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John W. Redington papers

Identifier: Ax 093

Scope and Contents

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.


  • 1880-1935


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

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.


4.5 linear feet (13 containers)

Language of Materials



John Watermelon Redington was an Indian War scout, newspaper editor, writer, publisher and humorist. The collection consists of manuscripts, scrapbooks, 19th century newspapers, broadsides, photographs, and approximately 800 pieces of correspondence.


Collection is organized into the following series: Correspondence, Pension Papers, Financial Materials, Manuscripts and Publications.

Other Finding Aids

Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections & University Archives.

Related Materials

The University of Washington Library also holds a John W. Redington collection, Manuscript collection 0125. Also available is a University of Oregon thesis based on the Redington papers by Brant E. Ducey, titled, "John Watermelon Redington, hell on hogthieves and hypocrites," 1963.

Physical Description

10 clamshell boxes, 2 flat boxes Photo box - 1 flat box

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff, 1994.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the John W. Redington Papers
Revise Description
Finding aid prepared by University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team and Tanya Parlet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA