[COMMUNITY] Ping Yang School Bombings
- The Ping Yang School Bombing
Near Marcola Oregon
by Stephen Williamson
May 1895 - Additional details listed below
The Second Bombing of Ping Yang School - Winter, 1900
The second bombing of Ping Yang School happened in the winter of
1900. This was at the time when newspaper articles show a number
of "negroes" and "Japs" coming in to work on the Mohawk railroad.
Joe Huddleston was seventy years old when the railroad came to
Mohawk - and he was not glad to see it. He had come to Oregon when
he was a boy in 1840 with his parents. He had lived with the
Calapooya Indians and once had an Indian wife. The new railroad
station was built directly across the road from his house.
Joe Huddleston had only one eye - the other was scratched out by his
former wife. He lived mostly off the land, hunting and fishing and
growing enough berries to make wine on his eighty acre farm. Claude
Hammitt writes that he took care of a family who were mentally
retarded and had helped many of the early homesteaders. Huddleston
also had a unique way of fishing in the local creeks. He would use
dynamite and blast out dozens of fish at a time. He would fry the
fish and share them with his cat. He was called "Old Joe" by
everyone because of his advanced age and near legendary status in
Less than three months before the final bombing in July of 1901, the
Southern Pacific Railroad established a train station at the
crossroads known as Mohawk and Ping Yang. The railroad wanted
approval of all names of communities where it was creating stations.
Thus the community of Mohawk or Ping Yang was renamed Donna, after a
young local girl. The town of Isabel was renamed to its present day
name, Marcola. The bombing of Ping Yang was a reaction against all
this growth and the thousands of people who were coming to Marcola
On a hot July summer night in 1901, in a small community near
Marcola, Oregon a school named Ping Yang was completely blown up by
a bomb. It was the third attempt to destroy the school since 1895.
No one was ever arrested for the bombings. Why was the school named
Ping Yang? Why was it bombed? The answer is a complex mix of
social, religious and racial prejudices that exploded in the small,
rapidly growing community.
The Ping Yang School has been only briefly mentioned in a couple of
local accounts. This article is the first attempt to put together a
sequence of events to understand why the school was bombed. The
school was about 12 miles east of Eugene-Springfield where the
current community of Mohawk stands. Like many rural schools at the
time, Ping Yang was a small schoolhouse with just one classroom.
Each bombing was at night and no one was injured.
Ping Yang opened in early 1895. The community had been divided on
building the school and one single-minded man polarized residents of
the area. Someone first tried to set fire to it in early 1885.
That attempt failed, but in May of 1895, a bomb was put under the
floor of the school at night. A second bombing occurred around the
winter of 1900. Finally the school was completely destroyed in July
1901. No one was ever arrested for any of the attacks which happened
over a six year period - yet most people knew exactly who was
No One Was Ever Arrested for the Bombings
Joe Huddleston is mentioned in each version of the stories of the
Ping Yang School bombing - yet he was never charged. Nor was anyone
else ever arrested for the crimes. Both the 1895 and the 1901 news
stories say that "suspicion points to certain persons" but there was
no tangible proof of their involvement. The July 15, 1901 article
calls the bomber a "fiend" and notes the long community battle over
Perhaps part of the answer of why no one was ever arrested is
simple - the bombings were bad publicity for a community trying to
grow and join the 20th century. No community seeking new families
and industries would have wanted to be noted for school bombings.
Any trial would have vastly increased the amount of bad publicity.
While this writer has not read all possible newspaper sources, it
does not appear that the County or State governments did much of
anything about the attacks on the small school.
There were four attempts to destroy the school (three by dynamite
and one by fire) over a six year period. There may have
been "socially sanctioned" reasons why no one was arrested for the
bombings. In 1895 the issues may have been the rapid growth and
that some people were using the school for dancing - a practice
condemned by many religious groups. Joe Huddleston was smart enough
to use these fears to get rid of the school and the noise of its
bell and children. However, the community as a whole. let him and
his followers avoid prosecution..
Ping Yang School operated quietly for the next five years, until
1900 when the school was bombed again. By 1900 there were many more
immigrants in the valley, brought by the railroad being built by the
Japanese. The Japanese had recently arrived in the community and
established a base camp for constructing the railroads. The 1900
bombing was closely tied to people's racial fears of the new
immigrants - especially the large number of Asians. In 1901 the
school was hosting a "woman preacher" - something that has been very
controversial throughout the entire history of Christianity. Each
of could be reasons why the authorities would not want a highly
publicized court case.
All Quiet at Ping Yang at Present
Today Ping Yang is not much bigger than it was 100 years ago. The
railroad is long gone and so are most of the local lumber mills. The
Mohawk Elementary School is not far from where the Ping Yang
schoolhouse once stood. The quiet community is again known as
Mohawk since the name of Donna never really stuck.
Claude Hammitt's store is still open in Mohawk. He wrote the
article about Joe Huddleston and Ping Yang for an issue of The West
magazine. Parts of his story are also in a Lane County Historian
article from 1974. A copy of The West magazine article was in the
store, where I first saw it a several years ago.
In 1909 a new schoolhouse was built to replace Ping Yang. The
school was renamed to Mohawk and operated for the next 50 years. The
building is still standing, but is now a private family home. The
new school cost over two thousand dollars to build. Ping Yang had
cost less than five hundred - plus repairs.
Ella Hayden and Maude Kerns both went on to have outstanding careers
as teachers in local schools and the University of Oregon. Charly
Hayden took care of his aging parents for another two decades. He
kept in touch with his Japanese friend Maeda for many years. He
bought a better farm a few miles away and now the road is called
Charly Lane. His descendents live there today.
Joe Huddleston sold his farm and moved away a year and a half after
the final bombing. Rather than becoming a hero in his community he
became an outcast. The December 31, 1902 New Year's Eugene Daily
Guard says that a lumber mill would be built on his place and that
the move should receive "the approval and hearty recommendation of