We recently received a transfer of Salem-related materials from the Lane County Historical Society and Museum in Eugene. Among the programs for the Apollo Club and Salem Symphony Orchestra, appeared an interesting invitation to the annual dinner given by the Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1910. The postcard invitation (shown to the left) is postmarked December 29, 1910 and is addressed to Comrade Kinney, Salem, Oregon, Trade Street. The “comrade” isn’t too strange of an address as the Grand Army of the Republic was a veteran’s organization for veterans that fought for the Union in the Civil War. We are thinking “comrade at arms” rather member of the Communist Party.
The real mystery is the identity of Comrade Kinney. With no information to go on from the original donor of the materials, we set out on a hunt to find a little more information about Mr. Kinney for our records. No easy task.
Neither the 1909 nor the 1911 Salem City Directories list a Kinney living on Trade Street. 1909 has a Russell J. Kinney living at 761 Mill Street with a Jay Kinney boarding with him — the only two Kinneys living in Salem at the time. 1911 shows an additional Kinney in the area: Student Alfred Kinney living at 340 N Liberty. In addition to the wrong address, his student status makes it unlikely he would have been even born at the time of the Civil War. Cross him off the list of likely suspects. Russell J and Jay — now listed as J. Lester Kinney — reappear in the 1911 directory, having moved to 705 N 17th Street where they are listed as farmers. Maybe in their move Russell and Jay spent some time living on Trade Street?
Maybe our current exhibit just makes me have beer on the brain, but I started looking through the directories for alternative spellings for Kinney, and came across a listing for Frank M. Kenney, the president of the Salem Brewery Association. The 1909 listing states that Kenney was living in Olympia, Washington at the time. But what if he received mail at the Brewery which had frontage on Trade Street? As a prominent businessman with ties to the area, it would make some logical sense if the women of the organization wanted to invite him to their gala event. A nifty theory, but the corporate offices for the Salem Brewery Association are listed in the city directories as 268 S Commercial Street.