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John Watermelon Redington (1851-1935) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1851. He worked as a printer's devil with the Cambridge University Press. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1874 as a means of traveling to the West. He was discharged in 1874 and travelled to Oregon where he worked for the Salem Oregon Statesman, and founded a job printing establishment in Salem, Oregon. He left job printing to wander through Oregon, Idaho, and Utah as a tramp printer and in search of adventure. He served as a scout in the Nez Perce Indian War and the Bannock Indian War. His small stature and juvenile enthusiasm led General Oliver O. Howard to refer to him as the original boy scout.
Redington took over the Heppner, Oregon Gazette in 1883, and later published papers in Puyallup and Tacoma, Washington. He was a native humorist, inventing tall stories to fill his columns, and issued outrageous political broadsides in a style reminiscent of Bill Nye. He was married to Nellie Meacham, daughter of Alfred B. Meacham. His last years were spent as a wandering journalist, and in and out of the Veterans' Home at Sawtelle, California until his death in 1935.
The correspondence series (approx. 800 pieces) is organized alphabetically by last name and includes personal letters and correspondence with western writers. Pension materials are organized by date, 1909-1935. Financial files are organized by type. The manuscripts are organized alphabetically by title. Also included in the collection is genealogy material on the Redington family, disabled volunteer solider files, broadsides, newspapers from 1883-1935, photostats, scrapbooks, meeting records, publications and microfilm.
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[Identification of item], John W. Redington papers, Ax 093, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.