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As It Was: Inmate Escapes Gold Hill Work Crew In 1919

In 1919, an inmate from the Oregon State Penitentiary, Clyde “Red” Rupert, fled a work crew assigned to a state-owned Gold Hill rock plant. Oregon newspapers said Rupert was headed for Mexico to join Pancho Villa’s revolution.

The tall, handsome redhead had once grabbed headlines as a semi-professional football and baseball player before becoming a popular Portland police officer. Public shock when he was dismissed for gambling turned to disbelief when he was accused of stealing nearly $20,000 in Liberty Bonds.

Rupert insisted he was innocent.

Rupert never made it to Mexico to live the life of a revolutionary. Instead, he became a cantaloupe picker in Southern California. A special agent arrested him after intercepting a letter to his wife that revealed his whereabouts.

Rupert served only three years of a five-year jail sentence after friends appealed for a pardon. He vowed to go straight and find work in a logging camp.

In 1927, he was back on the sports pages as the manager of the baseball team in Albany, Ore.

Sources: "Convicts Rupert and Hardy Escape." Morning Oregonian, 18 Mar. 1919 [Portland OR], p. 1+. Historical Oregon Newspapers, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn83025138/1919-03-18/ed-1/seq-1/#words=Red+Rupert. Accessed 17 Mar. 2020; Ibid. 22 Mar. 1922, p. 1+. Historical Oregon Newspapers, oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn83025138/1922-03-24/ed-1/seq-1/. Accessed 17 Mar. 2020.

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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.