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The Story of Letitia Carson in Oregon

Feb 28

In recognition of Black History Month and Women’s History Month, Dr. Bob Zybach and Jan Meranda will share the story of Letitia Carson. Letitia was a former slave who moved to Oregon with her white husband, Dave in 1845.

After Dave died in 1852, their land was taken from her by Greenberry Smith, a wealthy white landowner.

Letitia’s story is significant because she fought for years to regain her property, and eventually won, becoming the first black woman to make a successful homestead claim in the Pacific Northwest.

Her story was the inspiration for Jane Kirkpatrick’s novel A Light in the Wilderness, and Jan Meranda’s recent book, Freedom’s Light: The Letitia Carson Story Begins.

Bob Zybach is a forest scientist with a Ph.D. in environmental sciences.  He and Janet Meranda, a writer and genealogist from Salem, have collaborated on researching Letitia Carson’s history for nearly thirty years.

To date, their research has resulted in the novels by Kirkpatrick and Meranda, Zybach’s recent article in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin, “Strangely Absent from History: Carson vs. Smith, 1852-1857,” and nearly a dozen genealogical society publications.  A record of their findings can be found at www.ORWW.org/History/Letitia_Carson/index.html.

 

Letitia Carson

Co-sponsored by:

Newport Public Library Foundation

Central Oregon Coast NOW Foundation

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Central Oregon Coast NOW Foundation

 


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