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The First Girl "Mysterious" Billy Smith Ever Loved

To cover discoveries not directly connected to the old waterfront I have started a new blog, Oregon Ozone . I stole the name from an Oregonian column from the 1890s. The first girl “Mysterious” Billy Smith ever loved met her tragic death on their honeymoon. Billy had a monument erected over her grave that cost a fortune. Today the beautiful monument—a large sculpted angel—is part of the Historical Monuments on the Cemetery Tour page of the River View Cemetery website. The fact that her husband was a famous prizefighter has escaped everyone’s notice, until now. Read the story in the very first post on Oregon Ozone . 
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Asthmatic Weakling Writes Book on Prizefighting in Portland

It is true, an asthmatic weakling, who used to regularly give up his lunch money as tribute to bullies, has written a book on prizefighting. Not only this, History Press has just published it! Oregon Prizefighters: Forgotten Bare-knuckles Champions of Portland and Astoria , will hit the shelves on Monday. What was it that made someone like me, born without the “sports gene,” to become interested in the bare-knuckles prizefighting of yesteryear? It was the people: brash, naïve youths, wracked by passions, ruined by limelight. Then there is the model Portlander, Dave Campbell, for many years “Our Dave,” beloved chief of the Portland fire department. He was self-educated, intelligent, measured, and fearless, and gave up a sure championship career as a boxer to fight Portland’s fires. Add to the mix the original all-time champion, Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey (died 1895), and “Mysterious” Billy Smith—both legends in the world of boxing history—and you soon begin to wonder why these fellow

The End of Summer—and a new book in time for the Holidays

As the sky takes on more red color, causing the little green plants to spurt forth buds, and the year turns toward Indian Summer I find it necessary (at least for my own conscience sake) to give some explanation, or apology for my slackness in contributing to my own blog. I was having fun. After eight years of being a, sort of, shut in I have been out riding my bike, going to the pool, working on illustrations, playing my guitar, and visiting folks. My long time relationship with the opium poppy (due to rheumatoid and osteoarthritis) has been over for some time, and other improvements of a nearly miraculous nature have gotten me off my ass and out in the wide world. I have not been idle. I wrapped up my next book, The Oregon Prizefighters: Forgotten Bare-Knucked Champions of Portland and Astoria to be released by History Press in mid October. The book centers around the three world famous prizefighters who called Portland home: Jack (Nonpareil) Dempsey, David Cam

The Riversdale Incident

The full-rigged ship, Riversdale Back in the palmy days of the Portland sailor’s boarding masters the occasional landlubber that was shipped was small fry compared to the steady trade in deserting seamen. The following article is from the April 1903 edition of the British ship owner’s trade magazine, The Syren and Shipping News . The events mentioned in the article on the Riversdale marked the beginning of the end for the Portland shanghaiers. Within three years the mighty Sullivan, Grant Bros.& McCarron would “throw down their hands in sheer disgust” as reformers got the upper hand in Portland politics. On Watch T’ is gratifying to find an Englishman, in this degenerate age, having the pluck to pit himself against the combination of sailors' boarding-house proprietors, their runners and the whole evil fraternity that have long made Portland, Oregon, a place to be avoided by shipmasters, officers and men under the British Red Ensign. Captain Porter, of the

Bunko Kelly's Music Video

I needed to get this done so I could spend more time on my newest book (due in March). I still don't feel like publicizing the topic, since it is a little weird for me to show interest in such goings on. So, I wanted a string band, or a jug band, or a skiffle band to help me along, but instead it did it myself. I didn't practice, I just did it, and recorded it--in spite of having shattered my wrist some time back, and severing my left rotator cuff a few months ago, and having not sung since my early forties. Now I will stop making excuses and cough up the details. The new video: How the Flying Prince Got its Crew, has been uploaded and can now be viewed here:  For those wishing to sing along, here are the lyrics: The Ballad of the Flying Prince Come gather round you Portland boys And I will sing to you, How that low down Bunko Kelly Got the Flying Prince her crew. The ship was moored at Ainsworth Dock For six long weeks and more, Loading sacks of golden

Hacking, 1883 Style

In the days when the telegraph was the primary medium of information exchange there would be, in certain cities, saloons with names like, "The Turf Exchange" where bets could be placed on far off horse races. The sportsmen would then sit around smoking cigars and drinking until the results arrived via Western Union. As I was researching details on my latest book, my eyes happened to light on the following news item in the Morning Oregonian from October 16, 1883, which has to be one of the earliest instances of hacking for profit that I have seen: STILL A MYSTERY New York, Oct. 14. --The tapping of the wires of the Western Union Saturday, by means of which bogus dispatches were sent all over the country, announcing false results of the Jerome park races, and through which nearly $100,000 was lost by pool sellers throughout the United States, remains as much of a mystery as ever.