Mystery of Mary Ann Miller

In the summer of 1921, an incident occurred in the Hood River valley which attracted attention. The incident made the front page of the Hood River News, the Portland Oregonian and a Boise Idaho newspaper.

There also was an article in the New York Times.

Three years after the end of World War I, a man from California came to Hood River, hunting for a nurse (Louise A. Watkins) with whom he was obsessed. The man, Luther Fagan, went to a ranch where he believed the nurse’s mother lived.

At the house, he and the rancher (T. J. Miller) had verbal argument.

Fagan shot Miller. But Fagan apparently felt badly for wounding Miller so he had Miller’s wife call a doctor.

After Dr. Thrane arrived, Fagan realized that he might be arrested so he kidnapped Miller’s wife (Mary Ann Miller) and her teenage daughter (Pearl).

Sheriff Thomas F. Johnson, formed a posse which surrounded Fagan. A sharpshooter in the posse named Herman Pregge shot Fagan in the head and killed him.

Luther Fagan, Mary Ann Miller, and TJ Miller are buried in Idlewilde cemetery within about six rows of each other.

In Cemetery Tales that is presented by the History Museum of Hood River County this September, the Fagan incident will be a focus. I am looking for living descendants of the Miller family. The incident has similarities to shootings that have attracted national attention across our country.

I am interested in learning about the long-term impact of the Fagan incident on the lives of the people involved and their families. According to records in the cemetery, Mary Ann Miller died in The Dalles in 1958.

I have not been able to find a record of her burial from the mortuary in The Dalles nor have I found an obituary for her in The Dalles Chronicle or in the Hood River News.

If you know of the whereabouts of living descendants of the Mary Ann Miller family, or if you know of any documents or additional information about the Fagan incident I would appreciate being contacted, at blashrk@gmail.com.

Roger Blashfield

Hood River

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