Effie Birdseye Retains “Unconquered American Spirit”

Date: 

Monday, Oct. 2, 2017

Author: 

Sharon Bywater

Episode: 

3 289

Effie Hillsboro was only 17 when she married Wes Birdseye and moved to a hand-hewn log house near Gold Hill, Ore., in 1898.  Wes died young, leaving Effie with three boys to raise, a mortgage, and back taxes.  Told a “mere woman” could never make a go of it, Effie responded by saying, “This place belongs to me and my boys, and we are going to keep it.”

Effie raised her three sons, sold milk and eggs to pay off back taxes, and turned the farm into a grade A dairy.  In 1947, she was chosen as Oregon’s “unconquered American spirit,” in celebration of Cecil B. DeMille’s movie about pioneer life titled “Unconquered.”  Effie and 21 other pioneers received paid invitations to the film’s premier in Pittsburgh.  For two weeks, she enjoyed fancy hotels, flowers, balls, limousines and parades before returning to life at the dairy.

When asked if she missed all the glamour, Effie replied that the women she saw at the movie premier’s grand ball had too much money and too many jewels.  She added, “I figure that maybe all they needed was a ranch and a few mortgages to pay off to find real happiness.”

 

Sources: "Mrs. Birdseye Hobnobs with Celebrities in Week of Ceremonies at Film Premier." Medford Mail Tribune, 5 Oct. 1947. Medford Mail Tribune, 24 Sept. 1947.           

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