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

Roger Blashfield

Hood River

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners