For some, movement linked to racism

March 18, 2007 11:00 pm

Triplicate staff

Within the boundaries of the State of Jefferson stands a reminder that is as painful to blacks as local history is to the tribes of Northern California and Southern Oregon.

It's a roadside memorial erected in 1940 by the Daughters of the American Confederacy to honor Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.

Within the State of Jefferson's history is a hint of a connection to the Ku Klux Klan of one of its early supporters, Lafayette F. Mosher.

Mosher, a Jacksonville, Ore., resident in 1854 chaired a meeting Jan. 7, 1854 that assessed support for one of the secession concepts, the State of Jackson.

Racist sentiment is a part of Oregon's history. Oregon is the only in state by law to completely exclude "Free Negroes."

Author Vic Varis, who is black, details the implementation of the law in his article "Dixie in the North."

The memorial is on Hwy. 99, south of Siskiyou Summit.

The State of Jefferson is not named after Jefferson Davis, however, as some believe.

Its namesake, Thomas Jefferson, was selected from one of many letters entered into a newspaper-sponsored naming contest.

Eureka resident J. E. Mun-dell, who owned property in Del Norte County, won the contest, suggesting the third president's name in part because "Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, the great instrument that states that the people have a right to govern themselves."

Mundell also argued that Jefferson's financing of the Lewis and Clark expedition led the American's settlement of the area.