News of the Past

Like many small communities, Waitsburg, Washington has a weekly newspaper that is widely read and relied upon.  And, like most small town weeklies, it has a column devoted to news of the past.  Below are two brief items from 1885 that speak for themselves.

The trial of James Close for the killing of two Indians held the attention of the court all day Saturday and was given to the jury until 6 o’clock in the evening.  After a number of ballots, the jury returned a verdict of guilty of assault and battery.  Among thinking people the verdict is a strange one as it makes killing an Indian a misdemeanor and not a crime. 

Last Monday morning the lifeless body of J.A. Keats was discovered hanging to an improvised gallows – two rails and a cross bar – the road side between Pendleton and Adams, Oregon, the work of questionable vigilantes.

Sadly, I imagine that one might find similar news from the past, and not so distant past, in most of the communities where each of us lives.  It makes me wonder what inspires so many people to put so much faith in the moral superiority of “the good old days.”

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