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Cannon Beach History Event: Buffalo Soldier Connection to Oregon Coast

Published 03/06/2019 at 2:23 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cannon Beach History Event: Buffalo Soldier Connection to Oregon Coast

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) – A tiny but fascinating corner of Oregon coast history comes to light on March 14 in Cannon Beach, as the local history museum presents a talk on an early African-American trailblazer and his connections to the north Oregon coast. (Above: the Cannon Beach History Museum).

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At the close of the Civil War, a Louisiana-born black man named Moses Williams joined the army and began a distinguished military career that lasted 31 years and included some time on the north Oregon coast. Sgt. Williams led troopers of the 9th U.S. Cavalry’s Buffalo Soldiers, receiving the army’s highest award, the Medal of Honor. From his posting as ordnance sergeant at Fort Stevens on the Oregon coast, Williams petitioned the War Department for the honor of fifteen years after demonstrating what the assistant secretary of war later called “most distinguished gallantry in action with hostile Apache Indian in the foothills of the Cuchillo Negro Mountains” in August 1881. Williams was posted at Fort Stevens on October 15, 1895 and served for three years.

The talk is given by Portland historian Greg Shine, who recently penned an article on Buffalo soldiers in the Pacific Northwest and their time in Washington and Oregon. His presentation will focus primarily on Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Moses Williams and his connections to Fort Stevens.

(At right: Moses Williams). Shine is best known to north Oregon coast residents for his extensive work in researching the USS Shark, the ship from which the cannon came that eventually got Cannon Beach its name. That carronade is on display at the museum.

In addition to his work in the Oregon/Washington State Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Greg serves as a lecturer in the History Department at Portland State University and volunteers on the editorial board of the Oregon Encyclopedia and the board of the Friends of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site nonprofit organization. For nearly 30 years, Greg has produced studies, reports, presentations, technical papers, and digital media for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. National Park Service; contributed chapters to books including Exploring Fort Vancouver (UW Press, 2011) and The Civil War Remembered (Eastern National, 2011); edited and co-written books including Revealing Our Past: A History of Nineteenth Century Vancouver Barracks through 25 Objects (National Park Service, 2013).

Shine has also appeared on PBS's History Detectives and OPB's Oregon Experience episodes. Alongside that, he’s known for numerous articles for journals and the online Oregon Encyclopedia, including "Respite from War: Buffalo Soldiers at Vancouver Barracks, 1899-1900," for the Oregon Historical Quarterly which he will draw upon for his History Center presentation.

Shine and his family live in Portland but can often be found exploring the Oregon coast - especially Cannon Beach.

This event is free to the public and begins at 1 p.m. Seating for Shine’s presentation is very limited so you’ll want to arrive a little early to get a seat, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and peruse the museum before the lecture starts at 4:00 p.m. Doors are closed at 4:15 p.m. 1387 South Spruce Street. 503.436.9301. Lodging in Cannon Beach - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours





Above: Fort Stevens


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