History of Oregon Newspapers Pt. 4: Twins Quarrel

Leader and post office change hands while twins quarrel

After Thorps sudden death at 55 years old, the Leader survived. Covered in the April 24, 1897 edition of the Eugene City Guard, The Cottage Grove Leader has been purchased by Mr. Frank Wooley. The paper is the one formerly owned by the late E.P. Thorp. It already has a good patronage. We welcome Mr. Wooley to the profession and wish him every success imaginable.”

A few days after the start of summer in 1897, the Medford Mail reported that John Baker, marshal of Cottage Grove, was arrested in Lemati last week and tried before Recorder J.C. Stouffer for wearing a marshals badge in Lemati. Baker was fined $5 and costs and not being able to pay his fine was sent to jail for four days.”   

Bad blood between the bickering bodies of Cottage Grove and Lemati began to heat up to a boil into a legendary battle over the placement of a post office. 

In the Nov. 27, 1897 edition of the Eugene City Guard, an account was given of one of the most memorable moments in Cottage Grove history. In an article titled, ”The Twins Quarrel Again'' it's reported, Cottage Grove Post Office Moved to Lemati and Howls are Long and Loud”. The story gives some background on the impulsive relocation of the town's only post office and its covert placement on the east side of the river, causing additional tension between the two sides.  

The selection of Perry Sherwood as Postmaster put an end to the controversy and argument surrounding the official's appointment during the William McKinley administration among the various groups. It was believed, however, that no one was happy with the appointment because each candidate's friends believed their influence should have priority over everyone else's.

So an alternative plan was apparently hatched — a plan right out of the wild west.

In the meantime,” the article continued, it seems that a petition was very quietly circulated asking permission to move the office 850 feet and was hurried on to the post office department at Washington City. An order granting prayer of petitioners was made and forwarded to the new incumbent. The post office had been located at [pharmacist and merchant] J.P. Currins across the bridge, in Cottage Grove.”

Bright and early,” the Guard article reported, before the gentle rays of morning called the slumbering residents of the ‘quarrelsome twins’ to their daily toil, the post office was bundled into a wagon and moved 850 feet — it was placed in O.F. Knoxs hardware store in Lemati. When the coup dstat was known, the air was rent in twain with maledictions and the atmosphere is now a lurid hue.”

Cottage Grove and Lemati unite

Picked up in the May 28, 1898 edition of the Eugene City Guard,Good Advice - Post Office Name Changed back from Lemati to Cottage Grove” was a story from the Cottage Grove Messenger. It reported that the post office department has rescinded the order changing the name of the post office, and it will remain Cottage Grove.”

While the city was still divided in 1897, another competitive newspaper published by Horace Mann came to town called the Cottage Grove Messenger. He sold the publication that year to C.J. Howard, who was a Dorena resident and postmaster. Under Howard's ownership, the Cottage Grove Messenger was renamed the Bohemia Nugget.

A breakthrough was made by Jan. 14, 1899 where the Eugene Guard published Sensible Work - Cottage Grove and Lemati Unanimously United” which gave a snapshot of the gathering which united the two sides.

At the meeting held last night (Jan. 7) it was unanimously agreed to bury the hatchet forever between Cottage Grove and Lemati and the proposed charter was adopted without a dissenting vote. The city will be known as Cottage Grove. The meeting was a regular love feast.” the article declared.

The new officers to serve from the adoption of the new charter until the first regular election were: Darwin Bristow, pioneer Elijah Bristows son serving as mayor; Lematis former mayor O.F. Knox, and businessmen J.I. Jones, James Hemenway, J.W. Gowdy, S.R. Piper and G.U. Snapp, as councilors; while Nat Martin (former Postmaster) as recorder; H.C. Veatch as treasurer; and Warren McFarland serving as town Marshal.

Cottage Groves Charter was approved by the Oregon legislature on Feb. 17, 1899.

Next week: Hustling for a living at the Bohemia Nugget