Sometimes mysteries are better left unsolved

By Thomas Robinson

The group of glass plate negatives that I’m working to identify now is the work of a photographer who ran a photo tent in a traveling circus. Most photographs taken at circus photo-booths are direct positives, such as Polaroids, and for those there are no negatives. Back then, direct positives were called tintypes.  Negatives would be taken only if a dozen or more prints were wanted.  The glass plate negative collection contains, as one might imagine of a circus, a lot of random images, as well as actors in the circus and events, and there are a few wagon repair shops. This portrait was obviously taken to make souvenir cards for the snake charmer woman to sell at her tent.

Good clues abound within the images; the lettered signs appearing on the photographer’s backdrops stated the year and location. They indicate that the circus travelled along the Oregon Coast in 1909 from Brookings to Seaside, and then on to Portland.

Online newspaper archives that are electronically searchable provide research tools to historians that were previously unimaginable. I use the University of Oregon and Multnomah County Library historical newspaper resources every day to identify photographs. I’ve become used to expecting the unexpected, but sometimes the information I find is so far from what I conceived logical, that I regret even looking for it in the first place.

It wasn’t hard to compile a list of all the circus companies that toured Oregon in 1909, which were less than a half-dozen. Only one of them was home-grown, and that was Professor Miller’s. His carnival arrived in Portland for a ten-day stay in June, 1909, and the Oregonian review identified “Zena the snake charmer”

Further information was forthcoming, but as I mentioned, it was not what I had thought it might be. The next mention of her in the press was her obituary, which appeared two years and two months later, in August 1911.

The obituary identified Zena as Grace Moreland, who was born and raised in Tillamook. She was twenty years old at the time she suicided at the Iberia hotel in Boise, Idaho.

According to the circus director, Professor Miller, in comments he said to the press following her death, she had been with the circus for three years. She had a boyfriend whom she was engaged to marry, J. W. O’Donnell.

Newspaper accounts said he was the balloonist who operated the hot-air balloon rides. When the circus arrived at Weiser, Idaho, in June, 1911, at a spot next to the Snake river, something went wrong in the balloon and he attempted to parachute out. The parachute ropes became entangled in his neck and he landed in the Snake river and drowned. His body was found the next day in Huntington, Oregon, 22 miles downstream. Grace Moreland fainted upon hearing the news of her fiancé’s death. Professor Miller said “they were like brother and sister”.

Two months after the death of her fiancé,  Grace Moreland attended a dance at the White City in Boise, Idaho, and subsequently went to her hotel room and took a fatal dose of chloroform. She left a few letters and was found clutching the bottle of poison. It was left to the Boise coroner to administrate her personal effects; which primarily were 22 snakes.

This is an amazing story of an Oregon woman. According to newspapers, she had no family members left excepting a grandmother in Portland. Grace Moreland led an itinerant and independent lifestyle a decade before women had the right to vote. I admire the fortitude, entrepreneurship, and independence of Grace Moreland.


From the same collection of negatives, Carnival Balloon on Cascade Ave, Marshfield (now called Coos Bay), Oregon 1909.

Sources of information: Daily East Oregonian, Saturday August 19, 1911, page 5, col. 3; La Grande Evening Observer, Thursday, August 17, 1911, pg. 6, col. 1-3; Lake County Examiner, August 31, 1911, pg. 6, col. 4; The Morning Oregonian, Thursday August 17, 1911, pg. 2, col. 3; and Friday July 16, 1909, pg. 11, col. 2.

587 thoughts on “Sometimes mysteries are better left unsolved”

  1. Pingback: viagra 100mg
  2. Pingback: best cialis site
  3. Pingback: cialis
  4. Pingback: levitra generic
  5. Pingback: viagra
  6. Pingback: viagra 50mg
  7. Pingback: tadalafil tablets
  8. Pingback: buy generic cialis
  9. Pingback: levitra pills
  10. Pingback: casino slots
  11. Pingback: viagra viagra
  12. Pingback: free slots online
  13. Pingback: casino games
  14. Pingback: tadalafil 5 mg
  15. Pingback: cash payday
  16. Pingback: short term loans
  17. Pingback: viagra cost
  18. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  19. Pingback: jesenia
  20. Pingback: russell
  21. Pingback: new cialis
  22. Pingback: 20 cialis
  23. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  24. Pingback: cialis 5 mg
  25. Pingback: hollywood casino
  26. Pingback: chumba casino
  27. Pingback: viagra reviews
  28. Pingback: buy viagra
  29. Pingback: buy viagra cheap
  30. Pingback: viagra pill
  31. Pingback: generic viagra
  32. Pingback: brand viagra
  33. Pingback: viagra online
  34. Pingback: otc viagra
  35. Pingback: casino slots
  36. Pingback: doubleu casino
  37. Pingback: viagra rx
  38. Pingback: buy sildenafil
  39. Pingback: viagra
  40. Pingback: buy Viagra 120 mg
  41. Pingback: cialis canada
  42. Pingback: viagra pills
  43. Pingback: generic sildenafil
  44. Pingback: Cialis 10 mg cheap
  45. Pingback: Cialis 80mg nz
  46. Pingback: otc viagra
  47. Pingback: cialis online
  48. Pingback: buy sildenafil
  49. Pingback: order Cialis 10 mg
  50. Pingback: cialis prices
  51. Pingback: lasix 40 mg usa
  52. Pingback: furosemide 40mg nz
  53. Pingback: otc viagra
  54. Pingback: sildenafil
  55. Pingback: abilify 15 mg nz
  56. Pingback: actos 15mg tablets
  57. Pingback: viagra for sale
  58. Pingback: cheap viagra india
  59. Pingback: arimidex 1 mg uk
  60. Pingback: cialis
  61. Pingback: cialis pro
  62. Pingback: cheap atarax 25 mg
  63. Pingback: canadian viagra
  64. Pingback: cialis rxlist
  65. Pingback: Biaxin 500 mg nz
  66. Pingback: cheap buspar 5mg
  67. Pingback: cialis
  68. Pingback: ceclor 500mg pills
  69. Pingback: celebrex pills
  70. Pingback: cialis vs viagra
  71. Pingback: doubleu casino
  72. Pingback: real casino games
  73. Pingback: casino game
  74. Pingback: slot machines
  75. Pingback: real casino online
  76. Pingback: cheap ed pills
  77. Pingback: casino gambling
  78. Pingback: buy cialis online
  79. Pingback: aarp car insurance
  80. Pingback: au cialis
  81. Pingback: usaa car insurance
  82. Pingback: buy cialis canada
  83. Pingback: wikipedia tablet
  84. Pingback: generic cialis buy
  85. Pingback: payday loans in pa
  86. Pingback: 5mg cialis
  87. Pingback: cbd oil
  88. Pingback: buy levitra online
  89. Pingback: buy college essay
  90. Pingback: photo assignment
  91. Pingback: assignments help
  92. Pingback: essays writing
  93. Pingback: cleocin 300mg nz
  94. Pingback: clomid 25mg prices
  95. Pingback: buy viagra fast
  96. Pingback: Get viagra
  97. Pingback: clozaril prices
  98. Pingback: cost of combivent
  99. Pingback: ed drugs cialis
  100. Pingback: coreg 25 mg uk
  101. Pingback: buy compazine
  102. Pingback: crestor pharmacy
  103. Pingback: buy viagra generic
  104. Pingback: buy diamox
  105. Pingback: Price viagra
  106. Pingback: buy viagra online
  107. Pingback: elavil 10mg tablet
  108. Pingback: buy Cipro
  109. Pingback: etodolac australia
  110. Pingback: flomax 0,2mg uk
  111. Pingback: best ed medication
  112. Pingback: geodon price
  113. Pingback: imdur online
  114. Pingback: cialis for sale
  115. Pingback: cialis vs viagra
  116. Pingback: how to take viagra
  117. Pingback: viagra cost
  118. Pingback: check my blog
  119. Pingback: imuran tablets
  120. Pingback: indocin coupon
  121. Pingback: lamisil 250mg otc
  122. Pingback: viagra for sale
  123. Pingback: lopid otc
  124. Pingback: cheap meclizine
  125. Pingback: viagra articles
  126. Pingback: best ed drugs
  127. Pingback: micardis for sale
  128. Pingback: Valtrex
  129. Pingback: mobic usa
  130. Pingback: motrin pharmacy
  131. Pingback: phenergan usa
  132. Pingback: prevacid tablets
  133. Pingback: proscar coupon
  134. Pingback: women take viagra
  135. Pingback: buy reglan
  136. Pingback: remeron pills
  137. Pingback: risperdal 3mg nz
  138. Pingback: rogaine 5% prices
  139. Pingback: viagra problem
  140. Pingback: viagra online usa
  141. Pingback: tenormin nz
  142. Pingback: thorazine pills
  143. Pingback: natasha son viagra
  144. Pingback: vantin online
  145. Pingback: zithromax pharmacy
  146. Pingback: see it here
  147. Pingback: cheap zocor 10 mg
  148. Pingback: zyprexa tablet
  149. Pingback: order viagra usa
  150. Pingback: cheap zyvox
  151. Pingback: od on viagra
  152. Pingback: meclizine 25mg nz
  153. Pingback: order atomoxetine
  154. Pingback: anastrozole cost
  155. Pingback: generic viagra
  156. Pingback: buspirone otc
  157. Pingback: cialis 20mg 30
  158. Pingback: cephalexin tablets
  159. Pingback: cialis canada
  160. Pingback: cialis online
  161. Pingback: weed and viagra
  162. Pingback: cialis pro
  163. Pingback: fluconazole cheap
  164. Pingback: genericVGR
  165. Pingback: order cialis
  166. Pingback: xtqhzpbq
  167. Pingback: estradiol 1mg otc
  168. Pingback: ed medication
  169. Pingback: online ed pills
  170. Pingback: igdtnxht
  171. Pingback: buy cialis doctor
  172. Pingback: how to make viagra
  173. Pingback: cialis how long
  174. Pingback: ati duloxetine
  175. Pingback: viagra coupon
  176. Pingback: furosemide 100mg
  177. Pingback: cipro for sale
  178. Pingback: generic ampicillin
  179. Pingback: order tetracycline
  180. Pingback: loperamide online
  181. Pingback: liquid cialis
  182. Pingback: buy viagra
  183. Pingback: my essay writing
  184. Pingback: viagra hardon sex
  185. Pingback: lasix purchase
  186. Pingback: stromectol 12mg
  187. Pingback: pet prednisolone
  188. Pingback: reviews on clomid
  189. Pingback: synthroid and soy
  190. Pingback: psychology thesis
  191. Pingback: propecia discount
  192. Pingback: cialis one a day
  193. Pingback: neurontin epilepsy
  194. Pingback: paxil prices
  195. Pingback: buy viagra 50mg uk
  196. Pingback: generic clomiphene
  197. Pingback: propecia order
  198. Pingback: best online cialis
  199. Pingback: comprar viagra 200
  200. Pingback: tadalafil 20mg otc
  201. Pingback: best ed pill
  202. Pingback: lasix pills
  203. Pingback: Zakhar Berkut hd
  204. Pingback: 4569987
  205. Pingback: buy cialis ebay
  206. Pingback: cialis comparison
  207. Pingback: news news news
  208. Pingback: psy
  209. Pingback: psy2022

Comments are closed.