History-Onyx 6

       Hello fellow Internet surfer and welcome to a gem of a site dedicated to illuminating the onyx-like parallels unearthed from an otherwise beclouded and boring American and world historical perspective into its many hues and flavors, a spectrum inclusive of most light that makes up the untold histories, fascinating stories and journeys not quite attached or put together in this theatrical or holistic manner as you will find!
        We bring many years of personal and unique historical research, reading, collaboration, living, and writing  experiences. One of us is a published historian, journalist, and genealogist, whose roots are in the Central Oregon Coast, the primary though not exclusive gathering or focal point of these stories. And her co-author is more centered, though not  exclusively so on the personal-spiritual journey as a former Lutheran minister, and how this has come into play to reinvigorate her own philosophical historical understanding of  faith and her questions of the world-church  professional Christian training, vision and cultural paradigms, relying upon her common sense and also the expertise and critique of those historically disinherited, disenfranchised, and despised.
     Neither of us is professionally enamored by historicism in the classical sense, or any particular intellectual chains, other than the challenge to loosen the usual grip of white western european, heterosexist and masculinist elitism! And yes, we believe in being politically correct, and are proud of it, that we still name the names! We are students and practitioners of folk and established history, and are expanding our understanding of story, wishing to  share some of those exciting findings and perspectives. We plan to update this site regularly with the little known gems and connections to "the rest of the story" usually relegated to footnotes we have uncovered from the current draft of our mammoth, interconnected, well documented history saga, Sovereigns of Themselves: A Liberating History of Oregon and Its Coast. We would welcome and appreciate hearing from you, comments, questions, suggestions, corrections, or other resources, and we hope that you'll stick around long enough to get to know just a little bit more about what these two cyber-historians have to offer. After all, these days, contacts that begin in cyberspace are often the most real, vivid, and long-lasting, and maybe that will be true of us.

--Rev. Marilyn A. Riedel & M. Constance Guardino III

Maracon Challenges You To Believe It Or Not!

      Because he made such a lasting impression on my life as a genealogist and historian, I often tell this anecdote about my first encounter (1966) with the infamous train robber and murderer, Ray Charles D'Autremont:

     As a struggling student of sociology on the beautiful University of Oregon campus, Eugene (1965-1970), I was 21 and living a very "present-tense" existence.
     I heard the first angry cries of "get out of Vietnam!" and had my first "close encounter" of the most shocking! kind with a hippy couple from San Francisco, while sweeping floors and emptying ashtrays at the Erb Memorial Union where Ray D'Autremont and I were both employed as part-time custodians.
     On the federal government's "work-study" program, I swabbed floors and dusted offices in the Erb, 15 hours a week, mostly evenings and week-ends.
     The Erb's food and maintenance departments were mainly staffed with students like myself, and elderly civil service workers—like D'Autremont.
     Ray, who loved literature, foreign language, philosophy and art, seemed uncannily well versed in those subjects for a man who—for all practical purposes—appeared to have spent his entire life cleaning up after others. He would sit in the staff room during breaks, licking his ice-cream cone, smoking his cigarettes dangling at the end of an outrageously long filtered holder, endlessly discussing The Prophet and The Rubiat Of Omar Khyyam.
     After work, the pleasant, round-bellied old fellow walked me home to Gerlinger Hall where I worked as a live-in hostess when I wasn’t busy washing windows at the Erb. This nightly ritual was established because our mutual boss, Norman Boyles, was concerned about the "dangerous characters" lurking about on campus at night, as there had recently been a rash of on-campus rapes. Boyles, bless his heart!, wanted me delivered home safely.
     Ray would throw on his overcoat and hat, grab a flashlight, and accompany me across the street in the dark to Gerlinger Hall. I’d unlock the front door of that seemingly haunted old building, creeping with Ivy and age, while D'Autremont ceremoniously searched the bushes for rapists.
     Once it had been established that "The coast is clear!," we'd say "good night" and go our separate ways.
 One evening, I had the occasion to discuss the many "virtues" of the intelligent and charming D'Autremont with Norman Boyles, as I wanted to thank him for personally providing me with such a reliable chaperone.
     "Ray's the most infamous man on campus," Boyles casually offered, as though it were common knowledge.
     "What do you mean by infamous?," came my startled reply, my youth and ignorance popping out all over.
     "You've never heard of the murders on the Gold Special?," Boyles exclaimed, somewhat surprised at my apparent lack of knowledge on that chapter of Oregon history.
     "What on the what?," I quizzed Boyles, totally confused by the implications of his question.
     "In October of '23, Ray and his two brothers, Roy and Hugh, held up a mail train in Tunnel 13 in the Siskiyou
Mountains. They shot down four men in cold blood!"
     "Ray’s a M-M-MURDERER?" I couldn't help myself; I gasped!" But... it can’t be...!" The stammer in my voice must have been obvious to Boyles, who smiled and calmly watched my intense reaction to this most unexpected turn of events.
      "Well, it's true! It took the biggest manhunt of the century to track those three down and put them behind bars. Ray's been in prison for nearly 40 years," Boyles said casually.
      "Then...what’s he doing here?," I demanded to know, my heart in my throat. "That cold-blooded killer being discussed here is my bodyguard!"
     "He’s on parole; Ray's paid his debt to society," Boyles assured me, his hand on my shoulder.
     "Ray D'Autremont," I nervously pondered. "Infamous train robber." "Infamous”—I couldn’t say "it" about my
friend—"K-I-L-L-E-R." I thought seriously all about it.
     In 1970, I graduated from the University of Oregon and moved to the Big Elk Valley snuggled deep in the Coast Range of Lincoln County. There, I settled into a seclusive lifestyle of fine art, scholarship, and writing.
     In 1973, when the Oregon Journal ran its 50 year anniversary special on the D'Autremonts, I was excited to know at last all the details surrounding that period of Ray's life. Through Christmas cards, we kept in touch, and I decided to write a commemorative ballad about his "dark years" while the series was being run. I gave into that inspiration even though the national press was raking the Oregon Journal over the coals for giving VIP attention to a "common criminal."
     Pouring over the 12-part series, "Murder on theGold Special," by Jack Perment, brought about my "historical
consciousness," I believe, because I experienced what is known as a "classic click" with D'Autremont—at a moment when his past intersected with my present foreshadowing my greatest opportunity.
     As the result of this holographic experience, I have devoted a good portion of my time over the past three decades to the dictum, "Bring 'em back alive!" Putting persons, places and events in their proper perspective is what I have always intended to do. This is, after all, the primary function of an historian!

Siskiyou Pass October 11, 1923

      Train robberies, long a staple of western movies and pulp novels, were a very real danger to Railway Post Office clerks. Thieves sought registered mail, which often held cash, and money being transported in mail car safes. Typically considered a 19th century crime, (28 mail trains were stopped by thieves between 1897-1899 alone), train robberies continued into the first two decades of the 20th century.
     A few miles to the west of the open, sunny summit of Siskiyou Pass, occurred a most notorious train holdup. At 12:40pm on October 11, 1923, the three D'Autremont brothers, Hugh, 19, years of age, and Roy and Ray, 23-year-old twins, swung onto the tender of the southbound Shasta Limited No. 13 just outside of the small station of Siskiyou and ordered the engineer to stop the train, which he did at the southern end of Tunnel 13. They believed that $40,000 was being held in the mail car. Under the leadership of Hugh the amateurs at crime shot and killed the engineer, the fireman, and a brakeman. When the mail clerk opened the mail car door in answer to the order to come out, they shot at him, but he managed to close the door in time. Unable to enter the car the bandits dynamited it, but the gases and flames from the explosion further thwarted them and they fled into the rough Siskiyou wilderness. Much of the mail was burned or charred, leaving nothing for the bandits. In their haste, they left some supplies and other articles behind them.

Hugh, Ray and Roy D'Autremont
 The Last Oregon Train Robbery

     The most important to detectives was a pair of overalls, in a pocket of which was the receipt for a registered letter signed by Hugh. Immediately the railroad’s telegraph wires sizzled with the news. The US Post Office Department threw out the largest net it had ever cast for fugitives. The manhunt for the trio utilized bloodhounds, airplanes and teams of armed postal inspectors. Law enforcement officers combed the Oregon mountains for weeks, but could not find the brothers, who had fled the area. The Southern Pacific and the American Railway joined the state of Oregon and the federal government in offering dead-or-alive rewards that totaled $15,900, or $5,300 for each culprit. Over two million bulletins and posters bearing pictures of the brothers appeared conspicuously in every railway station and post office in the country. Canada and Mexico also posted “wanted” notices. The search spread to all parts of the world and descriptions of the men were issued in seven languages. Many fake clues were followed before a barracks buddy in February 1927, landing in San Francisco after serving in the Philippines, noticed the resemblance between the picture of Hugh D'Autremont on a post office circular and a soldier know as James Price in the 31st Infantry in the Islands.

D'Autremonts Tried in Jacksonville

     The authorities were notified and Hugh was captured on February 12 and was brought to Oregon, where he was indicted for murder. The trial opened on May 3 in Jacksonville, becoming the town’s most important event since the gold stampedes of the 1850s. The jury held an impromptu track meet, and witnesses played baseball. A mistrial resulted when one of the jurors died, and a second trial began on June 6 and ended on June 21, when Hugh was sentenced to life imprisonment.

(1) Downtown Gold Hill 1890s (2) M. Constance Guardino III (3) Jackson County Jail 1927
Sepia Reproductions Courtesy of Julie Hendricks

     Meanwhile, the search for the twins continued and on June 8 they were arrested in Steubenville, Ohio, where they had been living and working as the Winston brothers. Ray had married and had a small son. They had heard of Hugh's capture and after first denying their identity, waived extradition and were returned to Oregon, where they confessed to the crime. Hugh had admitted his guilt. A festive spirit prevailed at the D'Autremont trial. The twins were also given life sentences.
     Hugh D'Autremont received a parole in 1959 and died roughly two months later in San Francisco. Roy was given a frontal lobotomy while in prison and was paroled in March, 1983. He died three months later in a nursing home. Ray was paroled in 1961 and died on December 22, 1984 in Eugene after working for years as a custodian at the University of Oregon.

      On November 8, 2003, Pat Dunford of Tucson, Arizona wrote: "Hi Connie, Small world.  This is from a family history written by my mother in the 1980's.  The "Von" mentioned is my father.  Nellie/Nell is my grandmother, Nellie Palmer Dunford, who was born in Elk City.  Ike is Oscar W. Dunford, my grandfather:

     "Ike and Nell moved back to Jacksonville about 1920 where they bought a dryland farm on Poor Man’s Creek. Von used to drive a buggy down to Jacksonville to school. Ike continued to be a butcher as no one could survive on small acre farming.
     "In the mid-1920s Ike was hired as a deputy sheriff when Ralph Jennings became sheriff. They moved into Jacksonville which was still the county seat, where Ike had charge of the jail and Nellie cooked for the prisoners. In 1929 the county seat was moved to Medford, so they moved to Medford to a house on Apple Street. Later a new courthouse was built with the jail on the top floor with an apartment for the jailer.
     "The most famous prisoners were the D’Autrement brothers who had blown up a train in the Siskayou tunnel. Nellie became quite fond of the youngest, Hugh, and thought he had been led astray.

     "There is a picture of Ike with Hugh in the old courthouse in Jacksonville.  I had always thought that this occurred in Jacksonville, and can find no clues on the internet this morning to say whether the jail was physically in Medford by 1929.  The courthouse in Medford appears to have been dedicated in 1932.  I'm not sure my mom had this completely right.  Will have to do more research.  She was right, however, about my grandmother's attitude towards Hugh.  Interesting that your information puts him in the leadership role.  Frankly, after more than twenty years working in the prison system here in Arizona, and knowing my grandmother's propensity towards seeing the good in everyone, I doubt Hugh was such a shining star." ---Pat Dunford

'Murder On The Gold Special'
By M. Constance Guardino III &
Rev. Marilyn A. Riedel

Oppressed and downtrodden,
  Three restless young brothers
 Sought out their misfortunes,
  A blight shared with others.

 Floundering for meaning—
  The wolf at the door—
 They ached for a future
  That didn’t look poor.

 A scheme flashed in focus—
  It’s logic embracing—
 And they began planning
  And plotting and casing.

 Dismal and desperate,
  Disheartened, depressed,
 They strongly considered
  "The Plan" for a test!

 A small candy factory
  Staked out by the mob,
 Was aborted 'cause Fear
  Frowned its face on the job.

 Hugh joined his brothers,
  Caught up in their dreams,
 And was soon swallowed whole
  By their grandiose schemes!

 The brothers united,
  And planned a new stake.
 "The Special's a good risk
  With thousands to take."

 They worked in the forest,
  And bought an old Nash.
 (Some games at a picnic
  Brought prizes—in cash),

 And found a good hideout
  By Tunnel Thirteen.
 "Miles from the rails,
  We’ll be safe an’ unseen."

 In black melancholia,
  The three had to choose:
 "Played all on this one card,
  We’ll win, draw, or lose."

 They oiled up their footwear;
  And "blacked up" their faces.
 Then, gripping their shotguns
  The boys took their places.

 "The Special’s on schedule!"
  The robbers jumped on;
 Roy, almost missing
  The leap, dropped his gun.

 Hugh barked out the orders:
  "Old man, stop this train!
 Say 'No!' and I promise
  I'll blow out your brain!"

 They charged to the mail car
  And blasted the door.
 A percussion that tore
  At the car with a roar,

 Rumbled the tunnel;
  Steel bursting in flames.
 For Dougherty, the mail clerk,
  The glory bound train!

 Legend sifts men
  Both the good and the bad.
 Youth without leaven
  Are bound to turn Mad!

 They hoped to uncouple
  That car from the train,
 And find a quick fortune,
  Dissolving their pain.

 With lantern, the brakeman
  In an eerie-like dream,
 Rushed into the tunnel
  And witnessed the scene. 
"Get this uncoupled!"
  Scoffed Roy with a sneer
 "I’m trying!" he trembled.
  "I’m no engineer!"

 Outside the dark tunnel,
  In confusion and frantic,
 They shot down the brakeman,
 In deep waves of panic.

 With furry the engineer
  Clutched at the throttle.
 Yet the train was entombed
  Like a boat in a bottle.

 More gun shots resounded.
  The engineer crumbled
 In a heap with the fireman.
   The Vision was humbled.

There was scarcely a clue
  At the scene of the crime.

That time of temptation
  Had rolled an eleven,
 But three desperados
  Were dealt out of heaven.

 Remember that innocent
  Lives were snuffed out
 Like flickering candles
  Before the devout.

 As well as the widows,
  The orphans, their kin,
 Left grieving at altars
  Of blood-streaking sin.

 Back in their cache,
  Empty hands of despair,
 Clutched at a heaviness
  Hovering the air.

 Pattering posters:
  Three "Killers at Large!"
 Ransom was proffered.
  Mayhem the charge.

Man hunting missions
  Were soon organized
 To capture three brothers,
  Who were so despised.

There was scarcely a clue
   At the scene of the crime.

An old pair of denims
  Proved helpful in time.

 Deep down in a pocket
  A thin piece of paper
 With "Hugh" written on it;
  A lead in the caper!

 Freezing and frenzied,
  Supplies running out,
 The fugitives brazenly
  Left their hideout.

 With search planes surveying,
  They struck for the West.
 Then three days of roaming,
  And southbound to rest.

 A gnawing starvation,
  Drove 'em onward toward Hilt
 Where their mug shots as "Killers!"
  Pressed hard on their guilt.

 "A campground supply house!
  Ah! Bacon and veal!
 Eternity’s passed since
  We've had our last meal!"

 Near tracks at Hilt City:
  "Look out, it’s the cops!
 They're hollering 'halt!,' so
  Let's pull all the stops!"

 So fierce was the weather
  Of rain, snow and wind,
 They thought self-deliverance,
  But wouldn't give in.

 Tormented and tortured,
  Their senses unraveling,
 The D'Autremonts wondered
  If they could keep traveling.

 In Hornbrook, decisions:
  "Should we go our own ways?"
 "Should we meet in the future?"
  "Does New York sound okay?"

 Each man went his own way,
  And began a new life.
 Love first beckoned Ray,
  And he married his wife.

 Just sweet seventeen,
  Hazel gave him a son,
 Unaware her true love
  Was a man on the run.

 She knew him as "Elmer;"
  His truth never told,
 When Roy became "Clarence;"
  The crime trail grew cold.

After months of contentment,
  This new way of living
 Was "light" in the pocket,
  And life kept on giving.

 In time, a new poster
  Made the twins take a pause,
 Why were they still wanted—
  "Not Hugh?" "What’s the cause?"

 After joining the Army,
  A soldier it seems,
 Reported a sighting
  Inside the Philippines

 Of Hugh who was captured
  Brought back to the states,
 And indicted for murder.
  His life on the grate.

 A flurry of stories
  Shook Ray and Roy's mirth;
 They were recognized
  By the man, Collingsworth,

 Who told the detectives:
  "Those brothers, 'Goodwin'
 Look suspiciously like
  The D'Autremont twins!"

 By Sunrise next morning,
  The twins were arrested.
 They swore who they were,
  But their crimes? They contested!

 Grim Reaper's a-commin'
  They'll hang him up high.
 Ray's breast was a-heavin'
  While bidding "good-bye"

 To his sobbing son, Jackie,
  Who stuck out his hand
 To caress his caged papa,
  The dreg of the land.

 His loving wife, Hazel,
  Was dazed with despair;
 The Fates at her door,
  Were so cruel and unfair.

 In Jacksonville City,
  The townsfolk stampeded
 The small county jail
  Where the twins were impeded.

 The District Attorney
  Burst forth an eruption
 Of ranting and raving
  Spewed at their corruption.

 Hugh's mistrial for murder
  Was sensationalism,
 But the jury secured him
  A lifetime in prison.

 The twins signed confessions
  Of bedlam and horror.
 Behind bars a lifetime
  Would even the score.

 With stripes on their shoulders
  And chains on their feet,
 The "think tank" in Salem
  Seemed just, right and meet.

 They gambled for fortune
  That dark, dreary day.
 "Was gold on the Special?"
  Don’t know to this day!

M. Constance Guardino III Reverend Marilyn A. Riedel
This Page Last Updated by Maracon on December 1, 2005

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