Cottage Grove, Scene & Heard

IF YOU GO: Thoughts from the desk at Kalapuya Books

What: An Afternoon with Shannon Applegate, author of “Skookum: An Oregon Pioneer Family’s History and Lore.”
When: Thursday, July 18 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: The Axe & Fiddle, 657 E. Main Street, Cottage Grove
Thoughts from the desk at Kalapuya Books:
Our history ties the present to the past and gives us our sense of place. Shannon Applegate’s “Skookum” is the epitome of what we offer in the store’s Pioneer section. Through the Applegate history, immerse yourself in the stories of a fascinating pioneer family’s pivotal role in our region.
Her best-known work, “Skookum” was originally published by William Morrow in 1988. An Oregon Book Award Finalist, “Skookum” was a bestseller in the Pacific Northwest, named one of Oregon’s 100 Best Books, and now reprinted by Oregon State University Press. It is a story of immigrants, a story of kinship, and a story of conscience in the family’s relationship with the Yoncalla branch of the Kalapuya, the first people of this land.
Like us on Facebook to see our upcoming events, photos and book-related posts!
“Skookum: An Oregon Pioneer Family’s History and Lore,” by Shannon Applegate
Reviewed by Mora Dewey
History has never been an easy read for me; I’m soon bored by names, dates and details. But after 15 years of living in Cottage Grove, I decided to learn more about local history. With a focus on the Southern Willamette Valley, “Skookum” was my book of choice.
Shannon Applegate makes her family history come alive. Through extensive research she uncovers the passions, yearnings and fears of her pioneer family as it moved west from Missouri to Oregon in 1843, via the Oregon Trail. We get to know them well as they settle into the valley, forge livelihoods, quarrel and celebrate with one another against the backdrop of the Civil War, the Oregon gold rush and Oregon’s place in U.S. history.
An exciting family narrative, it weaves through Oregon history in an organic, unfolding way. I discovered Lane County is named for Joseph Lane, Oregon’s first U.S. Senator, a consummate politician who favored secession and the formation of a Western States confederacy. I was fascinated by accounts of the local Yoncalla tribe, a peaceable people who were, like other native peoples, cheated and driven from their land by the U.S. government. The Applegate family had forged relationships with the Yoncalla, including the shaman and chief, and attempted to prevent their removal from their land, giving the reader insight into the origins of racial inequality in Oregon.
The risk-taking of the Applegate men, especially in establishing the Applegate Trail as an alternative to the Oregon Trail, is illuminating. Equally fascinating is the portrayal of the lives of the Applegate women, strong and passionate, who gave the state its reputation for self-sufficiency. Illustrated with many paintings by Shannon’s cousin Susan Applegate, “Skookum,” a Yoncalla word meaning something like “friend,” is a recommended read.



View this profile on Instagram


The Chronicle (@thechronicle1909) • Instagram photos and videos