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Newlywed Holds Dying Husband in Oregon Caves

A newlywed's devotion to her groom in the face of danger 107 years ago so impressed the Rogue River Courier that it speculated her tragedy would become part of Josephine County's history.  The woman, Victorine Ellis, had stayed in the depths of the Oregon Caves with her gunshot-wounded husband while her companions fled in panic.

Frank Ellis and a friend, Arthur Vinyard, had taken their wives and two women relatives camping at the Oregon Caves in August 1909.  Exploring the cave by candlelight, they ran into a pair of strangers who speculated about bandits or bears in the passageways.  Frank said he would go ahead, armed with his .38 caliber revolver. 

As he climbed into the next passageway, a gunshot blasted him backward onto the feet of his companions.  Thinking they were under attack, everyone but Mrs. Ellis fled in terror, leaving her groping for her husband in the dark.  She found blood gushing from his eye and tried stopping it with her clothing, all the while begging him until his last breath not to die.

The coroner ruled out foul play, saying Ellis had accidently shot and killed himself.



Source: "A Terrible Tragedy In Depths of Oregon Caves." Rogue River Courier 6 Aug. 1909 [Grants Pass Oregon] : 1. Web. 8 Apr. 2016. .

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.