NEW BOOK! Selected Works from a Local Historian
I have volunteered with the Silverton Country Historical Society for over ten years. This has allowed me to fine-tune my service by hosting at the museum, performing research and by writing newsletter stories.
I first visited the museum to research a building in late 2011. After volunteers provided the requested information, they suggested I write a story about it for the society newsletter. “The Silverton Hotel” was soon published in the February 2012 edition, prompting me to investigate other aspects of Silverton history.
As a result, I’ve researched and written articles appearing in forty issues of the newsletter since 2012. Some became two-or three-part stories that were published in consecutive issues. For continuity, I’ve combined multi-part articles into one story.
It’s fun to find a story idea from a most unlikely place, like the conversation I had with a Silverton resident in the aisle of a local grocery store that became the foundation for the “Silverton’s Skid Shacks” story or how a photo posted to our new Instagram page interested me enough to research “Kora Browne-Silverton Teacher.” Perhaps the most unusual story idea came from the pages of the 1929 Oregon Statesman, where I noticed mention of a Silverton product installed in a new model home in Salem. There was so much information about the model home in the eight-page special section that I was compelled to write about it in an article titled: “Veering Off From Silverton (A Bit).” I was able to provide the appreciative owners with a mountain of information about their home.
Historical coincidences are always interesting, like the April 2008 Air Mail story with a request that was fulfilled exactly ten years later, in April 2018. Later, I was able to get a little creative while researching a document found in the museum’s Silver Falls Timber Company file. The circumstances seemed ideal to write about based on the format of a Travel Channel show. In fact, I named the article after the show: “Mysteries at the Museum.”
Historic buildings are an interesting study, so about half of the stories concern, at least peripherally, a historic commercial building or home in Silverton. Of particular interest are buildings that have been moved, but still exist today. Three stories have appeared regarding this so far, but the most fascinating effort involved the 1862 schoolhouse.
Some stories feature museum resources available to the public for researching families, buildings, businesses and other interesting topics. I call these “procedural” stories, explaining, step-by-step, how I found information contained in my story. Examples of this include articles relating to the Silverton Hotel, Kora Browne, and the Post Office.
While over the years I have grown as a researcher and writer, there are many more stories yet to be explored, some by me and, later, by others who might be inspired to research and write their own stories. It all contributes to preserving Silverton’s past for future generations, indeed, a noble effort. “The Silverton Collection” is available at the Museum, or directly from me, (see link below). Cost is $15.00 plus $5.00 for optional shipping.
Fred A. Parkinson