1895 – 1900- 1901
by Stephen Williamson
(C) 2005 – Updated 2015

On a hot July summer night in 1901, in a small community near Marcola, Oregon a school named Ping Yang was completely blown up by a bomb. It was the third bombing of the tiny school since 1895. Each of the attacks was at night and no one is known to have been injured.

But, why was a school in rural Oregon given an Asian name, and why was it bombed three times and set on fire twice? The answer is a complex mix of social, religious and racial prejudices that exploded in the small, rapidly growing community.  The school was about 12 miles east of Eugene-Springfield where the current community of Mohawk stands. Like many rural schools at the time, Ping Yang was a small schoolhouse with just one classroom.

The Ping Yang School has been mentioned only briefly in a handful of local reports. This article is the first attempt to put together a sequence of events to understand when and why the school was bombed. At the bottom of this paper is my list of over thirty references and links for readers to further explore the causes and perpetrators of the bombings.

Ping Yang opened in early 1895.  The community had been divided on building the school and one single-minded man polarized residents of the area against the new school.  Someone first tried to set fire to it.  That attempt failed, but in May of 1895, a bomb was put under the floor of the school at night.

A second bombing occurred in the winter of 1899-1900. Finally the school was completely destroyed in July 1901. No one was ever arrested for any of the attacks which happened over a six year period. Reports at the time and later accounts say that most people knew exactly who was responsible.

Various reasons have been put forth for three bombings in six years. The Mohawk Valley was growing rapidly, with nearby mills employing over a thousand people from all around the world where just a few scattered hundred lived before. One reporter also wrote that the area around Ping Yang would become “a great wood depot in the near future.” The controversial location of the school is mentioned in news articles of the time. One newspaper article written over sixty years after the final bombing says that it was the students themselves because they wanted a better school!  Joe Huddleston is said to have used anti-Asian imagery in his campaigns against the school.

NOTE: Pyongyang is the actual name of the Korean city that Americans called Ping Yang.

The First School Bombing, May 1895

A Florence Oregon newspaper article from May 5, 1895 says that Ping Yang School was bombed because of fights over its location and “other things.”  Five years later in 1900, a local man created his own version of China’s Boxer Rebellion in an attempt to close the school.  He used racist imagery and fears of Chinese and other Asian immigrants to campaign against the school. One of the local school teachers, Maude Kerns, later became famed for her work with Japanese and Asian art.

The school was also being used by religious groups of missionaries who were quite progressive in their religious and racial views. Although the school was named Ping Yang, it is uncertain if any Asian children were actually taught there. It’s likely the school taught Japanese railroad workers English and Christianity.

There are two photographs of Japanese men from a longtime teacher, Ella Hayden. Her family befriended two Japanese men. On the back of one of the photos is written the phrase “Thy is so good.” Missionaries often taught English using King James Bibles. The home addresses in Japan of both men are on the photos.

Read about Ella and Charly Hayden and their friendship with Japanese workers at this link.

japanese men friends with the Hayden family

The Storming of Ping Yang, 1894

Historian Louis Polley wrote in his book A History of the Mohawk Valley and Early Lumbering that the school was named for a “Chinese battlefield.”  An earlier writer, Claude Hammitt wrote that one local man “moved the Boxer Rebellion all the way from China to the Mohawk” and organized the community to fight the new school. The school was built, new in 1896.

There had been a vote on building the new school. Huddleston was opposed to it. A minister and farmer, John Mulkey led the people who were in favor of building the school.  Rather than the controversy ending, it continued to escalate over the next six years.

Both Polley and Hammitt say that a man called “Old Joe” Huddleston did not like the school bell or the sounds of children on the school grounds.  He said that that the school bell sounded like “ping yang” to him and the kids sounded like a bunch of “fighting Chinese.” Hammitt wrote that the battle of Ping Yang was happening at the time and this is what the school was named for.  On September 15, 1894 Japanese forces landed in Korea to drive out the Chinese who were persecuting the Koreans in their capital of Ping Yang (North Korea today). One of the most widely read news writers, James Creelman, was in Ping Yang and wrote exciting descriptions of the battle between Chinese and Japanese military. It became very good PR for Japan.

James Creelman’s international dispatches were read all over America.  He had interviewed President McKinley, Indian chief Sitting Bull, the Russian author Leo Tolstoy and the Pope of Rome. He wrote copy for William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper that was covering the Spanish American war.  One paragraph from his news report “The Storming of Ping Yang” captures the flavor of his writing – and Western favoring of Japan over China.

“The armies of Asiatic barbarism and Asiatic civilization met on this ground to fight the first great battle of the war that ended in the fall of Wei-Hai-Wei and Port Arthur; and here Japan emancipated the helpless Korean nation from the centuried despotism of China.”

See the link below to the popular news story “The Storming of Ping Yang”  by James Creelman in 1894.  Google Books – Battle of Ping Yang

mohawk valley schools
ping yang school blown up

The Boxers vs. The Highbinders, 1900

In addition to popularizing the community name of “Ping Yang,” Joe Huddleston later organized his own Boxer Rebellion in 1900. The Boxer Rebellion was happening in China at the time.  Religious groups of Chinese monks trained in martial arts wanted to throw out all the foreigners from China. They killed many missionaries and their Chinese converts. 

The English had never seen martial artists and called them “boxers.”  World famous writer Mark Twain supported the Boxers in driving out the foreigners from China.  He called himself a “boxer” and also favored driving the Chinese from America. You can read his famous speech declairing “I Am A Boxer” at this link. http://www.chinapage.com/world/mark3e.html

Mark Twain might have liked Huddleston’s homegrown Boxer Rebellion. If you were with him and opposed the school you were a boxer – but if you were against him you were a “highbinder” (a slur word for Asians because of the way they wore their hair).  Reverend J.F. Mulkey was a founder of the school and also wore his beard quite long and tied behind his head.

The railroad and new lumber mills brought thousands of new people to the Mohawk Valley. Just as the Boxer Rebellion in China was one great effort to “throw out the foreigners” – one goal of bombing the Ping Yang school may have been to get rid of all the newcomers to the valley. Joe Huddleston used white’s fears of Asians to campaign against the school and its supporters. The story of “The Boxers vs. the Highbinders” comes from a 1966 article in The West magazine, written by Claud Hammitt, who knew Huddleston and whose family ran the store in Ping Yang (which is still standing over 100 years later as the Mohawk General Store).

ping yang on the Mowhawk cottage grove history asians

White Men Quit – How the Asians came to Oregon

Japanese workers were brought in to work on the railroads in 1900. It was difficult to get white men to do the work as is seen in this Eugene news article from March 24, 1900, “White Men Quit.” The story says that Japanese are being employed because the community would not accept Chinese or black railway workers. Many whites did not want to do the hard, low paying work and felt it was beneath them. I did railroad construction in my younger years and other laborers look down on railroad men. Teams of railroad men are called “gangs”.

The Japanese turned out to be excellent railroad builders with their ethics of teamwork and their concern for doing a quality job. The battle for Ping Yang, Korea also made very good public relations for the Japanese. Japan kept track of its immigrants in America and made plans to help them prosper. Japanese officials in America sent back detailed reports about how the Japanese could prosper here.

One report, sent to the Meiji Foreign Office from Idaho, states that the battle of Ping Yang had made whites more favorable to the new Japanese immigrants. The report also urges the government to purchase land for farming.  The Meiji report shows the importance of the battle of Ping Yang to Americans. This is an excellent webpage about the treatment of Japanese workers.

“When railroad construction began four years ago, hostile whites attempted to force the Japanese out but these threats soon subsided. At the same time the victory in the Sino/Japan War caused many whites to change the way they viewed the Japanese.”

In 1900 most Americans were favorable towards Japan as a nation, and very much against the policies of China.  One labor contractor in Portland supplied most of the Asian workers for the Pacific Northwest.  The military battles at Battle of Ping Yang in Korea and the Boxer Rebellion in China made Japan and the US close allies.  Japan was even adopting our national pastime of baseball.

The Second Bombing of Ping Yang School – Winter, 1900

The second bombing of Ping Yang School happened in the winter of 1900. This was at the time when newspaper articles show a number of “negroes” and “Japs” coming in to work on the Mohawk railroad. Joe Huddleston was seventy years old when the railroad came to Mohawk. He had come to Oregon when he was a boy in the 1840’s with his parents.  He had lived with the Kalapooya Indians and once had an Indian wife. He was one of the oldest people in the valley at the turn of the century and already a local legend. Later accounts by community historians paint him sympathetically. But people in the area these days, if they have ever heard of him at all, dislike even the mention of his name.

Joe Huddleston had only one eye – the other was scratched out by his former wife.  He lived mostly off the land, hunting and fishing and growing enough berries to make wine on his eighty acre farm.  Claude Hammitt writes that he helped out a family who were mentally retarded. Huddleston also had a unique way of fishing in the local creeks.  He would use dynamite and blast out dozens of fish at a time. Almost all farmers in timber rich Oregon used dynamite to blow up tree stumps to clear fields. Huddleston was called “Old Joe” by nearly everyone in the area.

The new railroad line, carrying a seemingly endless stream of people and lumber, was built directly across from his house. The Mohawk Valley of Oregon was home to some of the richest timberlands in the world.  The low hills made logging easy and one giant nearby lumber mill employed nearly 1,000 people. The bombing of Ping Yang was partly a reaction against this rapid growth bring people from everywhere. Huddleston campaigned against the building (and rebuilding) of the school using people’s racist fears of Asians.

Marcola People Who Helped and Worked with Japanese Immigrants

Rising to oppose Huddleston and his “Boxers” were a handful of ordinary people with courage, people who believed in public education. They were farmers like the Hayden family, lumbermen like John Barr, teachers like the Spores and Staffords, and merchants like Columbus Cole.

Columbus Cole, an early merchant imported “many items from Japan,” according to a video tape made by Louis Polley in 1991.  Here is a a photo of Japanese tea that Columbus Cole imported and repackaged under his own brand name.  This indicates that he had a large enough market of Japanese to sell to – and that he probably expected their population to grow.

The community of Marcola was named by the railroad for Mary Cole, the wife of Columbus Cole.  He had announced plans to build a store at Ping Yang. He was a very tolerant and forward looking merchant for his times.  Another reason for Columbus Cole to be involved with the Japanese was because of his strong religious beliefs.  Cole was an active Methodist and donated the land and lumber to build Marcola’s Methodist church.

The Japanese man pictured above is named Maeda.  He lived with the Hayden family who had a small farm near the Ping Yang School. The Haydens were poor and valued education highly.  There is an article on this website about the friendship between Maeda, Charly (correct spelling) Hayden and his sister Ella. She was a school teacher and a student at the University of Oregon. Charly Hayden played the violin and cared for his elderly parents for many years on their farm, where Maeda also lived. It is not known where Maeda later moved. We do know that he and Charly Hayden kept in touch with letters.  You can read about the Haydens and Maeda here.

japanese tea Marcola oregon

“We Have Got A Woman Preacher at Ping Yang”

Prohibition & Religious Tensions Behind the Bombings

The fact that the school was being used as a church is mostly forgotten in later accounts of the bombings. Even two 1963 newspaper articles that mention a bomb being placed under an organ do not make the connection that the school was being used for religious purposes. Early schools were often used as churches and for other public activities. But few churches allowed women to preach and the practice was very controversial. The final bomb, set off on a Sunday night, was put directly under the organ.  This suggests that there was a religious reason for bombing the school. It was during this time that news articles report a “woman preacher at Ping Yang.”

It is likely that the “woman preacher,” a Mrs. Hickman, was part of the Free Methodist church.  Free Methodists ordained women as evangelists and supported their right to vote. Free Methodists originally formed to protest slavery in the United States. By 1875 there were Methodist missionaries in China, Korea and Japan. There was also a Japanese Methodist church in Portland that began at the turn of the century. There was a Free Methodist gathering near Ping Yang at the Parsons Creek School – where Mrs. Hickman also preached.

The April 1901 articles were written by two people with different points of view.  The first article is titled “Mohawk Items from a Ping Yanger” — and says that Ping Yang “is badly in need of a little missionary work.”  The writer ends on a military tone with “all quiet at Ping Yang at present.” The next week’s article, “Mohawk Items by Hayseed” counters saying “Ping Yang don’t need no missionary but some of the people who live around Ping Yang do. And we hope they may be able to have one.”  Clearly a community tug of war is happening at the school. You can read the full text of these news items below.

Prohibition of alcohol may also have been a motive – at least in the first bombing. In the 1896 election the school was used by supporters of Democrat William Jennings Byran for president. Bryan was in favor of outlawing alcohol. Joe Huddleston, a Republican, countered by running for public office in Mohawk giving away bottles of “Ping Yang Brandy” less than a year after the school had been bombed. Huddleston won. Here is a link to the Eugene newspaper article of Huddleston’s Ping Yang Brandy – June 20, 1896.  

asians in early oregon
maude kerns artist teacher ping yang school
maude kerns teaching ping yang school

Famed Artist Maude Kerns Taught at School

The famous artist and University of Oregon teacher Maude Kerns may have taught at the Ping Yang School. Maude Kerns became well known for her work in Japanese art and made several trips to Asia.  The name of Ping Yang must have fascinated her.

An April 10, 1901 Eugene news article states that Maude Kerns was teaching at the old McGowan School, less than a mile from Ping Yang.  A following article on April 16 says that “Miss Kerns” is teaching at Ping Yang. Maude Kerns also had a sister, Edith, who was a teacher and it is possible she was the “Miss Kerns” at Ping Yang.

However, the news article, which was written by a local person, would probably have used her first name to show that it was a different “Miss Kerns”. It is possible that Maude Kerns traveled from one school to the other since they were so close together. Maude Kern’s niece told me that she thought Maude was the teacher because Edith “did not have the temperament a teacher needs, but Maude did.”

The April 10th newspaper article stating that “Maud Kerns is teaching the McGowan School” is interesting.  Ping Yang was originally built to replace the McGowan School.  The newspaper article says that McGowan was already an old schoolhouse at the time of the bombings. It had been planned to be closed when Ping Yang was built. The Ping Yang School was reportedly built to relieve overcrowding in the McGowan School because of all the new people and logging. According to Claud Hammitt and Louis Polley the McGowan School was called the “old White School” because it had a new coat of white paint about 1900. McGowan School was not called the “White School” until after the new paint.

Most schools are named for the community they serve or for the people who donated the land, as in the case of the McGowan School. Often the names of famous Americans are used. Few schools are named for battlefields in foreign countries thousands of miles away, or for the sound of railroad bells or for the color of their paint (the famous 1870’s painting of the idyllic “Little Red Schoolhouse” being an exception). The contrasting names of the two schools, Ping Yang and the “White School” — so different yet so physically close to each other, suggests that racial issues could have had something to do with their names or, perhaps it was named just for the color of its paint. To us today, it certainly sounds racial – especially since it was known simply as the “McGowan School” for many years before it was painted white.

Maude Kern’s biography says that she had received a diploma in fine arts from a prestigious arts school in San Francisco.  She had already earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon in 1899.  Maude Kerns went on to become one of the most dynamic teachers of her time. Today an arts center is named for her. It can be found at this URL Maude Kerns Art Center in Eugene.

It is hard to overestimate the dedication these pioneer teachers had.  The job of a teacher was low paying, and tightly controlled by all sorts of social rules. Most contracts forbid the teacher to date or even marry during the school year!  Considering that three attempts to destroy the Ping Yang school had already been made, it took extraordinary courage to teach anywhere near there. Establishing schools was often not easy in rural areas. Controversies over taxes, boundaries and curriculum were prominent then, much as they are now.  Events like this happened all over the West. Early attempts to establish a university in Eugene, Oregon failed because someone set fire to the buildings. 

Huddleston and How Ping Yang School was Named

Where did the name Ping Yang come from? It appears that Ping Yang was the name of the entire area, not just the school. Multiple newspaper accounts from 1895 onward use the name “Ping Yang” referring to the general area. A Mohawk brass band even called itself the “Ping Yang Band” in 1902. When the school was built in 1896, no Chinese would have used the name “Ping Yang.”  But, it could have been a very good name if the school had some connection with Japan or In 1894 Korea.  The Japanese became heroes to the Americans by “rescuing” the capital of Korea, which was named Ping Yang (Pyongyang), from Chinese “invaders”. In 1895 the name “Ping Yang” was associated very positively with Korea and the Japanese, not China.

The issue of building and keeping the Ping Yang School divided the whole Mohawk area. The tiny Mohawk School District separated itself into four districts in 1895 when Ping Yang was opened. These four schools (Stafford, McGowan, Ping Yang and a fourth school) were not more than 2-3 miles apart from each other, even closer. The total number of students in the four schools could not have been more than a hundred or so in 1896. Yet, each school wanted its own separate school district controlled by only the people in that vicinity.  What made them mistrust each other so? It must have been something about the Ping Yang Schoolhouse.

There are only a handful of accounts of how Ping Yang got its name and why it was attacked. Most of these stories were not written down until over sixty years after the bombings. There are no known public records of the Ping Yang School. The State of Oregon kept few records on schools of that day.  What follows are the varied reasons reported for the origin of the name Ping Yang. Several of these tales are completely improbable and may have been invented to cover up the brutal reality that a school which was also being used as a church was firebombed three times.

According to the earliest newspaper reports, the name Ping Yang actually belonged to the entire area, not just to the school. Three newspaper reports from 1895-1901 use the name of Ping Yang to refer to the geographic area. In 1902 a brass band called itself the Ping Yang Band. The name Ping Yang was used about a decade, until the railroad came and changed the name to “Donna.” The larger valley’s name was always Mohawk, a name which it retains to this day. The valley was named by John Spores, an early settler who thought it looked much like the Mohawk Valley of New York State.

Most reports credit Joe Huddleston with naming the school Ping Yang. One story is that Huddleston hated the sound of school bells. The school’s bell reminded him of a railroad bell clanging “ping yang … ping yang.” It is said that the bell woke him up too early in the morning.  Another story says that Huddleston named the area Ping Yang because students playing on the school grounds sounded to him like a bunch of “Chinese people talking their incomprehensible language all at the same time.”

A fiery old pioneer preacher named John F. Mulkey donated land for the school and led the fight to keep it. Claude Hammitt’s article in The West made fun of Rev. Mulkey calling him a “sawed off little man of a man with a beard so long that he tied it up in a knot workdays to keep it out of the plow.” That may be how Huddleston came to call him a “highbinder” and a “chinaman.” Hammitt’s writings in the 60’s and 70’s elevated Huddleston to a folk hero for putting up “the good fight.”

Joe Huddleston Mohawk valley oregon
ping yang school mohawk

Did the Students Blow Up their Own School??

Perhaps the most interesting explanation for the bombings was told to Eugene Register-Guard reporter Don Bishoff in 1963 by Ida Spores Baugh. She had attended the Ping Yang School and her parents taught at the Mohawk School built in 1909 to replace Ping Yang. Mrs. Baugh stated that “disgruntled pupils” blew up the one-room school! Mrs. Baugh also said “I know who did it, but I wouldn’t tell. It wasn’t just youthful hi-jinks, the students felt they needed a better school.”

But, her story does not take into account that there were three bombings over a six year period, although it is probable that she knew some of the families involved in the fight and it’s possible that an older boy accompanied his father. It’s highly unlikely that school children used dynamite late at night to blow up their own schoolhouse three times in six years. Each of these tales were told sixty years later by people who were young children at the time of the bombings.

Why would a community allow a few individuals to get away with destroying a school simply because of children playing and the sound of the school bell? None of the accounts tells why local people were willing to let Joe Huddleston name their new school and then bomb it three times. There must be an explanation why it was socially sanctioned within the community. One man’s dislike of children and their playground noise is not a good enough reason for the authorities to not arrest Huddleston or one of his supporters. Why was he protected and the school allowed to be torched and bombed?

mohawk school ping yang blow up

No One Was Ever Arrested for the Bombings

Joe Huddleston is mentioned in several accounts of the Ping Yang School bombing – yet he was never charged.  Nor was anyone else ever arrested for the crimes.  Both the 1895 and the 1901 news stories say that “suspicion points to certain persons” but there was no “tangible proof” of their involvement.

The July 15, 1901 article calls the bomber a “fiend” and notes the long community battle over the school. The earlier 1896 article also indicates the perpetrators were known at the time. Huddleston and his “boxers” made little attempt to hide their identities or sympathies. The very first newspaper article in 1895 mentions arrests being talked about, but that none were made. 

Ping Yang School operated quietly for five years between 1895 and 1900 when the school was bombed again.  By 1900 there were many more immigrants in the valley, brought by the railroad being built by the Japanese. The Japanese had recently arrived in the community and established a base camp for constructing the railroads. In 1901 the school was hosting a “woman preacher” – something that has been controversial through the entire history of Christianity. Each of these could be reasons the bombing was accepted and no arrests made.

There were at least five attempts to destroy the school (three by dynamite and two by fire) over a six year period. There must have been “socially sanctioned” reasons why no one was arrested for the bombings. Joe Huddleston was clever enough to appeal to people’s racist imaginations to get rid of the school by playing on their fears of the Chinese and other Asians. Perhaps even the school’s opposition to alcohol (which he manufactured) may have been reason enough to bomb the school, at least the first time in 1896.

1913 Photo of the Ping Yang Band- the first formed in 1902

ping yang band
steve williamson oregon

Steve Williamson, the author

Why We Need to Remember Embarrassing History

The Ping Yang School bombing has largely faded from memory. Some people have asked me why even bring up this embarrassing history?  I answer because it is real history that happened to real people. They deserve that their stories be told and their contributions remembered. This article is the first to tell the story of what happened at Ping Yang and why the school was bombed.

The labor of Asians built the railroads that opened up the West for development and created countless fortunes.  I did railroad construction during my college years in Louisiana.  This page has a photo of me on a railroad track shortly after I moved to Oregon in 1976. This is some of the hardest work anyone can do and the Asian workers should be remembered.  Perhaps a future researcher will try to locate descendents of these almost forgotten pioneers using census records and old newspapers. Those who stayed faced years of discrimination and hardship.

Events like the Ping Yang School bombing happened all over the West. The Pacific Northwest became a mostly white, European area because people of other races were kept out by exclusion laws and physical violence.  Early Oregon was much more racially and culturally diverse than we often remember. But by the late 1800’s social and legislative decisions had been made to keep Oregon for whites. Asians and specifically Japanese were barred by law from owning land or businesses. This is a part of our history that must not be forgotten.

We should remember the courage of teachers like Maude Kerns and Ella Hayden who taught all across the West in rural schools just like Ping Yang.  They stood with ordinary people like John Mulkey and Columbus Cole against hate, fear and ignorance. We also need to remember community historians like Claude Hammitt, Louis Polley and Curtis Irish who work to preserve our shared history.

“All Quiet at Ping Yang at Present”

Today Ping Yang is not much bigger than it was 100 years ago. The railroad is long gone and so are most of the lumber mills. The Mohawk Elementary School is not far from where the Ping Yang School once stood.  Claude Hammitt’s store is still open. He wrote an article about Joe Huddleston and Ping Yang for the April 1966 issue of The West Magazine.

In 1909 a new schoolhouse was built to replace Ping Yang. The school was renamed to Mohawk and operated for the next 50 years. The building is still standing, but is now a private family home. The new school cost over two thousand dollars to build. Ping Yang had cost less than five hundred – plus repairs.

Maude Kerns and Ella Hayden went on to have outstanding careers teaching in area schools and the University of Oregon.  Charly Hayden took care of his elderly parents for another twenty years. Charly Road is named for him.

Reverend Mulkey died in 1903 at the age of seventy four. The strain of the fight to save the school took its toll on the old minister. The Mohawk item reporting his death ends with a poignant note, apparently referring to Huddleston or his followers. It says that “there are some people who would get along very well without spending too much time killing “chinamen.”

What happened to the Hayden’s friends, Maeda and Yoshihara, after they left the Mohawk Valley is not known for certain. Many early Japanese immigrants returned to Japan. Those who stayed faced decades of discrimination and exclusion laws. Maeda is said to have returned to Japan. He and Charly kept in touch with letters for some years.

Joe Huddleston lived until 1917 when he died after being paralyzed by a stroke. In an ironic twist of fate, the man who campaigned against schools, bells and all things Asian is now buried in the cemetery overlooking the University of Oregon campus. Huddleston’s grave is on busy East 18th Avenue near Potter Street. It can be seen from the windows of the Asian Pacific Studies Center in Gerlinger Hall.

 UPDATE: June 2015:  My first draft of this story went online over a decade ago. Since then new research has come to light – mostly confirming my original thoughts but also adding new understanding of the complex issues and people in the Ping Yang School bombings. Below is the list of references I have used. I’ve published them online here so that interested readers can follow this fascinating story. My deepest appreciation to everyone who has helped with this research!

mohawk store, oregon

References & Further Reading

Florence Oregon News.  May 3, 1895. Page 1:  “Blown Up”. This was the first time the school was bombed

 Eugene City Guard – June 20, 1896 – Huddleston makes Ping Yang Brandy for Election Campaign

A History of the Mohawk Valley and Early Lumbering, by Louis Polley, Marcola Oregon 1984, Ping Yang School – Page 35 & 40. Note, Polly’s book is in error, the old McGowan School (the “Old White School”) was to have been torn in 1897, but actually operated until at least 1901 as shown in the 4-10-01 Daily Eugene Guard.

On the Great Highway. By James Creelman, Originally printed in 1901 by Boston Lothrop, Creelman’s 1894 war dispatch “The Storming of Ping Yang” was the original source for the name of the Ping Yang School. His 1901 book was a collection of dispatches he had written over his career. Without him we would have no school named “Ping Yang” in Oregon.

 Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, 2002, “Meiji Foreign Office Report on Idaho,” edited by Ronald L. James

 Wendling, Oregon Logging Camps 1898-1945 by Louis Polley, Polly Publishing, Marcola Oregon, 1989

 J.F. Mukley Pioneer History, Churches of Christ in the Pacific Northwest, http://ncbible.org/nwh/orhistmenu.html

 1895 map of Mohawk Valley Donation Land Claims

 Mark Twain; speech at the Berkeley Lyceum, New York, November 23, 1900 – source of Huddleston’s “Boxer” rebellion against the school

Daily Eugene Guard, 1-3-1900. “Mohawk Branch Railroad”, ten “negroes” arrived to work on the railroad

 Eugene Guard  3-24-1900, “White Men Quit” – How the Asians Came to the Marcola

 Daily Eugene Guard  4-21-1900, “Mohawk Branch – Sixty Japs Coming”

 Daily Eugene Guard, 1-14-1901 “Marcola The Name Of The Station Explained”

Daily Eugene Guard  4-16-1901, “Mohawk Items by Ping Yanger” “Miss Kerns” teaching the Ping Yang School.  Railroad names stop “Donna” for little Donna Jackson:
Note: Maude Kerns also had a sister Edith, who was also a teacher, and it is possible she was the “Miss Kerns” at Ping Yang. However, the local news writer would probably have used a first name if the reference had been to a different “Miss Kerns” or mentioned her as being a sister of Maude. It is also possible that Maude Kerns traveled from one school to the other since they were just over a mile apart. Or, perhaps the old McGowan School, known locally after 1900 as the “White School,” was finally closed, as had been planned to occur several years earlier. Since Ping Yang was built to relieve overcrowding in the McGowan School, Maude Kerns could simply have moved down the road to Ping Yang.

Daily Eugene Guard  4-26-1901   “Mohawk Items by Hayseed”

 Maude Irvine Kerns (1876-1965). A biography by Barbara Zentner was published by the Maude Kerns Art Center in 1988. Pages 39-43. It briefly covers her early teaching years in rural schools and does an excellent job of documenting her importance in bringing Asian artwork to America. http://www.mkartcenter.org 
Also see, Daily Eugene Guard, 4-10-1901, “Miss Maud Kerns of Eugene is teaching” the McGowan School. NOTE: Maude Kern’s name is spelled as “Maud” in some articles.

 Daily Eugene Guard  7-15-1901  Page 1: “Ping Yang School House Destroyed”, This was the third bombing

The Daily Eugene Guard, 9‑ 25‑ 1902, “Mohawk Items”, Columbus Cole has sold his sawmill

 The Daily Eugene Guard, 7-17-02, “Ping Yang” “Our enterprising merchant is leaving the locality.”

Daily Eugene Guard  9-29-1903      “Mohawk Items”, Death of Rev. J.F. Mulkey, “killing chinamen” quote (see scan below)

Ping Yang Band photograph, 6-13-1914. Courtesy, Curtis Irish Collection

Springfield News, 11-26-1917, “Pioneer Resident Dies” (Joe Huddleston obituary)

Eugene Register Guard  5-7-1963  “School Built in 1909 To Close” by Don Bishoff – school that replaced PY closed

Springfield News, June 3, 1963. “Dynamited Organ Part of Mohawk History”, By Mrs. Marion Stafford (her mother founded the nearby Stafford School)

“Mohawk Elementary School Dedication Program”, 4-14-1964, paragraph on 1896 dispute dividing the district. (see scan below)

The West Magazine, April 1966, Pages 32, 33 & 64, “The Boxers versus the Highbinders” by Claud Hammitt, his family owned the Mohawk Store (see page scans below)
NOTE: the name of Claud Hammitt is spelled as “Claude” in some news items.

Opal Whiteley Memorial website  www.opalnet.org , links to the University of Oregon Diary Project

*  Finn John: Oregon State History Prof’s “Offbeat Oregon” newspaper column and website; he writes about Ping Yang and many other fascinating stories of Oregon. I knew Finn years ago when he was the editor of the Cottage Grove Senteniel. He always had a talent for digging up the oddest and most interesting untold stories of Oregon. Enjoy his columns here:  http://www.offbeatoregon.com/H1003b_PingYang.html

*  Curtis Irish was born and raised in Marcola.  He has a collection of over 7,000 historic photographs of the area.  He has also gathered hundreds of newspaper articles from the years 1891 – 1917.  Irish has been a consultant for the University of Oregon’s publication of Opal Whiteley’s diary.  He is a valued friend and colleague. Curtis Irish is widely respected as one of the foremost authorities on the early history of the Mohawk Valley.

You can view Curtis Irish’s fantastic collection on Flickr here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/36241830@N06/.   His file of hundreds of Mohawk newspaper articles is online at this URL http://members.efn.org/~opal/mohawk.htm

*  James Hayden, grandson of Charly Hayden.  A Japanese man named Maeda lived with Charly (actual spelling) and Ella Hayden’s family in Mohawk near Ping Yang School.  James Hayden loaned me the photographs of Maeda and his friend. My account of their family’s friendship with Maeda and Yoshihara is at this link: http://www.efn.org/~opal/hayden.htm

*  Louis Polley, was third generation resident of Marcola, has published excellent histories of the Mohawk Valley in his book and companion video.  His excellent book is entitled A History of the Mohawk Valley and Early Lumbering (1984 and 1991). I also interviewed Mr. Polley several times in Marcola.  His story about Ping Yang School is on page 40.  Here is a link to the scanned page:  Lou Polley – Mohawk – Ping Yang School – Joe Huddleston.jpg

*  Claude Hammitt.  He wrote articles in the early 1970’s about Ping Yang for the Lane County Historian and The West Magazine.  Louis Polley quotes him extensively. We probably would not know about Joe Huddleston and his Boxers if not for Claude Hammitt. His family owned the Mohawk General Store across the road from Ping Yang School.  The store is still in operation today.  The history of Ping Yang School might have been lost if not for his articles. The photo of Joe Huddleston comes from The 1966 West article pages 32, 33 & 64.

*  James Creelman, On the Great Highway.  It was originally printed in 1901 and has been reprinted online by Google Books. James Creelman is often called the “Father of Human Rights Journalism”. Creelman’s 1894 war dispatch “The Storming of Ping Yang” might have been the root source for the name of the Ping Yang School. His book was a collection of dispatches he had written over his long career. A very good website about Creelman and human rights reporting is here. The story about Ping Yang may be found at this web address Google Books – Battle of Ping Yang

*  Maude Kerns’ biography.  The biography was published by the Maude Kerns Art Center.  It briefly covers her early teaching years in the Mohawk Valley and it does an excellent job of documenting her importance in bringing Asian artwork to America. The Art Center named for her has a nice website about their work. http://www.mkartcenter.org/

Selections from Local Newspapers and History Books used in this article

A History of the Mohawk Valley and Early Lumbering 

By Louis E. Polley

Lou Polley – Mohawk – Ping Yang School – Joe Huddleston.jpg

Quotation from Page 40   Mohawk Schools at Donna  District # 144

 “Claude Hammitt in an article for the Lane County Historian said that Old Joe Huddleston was an unforgettable Mohawk Valley character.  He said Joe was very much against the proposed new school.  He moved the Boxer Rebellion all the way from China to the Mohawk.  If you were on his side you were a Boxer, but if you were on the other side you were a High Binder (a bad guy).  An election was held and the votes were counted.  Old Joe lost and the school was built in spite of his good fight.  He named it after one of the Chinese battlefields.  That is why the Mohawk School was always better known as the Ping Yang School.  As Joe lived just across the road from the school, he said the pupils sounded like a bunch of Chinese and the bell sounded like Ping Yang to him.”

“The school was built sometime before the turn of the century to relieve overcrowding in the old school because of all the lumbering going on in the Upper Valley.  Soon after, it was dynamited three times.  The building was repaired and not long after that it was completely destroyed by fire.  For some reason the directors then thought it best to relocate the school some distance away.  This building when erected remained undisturbed and operated from 1909 go around 1963, about 54 years.  When the Springfield School District built a new school, the district sold the school house to [ name omitted ] who made it into a nice house.”

mohawk valley schools

“The Storming of Ping Yang”  The Battle in Korea

by James Creelman  1894

According to Louis Polley”s book the Ping Yang School was named for “a Chinese battlefield”.  There are several places in China with that name.  However, the name is also found in Korea – and it is associated with a famous battle that was widely followed at the time. This may be the true origin of the school”s name. A scan of page 40 of Polley’s book is below.

The link below is to a reprint of the news story “The Storming of Ping Yang”, by James Creelman.  This was a story of how Japanese soldiers saved the lives of the citizens of Ping Yang when China invaded Korea.  The Americans saw the Japanese as heroes and rescuers of Korea from China’s invasion. The story was reprinted in his memoirs published in 1901 – the same year as the Oregon school bombing.

Google Books – The Battle of Ping Yang

The Boxers Verses the Highbinders  By Claud Hammitt

 The West,  April 1966, pg 32, 33 & pg 64

The boxers versus the highlanders oregon
The boxers versus the highlanders oregon
The boxers versus the highlanders oregon

News Stories About Ping Yang School

There are many other news items about Ping Yang. You can search for them at this link of Historic Oregon Newspapers: http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/

*  Eugene Newspaper Archives.  Eugene newspapers used to have correspondents in rural areas.  Every week or two there would be short items from many of the rural communities.  The articles tended to mostly detail the coming and going of local people.  Usually these reporters would not get their name on their story.  Several of the articles referenced here are signed by “Hayseed” and one by a “Ping Yanger” showing the community tug of war over the school.

 NOTE: Items from rural areas were often dated several days earlier than the main newspaper’s date.  For example, a Mohawk item within the paper could be dated April 14 but the actual newspaper printed on April 16.  The dates below are the newspaper’s printed date.

 –  Building the railroad    3-24-1900,   3-30-1900 ,   3-31-1900,   4-2-1900,    4-14-1900,   4-18-1900,   4-21-1900

 –  Ping Yang news articles  4-10-1901,  4-16-1901,   4-26-1901.   7-15-1901    9-25-1902   12-31-1902


“The Ping Yang school-house was located in the Mohawk valley about 10 or 12 miles east of Eugene. It is a new district, having recently been established. Since its establishment there has been considerable animosity in the district over the location of the school house, and other things. The building was a comparatively new one, though built on a cheap plan, the contract price being $300.

About two months ago an attempt was made to burn the school-house by pouring a can of coal oil on the floor and setting fire to it; but the scheme failed and the fire went out without consuming the oil. It was not known who the would-be property destroyer was, though suspicion fell on certain parties and there was talk of arrests but none were made.

Last night at 10 o’clock a second attempt was made to destroy the building and this time with better success. Several sticks of dynamite were placed under the house and exploded, with the result that the building was completely demolished. School-house, books and furniture quit the hitherto quiet regions of Ping Yang by the upward route. The explosion was heard for miles about.”

ping yang school blown up

Eugene City Guard – June 20, 1896

Huddleston makes Ping Yang Brandy for Election Campaign

Joe Huddleston Mohawk valley oregon

April 10, 1901 Eugene Article

Miss Maud Kerns teaching at McGowan Creek (the “Old White School”

maude kerns teaching ping yang school

THE DAILY EUGENE GUARD  4-16-1901      


“Miss Kerns is teaching the Ping Yang School”
“we have got a woman preacher at Ping Yang”

“Ping Yang School house needs a coat of paint Miss. Kerns is teaching the Ping Yang School. We have got a woman preacher at Ping Yang. Ping Yang is badly in need of a little missionary work. Mr. Morgan has put in a platform at his own expense at the Ping Yang railroad crossing.”

“Mrs. Hickman, of Salt lake, preached at Ping Yang yesterday to a full house. We learn that Mr. Cole, of Marcola, intends starting a branch store at Ping Yang. Ping Yang is located about 12 miles east of Eugene . It is going to be a great wood depot in the near future. If the entertainment that was had at the McGowan school had been held at Ping Yang a good crowd would have been present”.

“Everything quiet at Ping Yang at present.”

The following week the Bohemia Nugget Newspaper Mocks the idea of Ping Yang being a “great wood depot”!

maude kerns teaching ping yang school

DAILY EUGENE GUARD   4-26-1901        


Mrs. Max Jackson of Ping Yang has a new wheel.  We hope the lady won’t have any trouble in learning to ride it. Walter Sharp is carrying the mail again. Charly Hayden can find his lost cat by  inquiring at Mr. Fawvers.

The party who spoke of Ping Yang needing, a missionary is off.  Ping Yang don’t need a missionary, but the people that live around Ping Yang do, and we hope they may be able to have one.

DAILY EUGENE GUARD  7-15-1901        


Last night between the hours of 10:30 and 11 o’clock the Ping Yang school house, on the Mohawk, 12 miles northeast of Eugene, was almost completely demolished by an explosion of dynamite.

The explosive was placed under the organ in the southwest corner of the building. The organ, the desks, and all other furniture and apparatus were blown to atoms, the floor and  sleepers of the building were completely splintered, the sides of the building were blown out and all that remains Is the roof with part of the frame work to support it.

This is the fourth attempt made to destroy this school house.  First an attempt was made to burn it; about three years ago dynamite was used  and the building was considerably damaged, the benches, etc, destroyed; and again about a year and a half ago dynamite was placed on the organ and exploded but not much damage was the result. This time however, the fiend who is so bent on demolishing the building was more successful than at any previous attempt.

The Ping Yang school house was built some six or seven years ago at a cost of $400 or $500, it being about 25×30 feet in dimensions and a good building for its class.  It contained about $75 worth of apparatus.  Just before it was built the district was divided and there was considerable trouble over the location of the new building.

One faction wanted it in one place and another wanted it somewhere else. It was finally built on its present site, but there has been constant dispute in that locality over the matter ever since its erection.  The sheriff was notified of the explosion this morning and he will look into the matter and do all he can to find the guilty party or parties. Suspicion points to certain persons as the perpetrators of the crime, but no tangible clue of their guilt can be obtained.


Columbus Cole has sold his sawmill and it is being moved out of the valley. The Seventh Day Adventists have left the valley, but leave many people as believers in their faith. They expect to return within a few months and establish Sabbath school.

THE DAILY EUGENE GUARD 12-31-1902     

Dec. 31. Mohawk will soon have another sawmill. Mr. Briggs, the enterprising sawmill man and former manager of the Hyland mills at Trent, in preparing to establish a sawmill about three quarters of a mile northeast of Donna with a store and lumber yard on J. Huddleston’s place. Such an enterprise “should receive the approval and hearty recommendation of the Mohawkers”.

  July 17, 1902 Eugene article Ping Yang Band forming

“Killing Chinamen” 1903 News Item Announcing Rev. Mulkey’s Death

April 1964 Mohawk School Closing & Moving 

Here is a clue to the location of Ping Yang School – which would put it across Donna Road from the 100 year old Mohawk General Store. See the April 1963 newspaper articles about the closing of the Mohawk School and its history.

Joe Huddleston lived on the hill behind the store and his house overlooked the school. The Mohawk Christian Church stands near where the Ping Yang School once stood. Perhaps that’s appropriate since it was the Reverend J.F. Mulkey who donated the land for the school. You can see it by looking out the front door of the historic Mohawk Store.

mohawk valley schools

There are many other news items about Ping Yang. You can search for them at this link of Historic Oregon Newspapers: http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/

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