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As It Was: Oregon Editor Grows Bitter Over Public Lands

Isaac Munsey is buried near his Curry County cabin and copper mine on the coastal trail between Signal Buttes and the North Fork of Hunter Creek, next to a small stream and under a large incense-cedar tree.

Munsey came to Oregon’s South Coast around 1900 as editor of the Gold Beach Globe.  He liked to be referred to as “Colonel,” although no one knew the origin of the military title.

Land notices published in the newspaper provided a considerable amount of Munsey’s income.  When the Forest Service took control of large areas of the public domain, the number of homesteads and timber and mining claims plummeted, and so did Munsey’s income.  Munsey published numerous bitter and hostile attacks against the new policy.

In response, the newspaper’s stockholders forced Munsey to resign, so he ran for state representative of Coos and Curry counties, was elected, and served one year.

When Munsey drank heavily, he would claim to be a preacher, a lawyer, and sometimes when really juiced, the President of the United States.

Over the years, Munsey withdrew more and more from the community, spending most days at his copper mine.

Source: Schroeder, Walt. Characters, Legends and Mysteries of Curry County, Oregon. Gold Beach, Ore., Curry Historical Society, 2007, pp. 25-26.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.