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William H. Maas Scrapbook, 1911-1943

By Rachel Lilley

Collection Overview

Title: William H. Maas Scrapbook, 1911-1943

ID: MSS Maas

Primary Creator: Maas, William Henry (1880-1943)

Extent: 0.1 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The majority of the clippings are arranged in chronological order.

Date Acquired: 00/00/2016

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


The William H. Maas Scrapbook is comprised of newspaper clippings documenting the career and related activities of Sergeant William Henry Maas of the Portland, Oregon police force between 1911 and 1943. Specifically, the clippings document such topics as notable crimes and fires in and around Portland, scandals within the Portland city police force and government, police force benefits and labor issues, Prohibition raids, and the policing of Japanese-Americans during World War II. William Maas was born in Michigan in 1880, and lived and worked in Portland until his death in 1943.

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Scope and Content Notes

The majority of the clippings in the William H. Maas Scrapbook document his early work with the Portland Fire Department, and his later career as a policeman; injuries and deaths of fellow officers; major or significant crimes committed in and around Portland (e.g. murders, raids on gambling dens, and illegal distilleries); benefits and labor issues relating to the Police and Fire Departments (e.g. reductions in force, addition or reduction in benefits such as pensions and vacations); and Police Department and governmental scandals (e.g. gambling, brutality, bribes).

The first ten pages of the scrapbook – pages 3 to 13 – date from September 1911 to June 1912, and primarily document fires in and around Portland, including a fire at the Second Baptist Church at 7th and Ankeny, and at the Gilman, Castle, and Romaine Hotels. Also documented are accusations of mismanagement of funds in connection with the first Fireman’s Ball in Portland (7-8); the hiring of additional firemen to serve the city, and the addition of new fire houses in Kenton, Woodlawn, and Rose City (7-8); a proposal to offer firemen one day off in every six, as opposed to one day off in seven (9); and the deaths of several firemen, including Warren Francis Smith and John H. Higdon (4, 13).

Maas’s scrapbook also documents several high profile murders and assaults in and around Portland, including the deaths of several fellow officers. The murder of Bernard C. Linstrom by Della Marsh, and the statewide search for Ms. Maud Mariette Hughes for assault on Frank Ellithorpe were given several pages of coverage (46-48, 73). Clippings were also collected to document the killing of Lieutenant P.R. Johnson by Patrolman Arthur B. Chase (74-77), and the shooting, and subsequent death, of Deputy Sheriff Bob Phillips (66-71). Maas also chronicles a 1916 escape from Kelly Butte, site of a rock quarry cum prison, where prisoners sentenced to hard labor were sent to “break rock” (54-57).

A number of the clippings Maas collected relate to labor issues and benefits offered to civil service employees, namely those in the police and fire departments; Captain Joseph Keller, Police Chief A.E. Clark, and Mayor Harry Russell Albee are mentioned frequently in these clippings. Among the loose clippings is a copy of HB 469, written to establish the creation of a Board of Police Pension and Relief in all cities of more than 50,000. Additional clippings dealing with the police force as a civil service, addition or subtraction of benefits, and other Police Department labor issues can be found on pages 16, 20, 29, 30-31, 33, and 37-39.

Interestingly, Maas does not shy away from documenting Police Department scandals, or the sanction of his fellow officers. His clippings include documentation of a case of harassment against Chinese American business owners (18); a brutality charge filed by Harry Nicklin, son of then-prominent physician A. I. Nicklin (19); accusations of the use of unnecessary force by a patrolman against a fugitive (36); the accepting of bribes by officers (34-35); and cases of officers gambling while on duty (40-41). The scrapbook also includes a short clipping about a Sergeant Andrew Sorenson, who was “reduced to ranks” (i.e. to the rank of patrolman) for being a Socialist sympathizer (33).

A deeper reading of the clippings in Maas’s scrapbook reveals the ways in which gender norms were policed, and female sexuality “safeguarded,” in the first half of the 20th century. The clippings provide evidence of two men, M. Barsottie and J.H. McKenna, who were fined on two separate charges of “mashing” (i.e. street and/or sexual harassment or assault of women); Barsottie was sentenced to 90 days hard labor, a not uncommon sentence for mashers (15). Two officers, Patrolmen C.G. Boone and Clifford W. Maddux were suspended – and threatened with dismissal – for having flirted with a married woman on a street car (25). Mention is also made of Portland’s “Purity Squad,” a special force of Portland police officers whose mandate was to “attend to the morals of the city” (33).

Of particular interest is a small grouping of World War II-related content in the scrapbook. On March 28, 1942, the first arrest for violation of the curfew established by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 was made. Minoru Yasui – a graduate of the University of Oregon who lived and worked as a lawyer in Hood River – deliberately broke the “alien curfew law” in a protest against its unconstitutionality. Yasui, after being refused arrest by two patrolmen in Portland's north end, turned himself in at the nearest station house; Maas was the officer who booked him, and was called to testify at his trial (78, loose). An additional item of interest in this set of clippings is a full page, World War II-era newspaper clipping regarding the dangers posed to servicemen by prostitutes and venereal diseases (loose).

Many of the rest of the pages in the scrapbook detail Maas’s own work as an officer. Most of his “collars” are small, the day-to-day work of cop on his beat. Several, however, were more significant. In 1912, Maas was part of the group of officers who responded to the scene of the fire at Erickson’s Saloon, a hulking den of alcohol and iniquity occupying almost an entire city block on West Burnside (25). He also took part in a raid on a craps game put on by the “Oregon Social Club” (26). Later in his career, then-Sergeant Maas and his partner, Patrolman Gaunt, spearheaded a raid on an illegal distillery in the heart of Portland’s Irvington residential district (loose clippings). On a more personal note, Maas includes clippings about playing catcher on a Policemen’s Athletic Association baseball club team (17), and his position as “spare” on a Portland Amateur Hockey Association team (59). A retirement notice and brief obituary for Maas can be found on page 81 of the scrapbook; a marriage notice can be found on page 46. A ribbon inscribed with the name Sharon Maas indicates the scrapbook may have, at one time, belonged to a relative of William's.

A PDF access scan of this item is available upon patron request.

Biographical / Historical Notes

William Henry Maas was born in Ludington, Michigan – a small city northwest of Grand Rapids, on Lake Michigan – on March 6, 1880, to Henry and Augusta Maas (also spelled Moss), both of whom had immigrated to the United States in the mid-1870s. Henry Maas died when William was young, and Augusta married Guido Ehrenberg, also of Germany. Sometime prior to 1900, when William was in his late teens, he moved to Ashland, Wisconsin, taking a job as a day laborer. There he boarded in the household of Ms. Bertha Charbeneau and two other boarders, Goulat Charbeneau and Cecilia Charbeneau.

A few short years later, Maas moved to Portland, Oregon, where he began work as a fireman, appointed first to the position of “hoseman” on May 15, 1905. During his years with the Fire Department, Maas lived as a boarder at 510 Washington Street with eight other men, all in their late 20s and early 30s: Erne Egston, George Felton, Archie McMartin, William Butler, James Freeman, John Hewston, William Robertson, and George Allen. Egston is listed as the head of the household and is the only married man; all the other men living in the home are listed as “lodgers,” which suggests that Egston may have been something like a “station chief.” By the time Maas left the fire department for the police department in 1912, he’d been promoted to rank of lieutenant.

Maas was appointed to the police bureau April 30, 1912, having passed the service exam with a score of 90.8%. On September 16, 1914, William married Pauline Downer, substitute matron at the city jail; the newlyweds honeymooned at the Pendleton Round-Up. By 1920, the couple had settled at 1034 Grand Avenue North in Portland, with Pauline’s daughter from a previous marriage, Loretta, and their son, William Maas, Jr. William worked out of the precinct house at the corner of 2nd and Oak Street, in what is now considered the historic “police block” in Portland. He was promoted to Sergeant on March 1, 1925.

By 1930, William Sr. and Jr. had left their home on Grand Avenue, and taken up lodging in the home of George and Julius Miller; though the census for that year lists Maas’s marital status as “single,” it is more likely he and Pauline had either separated or divorced. Moss and son moved again sometime before 1940, settling at 4215 NE 22nd Avenue in Portland in a home of their own. William Sr. worked 50-plus-hour work weeks, and William Jr. was employed as a stock clerk at a lumber yard. William Jr. went on to work with the United States Naval Construction Battalions, or Seabees, in the North Pacific during World War II.

William Henry Maas was retired from the Portland Police Department on July 10, 1943 and, due to the length of his service – 31 years – he was afforded the maximum pension of $75 per month (roughly $1100 in 2018). William Maas died in Portland at the age of 63 on July 16, 1943, after battling illness for several months.

Author: Rachel Lilley

Administrative Information

More Extent Information: 1 oversize box

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: Collection was purchased in April 2016.

Related Materials:

Additional collections relating to police and policing in Oregon include the Public Safety Records (RG 082), the Affirmative Action Office Records (RG 172), the Office of Multicultural Affairs Records (RG 225), the Max Geier The Color of Night Research Files (MSS Geier), the Harold C. Williams Papers (MSS WilliamsH), and the IRCO Asian Family Center Records (MSS AFC).

Additional collections relating to firemen and fire departments include the Corvallis Fire Department Young America Engine Company No. 1 Records (MSS CorvallisFire), the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Oregon (MAPS Sanborn), the Corvallis, Oregon Photograph Collection (P 051), and the Sydney Trask Photograph Collection (P 096).

Additional collections relating to World War II include the Japanese-American Association of Lane County, Oregon Oral History Collection (OH 015), the Oregon State College History of World War II Project Records (MSS OSCWW2), the Wesley Ross Memoir of World War II (MSS RossW), and the World War II Scrapbooks (MSS WW2Scrapbooks).

Preferred Citation: William H. Maas Scrapbook (MSS Maas), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.


Maas, William Henry (1880-1943)

People, Places, and Topics

Chinese Americans--Oregon--Portland--History.
Fire departments--Oregon--Portland--History.
Gender identity--Social aspects.
Japanese Americans--Forced removal and internment, 1942-1945
Japanese Americans--Oregon--History.
Labor unions--United States--History--20th century.
Portland (Or.)
World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1939-1945--Propaganda.
Yasui, Minoru, 1916-

Forms of Material


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