As I mentioned, Auntie Bridgett and I took a nice long walk through Lone Fir Cemetery yesterday. There are so many graves with interesting stories, but they all feel too sad to tell today. I will tell you about another stone I found and the person it tells about.
On my walks to Auntie Katie’s house, I always go through Lone Fir, then down 20th Street to Ladd’s Addition. At the corner of 20th and Madison is a wonderfully cared for Craftsman Style house, and on the curb outside is a block of cement about 24 inches wide, and 10 inches by 10 inches that says “Dr. Locke”.
Being curious, I went online to do some research. Between real estate sites and old newspapers, I have pieced together this history.
Dr. James Kelsey Locke lived and worked in that house from 1906, when he had it built, until 1924, when he died at the age of 62. He was an obstetrician and his house was a “birthing house”, since babies were not born in hospitals back then. He had been a doctor in Portland since 1892, and was much loved by the community. He left a widow, Minnie, and two grown children when he passed away.
There are living quarters on the first floor and four ‘birthing’ bedrooms on the second floor. There was even a ballroom on the third floor, I suppose for celebrations of births and other entertainments. A newspaper article lists the house as being sold to Dr. Arthur Johnson the same year it was built, which leads me to believe Dr. Locke had built it as an investment, sold it to Dr. Johnson, but continued to live and work in it.
He was also on the staff at Good Samaritan Hospital in the Northwest part of Portland for many years, and in the Oregon State Senate for a short term.
The block of cement outside was used as a step, to make it easier for Dr. Locke’s very pregnant patients to step out of their carriages onto the sidewalk. If you watch the old movie “Meet Me in St. Louis”, you will see this sort of step used when people come and go.
We don’t know Dr. Locke, and except for the probably thousands of mothers and babies he gave care and comfort to, he was not a historically significant person. But his story is part of the city’s story, and I love finding out more about it.