Historic Hood River
Miss Myra Helm, Sidesaddle 1888
This photographic print has a paragraph chock full of information on the back:
Miss Myra Helm, when an art student in 1888, lived at the westside home of Frederick Homer Balch, author of “The Bridge of the Gods”, built around mid-Columbia Indian legend, who then was the Hood River Valley’s first Congregational minister. Having donned a conventional Victorian riding skirt, Miss Helm, who is now a Portland artist, had mounted a side saddle and was ready to canter though fir and pine woods, where orchards of apples and pears now grow.
But there is far more to her story. I believe Miss Myra Helm is Myra Sager Helm, who spent much of her life as an artist and art instructor in Portland. But this article, published a year after her death in 1959, tells the fascinating story of how Myra’s mother Elizabeth Sager, at age 10, survived the Whitman Mission massacre. The death of Elizabeth Sager’s adoptive parents Marcus and Narcissa Whitman was the second time she and her siblings were orphaned, as their birth parents died along the Oregon Trail. Elizabeth Sager carried with her a doll given to her by a Cayuse Indian, which she passed down to her daughter Myra who we see here. Myra instructed it be returned to the Whitman Mission upon her death. Her wish was carried out in 1960. Her doll is now at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site.
I believe photo was taken in front of the A.S. Blowers Store on the NW corner of Third and Oak, facing onto Third Street.