|New book tackles the un-boring community of Boring posted on 06/01/2021|
The community of Boring has experienced a surprising array
of unexpected and unusual events during its 118-year history.
The small Oregon town, with a name that leads to easy jokes
about its sleepy nature, has been the home to a rich array of eccentric
characters and events over the years. From the time the future heavyweight
boxing champion of the world was hired to fight the town bully, to a massive
fire blamed on fireworks that left half the town in ashes, the history of
Boring has been anything but, and was populated with moonshiners, runaway
trains, wild west gangs and a wild man who lived in the woods among other
Boring resident and unofficial town historian Bruce Haney
has gathered these unorthodox stories in his new book “Eccentric Tales of
Boring, Oregon.” Haney gives a monthly speech about the history of Boring for
the Boring Community Planning Organization and runs a popular history group
called Boring Oregon History.
“I started looking in the newspaper archives for the most
un-boring Boring stories I could find. After a couple years I realized that I
had all these great stories that only myself and the people that attended these
meetings knew about,” Haney wrote in an email. “That is when I decided to take
the best ones and deep dive into researching them and make a book out of them.”
The tales Haney researched and collected for his book
largely take place in the early years of the 20th century before the second
world war. Haney touches on secret societies such as the Odd Fellows and
Rebekah’s influence on the social life of the community, the proliferation of
bootlegging operations during prohibition and the logging industry’s physical
toll on workers in the region, plus a one-armed band on the vaudeville circuit
comprised of maimed mill workers and further accounts of death and
disfigurement of the town’s mill workers.
“I hope that readers get a better understanding of early
20th century America,” Haney noted. “I hope that when someone jokes ‘How boring
is Boring,’ they will be able to tell the person how truly un-boring Boring is
and has always been.”
Haney sheds light on an incident of historic prejudice that
resulted in murder with the grim recounting of an assault on a trio of East
Indian millworkers. A band of white millworkers began firing on the cabin
occupied by the East Indian workers in an effort to intimidate them until one
of the assailants began firing into the cabin and struck and killed Harnam
Singh, a recent immigrant whom little is known about. One newspaper stated he
was only in the country for two weeks at the time of his murder.
As a whole, the collection encapsulates a cross section of
the driving influences and impulses of a community and the region during the
first half of the twentieth century.
The book is Haney’s first foray as an author. Haney stated
he is currently researching and planning his next book.
“I love researching and building stories using history. I
have a few different possibilities for the next book ... I’m enjoying the
feeling of being published for the first time,” Haney wrote.
The process of researching the book on Boring led Haney to
develop a deeper connection with the town and its residents.
“When I was wondering how old that bar or that two-story
brick building was, I never thought that it would lead to me finding and being
welcomed into such a wonderful community,” Haney wrote in the preface to his
book. “I grew up in the big city nearby, Portland, but I never felt part of a
community there. In Boring, I do.”
“Eccentric Tales of Boring Oregon” in published by Arcadia
Publishing and the History Press.
More information is available online at www.arcadiapublishing.com
By Ben Simpson/MT