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The Souvenir of Western Women/Mrs. Catherine A. Coburn

< The Souvenir of Western Women

Mrs. Catherine A. Coburn


ONE of the early emigrants who set out on the Oregon trail in 1852 was John Tucker Scott. Among the large family of children that accompanied him across the plains was the subject of this sketch. At an early age she became the wife of John R. Coburn, who eleven years later died, leaving his young wife to bear alone the responsibility of providing for and rearing their four little children. With the courage of the true mother she entered upon this task. Her first effort was in the public school at Canemah, which she taught for four years. She then took charge of the Forest Grove school during the two succeeding years.

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In 1874 Mrs. Coburn entered upon her editorial career as associate with her sister, Abigail Scott Duniway, editor and publisher of the New Northwest, a journal of aggressive force and literary merit. In this, her new calling, Mrs. Coburn evinced a rare degree of journalistic ability. At the close of five years' service in this position she took charge of the Portland Daily Bee, a journal of force and influence in its time.

In 1880 Mrs. Coburn became editor of the Evening Telegram, and in 1888 she was transferred to the editorial staff of the Daily Oregonian, where she still remains. It is in the columns of this paper that Mrs. Coburn's characteristic work appears. Her strict training in the school of pioneer experience, her acquaintance with the men and the women who have builded this commonwealth, her familiarity with the personal hopes and individual hardships that have been woven into the texture of the community, from the early settlements to the Oregon of today, singularly fit her for the work to which she is assigned—that of treating local incident and local interests in editorial comment. Her subjects in local coloring are thrown against the background of pioneer reminiscence in effect as sympathetic as it is unique.

Mrs. Coburn's position among women in the field of journalism has thus become a distinctive one. As a writer she observes keenly, thinks carefully, feels truly, judges unharshly, depicts clearly. As a woman, strength of character, dignity of effort, and womanliness without shadow of turning, are the qualities by which her life is crowned.