Paper pub. date
October 2010
ISBN 9780870716317 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 272 pages. B&W photographs.

Eminent Astorians

Karen Kirtley
Published by EO Media Group Introduction by Stephen Dow Beckham.

Eminent Astorians marks the bicentennial of Astoria in 2011. Each of nine essays presents a literary biography of a figure who looms large in Astoria’s history, from Comcomly, the powerful, one-eyed leader of the Chinook Tribe when Lewis and Clark arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1805, to the “Salmon Kings,” who capitalized on the region’s natural bounty from the 1870s to the 1910s.

Modeled after Lytton Strachey’s literary portraits in Eminent Victorians, these essays are interpretive, engaging, and rich in context. The authors are among the best known and most respected writers and scholars in the Northwest. Stephen Dow Beckham, distinguished historian at Lewis and Clark College, contributed a comprehensive introduction and served as the book’s historical advisor. 

Scholars as well as travelers and lay readers interested in the Pacific Northwest will enjoy the biographical storytelling and gain insights into Astoria’s history as they trace the lives of these quintessential Oregonians.


Comcomly: Chinook Nation CEO by John Terry

John Jacob Astor I: “A Most Excellent Man?” by Robert Michael Pyle 

George Gibbs by Stephen Dow Beckham

Ranald MacDonald and Astoria by Frederik L. Schodt

Captain George Flavel and the Building of Astoria by William F. Willingham

Bethenia Angelina Owens Adair by Jean M. Ward

Silas Bryant Smith by Stephen Dow Beckham

Molding Astoria—The Role of Two Editors by Sandra Haarsager

The Salmon Kings by Liisa Penner

About the author

Karen Kirtley, a freelance editor based in Portland, Oregon, teaches advanced editing in the Portland State University publishing program. She is most recently the editor of Pendleton Round-Up at 100: Oregon’s Legendary Rodeo. She co-wrote, with Richard Newman, the biography Alma Rosé: Vienna to Auschwitz, now available in German and Hebrew as well as the original English.

Read more about this author

“Small places often have large and impressive histories. So it is with Astoria. Eminent Astorians traces the lives of an expansive and fascinating cast of characters—each revealing important stories about North America in general and the Pacific Northwest in particular. American history is filled with signature places—Plymouth Rock, Gettysburg, Little Big Horn, and Ground Zero. These are the places that help us understand where we come from, where we are now, and where we might yet go. Astoria belongs in that list. In the pages of Eminent Astorians the past comes alive to both entertain and inform us. This is a book that deserves a wide and appreciative audience.” —James P. Ronda, author of Astoria and Empire

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