Today we go way back in Hood River history to meet Reuben Crawford and his daughter Hattie Redmond. They lived in Hood River only briefly but they left enough of a trail for our researchers to follow them. They will also be brought back to life as part of "Cemetery Tales," which will be live-streamed this year. Just click through to buy your tickets, and you will see actors portray not only Reuben Crawford and Hattie Redmond, but also Cap McCan, Jose and Maria Castilla, Ray Sato, Arline Winchell Moore, as well as Nathaniel, Mary, and Henry Coe.
Reuben Crawford was a ship caulker and former slave who purchased his and his wife’s freedom in 1862 in St Louis. He and his wife Vina and their children were the first Black family to live in Hood River, arriving in 1869 from California, then moving to Portland in the early 1870s, where he continued his work as ship caulker. He was a founding member (in 1884) of the first African American Odd Fellows lodge in Oregon, among many other community involvements.
Hattie Redmond was Reuben Crawford’s daughter who lived in Hood River as a young girl. Hattie went on to be a leader in the Black suffrage movement in Portland. She was also a leader at the Mt. Olivet Baptist church in Portland, as her father had been before her.
Fascinating. I have never heard of them.
L.E. on 30th September 2021 @ 8:04am
Picture formatting might be off, web-wise, Arthur. I see a close-up of him, head shot only, and nothing of his daughter?
Kyle on 30th September 2021 @ 11:33am
What a self made and confident man when that was far from the norm.
nels on 30th September 2021 @ 4:02pm
I was wondering about the daughter as well?? And Yes Nels, what a brave soul to buck the norm when actually " skin color is all a reaction to sunlight, biologically there is no such thing as race"
Eric Sloan on 30th September 2021 @ 6:14pm
Wondering how long this family actually lived in HR before moving to the "metro" area of the time. I can't imagine they were well received by the Caucasian population of our town...not espousing judgment, just realistic wondering...
Susan Baldwin on 30th September 2021 @ 7:10pm
Sorry, I didn't have a photo of both of them together so I used this one of Reuben Crawford. We don't have any photos of them in our collection-- these photos are from other sources.
Our researchers weren't able to figure out how long they lived in Hood River. They found note of them arriving in 1869, and they were in Portland a few years later, but they could have left any time in between. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of written records from those years-- no local newspaper, no city records, no photos. You never know when a diary or random journal will show up, but most of what we know of them is based on the history they told after they joined the community in Portland.
I believe our researchers are looking to publish their monograph on the Crawford family, and I will share it when that happens.
ArthurB on 30th September 2021 @ 7:50pm
I was also wondering about their reception in Hood River, or even in Oregon, back in those early days of the state. I read somewhere that the original state constitution in Oregon banned black people from living in the state. I believe that was their solution for not having to deal with slavery back in 1859. I don't know how long this lasted, though, or whether this was even enforced except possibly by harassment or making people so unwelcome they would not stay.
From reading old stories and bits in the HR Glacier, it is clear that HR was a very racist place into the early 20th century, although probably no worse than most of the rest of the country in those days and certainly nothing as bad as the Jim Crow south. Some of the things I have read in the Glacier are shocking by today's standards. Not to make excuses for these attitudes, but it was a different time.
kmb on 30th September 2021 @ 10:12pm
I did most of the research on the Crawfords, along with an Odd Fellow in Portland, and we know they arrived here in late 1869 and it is possible that they moved on to Portland as early as 1870, though the records get fuzzy. Having prominent white sponsors surely eased their entry in to the Valley, but the parternship that brought them here suffered some deaths and so the Crawfords ability to stay was compromised. Still working to get the full monograph out.
Leanne Hogie on 1st October 2021 @ 10:13pm