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Author pens second volume on Sherwood history

Sherwood: Tales from the Attic: Continuing Volume 1: 1859 to 1919 is June Reynolds continuing saga of Sherwood history


by: RAY PITZ - June Reynolds, who has been active in recording Sherwood's history for years, recently released 'Sherwood: Tales from the Attic: Continuing Volume 1: 1859 to 1919.'When local historian and former teacher June Reynolds began writing her first all-encompassing book about the history of Sherwood, many posed the same question: “What right did I have to write the history?”

Reynolds answered quite succinctly with “Sherwood: A sense of time and place: The history of Sherwood Oregon and the surrounding area,” published in 2006.

Since that book covered so much of the city’s history, she wanted to move forward in her latest effort, picking up with the city of the 1920s and 1930s. However, new information (along with area families loading her up with more and more family history) caused her to pause.

“There was so much data,” Reynolds said of not quite making it to the 1920s. What she ended up with was publishing an addendum to her first book with “Sherwood: Tales from the Attic: Continuing Volume 1: 1859 to 1919,” a 146-page self-published work that continues the saga of early Sherwood. Cheyenne Publishing publishes the book, which sells for $15.

Reynolds, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in library science from the same university, worked for 11 years as a Sherwood High School librarian and one year in the same capacity at Archer Glen Elementary School.

Although she didn’t officially move here until 2000, she has a prior connection to the city having worked in the old cannery from 1970 to 1972.

“I pulled all the cans off the line and boxed them for the warehouse,” she said.

A lifelong history buff, she sometimes gets sidetracked during research, overwhelmed with the wealth of information available.

“That’s the curse of being a librarian,” she said, “you’re interested in everything.”

While writing her new book, Reynolds enlisted the help of several students in her history classes at Sherwood High School.

Among those was Katie Jentzch, who with help from another student, Trug Te Le, was able to compile a local pioneer registry, which included names of area settlers including where they lived, their year of birth and where they are buried.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Reynolds will be signing copies of her new book 'Sherwood: Tales from the Attic: Continuing Volume 1: 1859 to 1919' at the Sherwood Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 29. “(Sherwood) is one of the last places to be settled because it was not by water,” Reynolds said of the city, which was populated by a handful of pioneers since the 1840s with settlers moving into the area most noticeably beginning in the 1860s.

Reynolds, who is president of the Sherwood Historical Society, had help from other students as well including Jim Bishop and Crystal Anzaldi who did everything from scanning the numerous photos in the book to conducting field studies.

One of those studies was of Crystal Dawn Smith Rilee’s (a descendent of the Parrett family) home on Parrett Mountain. Reynolds even included a shot of the original family home on the cover of her first book, featuring the original building that burned down around 1919.

“So we went out to the place where the fire was,” she said.

What amazed her and her students was the existence of hundreds and hundreds of non-native daffodils, flowers that most likely were planted pre-1919 and continue (with a little help from the current homeowner) to this day.

At the same time she was up there, Reynolds also learned during her visit is that Parrett Mountain was once home to a volcano with volcanic rock still visible near where Parrett Mountain Road meets Haugen Road.

Another interesting piece of history Reynolds uncovered during her research was the existence of 11 “absolutely native Southwest pine trees,” located between what was once the Old Cannery over to the old Jim Fisher roofing complex in downtown Sherwood. Their significance was that their cousin trees once fueled the fires needed to run the former brickyard, which operated day and night in Old Town until 1896.

The brickyard supplied all the brick needed to construct notable Portland structures, especially those on First and Second streets.

“There’s not much brick in Sherwood today…and the reason why is it all got shipped to Portland,” said Reynolds.

As part of her research, Reynolds visited the Oregon Historical Society, the state library in Salem, the Corvallis Library, the Portland State University Library, and the University of Oregon Library, scouring newspapers on microfilm in order to piece together the area’s history.

She filled several large notebooks with the information she’s culled over the years as well.

In fact, Reynolds “eureka” moment came when she came across the Feb. 13, 1914, edition of the Sherwood News Sheet at the University of Oregon’s Knight Library. In it was a story of early Sherwood resident M.M. Fitch, a not-so-surprising find in itself except for the fact that it contained a photo of the man (many of the early area papers had no photos).

“I knew M.M. Fitch had built the Morback House and that’s pretty significant,” said Reynolds. “He was a very interesting person in my book.”

For his part, Morback served as Sherwood’s mayor for 30 years, and is believed to hold the record as longest-running mayor of any city in the state.

Other interesting facts Reynolds unearthed include interesting facts such as:

• the contributions of the Stein family, early settlers whose homestead is near Kruger and Elwert roads.

“They were big hop growers before prohibition,” said Reynolds, who noted that patriarch Samuel Stein farmed the area for years before his death in 1908 and eventually became a salon keeper. (For the record, prohibition in Oregon began in 1914 with the city of Sherwood approving it several months earlier.) Samuel Stein’s son Alfred would later become a successful farmer as well but eventually turned from raising hops to raising Belgian horses.

• the life of Solomon Weckert, the so-called “Onion King” who once owned a spacious home in the area where Home Depot is today. (Sherwood in the 1920s raised more onions than any other single location in the Northwest.) The Weckert family also owned a feed story in Sherwood and the building next store to Clancy’s in Old Town. That building once contained a noted confection shop.

“The whole Weckert story is incredible,” said Reynolds. In fact, Reynolds’ research of the family was instrumental in the family hosting a reunion in town several years back.

• that local historian and former mayor Clyde List’s grandparents, who emmagrated from Germany, were part of a land-deal swindle. Reynolds said the couple had put a $250 down payment on some land that the swindler had also sold to other people.

Unfortunately, they missed the day they were expected to appear in court to testify against the man because “they didn’t have the language skills to read the summons, newspaper or notices.”

Meanwhile, Reynolds had a tougher time getting information about early Sherwood’s less-than-honorable activities including making moonshine and the presence of the Ku Klux Klan, saying she asked some of the hard questions but didn’t get very many answers.

Nevertheless, she discovered information about a civic group known as the KKK, who met in the Weckert Building in Old Town in the 1920s. In the 1930s, a closet containing the outfits and robes of that group was mysteriously torched. A newspaper article from the time reported on the incident, simply stating that, “the material that was in the closet will not be resupplied due to lack of funds.”

In addition, she came upon information from the 1970s about a stash of whiskey bottles discovered in a nearby woods, which most likely dated from prohibition.

Now Reynolds has no plans to slow down. Her next volume, Volume 2 will cover Sherwood in the 1920s and 1930s. From there, she hopes to come out with books covering two decades apiece until she reaches the 1980s.

When not writing, Reynolds often conducts Living History classes around the area, and recently attended events and conferences celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Oregon.

“I go dressed as a person from 1912,” she said, noting that she takes on the persona of a woman pushing for voting rights for women.

Reynolds will be signing copies of her new book “Sherwood: Tales from the Attic: Continuing Volume 1: 1859 to 1919 at the Sherwood Public Library from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 29.




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