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Underground History: Setting An Old Story Straight

Polly Bemis with Horses, 1910.png
Idaho State Historical Society
Polly Bemis in 1910.

The stories of the early days of white settlement in our region are filled with larger-than-life characters. Larger than life, as in: they really were not like the portrayals in the stories.

The woman known as Polly Bemis is an example. Supposedly, she came from China, worked as a prostitute, and was won by her husband in a poker game. Only the part about China is true, as Priscilla Wegars points out in her book Polly Bemis: The Life and Times of a Chinese American Pioneer.

We visit with the author in this month's edition of Underground History, with Chelsea Rose of the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology. We get the true details of a fascinating life.

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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily talk show focused on news and interests across our region of Southern Oregon and Northern California. John Baxter is the senior producer, Angela Decker is the producer and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.