30-Year Mountain Mystery Solved, PART 2
By Ty Walker
The century-old family scrapbook, stolen from a Rhododendron cabin in the mid-1990s, is back in the hands of the original owners’ descendants. The antique family treasure was returned last month to Matt Reid, the grandson of Wilbur P. and Evelyn Reid.
Matt Reid has been poring over the time-weathered pages rediscovering his family’s history through old Oregonian newspaper clippings, birth and wedding announcements, and family photos. The book is a cornucopia of memorabilia missing for nearly three decades and thought lost forever.
This is The Mystery Of The Family Scrapbook Part II in a two-part series. Part I of the series, which appeared in the November issue of The Mountain Times, chronicled the details of how the local newspaper acquired the curious 11-by-16-inch dark gray book after its theft, and tracked down its rightful owners.
Current Mountain Times publisher Matt Nelson presented the scrapbook to Matt Reid last month at the newspaper’s headquarters. Reid could not have imagined a more welcome surprise than receiving this collection of articles marking family milestones over the years.
Reid thought it was going to be just an album of family photos, but he found it to be so much more. It was his grandmother Evelyn Reid’s personal scrapbook containing mementos of family history through news articles dating as far back as the 1840s, and through the 1970s.
Although the items follow other names and branches of the family, the Reid name is predominant throughout the 30 oversized pages rich with genealogical history.
“It follows grandmother’s family,” Reid said. “It’s really got a lot of meat in it. I’m going to learn a lot from it. It’s a personal scrapbook. I think it was my grandmother’s, Evelyn Hitchcock. I’m trying to figure it out. It’s pretty deep.”
To say that Reid is happy to have the scrapbook back in the family’s hands is an understatement.
“It’s super good to have it back,” Reid said. “There’s so much lost history – all the newspaper articles, the memorabilia of all the weddings of all the kids and their kids. It’s really complete and really delicate. I have to figure out how to make it less delicate so people can enjoy it. It’s very fragile. It’s 100 years old.”
Reid still owns and spends time in the Rhododendron cabin from which the scrapbook was stolen. In fact, he said seven generations have spent time there.
He has installed a security system since the burglary. He said burglars also stole family photographs off the walls, hoping to sell the ornate picture frames to antique dealers.
Reid’s grandfather, Wilbur P. Reid, the son of a prosperous lumber baron, built the cabin in 1910 as a summer retreat. It would take a Model A Ford two hours to drive from their historic Portland bungalow to their cabin in the foothills of Mount Hood.
Reid plans to share the scrapbook with his daughter, Chelsey (Reid) Ryskalczk, and members of other branches of the family.
“There’s a bunch of families,” Reid said. “They’re all my relatives. Over 100 years, they’ve all been robbed, I’m sure.”
Right now, he’s catching up with a few family members, reading all about the Reid family heritage.
“It’s pretty neat for something to show up after so long,” Reid said. “I’m halfway through it now. It’s really amazing. It’s in the hands of the rightful family.”