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Hunting Dog Lends Its Name to Keno, Ore. Post Office

Keno, Ore., wasn’t always Keno.  And it wasn’t named after the popular card game, well, not directly, anyway.

The authoritative book titled Oregon Geographic Names says Keno “has had several names, and their history is confusing” because “postal records are not as complete as they might be.”  The Keno postmistress in Keno in 1926, Nellie Doten, said her father had surveyed and platted the town site and named it Doten after himself, but postal officials rejected the name because of its similarity to Dayton.

It 1876, the post office was known as Whittles Ferry, named after the ferry operator, Robert Whittle. There were objections, including from influential pioneer Capt. O.C. Applegate, who suggested the name Klamath River, which postal officials turned down in favor of Plevna, which became the name in 1878.  When the post office moved a couple of miles to Juniper Ridge, it took that name.

Oregon Geographic Names says unhappy local patrons “secured a new office” in August 1887 “and named it Keno for Captain D.J. Ferree’s dog.”  That name stuck.

And, yes, Capt. Ferree’s bird dog was named after the card game.

 

Source: McArthur, Lewis A., and Lewis L. McArthur. Oregon Geographic Names. 4th ed. Portland, Ore.: Oregon Historical Society, 1974. 404-05. Print.

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.