In spite of exclusion laws, small numbers of Blacks lived throughout the state. 

The Early Few

Wiley Griffon and Henderson Stone are two of Eugene’s earliest Black residents. Photographs and newspaper articles recorded the facts of their lives, but no details of the racism and isolation they undoubtedly faced.

Wiley (front row, center) worked as a janitor in Friendly Hall, a men’s dormitory, in 1896.

Image credit: Lane County History Museum

As a conductor of a mule-powered streetcar, Wiley was a recognizable figure around town in 1893.

Image credit: Lane County History Museum

Wiley Griffon was the first Black Eugenian mentioned by name, the first Black employee at the University of Oregon, and the first Black landowner in Lane County.

Wiley purchased a home near Mill Street and Fourth Avenue in 1909.

Image credit: Lane County Deeds and Records

Henderson Stone owned a barbershop and bathhouse on Willamette Street. He lived with his family in a house owned by Charles Lauer, then-president of the Eugene National Bank.

Henderson Stone’s children, unnamed, pictured here in 1895. The Stones are not listed in the 1900 census; we do not know why they left Eugene.

Image credit: Lane County History Museum

With a few exceptions, we know very little about the earliest Blacks living in and around Eugene. Census records preserve snippets of their lives: names, race, education, and occupation.