kept the simple rhythm of the dance. To some of the tribes the simple Mexican tamboreno was added. While the vocal tones sounded like mumblings to those who did not understand, yet they expres-sed a very definite meaning, depending on the occasion.
The French Voyagers
Whether the French-Canadian Voyagers (1820-1845) sang their "Fur Trader's Ballards" and Christmas Carols to any better tune than the Indians had is debatable; but they were the music of Wasco County, 100 years ago. The early Methodist Missionaries did have limited musical training and brought with them to Wasco County and the Oregon country, both musical instruments and music books with printed songs. The titles to some of these were Hail to the Chief, Oh Susannah, The Old Log Hut, Sweet Genevieve, Pretty Star of Night as well as religious songs, and Christmas carols. Some of these were translated into the Indian dialect which the Indians quickly learned and could help sing.
The Military Bands
Next The Dalles experienced the pleasure of music by the military bands and orchestras stationed at Old Fort Dalles in the 1850's and 1860's. These band concerts on the parade grounds of Old Fort Dalles were always well attended by both military men and civilians alike. There were no phonographs, radios or other types of "canned music" in those days, it all required special effort for each per-formance on the part of both the musicians and the spectators. The military bands also furnished music for any parades or celebrations and for both public and private dances. They furnished the first music for the first Firemen's Ball and many of those that followed. They played in the dining room of the Umatilla House and was at the boat when any special military or civilian guests arrived.
Our histories record that in 1854 Elizabeth McFarland; wife of Capt. Issac McFarland of steamboat fame, lived in a log cabin at 2nd & Union streets, and they held musical "singing bees" at their cabin home in 1854 and in later years; helped organize the Methodist church of The Dalles at those singing bees and religious gatherings. It was Capt. McFarland's river steamer Wasco which rescued the survivors of the Cascade Locks massacre of 1856, after making a record run to The Dalles for troops which drove the Indians away, under command of Col. George Wright of Old Fort Dalles. These community singing bees were the type of entertainment the emigrants enjoyed coming across the plains on that long trek over the Old Oregon trail to The Dalles. They had their music books, banjos, fiddles, guitars, horns, accordions that could make "big hoopee" on short notice. It was therefore natural that these community sing songs should be carried, to the homes, churches, schools, organizations and public gatherings, of The Dalles. Some of the pioneers brought their organs across the plains and the smaller organs were very popular musical instruments.
The First Piano
The first piano in The Dalles was bought and installed in the Umatilla House, after a long journey around the Horn in 1860. Other Dalles hotels, not to be outdone, imported pianos and organs for their musical rooms. On Saturday nights the fiddlers, banjo and accordion players joined with the piano or organs for an "all night session" for entertainment of miners, rivermen, stockmen, soldiers, gamblers who made The Dalles a 10,000 town during that Gold Rush period in the early 1860's. The early saloons and gambling dives followed suit with pianos, organs and special "miner's entertainment." The Dalles was a big "tent city" in those days of homeless men thirsting for entertainment. It was a wild, wide open town "with a dead man every morning for breakfast:"
Our Oldest Musical Family
The Oldest musical family in The Dalles, who made music a business and profession, was the Albert V. Bettingen family of 1861. Al Bettingen Sr. was a native of Luxemburg who came to San Francisco during the Gold Rush days of 1849 with his wife Caroline (Zinnen) and their son Al was born there in 1851. They came to The Dalles (1861) as pioneer tinsmith and hardware merchant of 217 E 2nd street. The family lived in an apartment above the store which is still in the Bettingen family after 91 years! Later they acquired a home at 10 & Union where the new Lutheran church is now located. The 10 & Union home was remodeled into the old Dalles Sanitarium (1908) which was operated by Dr. Alec Guizendoffer and a number of other Dalles and Mid-Columbia doctors.
Al Bettingen Sr. was the inspiration and gelding musical genius of the family. He had a fine singing voice and could play any kind of a musical instrument! The Times-Mountaineer of Dec, 11, 1867, noted a concert given in the old Moody Opera House, 110 E First,. for the benefit of the Cong-regational Sunday school; the orchestra for the occasion was the Bettingen orchestra composed of Messers Dehm, Bettingen, Emil Shultz and Ross. A quartet number entitled "Faith, Hope and Charity" was sung by Mrs. Hogue, Miss Pentland, S.L. Brooks and Wm. Hand (editor of the Mountaineer). Ally Wilson (brother of Judge Fred W. Wilson and who was later drowned near the Mill creek bridge) appeared in a tableau number. A solo, "You'll Remember Me" was sung by Mrs. A.W. Buchanan, wife of the Wells Fargo agent. Z.M. Donnell appeared in a tableau representing father Time with his white beard and scythe, while his son Laurie represented the New Year, riding onto the stage with a velocipede, a new invention for that year. Governor Zenith Moody, in another tableau, represented John Anderson while Annie Puck sang "John Anderson My Jo John," in a sweet voice that will be long remembered in The Dalles.
Al Bettingen, Jr., learned the tinsmith trade from his father and he put the roof on the court-house building at 3rd & Union, as well as roofing other Dalles buildings with tin. They also hand-made tin cans in their shop, for canning fish and foods of those early pioneer days! He received his education in The Dalles public schools and in a Portland business college. He received his musical education from his father (Al Sr.) and later had his own orchestra here. Al Sr. organized a German singing group known as the GASANGFERNE SOCIETY and it included such early pioneers as tiny Keller, August Buehler, Al. Jr., the Vogt Brothers and some 18 or 20 other members, with Al. Sr. as leader.
Al Bettingen Sr. was the leader of The Dalles Band, for a number of years and was composed of some 20 Dalles players including his son Al. One day they had a hurry up call for a parade in Portland. Only 7 of the 20 were able to go! To solve this problem required the wisdom of King Solomon, but Mr. Bettingen was equal to the task. When he got to Portland with his 7 faithful musicians, they "mustered in 13 more" from the waterfront of Portland! These latter 13 just held up the instruments, wore the coats and caps, went through the motions of playing, but not uttering a musical sound! He won first prize for The Dalles with his band! - against all other competing bands in the Portland parade! The congratulations he received continued over many years! In The Dalles the Bettingen band gave public concerts, played for parades and other public events.
Mr. Bettingen shipped the first 6 Grand pianos into The Dalles in the 1870's. They came around the Horn to San Francisco and on up to Portland and The Dalles, a three months trip by water! One of those fine instruments, now 80 years old, graces the Elmer Bettingen home at 200 west Third.
Leo and Edwin McInerney received their early musical education from Al Bettingen Sr. Their mother Josephene was the daughter of Al Bettingen Sr. and she married Patrick J. McInerny, Dry Goods merchant of 203 E. 2nd and who lived at 4th & Lincoln. The McInerney brothers are orchestra leaders in the San Francisco Bay area and received their early education in The Dalles public schools. Leo plays in the Morris Paulsen orchestra at Oakland, California. Morris was a Dalles boy too as we will note in detail under Wm. Birgfeld's Orchestra.
Al Bettingen, junior's wife was Mary Baldwin, daughter of Andrew Baldwin. She had attended the New England Conservatory of Music and came to The Dalles in the early 1870's, with her father, and finished school at St. Mary's Academy. Her father's death left her an orphan and she became a member of the Bettingen household and later the wife of Al. Jr. Their children were Elmer of The Dalles and Mildred, a music teacher of Los Angeles, California.
One time at the Umatilla House, a girls band of 15 pieces appeared for a concert, but only 3 or 4 of them could play any musical instrument! They appealed to Major Dan Handley, one of the hotel owners, for help! The good Mayor knew that Bettingen had solved a similar problem in Portland for The Dalles band so he called Al. Mr. Bettingen was equal to the occasion again. He rounded up enough players to "sit behind a curtain back of the girls band and render their numbers" while most of the girls simply went through the motions of playing, but not making a musical sound on their Instruments & The girls were wildly applauded for their fine concert!
In the old Moody Opera House in First street, Charles Vivian, founder of the Elks Lodge, on several occasions, played before appreciative Dalles audiences. The Elks Lodge was founded by actors and traveling men who were always away from home, or had no home, but who wanted a fraternity of men in a similar position, who could and would understand their position in life; so that no matter where they went, if they were an Elk, they were welcome. This type of brotherly love is one of the main cornerstones of that order and it has built one of the largest and finest fraternities in America.
One of the all but forgotten events in The Dalles history is the old MEXICAN BULL FIGHT ARENA which used to exist, in the 1880's, at the southeast corner of 4th & Liberty. The hillside above the arena offered a natural grandstand for rooters and bettors of this ancient Spanish and Mexican form of entertainment. During the Gold Rush period of the late 1850's and early 1860's The Dalles had its quota of Mexican pack train and saddle train operators, from California mining days, who packed out of The Dalles for the mines of eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and Idaho. The Dalles had a 10,000 population of "floating miners" from California, who spent the winters here in tents or hotels, and they highly enjoyed Mexican Bull fights. The Mexicans provided plenty of wild, starving bulls and the necessary "know how and implements" to fight those bulls in an arena. On Sunday afternoons and holidays the "natural amphitheater at 4th & Liberty" was jammed with spectators. After the bulls were gored by the lance their bodies graced the dining tables at the Umatilla House and other local hotels, riverboats and restaurants. Elmer Bettingen's father, as a boy, used to watch those Bull fights, through the cracks in the fence, like modern boys watch baseball games.
In those early "Bull Fighting Days" of The Dalles, a small creek used to flow down Liberty street to Mill Creek. The corner of Third and Liberty was known to freighters, teamsters and pack train operators as the "Turn-A-Round;" on account of the freight wagons always came down Third street, rather than Second, off the Old Brewery Grade, with their 8, 10 and 12 horse teams to Liberty Creek for water; then they "turned around" and went to the livery stables or camping grounds. Later the stages from Canyon City, Salt Lake City, Walla Walla and Prineville did the same, every evening, upon arrival. All lighter rigs, drays, farm teams watered at Liberty Creek "Turn-A-Round" where the Elmer Bettingen home is now (1952) located. (Note:-An underground branch of Liberty Creek was struck when they constructed The Dalles hotel in 1910 and it took several suction pumps to keep the water down until the concrete hotel basement "set up" hard enough to withstand pressure of the flow).
The Al Bettingen Sr. homestead has been in the family for 84 years! It is located on the Old Oregon Trail dirt road, just east across 3 Mile creek from Riverview and Cherry Park additions to The Dalles. It comprises 640 acres. It was at one time laid out in an orchard and known as the Fruitdale Orchards, but is now planted to alfalfa. it commands a beautiful view of The Dalles, the Columbia river and a "grandstand location" for the building of The Dalles Dam, where all the details of construction can be observed. It is one of the few remaining tracts that could be used for school, institutional, or residential purposes. It will be served by the new Dalles bridge approach.
Besides being interested in music, Al Bettingen Jr., was engaged in the insurance business, real estate management and theatre business. He was the first owner of the Columbia and Grand movie shows which he sold in 1920. Paul Lempke has occupied the old Grand theater site since 1934. Al Bettingen, Jr. died in 1933 and his wife followed him in 1949.
In 1915 when the saloons were voted out of Oregon effective January 1, 1916, on that last Saturday night in December, the "boys tried to drink the town dry" and more than 500 of them "over indulged" to the extent that they were unable to walk! They used the old hose cart house at 715 E. 2nd, in which they stacked the boys up like cordwood" after the city and county jails were filled. Poor old August Buehler, who owned and operated the Eastern Oregon Brewery in The Dalles, located at the foot of the Brewery Grade on east 2nd street; went from saloon to saloon, on that last final December night, moan-ing, "Dar first of Yan-u-ary ist der last of A-u-g-u-s-t!"
Another amusing event was in connection with the construction of the present brick Catholic church. The old pioneer bricklayers would often see a good church member walking by, during working hours, and the masons would call the church member's name and invite them over to watch construction. Next they would offer the church member the trowel and ask him to place a brick in the wall adding, that that act would be a personal contribution to the construction of the church which they should always be proud of. The bricklayers would next announce that for giving the member that honorary privilege, it would be necessary for the member to furnish the bricklayers with a keg of beer! Church members always appreciated the joke and had August Buehler to deliver a keg of beer to the construction crew. The building went up in record time with good workmanship. ---- Biographical data by Elmer Bettingen.
St. Marys Academy
As we have mentioned under St. Marys Academy on pages 97 and, 98, that school established in The Dalles in 1864; has always been an outstanding promoter of fine music in The Dalles. All the students of the early graduation classes were encouraged to master at least one musical instrument or train the voice. Among the pictures in the Elmer Bettingen collection is one of a St. Marys Mandolin Club of 1904. The photo shows two steel guitar players and the rest mandolin, in that very unusual group of young ladies of The Dalles. Music is still taught at St. Marys and the music classes have provided, entrainment for many organizations and occasions.
Public School Music
The Times-Mountaineer of 1867 said, "At the Moody Hall, December 20, a public school entertainment was held under the direction of Thomas Counell, in which Laura Butler, Arthur Coffin, Emma Harman, Ally Wilson and Miss Williams rendered musical numbers." This would indicate that music was taught at the old Laughlin school and that the pupils gave recitals and musical entertainment to both public and private gatherings. The Old Laughlin school was our first public high school, as well as primary.
The Wasco Independent Academy had a music department and after that school let the educational field our second public high school, now called the Court street school, continued with musical training. When the third public high school, now called the Whittier school at 10 & Union, was opened it had a musical department. The fourth public high school, which set where the present (fifth) high school is at 10 & Washington, had a musical department in charge of "Pop" Endicott. The present high school has greatly expanded its musical courses. Even the primary schools now feature musical training. All this indicates the great appreciation for music and how it has expended over the years. This bare outline of music in our schools doesn't do justice to the subject, but it will act as a guide for future musical writers to do research work on for a better story.
The musical DeMoss Family
The most outstanding of all the musical families, in the history of Wasco county, was that of the Internationally famous DeMoss family of early Wasco and Sherman county history. Rev. James and Mrs. (Eliza Bonebrake) DeMoss came to old Wasco county in 1862, with their son Henry, to do missionary work among the Indians. The family stopped near La Grande, in the Grande Ronde Va1ley, then a part of old Wasco county, to build bridges across some of the streams, following the erection of a saw-mill for lumbar; Rev. DeMoss also being a pioneer bridge engineer. The family held religious meet-ings all the way from Fort Boise to Walla Walla. He founded the cities and post offices of Weiser, Idaho, North Powder and Cove, Oregon. Their children were Henry, George, Lizzie, Minnie and May and every one of them more taught to sing and play at least one musical instrument, as soon as they could carry a tune or hold an instrument.
Then one day in 1872, Rev. H.K. Hines suggested that since they always had such large "free aud-iences" that they charge enough admission to pay expenses of traveling from one place to another so more people could hear them. At first the Rev. DeMoss didn't think people would pay to hear music. Finally he yielded to a trial at Cove, Ore. Aug. 10, 1872 on the Hines organ and included the madrigal poem-songs; vocal duets by Rev. and Mrs. DeMoss, solos by the children and a short lecture on music. They packed the little school house with cowboys, miners, trappers, stockmen, freighters, gamblers, bartenders who literally just took the house down with applause and approval. After a few more concerts at Cove they outfitted a spring wagon with a rack for the organ, a camp-ing outfit. They gave their first road rehearsal show before a group of Indians in the heart of the Blue mountains. They received "favorable grunts" from the Indians at the close of the program which insured its success.
They next booked all the settlements between Boise and Ogden, Utah where they sold their team and bought tickets on the Union Pacific railroad for Des Moines, Iowa. Each car on that pioneer train was hand braked by a brakeman who stood on the front platform and applied the brakes upon signal from the engineman. The little cars were lit at night by candle light and had stoves in one end for heating purposes. They played all the main towns between Ogden and Des Moines. Henry played the guitar which "brought down the audiences"; Minnie's beautiful soprano voice made the men "cover the stage with coins". They composed what they called "The DeMoss Lyric Bards" songs that they both wrote and composed the music for.
For the next 10 years they traveled the middle west by team, train, boat, stages and then the Rocky mountain area from Mexico to Canada by a privately owned and operated stagecoach. They never played for a dance or in any place where liquor was consumed. They played at the Philadelphia and Chicago World Exposition (1893). When the family was in San Francisco (1882) Henry became homesick for Oregon and wrote his famous "Sweet Oregon" song. While they played thousands of concerts all over America and Europe, they always closed each concert by singing Sweet Oregon. For years that was the only song about the state we had.
May DeMoss died at Holbrook, Cal. in Sept. 1886 and her mother died in Roseburg, Ore. that same year in December. In 1889 they toured the Mississippi valley and the deep south including the Carolinas and Virginia. 1890-93 was in the Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York and Boston areas and the Chicago fair where they wrote a song for each state in the union for concerts before governors and officials of each state in attendance. In 1894 they played before the Congress of the U.S. and President McKinley.
When they went to Europe in 1895 the quartette was composed of Henry, George, Lizzie and Minnie. They took a "brush up course" at the Royal Academy of Music then toured Wales, France, Germany, Belgium, where, in addition to regular concert appearances they made "command appearances" before the kings, queens or other officials of each country! They were loved and appreciated by all, no matter what the station in life was! At that time they played 41 different musical instruments! They sang duets, trios, quartets, quintets and solos. George could play 2 tunes on 2 different cornets at the same time!
In 1897 while touring California Minnie DeMoss died from Poison Oak in the Siskiyou mountains. The reorganized quartet added Miss Mamie Aurelia Davis, contralto. She and George were married in 1899 at Omaha, Nebraska Exposition. Rev. James DeMoss, the father died in 1912 after the retirement of Lizzie (Mrs. Waldo Davis)in Portland in 1910. The family was on the road for 55 years (1872-1927). They sold their music at 25¢ for sheet music; $l for piano rolls; 75¢ for phonograph records; the Lyric Bards were 50¢ and their business address for 40 years was Box 58, Station N, New York City.
In an item in the Historical Chronicle of 1948 by Kenneth Young of Moro, Oregon he said, "Rev. James M. DeMoss moved to his DeMoss Springs home in Sherman county in 1880. After the death of his first wife he reorganized the group and continued activities with his second wife. Their DeMoss Springs place was a wheat ranch with a few cows and combine horses and those animals carried his fiddle (violin) brand since 1890 and it was registered in the Sherman county and Oregon brand records in 1940."
George DeMoss died in 1933. Just a year or so previous to his death, the writer of this history made arrangements for him to drive the famous DeMoss Concord Stagecoach in the Old Fort Dalles Legion Frolics parade. It was the last time the old gentleman ever climbed onto the seat. There was never a driver of a vehicle in any parade in The Dalles that ever went down Second street with more pride and joy in his heart than George DeMoss had on that last ride down the street of his old home town, in the old family stagecoach in which he personally drove while touring the west. It was a beautiful vehicle drawn by 4 well matched white horses. George was dressed in his road costume of leather he had rode in those years with the musical troupe. The coach was filled with beautiful girls dressed in old time costumes. For one brief hour George DeMoss relived a life-time of circuit touring. The fire in his eyes never burned brighter and the smile on his face was that of complete satisfaction for a life well lived. He was received with an ovation of applause the full length of Second street. He may have played before all the audiences of America and all the crowned-heads of Europe, but no applause was so deeply appreciated than that coming from the home folks of the old home town, for that is from the heart.
This entire family advertised Oregon by music, all over the U.S. and a part of Europe. As far as we are able to determine, this is the only instance in which an ENTIRE FAMILY ARE ALL OUTSTANDING CITIZENS in the 100 years of Wasco county history! Again for the record they are Rev. James DeMoss, his wife Eliza DeMoss, Henry DeMoss, George DeMoss, the wife of George Maimie DeMoss, Lizzie DeMoss (Mrs. Waldo Davis), Minnie DeMoss and May DeMoss!
It is hard for us in 1952 With all our fine radio music, recorded music, bands, orchestras, drum corps and music with us almost all the time, to picture conditions without music as they existed between 1870 and when they retired in 1912. The 52 years of effort on the road to bring better music to America, away from friends, away from the comforts of home and good cooking; a big sacrifice.
Professor William Birgfeld's Orchestra
Another of the outstanding orchestras in the history of The Dalles was that of Prof. Wm. Birgfeld who was born in Germany (1863) the son of Hans Otto Wilhelm Birgfeld and a descendent of a long line of musicians dating back to the battle of Waterloo. He was a graduate of Weimar Conservatory of Music, according to his son Roger W. Birgfeld, 1235 NE 78, Portland. However Christ Paulsen, oldest living member of the orchestra, now of Petaluma, Calif., thought he attended Leipzig Conservatory in Germany; and he may have attended both. He came to the U.S. in 1883 as a member of an outstanding German Symphony orchestra on a world tour. They played nearly all the important larger musical centers of the U.S. at that time.
In Spokane Prof. Birgfeld was very much impressed with the recreational opportunities. Within a few minutes walk from his hotel he could catch all the fish he wanted in the Spokane river without charge. Only the nobility in Germany, at that time, enjoyed such privileges. When their engagement at San Francisco were completed, he resigned from the orchestra and returned to Spokane, by train and boat. The beautiful Columbia river gorge and its recreational possibilities, which he enjoyed on the boat trip from Portland to The Dalles; even surpassed those of Spokane, so in less than a year, according to his son Roger, he returned to The Dalles where he made his home (1884). He Married Laura Rodgers, daughter of Alexander Rogers and their children were Roger, who supplied much of this biography; William, Edward and Florence.
He organized and conducted one of the finest and most widely known orchestras in the Pacific Northwest, here in The Dalles; and it was the only orchestra north of San Francisco and west of Chicago, who could play light opera accompaniments after only one rehearsal and sometimes without any rehearsals at all! This famous west coast orchestra Members were: Chris Paulson, Petaluma,, California, a miller, in the Diamond Mill and who played flute and violin; Jim Benton, merchant, played cornet; Frank French, merchant, played cello; Edward Williams, merchant, played bass viol; Alma Schmidt (Mrs. W.E. Simonton, Oswego, Ore.) piano; Mark Long, barber, clarinet; Sherman Frank, saddle merchant, trombone; Thomas "Dad" Lynch, barber and Civil War veteran drummer boy, drums.
Some of the other players were Bert Baldwin, piano before Miss Schmidt, Mary Ball, George Vause and Griffith Williams all on piano after Miss Schmidt, according to Ollie Krier who played trombone and took Sherman Frank's place. L.A. McArthur took Dad Lynche's place on the drums; Graham Ruark took Mark Long's place with clarinet; Will Condon and Linn Dawson replaced Jim Benton with cornet; Mr. Borden replaced Chris Paulsen on the flute. There were probably other players on this orchestra whose names elude us with the passing of half a century.
In addition to being an outstanding band and orchestra leader of The Dalles Prof. Birgfeld also gave music less6ns to promising students here in The Dalles between 1884 and 1921 and his pupils were from all walks of life. Some of the most outstanding ones were George Vause, composer and accompanist for Mdme. Matzenauer, a very famous concert singer, whose biography appears in the following pages of this musical history; Griffith Williams, internationally known Chicago orchestra leader heard weekly over national radio networks with his band; Edwin McInerney 17 years with the George Ohlson band and now of Sate Francisco; Leo McInerny; 10 years with Morris-Paulsen band of Oakland, Calif. and Morris Paulson, 8636 Heartwood Drive, Oakland, Calif., band conductor.
Roger Birgfeld said his father received $1000 a year from the city of The Dalles for conducting The Dalles band. He was assisted by Edward Williams and Mark Long who helped provide new talent for the band. Like the Bettingen band they played for parades, important gatherings, gave concerts.
We had wondered why an outstanding man like Prof. Birgfeld would choose a small place like The Dalles for his musical career when he could have gone to Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Denver, or any number of other larger places where he could have made a 'big name" for himself and piled up a fortune in money from people who had more money to spend on music? Rodger Birgfeld explained the answer was, "That The Dalles and the Columbia river gorge were almost identical to the Rhine river in Germany where he came from. It reminded him of his old German home more than any other place in America. It offered free hunting and fishing and other recreational opportunities that appeal to all out-door loving men. He could take his gun or rod and go out, like a nobleman of Germany, and get all the game, or fish he had the ability to land, FREE OF ALL CHARGES! Where would the natural beauties of the Columbia Gorge be duplicated? Where would fishing opportunities compare with those at The Dalles and Troutlake, Wn.? At The Dalles every man was a "nobleman" and could go out with his gun and bag a dear, elk, bear or game birds! The great estates at The Dalles and Troutlake were open forest reserves, property of the U.S. Government, free for everyone to hunt and fish upon! His love for the great out-of-doors of this area and for the people here he learned to love, far outweighed the money he might have made elsewhere; and the "great name" would only be remembered a few short years whether it would be here or elsewhere! This was the home his children loved and he remained here until 1921 when he went to Portland where he died in 1925."
The Birgfeld family home was at 9 & Liberty streets. He was lessee and manager of the Vogt Opera House, the pride and joy of Max Vogt's appreciation for the better things in life and which he rebuilt following the fire of 1891. In the 1890's such plays as Rex Beache's Barrier was shown; and the Flower of Hanch, a musical comedy by Joseph Howard; the Sweetest Girl in Paris, a musical comedy by Harry Askin. In 1903 the Congregational Church Aid, put on a George Washington Party, at the Vogt Opera House at 3rd and Washington which packed the house and stage The Chronicle said:.
It was a very pretty sight when Birgfeld's Orchestra played the Grand March and 40 or 50 couples filed down from the stage, led by George and Martha Washington, impersonated by Benj. A. Gifford, internationally famous Dalles photographer and Mrs. F.B. Nixon. A better choice could not have been made for these characters who were very much like George and Martha in our mind's eye; their stately bearing adding much to their appearance.
Frequent applause greeted the different figures of the march. The program consisted of solos by Rev. D.V. Poling, minister of the Congregational church, Mrs. Carlton P. Williams, popular and well known wife of Carlton F. Williams, President of the A.M. Williams stores (1952) and mother of Griffith Williams whose biography appears on the following pages of this musical history; Mrs. J.S. Landers, wife of Prof. Landers of our public school system. Fred W. Wilson, 1952 retired Circuit Judge of The Dalles, read George Washington's Farewell Address. Miss Harriett Marden, popular daughter of Victor Marden, nationally known saddle maker of The Dalles, gave a recitation.
Other features of the program included a minuet stepped by 16 young men and maidens who included: Floyd VanNorden, Ruth Cooper, Eugene Moore, Miss Lena Moore, Claude Knight, Miss Bell Eddon, Mark Rorick, Miss Katherine Williamson, Roy Taylor, Miss Helen Hudson, Hallie Rice, Miss Anna Hanson, Thornbury Kinersly, Miss Winifred Wilson, Irwin Parkins and Miss Emily Crosson. While it differed from the old minuet of colonial times, the steps were gracefully executed and called forth an encore which was responded to by the old fashioned Virginia Reel and led by the Wm. Birgfeld orchestra.
Though the crowd was large the ladies finally succeeded in serving all and during the lunch the orchestra rendered some very pretty selections. Later during the social hour the young people took advantage of the splendid music to "trip the light fantastic." Such a perfect success was the party that the church society decided to make it an annual event."
This article was typical of many which filled the social columns of the Chronicle and referring to the Birgfeld orchestra and the high regard in which it was held and some of the beautiful social events of the community it participated in. The Birgfeld summer home was at Troutlake, Washington, the "paradise valley of the Pacific Northwest" at that time.
Morris Paulsen's Notes On Our Musical History
Morris C. Paulson, son of Chris Paulson who was a member of the Birgfeld Orchestra, was born in The Dalles (1889) and lived here until 1903 when the family went to Petaluma, California where Chris Paulsen still (1952) lives. Morris has his own orchestra at Oakland and he writes:
My father and mother both came from Denmark in the 1880's where father was born (1863) emigrating to the U.S. in 1885 to Minnesota where he married. He was a cabinet maker and millwright by trade and professional musician, his grandfather being a descendent of Kristen Kold (1816-1870) who, together with Mr. Gruntvig, a great scholar, inaugurated the first high schools in Denmark. My father had a great love for music and played the violin when he was 12 years old in his father's orchestra. He also played flute and baritone and always used music as a side line. In 1889 my father and mother decided to come west to Portland where they were told that a flour mill was being built in The Dalles. It was the Diamond Mill (Kerr Gifford) and my father knew the flour business well so he decided to go to The Dalles to see what the possibilities for employment were? They stopped at the Umatilla House and Judd Fish, who was operating the hotel at that time, saw my father and all his baggage and a violin, and flute case and a Baritone; and he asked dad if he would like to play in The Dalles band? Judd played E flat Alto in the band and offered my father all kinds of encouragement if he would stay in The Dalles and make his home here. Judd introduced him to Edward Williams, who was manager of the A.M. Williams store. and who also played String Bass in Prof. Wm. Birgfeld's orchestra. It wasn't very long before my father was playing flute in Prof. Birgfeld's orchestra at the Vogt Opera House for all the theatricals and other musical affairs. He was offered employment at the Diamond Flour Mill, as a millwright, and stayed there 14 years, until we moved to California.
My father was so impressed with Prof. Birgfeld's performance on the violin, and his ability to lead an orchestra, that he couldn't wait until I was old enough to start music. He started me playing when I was only 5 years old, on a piccolo (a very small flute) and I got to play it fairly well; but when I was almost 8 years old, I asked my father if I could learn to play the violin? He bought me a half-size violin, which was only 14-15 inches in length. I started taking lessons from Prof. Birgfeld. It wasn't long before my father had me playing in the orchestra for experience! I can well remember him saying to me on Sundays, "Come on now, get your shoes shined, get dressed, we're going down to rehearsal." I'd much rather have gone down to the swimming hole in Mill Creek with the rest of the kids. I haven't regretted it. Those were impressive days. That experience playing with Birgfeld's orchestra has been a great value to me, even to this day!
I recall an incident which stands out in my mind, while living in The Dalles about 1899 when I was about 10 years old. There was a celebration in memory of Gen. George Washington and 10 of us boys were selected to wear the uniform of General Washington, an exact replica of the General's Army uniform, but made to fit our size. I still have one of the uniforms stored away. The coat was sky blue, it had gold lapels end cuffs, long in the back, turned back in front showing the gold under-lining; it had 7 large brass buttons up and down the front; it had a flounced white lace collar and white lace protruding from the cuffs; it even had gold-fringed epaulets; it has white flannel breeches and black cloth leggings knee length and buttoned up the sides. We really did look like the General himself. There was a large parade down 2nd street and we were supposed to represent a Regiment of General Washington's Army in that parade. All of us carried Daisy Air Rifles except myself and Lindon Garritson and Lawrence McArthur (whose biography appears in this history. Garritson was an O.R.& N. engineer).
We were the Fife and Drum Corps, at the head of the Regiment.
I played the Fife (piccolo). Lindon Garritson played the drum. Lawrence McArthur
carried the flag, with a stained red cloth around his forehead. I remember
we played "Yankee Doodle" and "Marching Through Georgia" whenever we saw
a big crowd. We were quite a sensation, according to my father. I was too
young to know.
The celebration carried over into the evening and we had to put on a performance in the Vogt Opera House where 10 of us boys were on the stage in uniform with 10 girls of the same age all dressed to represent Martha Washington, with high puffed hips and powdered hair and all made up.
We did a routine drill with the girls; which they say was really fine. Then the 10 of us boys lined up in front of the stage with our air rifles and went through rifle maneuvers, called off by a commanding officer, parade rest, present arms, squad load, aim, fire, etc. After that we gave a recitation, all in unison, about being President. We started out by saying, "We are 10 small boys who some day expect to be President" and ended by saving, "We will tell you his name, and turned our backs to the audience and they read the name W A S H I N G T O N. Each of us had a large gold letter sewed to the back of our coat. Mine was O. I have never seen such an elaborate preparation -as this, put on anywhere since. That's why I can't forget the old home town. Thomas R. Hudson, Insurance and Real Estate Broker at 303 E. 2nd Street, was one of the boys in that Regiment. He could tell you a lot about the old timers. He played cornet in The Dalles band, later.
Morris G. Paulson
I was born in The Dalles (1889). Our home was on west 7 street, on the bluff overlooking the 6th street bridge over Mill creek, where we lived until 1903 when we moved to Petaluma, California. My- mother died in The Dalles (1901) and was buried in the I.O.O.F. cemetery and after her death father decided to come to California where father still lives in Petaluma, retired and 89 years old. He played Tuba in the Petaluma band for over 40 years! He is a little hard of hearing but still active and cheerful. He is the only survivor of the original players of Prof. Birgfeld's orchestra! He always wanted me to be a leader of an orchestra and I tried to follow his wishes. In 1908 I became leader o£ my first theatre orchestra in Petaluma and I have been in the music profession ever since. In 1916 I came to San Francisco as leader of the Hippodrome Theatre orchestra, one of the vaudeville theatres in the city. I was 27 then and the youngest leader in San Francisco! In 1919 I was in charge of the Palace Hotel Tea Concert orchestra. In 1922 I went on a tour with a road show, a musical production with 50 people in the cast, and we played all the principal cities on the coast which included The Dalles. At The Dalles William Seufert invited some of the members of the cast and myself to dinner at his home and we almost missed the train! We closed the show in New York in 1923. I then accepted a position as Chief Musician on one of the large passenger liners between New York and South America and made 2 trips, calling at Rio de Janeiro, Santos in Brazil, Montevideo, Uruguay, Buenos Aires. It was a very interesting experience and took 30 days to make a roundtrip. The fall of 1923 I toured with the Lew Fields Road Show out of New York all over the east with 75 people in the cast, closing in Cincinnati.
I then came out west again, preferring the wide open spaces and sunshine and got married in 1924, then accepted a position as Concertmaster and Assistant Conductor with the Fox West Coast Theatres, which I held several years; opening the Fox Theatre in San Francisco (1929) with a 50 piece orchestra under the direction of Walt Roesner. In 1933 I went to sea again as Chief Musician on the Mariposa, one of the Matson Line's largest passenger vessels to Honolulu, Pago Pago, Samoa, Suva, Aukland, Sidney and Melbourne, a 21 day roundtrip, on which I met world travelers, celebrities and movie stars. While broadcasting radio music from the ship at Sidney, Australia; the Matson Line manager at Sidney, Mr. Pippin, asked if I were from Oregon; and I told him "yes'" and he said, "my wife wants to talk with you." A very distinguished lady came over and asked if I were Morris Paulsen from The Dalles? I said "yes." She said, "well, I'm Tillie Zigenhaugen of The Dalles." We used to go to school together. Mr. Pippin was in charge of the Railway Express in The Dalles 25 years ago. This incident just shows how small the world really is!
After 3 years at sea in 1936 I became musical director of the Curran Theatre orchestra in San Francisco; also the Geary Theatre orchestra, two of the most prominent theatres in San Francisco. During the World's Fair in San Francisco (1939-40); I was a member of the large Concert Orchestra in the San Francisco Building. I also played for the Ice Follies for several years (Shipstead and Johnson). In 1942 my wife and I decided to settle down so we moved over to Oakland and started to take life a little easier and allow our daughter to attend the University of California where she studied for 5 years, is now married and living in San Francisco. Our home overlooks San Francisco Bay and we enjoy it very much. I am now employed at Sweet's Ballroom in Oakland 4 nights a week and have a 10 piece band, including an electric Hammond Organ. I have been with them for 10 years and have a very large following, the Sweet Ballroom being the largest in the San Francisco Bay area! We play to over 2000 people on Saturday nights!
The music profession has been the means of my travels to all parts of the world and many cities all over the U.S., and I owe my opportunities to the early and proper training received from Prof. Wm. Birgfeld and the encouragement from my father. I studied Harmony and Music Theory. I do my own writing and arranging for the orchestra. I've been a leader of vaudeville and musical productions for 15 years. I have played about every type of musical work, including symphony, having played several Symphony Concerts, under the direction of Alfred Hertz, the world famous Wagnerian Conductor. I would rather play and listen to good classical music than anything else I know, but it doesn't pay as well as many other branches of the music profession. I have commercialized my work, playing music that the majority of people understand and I've had steady employment. The symphony musicians only work 6 or 7 months out of the year while I work steady year in and year out. One must adapt himself to any type of music, at a moment's notice, to be a success; the more varied the experience, the better your opportunity.
During the fire of 1891 the 3rd Regiment Band lost all their instruments in the old Armory Hall (Model Laundry) fire, but Al Bettingen loaned all 25 members instruments! He must have had a big supply to furnish 2-bands with instruments! The 3rd Regiment Drum Major (Miachel Deming) lost his life in the fire of that building trying to save an old violin!
The old Baldwin Opera House on the northwest corner of First and Union, in The Dalles, was the scene of all sorts of theatrical entertainment and many dances were held there. It was a skating rink at one time. Prof. Wm. Birgfeld held his orchestra rehearsal there many times and he leased the building and rented it out for different occasions.
I am sending you a picture of Prof. Wm. Birgfeld's Orchestra taken in 1899 at Benj. A. Gifford's photograph gallery. From left to right in the back row is my father Chris Paulsen then about 36 and about the same age as Prof. Birgfeld. Next to him is Mark Long, barber at Crawford's barber shop, who played clarinet. Next is Ed Williams, with Bass Viol, manager of A.M. Williams clothing store, a fine gentlemen and a great lover of good music being interested in all musical activities. In the front row, the little lad at the extreme left holding a violin is me (Morris Paulsen) age 10; I was studying with Prof. Birgfeld for almost 2 years and a half and attended all the orchestra rehearsals for experience and am very grateful that I was in the picture. Next to me, seated on the arm of the chair is Jim Benton, with cornet, a rather small man in stature. a very excellent cor-netist and leader of The Dalles band in 1884, a plumber by trade and partner of Meier & Benton's store which was later known as Meier & Schanno. Next was Miss Alma Schmidt (Mrs. W.E. Simonton of Oswego - 1952) who studied piano with Prof. Birgfeld, was pianist in his orchestra; her husband Mr. Simonton, was leader of The Dalles band at one time and played cornet. Her father operated the first flour mill in The Dalles on Mill creek at the intersection of 3rd and 4th streets, at the old swimming hole location. Next to Miss Schmidt was Prof. Birgfeld, a very good likeness of him, a proud, dignified man of German birth, an artist on the violin and piano a German requirement for graduation from a conservatory. If he hadn't came to The Dalles my whole career would have possibly been changed; I am really grateful he came to The Dalles to live.
Seated next to Prof. Birgfeld was Sherman Frank with the trombone. He was a partner with the Frank Brothers Saddle Shop. Seated at the end is old "Dad" Thomas Lynch, drummer, about 70 in 1899 and operated a barber shop for many years in The Dalles. He was an old Civil War veteran drummer boy. Frank French was supposed to be in the picture but was unable to appear. He played cello.
I am enclosing a picture of my band at Sweet's Ballroom. I have 10 men and a singer. The instrumentation is three saxophones. (I play violin and double on saxophone); 2 trumpets, trombone, piano, string bass, drums and electric Hammond organ. These men are very experienced musicians. There is hardly a tune that we can't play from memory, besides hundreds of tunes we have in our books! Leo McInerney is standing in the back of the piano holding the "bull fiddle" which he calls the "vile bass!', and he says it takes a strong back and weak mind to play one of those things! The picture of myself with the violin is a professional picture taken when I was 48 by Mr. Sweet who had thous-ands of copies made into window cards which he placed in business houses all around the Bay area. Leo McInerney left The Dalles in 1915. His sister Josephene McCoy still lives in The Dalles. Leo and I were kids together in The Dalles and have known each other since we were 8 years old. We learned to swim together in the old Mill Creek swimming hole at the end of 3rd street where the foot bridge now crosses to the nat. Leo is quite a versatile musician. He plays tuba besides sting bass. He played in The Dalles band before he moved to California. He plays a fine trombone, also the violin and had his own orchestra in The Dalles. He plays an excellent cello and does very well on the piano. He has a pleasing Baritone voice and a terrific sense of humor, keeping us in constant laughter with his natural Irish wit. He was in the orchestra on the President Coolidge, before she sank in the South seas after striking a submerged mine. This ship made regular trips to the orient. He also traveled to Australia as a member of the orchestra on the Monterey, a large Matson Line passenger ship. He was always considered a good musician and was in demand by the various leaders of theatre orchestras, hotels and night clubs.
Edwin McInerney, brother of Leo, was a student of Prof. Birgfeld, is an excellent pianist and has a very fine voice. He lives in San Francisco and has been a professional musician all his life. He traveled for years with George Ohlson's band, formerly of Portland. He goes under the professional name of Jack Gifford and his address is 1350 Washington St. San Francisco. He plays all the big hotels in San Francisco.
The McInerneys were a very musical family of The Dalles. Mrs. McInerney, sister of Al Bettingen, was quite an accomplished pianist and had a lovely voice. J.P. McInerney, the father, had a large merchandise and clothing store on 2nd street, in The Dalles and was considered an authority on harness racing. Mary McInterney, Leo's sister, is now Mrs. Carl Hansen of San Diego and is also an accomplished pianist. Leo's brother Francis played Baritone in The Dalles band and also played string bass. He died in San Francisco in 1918. Leo's sister Mrs. McCoy of The Dalles studied violin with Prof. Birgfeld. He husband Paul was a classmate of mine. Leo's grandfather was Al Bettingen Sr. He was a musician too (see Bettingen orchestra page 167-168) and played E flat Clarinet; he was in the hardware business and sold to Meier & Benton. Al. Bettingen Jr. played violin and tuba and had all the music business of The Dalles before Prof. Birgfeld came. There was quite a rivalry between them in those days and the Bettingens had all sorts of musical instruments on hand just in case some one could play and didn't have an instrument.
Hugh Fraser of The Dalles is manager of the United Cigar Co. in Oakland and Claude Hill is credit manager for the Fuller Paint Co. in San Francisco. They are not musicians.
Nellie French (Mrs. Virgil Bolton)
An item in the Chronicle (1921) stated that Nellie French (Mrs. Virgil Bolton) daughter of J.W. French gave a rosewood Stineway piano to the Community room of the Civic Auditorium. It was 50 years old and cost $800 and was of wonderful workmanship and tone. It was given to her by her father in 1871. She studied music at the New England Conservatory at Boston.
George Vause, Pacific College, in Los Angeles was born in The Dalles (1887) son of David and Florence (Knaggs) Vause. He received his early education in The Dalles public schools and was a member of the Episcopal church where Lulu D. Crandall, Dalles historian, was organist. In her writings she says, "George always stayed close to the organ when I was about to play. I took note of his interest and taught him the notes and keys of the organ and soon he was playing and spending many hours in practice. He was only 9 years old but very fond of music. After he mastered the organ, one Sunday morning I announced to him that he would have to play for the congregation. He was a little frightened and wanted to beg out of the ordeal but I soon quieted him down by assuring him that there was no music to play that he did not already know and had mastered; and that it was just a matter of playing it again, to disregard the presence of the people. He was a little shaky on the first few notes, but he carried the piece on through without any trouble. He was likewise able to do the same for the rest of the services. The Episcopal church had a new organist and probably the youngest one in the U.S! The church paid him $6 a month to play the organ.
"His father was so delighted in the accomplishment that he purchased a piano, which George had asked him to get. The father, up to that time, could see no relationship between a growing boy and a piano! George took music lessons from Professor Wm. Birgfeld with the "$6 he received as an organist. Prof. Birgfeld required each lesson to be properly mastered. He had no use for a student who would not work and practice! The professor could stand but on the lawn, talking to the elder Vauss, and tell which finger on which hand George was striking the notes with! There was no fool-ing Prof. Birgfeld! The professor took a great interest in George Vauss's advancement and George spent many long, hard, hours mastering the piano in addition to the church pipe organ! Later he was a pianist in the Wm. Birgfeld orchestra."
From his summer home at Gillette, N.J., George Vause writes:
Rev. Bertram A. Warren (of the local Episcopal church) now of Walla Walla persuaded Joseph T. Peters to send me to Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory for a year. Mrs. Peters (sister of Judge Fred W. Wilson) having studied there. At Oberlin, after I had played a recital, I was offered a complete scholarship for the remaining 3 years, but refused it to go to New York! Mr. Peters lent me about $700 at 7% compound interest for that initial study period, but after all he did take some chance on me!
My second year of musical education was paid for by Mrs. Elizabeth Lord of The Dalles, who sent me to the Institute of Musical Art in New York City, where my teachers were Sigismund Stojowski, piano, the favorite pupil of Ignace Paderewski; Gaston Dethier, organ; Dr. Percy Goetschius, harmony; Frank Damrosch, conducting.
On July 7, 1911 I gave my first recital at St. Paul's Episcopal church, after my eastern study, with the church jammed and many standing outside looking in the window! Of course there was a repeat recital.
Continuing my studies at the Institute of Musical Art, I was appointed head of music at the Riverside school for boys, in New York City; then organist of St. Mary's Catholic church, Perth Amboy, N.J., where I was head of music in all the schools, with some 7000 pupils; next organist, of the 3rd Presbyterian Church North Newark, N.J.
Then came World War I and I studied for a commission at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, getting a lieutenancy in the heavy artillery and going to the front in France in 1918. After the armistice, on account of speaking French, I was kept in France to work with the French engineers in Brittany in work of turning back to the French the installations and properties (lands, factories, etc:) that had been requisitioned for use of the American forces. In that way I became acquainted with all types of French people from the lowliest peasants to the nobility with their big castles and have been back several times to visit them.
In returning to civilian life I went to London to study at the Royal College of Music! Then I came back to New York and worked with Frank La Forge, said to be the greatest accompanist that ever lived! He had just decided to give up touring with Margaret Matzenauer, leading contralto of the Metropolitan Opera Company, as he could not afford the time away from his studio where he was getting $30 an hour for lessons! He had her take me in his place and I toured 8 years with her! visiting every large city in this country, Canada, Bermuda and Hawaii, some of them many times! I also played concerts for Lawrence Tibbet, Clarence Whitehall, Doris Doe, Rafaelo Diaz and many other of the Metropolitan artists. In 1924 I appeared at the auditorium in The Dalles with Margaret Matzenauer, being warmly received in the old home town by friends and music lovers.
I also played many times in Portland and Seattle. I gave up touring to take the position of organist at the Broadway Presbyterian church in New York City. From there, I went to the West End Presbyterian, at one time the largest in the world! I also studied at Columbia where I got a B.S. degree in education; and at Union Seminary where I got a Master of Sacred Music degree!
Then I was asked to come to Seattle Pacific College as voice and French teacher and soon went to the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Mark as organist. I did some work at the University of Washington and was within a half dozen credits of Doctor of Philosophy degree when a severe throat infection forced me to leave that damp climate for southern California where I took the directorship of the music department of Los Angeles Pacific College and the Spanish department. I am still there. I spend the summers at Gillette, N.J. I live at 147 S. Friends Ave., Whittier, Calif. where I am also organist of St. Mattias Episcopal Church.
Among the most outstanding people in the 100 years of history of Wasco county is Griffith Williams nationally known orchestra leader of Chicago; son of Mr. and Mrs. Carlton P. Williams of The Dalles and grandson of Griffith E. Williams of Wales, a covered wagon pioneer of 1852 and an 1862 associate of Edward M. Wingate in the mercantile business now known as the A.M. Williams stores of The Dalles, Corvallis and Eugene, managed by Carlton P. Williams. Griffith Williams was born in The Dalles in 1908 attending The Dalles public and high school during which time he took music lessons from Prof. Wm. Birgfeld of The Dalles at the age of 6 when he was so small he had to be helped upon the piano stool by his devoted mother who seen to it that he practiced and mastered each lesson. Prof. Birgfeld wouldn't waste time on pupils who wouldn't practice. He played in the high school orchestra and Prof. Birgfeld's orchestra. Upon completion of high school he attended Stanford University. The Dalles Chronicle of April 29, 1937 said:
Not so many years ago a pageant was staged in the natural amphitheater in The Dalles Auto Park. The theme was the winning of the west, and Indians, cowboys and plainsmen trekked across the scene depicting events in Mid-Columbia history from the time of Lewis & Clark up to the modern era. We have a vivid recollection of a boy, in his early teens, who played the piano accompaniment for one of the pageant features. The number was rather difficult, but he played it without hesitation or a single error. His technique, even at that early age, showed the results of long practice and careful training under the direction of Prof. Wm. Birgfeld, the master music teacher of that day here. On various other occasions we heard this young musician when he performed as accompanist or soloist at events here while he was attending high school. He specialized in classical music, although we suspect that he made an occasional venture into the field of "jazz" when his instructor was not around. In any event by the time he was graduated from The Dalles high school he was a finished musician.
Then this young man went to college. He had no idea at that time of making music his life work. He started out to be a doctor and entered Stanford university to take a pre-medics course. It was during this period that the radio suddenly developed into a nation-wide industry. Radio pioneers in The Dalles can remember when the coast's first "super-Power" station was installed. This was KGO, Oakland although some of their programs were broadcast from San Francisco. This was the first time broadcasts really came in here with clarity and some degree of regularity over the still primitive receiving sets. A feature of this period that attracted much attention on the part of local radio fans within range of KGO was a pianologue by a Stanford student Griff Williams. Rambling over the keyboard in a lazy manner this young musician played popular tunes of the day in a way that almost immediately made him a great favorite. This was the Griff Williams who grew up in The Dalles, only now he was playing "jazz" in a manner that made even "tin pan alley" experts sit up and take notice.
It was not long before Griff was a regular KGO attraction. He was still studying to be a doctor, but devoting more time to music. Then came an offer to join the Arson Weeks dance orchestra, which was one of the "big names" in Pacific coast entertainment circles. If our information is correct, Anson Weeks also played piano, but was what is known as an "ear player" in that he was not adept at reading music. It was during this period that "Jazz" took on more dignity. Instead of a hodge-podge of noise, in which it was "every man for himself" in a dance orchestra, arrangements were made the order of the day. The first man to undertake the scoring of jazz music for a dance orchestra became an over-night sensation. Publishers made frantic bids for his services and the winner emerged with "Lange" arrangements at a cost of $25,000 a year. The new arrangements were difficult, they employed "dizzy chords" such as minor fifths, ninths, thirteenths, and French sixths. "Fakers" or ear players, could not cope with them. Hence the necessity for a second pianist in the Anson Weeks orchestra who could "read the spots"! Griff got his start in the dance orchestra field at this time.
It was not long until radio fans discovered that Griff did not intend to remain a more pianist in an orchestra directed by someone else. By this time he had abandoned all idea of becoming a physician and had decided to make music his life work. When next heard from he joined with Jimmy Walsh as a co-director in San Francisco night clubs. This partnership lasted but a short time. Then it was "Griff Williams and his orchestra" -- a combination that has continued to the present and has grown in popularity each year. Next Monday (May 3, 1937) Griff will bring his band to The Dalles in a homecoming that should (and did) bring out the largest crowd of dancers in local history. Griff cannot -help but be proud of the fact that he is returning to the "old home town" in triumph. It would not be human nature to feel otherwise. He has made a success in a highly competitive field and today is one of the "big names" in dance music. Now he is going to play for those who knew him when he was a boy here. It will be a momentous occasion for both Griff and Dalles music lovers.
The home-coming concert of Griff Williams and his Mark Hopkins hotel orchestra of San Francisco will be presented at the Granada theatre next Monday evening (May 3, 1937) with a one hour concert starting at 7:45 by the 16-piece orchestra, to include several numbers by "Buddy" Marino, popular tenor frequently heard over the radio in appearances with Griff Williams' orchestra. After the concert Griff Williams and his orchestra will go to the auditorium ballroom to play for dancing, to begin at 9:15. In honor of Griff's visit to his home town since achieving a national standing Mayor H.E. Willerton designated Monday May 3 as "Griff Williams day in The Dalles."
Griff and his orchestra are heard almost nightly from Chicago (1952) from the hotel Stephens. On a recent tour they played the Palmer House, Statler, Waldorf Astoria and many other prominent hotels. Griff is married and lives with his family in Chicago.
RADIO K. O. D. L.
The Dalles Radio station K.O.D.L. was established October 20, 1940 with its first program on the air after nearly a years work in preparation by V. Barney Kenworthy, owner and manager. The 36 X 46, studio building and 200 foot tower is located on west Scenic Drive (south Trevitt street). It has 250 watts of power in the day time and 100 watts at night and broadcasts on a frequency of 1230 Kilocycles. Its coverage includes Toppenish on the north, Maupin, Madras, Arlington, Condon, and Heppner on the east; Lyle, Hood River and White Salmon on the west. Its coverage is very good throughout the entire Mid-Columbia area. One time during World War 2, when they closed down all radio stations west of the Cascade mountains for safety reasons, but left those east of the mountains in operation, K.O.D.L. received cards from people in Australia, New Zealand, the Orient, Hawaiian Islands, San Diego, Los Angels, Seattle and Alaska points, telling about the reception and program. This shows that if the station had a clear channel its reception would be amazing, but other places are allotted the same channel which "squeezes" the reception radius down to the above named limits.
The station is a good advertising medium for the Mid-Columbia area. It gives lots of gratis free time, for educational programs, religious and patriotic services, much the same as free space allowed by the press for news and organizational activities. The appeal for help to fight fires in the summer on our ranches, makes the station very popular with farm families. The Sunday religious services are popular. Organizational talks are listened to with interest. The ever-popular "Hi Neighbor Program" which offers everything from soup to nuts, much the same as the classified columns of our press, is listened to every evening with keen interest and it sells and swaps lots of items, provides homes for pets, finds houses to rent etc. The news programs at regular times each day are listened to with great interest. In fact we don't see how we got along without the station before 1940!
The introductory letter of Sept. 30, 1940 in part said, "The operating policy of KODL will be a studied effort in faithfully reflecting, in a cooperative way, the religious, cultural, civic and educational factors of this community. Pursuant that policy, it is the earnest desire of KODL to render to your organization a very real and useful function in any fashion that may be within its Province. Trusting that the community service may merit the unnumbered courtesies and interest of the citizens of The Dalles and that we may be permitted to have a part in your work, I am, very cordially yours, Barney Kenworthy."
In addition to very ably fulfilling the reflections in the above 12 year old paragraph, the station, by its musical programs has promoted interest in better music in our community than we had previous to 1940, which included classical as well as "jass" and old-time music. It has provided better spoken English for the people. It has taught greater appreciation for good stories, more interest in athletics, politics. Indeed KODL has been a valuable asset to the community in more ways than just commercial benefits to advertisers or the owner. Mr. Kenworthy is owner of stations at Pasco and Pendleton in addition to this one at The Dalles, but he likes The Dalles as a homesite and place of recreation better than any other place in the Pacific northwest!
Mr. Kenworthy was born in Indiana (1895) and came to Salem in 1906; later moving to Portland where he received his early education. He has been a banker, salesman and business man. His early day hobby was "wireless" which, as the years have passed, has become known as radio, and it was his desire and ambition to own and operate a radio station and in that way be of service to the people. He has had his wishes granted by the ownership of three stations and they are in fine hands.
At the flagpole presentation ceremonies of June 15, 1941 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the writer of this history who was at that time an officer of that organization, expressed the feeling of the people of The Dalles when he said, "Radio KODL is on of the communities' newest business institutions. For more than 10 years there had been talk of the need for a radio station in The Dalles. Mr. Kenworthy's foresightedness in establishing KODL will be rewarded. There is no substi-tute for the human voice and sound. This method of bringing messages, entertainment and news into the home, is here to stay. It is the 1941 method of quick communication. We hope to see the belligerent attitude of the local daily press, toward this station soon removed. The press should provide space for the daily programs of this station. After all is said and done, the people supports BOTH institutions, the press and the radio. Both are here to stay. Both are wanted by the people. Both are here to serve the people. When co-operation is lacking the public suffers. It is better for both to work in harmony." The hostile attitude of the Chronicle toward radio KODL remained until it was sold to the present owners and managers who work with KODL on a friendly cooperative basis.
For having established this Radio station in The Dalles and made possible to the people of the Mid-Columbia area all its fine news, music and educational and recreational programs Mr. Barney Kenworthy is classified as another one of the most outstanding citizens in our 100 years of history!
In this music chapter we have listed the names of 33 outstanding musicians in our 100 years of history. They were: Al Bettingen, Senior and Junior; Rev. and Mrs. James DeMoss, Henry DeMoss, Mr. and Mrs. George DeMoss, Lizzie DeMoss, Minnie DeMoss and May DeMoss. Prof. Wm. Birgfeld and the fol-lowing 17 members of his outstanding orchestra: Chris Polston, Jim Benton, Frank French, Edward Williams, Alma Schmidt, Mark Long, Sherman Frank, Thomas "Dad" Lynch, Bert Baldwin, Mary Ball, George Vause, Griffith Williams, L.A. McArthur, Graham Ruark, Ollie Krier, Will Condon and Linn Dawson. There may have been other forgotten players in the Birgfeld orchestra. Morris Paulson and Leo McInerney, Morris is also to be remembered for his historical contribution on our musical history. George Vause as an outstanding musician in his own right as was Griffith Williams and Edwin McInerney.
This group is by no means all of our outstanding musicians. Who are the rest?
Ever since the high water of 1894 Dalles residents always speculate every year on how high the river will get in June? Unless the June high water of the Columbia river rises above 48 feet the water is not considered high enough to talk about. In 1842 the Columbia river stood the highest it has ever known to be by white men. In that year Edward Crate, an employee of the Hudson Bay Co. and later in 1850 a resident of Crates Point," landed his batteaux at a pine tree near where the Methodist church is now located at 5th and Washington, in June of 1842." The high water stood that year about 70 feet or 11 feet higher than it was in 1898! For 44 years, from 1850 to 1894, Edward Crate was ridiculed and made fun of for having contended the Columbia river ever rose that high!
During those 44 years of ridicule the Columbia did in 1870 reach 50 feet. In 1876 it rose to 57.3 and the intensity of the ridicule subsided enough that some apologies were made by river men to Mr. Crate for doubting his word. In 1880 the river rose to 48.7. Then in 1894 it rose to 59.7! It was Ed Crates turn to laugh at Dalles business men when they had to employ boats to get to their places of business, or moved their stores to temporary locations on Washington street near the present courthouse and in the Methodist church. It was only 2 feet higher than it was in 1876 but there was a railroad flooded out in 1894 that never existed in 1878, 18 years previous! There were also a lot of new business men and people in The Dalles in 1894 that wasn't here in 1876 to remember any-thing about the previous flood. For the next 4 months until Edward Crate died that fall, a lot more Dalles people very humbly apologized to Mr. Crate for having doubted his sincere statement. He was completely exonerated after 44 years!
Flood of 1894
The Times-Mountaineer of May 17, 1894. said, "about 11 o'clock Frank Seufert arrived in The Dalles after a furious drive from his cannery at Seuferts, to secure help to save a fish wheel from des-truction, after being torn from its moorings. He obtained the Inland Star but was unable to overtake and save the drifting wheel from destructions in the turbulent waters. Later the same day, a fish wheel was washed down stream, belonging to Winans Bros. The loss of these 2 wheels amounted to $10,000. The next Sunday was spent lashing fish wheels to their moorings more securely. Trains were running late and the right-of-way between The Dalles and Hood River finally became impassable. By May 28 the river reached the 49 foot mark. Reports from Umatilla and Riparia indicated a further rise! The Mountaineer suspended publication on the 29th when the water stood 18 inches deep on the floor! A small spot on 2nd street at the foot of the Brewery Grade was dry. All of First street was submerged. The night of June 6 the water measured 59.7. By June 10 it receded enough for some of the business men to clear their stores of the mud and debris. On June 12 communications were re-established when mail by rail from both the east and west arrived. The foul smell, left by the river mud, was very offensive. Disinfectants were freely used to overcome its effects. Much of the railroad bed was washed away. A bridge and rails were taken out near Cascade Locks."
The Chronicle of June 8, 1894 said, "F.W. Vaile, special postal agent, tried to get the DPAN boat company to carry mail during the flood for $7.50 each way, but the boat officials wouldn't do it, claiming the railroad got $40 a day for handling the mails and they expected to get the same. The Oregonian wanted the boat company to carry their papers free. The D.P.A.N. Co. suggested that the Oregonian might give their papers away free to the public, but the Oregonian didn't appreciate the joke. On May 28 the river stood at 49 feet and no one expected any flood. Then came 3 days of very hot weather that made every mountain stream a torrent causing the Columbia to raise rapidly to an all-time high of 59.7. Many business firms moved into tents on Washington street. The Henry Klint home, near the mouth of Chenowith creek, was anchored by ropes to keep it from floating away."
The D.P.A.N. Co. had all the river business between The Dalles and the Cascades during the flood of 1894. The locks at the Cascades was not completed until 1896, so no boats could be brought up from Portland to offer competition during the 15 day flood period, above the Cascades. The railroad tried to bring a boat up over the rapids by means of wenches, cables and lots of steam, but were unsuccessful. The DPAN Co. had more business than they could handle and charged the railroad plenty for all freight handled for the railroad and finally got the regular mail rates approved by Mr. Vaile Supt. of the railway mail service.
Flood of 1948
The flood of 1948 stood at 51.85, about 8 feet lower than that of 1894. It covered the Port Dock floor and the sand dike had to be bagged by volunteers to keep the water off Second street. It did back up through Mill creek tunnel and flood a part of 2nd street at Lincoln. The Union Pacific rail-road yards and Tie Plant were flooded out by a break in the sand dike back of the Tie Plant. Had Dalles City officials insisted on the Army Engineers installing a rook or concrete waterproof sea wall, in the place of the porous sand dike, at the time Bonneville Dam was constructed, the city and its industries would have had adequate protection. Elementary engineering taught us in grade and high school said, "a house built on sand cannot stand." A city "protected" by a sand dike has no protection at all! A city built down in a river channel, like The Dalles, Vancouver and Portland must protect itself by a sea wall or expect to be flooded outs The height of that wall is all the protection you have! Vanport was "protected" by a sand dike, and Vanport no longer exists! Some help from flood losses can be had from Flood Insurance. Street level property downtown, in The Dalles, should all have Flood Insurance protection.
Our river dams will give us some protection from June floods, 40 years from now when they are all constructed and have diversion ditches built to place water on the land. In the meantime a combination of deep mountain snows, a cold spring, followed by hot Memorial Day weather, will turn our Rocky Mountain creeks into rivers again, and the dams will only be obstructions to raise the water higher than it was in 1894 when we had a channel free and clear of all obstructions!
The Heppner Flood
The Heppner flood of June 14, 1903 which took the lives of 250 people has always been rated as one of the Pacific Northwest's major disasters! Many friends of Dalles people were lost in that flood. It was a "flash flood" that could occur to many of our Pacific Northwest cities and towns. The property damage was estimated at ½ million (about 4 million 1952), leaving a path of desolation and death that can never be forgotten!
Willow creek, which runs through Heppner branches 3 ways, in that little city, its bed following a canyon from ½ to 3/4ths of a mile wide. The surrounding hills are low and barren, of vegetation, they being wheat, pasture or summer follow lands, not favorable for checking the flow of water and allowing creeks to run "heavy" during, storms.
About 5 P.M. on that ill-fated Sunday evening, heavy black clouds gathered In the hot sky and sharp claps of thunder followed the flashes of lightning. Heppner had known thunder storms before so there was nothing to be alarmed at which would call people away from their evening meal -- yet it seemed so close, so loud and followed by a dull roar! As they rushed out of their homes they were caught by a black wall of muddy water 20 feet high -- in the creek bottom and 6 to 7 feet high in the back streets! It knocked people from their feet carrying them screaming away in its maddening blackness, as they left the safety of their homes in hopes of reaching higher ground! Others who seen it was too late to reach high ground turned and rushed back toward the safety of their homes, but it was too late and many of them were carried away. Some who, remained in homes, were carried away homes and all! Some sought the safety of tree tops, and survived while others witnessed the trees being uprooted, broken off by debris or otherwise carried away. Small wooden homes on fragile foundations were quickly dislodged and carried away! The larger homes and business buildings withstood the flooding waters.
The black swirling waters continued to flow through the town for an hour! Pitiful scenes of children being torn from their mothers, wives and husbands being separated, friends being parted in the swirl of mud and matter, greeted the helpless witnesses! Men plunged into the waters to save loved ones and were never seen again! Mothers perished with panic stricken children rather than leave them alone in a watery gravel Rescuers with ropes and wires performed many acts of heroism! The Palace Hotel was the town's haven of refuge and safety for those fortunate enough to reach it!
The Paul Revere Ride of 1903
Leslie Matlock and Bruce Kelley made a wild Paul Revere ride across country to warn Lexington and Ione of the approaching waters and were credited with preventing the loss of life Heppner suffered in those towns. The telephone lines were carried away by the first flood waters so these men had to "out run the flood" on their horses, over wet ground and uneven terrain on their ride!
Word of the disaster was spread by the press on Monday morning. Relief trains, supplies, workmen and first aid Crews entrained for the stricken country. Portland raised $20,000 and sent blankets to wrap the dead in. Aid came from other cities as far away as New York. It was 2 weeks before all the dead ware discovered in the mud and wreckage and buried!
Heppner survived the flood, was rebuilt with more substantial structures. Later fire swept the city nearly clean of all structures the flood left standing so that today Heppner is one of the more modern smaller towns of eastern Oregon.
The blizzard of 1862, 1883 and 1950 are the three worst we have on record. The 1882 blizzard and cold long winter, cleaned out about all the cattle on the ranges of eastern Oregon because the farmers at that time failed to put up hay or straw to tide animals over on. Winter commenced Jan. 1 and did not break up until March 1, 1802. The Columbia river was frozen over at The Dalles for 7 weeks preventing river traffic which was the only means of winter transportation down river. In 1880 the snow commenced falling the first of December and stayed on the ground until the first of March three full months! - but it never got colder than 6 above. The winter of the blizzard of 1883 which tied up the railroad for 3 weeks is covered on page 118 of this history. The blizzard of 1950 was only a one-day affair as compared to 3 weeks in 1883! However it was followed by murky "blind driving" weather which lasted 3 weeks, during which time cars and trucks were operated over roads largely by "feel of the steering wheel" rather than by sight because vision existed only about 1 car-length in the snows of our back roads. It was better on snow bladed highways and city streets.
In 1875 it was 8 below with deep snow and river froze over 44 days; in 1878 it was 1 below, and river froze 15 days; in 1879 the river was froze over a month; in 1883 it was 3 below and the river froze over 42 days, and 3 weeks of blizzard! - and 5 feet of snow; in 1884 it was 19 below, deep snow and river froze over 49 days; in 1886 it was minus 4 with river froze 17 days; in 1887 it was minus 6 and river froze 16 days; in 1888 it was minus 13 and the river froze a month; in 1889 it was 14 below; in 1896 it was 12 below and river froze over twice in February; in 1891 it was 1 below; in 1892 it was 2 above but the river was froze over from Dec. 20 to Feb. 23 - 61 days; in 1893 it was a minus 6; in 1896 it was 2 below; in 1899 it was one below and the river froze over twice, 14,days in January and 12 days in February for a total of 26 days; in 1902 it was 2 below with river froze 19 days; in 1905 it was again 2 below; 1907 4 below; 1909 19 below and deep snow; 1912 11 below;. 1916 17 below; 1919 was 30 below in Dec. for an all time low and snows which blocked the railroad and caved in roof tops; in 1922 it was 10 below; 1924 13 below; 1927 14 below; 1929 12 below; 1930 21 below; 1931 25 below; 1932 zero; 1933 8 below; 1936 4 below; 1937 10 below; 1943 3 below; 1950 21 below with 3 weeks of blind car driving! --- Dalles Chronicle 1950 Historical Edition - Mountaineer.
© Jeffrey L. Elmer All Rights Reserved