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Letter to the editor: Seeking descendants

Seeking details

To the editor:

(Edited for length.)

In the summer of 1921, an incident occurred in the Hood River valley which attracted attention, making 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 about the incident.

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

After Dr. Thrane arrived, Fagan realized that he might be arrested for the shooting so he kidnapped Miller’s wife (Mary Ann Miller) and her teenage daughter (Pearl). Dr. Thrane contacted authorities. Local Sheriff Thomas F. Johnson formed a posse, which surrounded Fagan.

While a leader of the posse distracted Fagan, a sharpshooter in the posse named Herman Pregge shot Fagan in the head and killed him. Fagan, the kidnapped woman (Mary Ann Miller) and the man Fagan shot (Thomas Jefferson Miller) are buried in the Hood River cemetery within about 6 rows of each other. Also buried in the cemetery are Sheriff Johnson and Dr. Thrane.

In Cemetery Tales presented by the Hood River County Museum, 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. I am interested in learning about the long-term impact of the Fagan incident on the people involved and their families.

Mary Ann Miller is buried in Hood River’s Idelwild Cemetery. According to records in the cemetery, she 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, I would appreciate being contactedvia email at Also if you know of any documents or additional information about the Fagan incident, that also would be appreciated.

Roger Blashfield

Hood River


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