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July 28, 2014

Preserving Oregon’s African American Historic Places Project

Seeking more!

A BIG thank you to those who have already submitted information as part of the Preserving Oregon’s African American Historic Places project. We endeavor to protect and preserve African American historic sites and places from the time period of 1844 to 1984. The information received speaks volume about the richness and depth of Oregon’s African American history and demonstrates that there is substantive physical evidence of the life and tales of Oregon’s African American pioneers.

Black pioneers cemetery burial information comprises the majority of the data collected to date. Two Civil War Veterans, Louis Napoleon and John W. Jackson, of Westport and North Salem, respectively were among 180,000 African American soldiers who fought for the Union. Pioneer Louis Napoleon retired in Oregon and worked as a hired hand for the West family. He became one of the founders of Westport Cemetery where he is buried. John W. Jackson served with the 5th United States Colored Calvary (USCC) and he is buried in the historic Hayesville Pioneer Cemetery in North Salem, Oregon. Another burial submission commemorates the life of Adam Augustus Waterford, who came to Portland with his parents in 1855. Waterford, hired as Portland’s first Black Fireman, possibly in the 1890s, is buried in the historic Lone Fir Cemetery.

Burger Barn, 1974

Burger Barn, 1974

Documentation of historic buildings include George Fletcher’s, WWI veteran and 1911 Pendleton rodeo champion, cabin in Pendleton. A 114 year old commercial building located in Portland, commonly known as the Burger Barn and was the site of the infamous Possum incident in 1981. In 1906, the same building functioned as the family residence of Kathryn Gray, a Black suffrage leader. Another historic site is the airbase located in Pendleton where 555th (Triple Nickles) Parachute Infantry Battalion, the nation’s first all Black parachute infantry test platoon, company and battalion, were secretly sent to become military smokejumpers.

Please share your information! You may submit your information online at Questions? Email Kim Moreland, Project Coordinator, Oregon Black Pioneers at Or Kuri Gill, Grant and Outreach Manager, Oregon Heritage at

Submitted by Kim Moreland

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