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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 years ago in Spokane: An interracial marriage makes front-page news

A marriage between a Japanese man and a white woman made news on the front page of The Spokesman-Review on Dec. 9, 1916. (Jonathan Brunt / The Spokesman-Review)

From our archive, 100 years ago

A marriage between a Japanese man and a white woman was apparently unusual enough to make the front page of The Spokesman-Review.

Although May Bush, now Mrs. May Takahara, didn’t see what the fuss was about.

“She seemed surprised that so much interest should be taken in the marriage and wanted to know why she was asked so many questions,” said the paper. “She did not seem to think it at all unusual that she should marry a Japanese.”

The story also noted that this was not a “runaway match,” because the bride had her parent’s consent as well as her brother’s.

The bride was a “small and pretty” widow with “fair hair,” who had recently moved to Lenia, Idaho, near Bonners Ferry, from Oklahoma. The groom, N. Takahara, was a section foreman at the Great Northern’s Lenia section yards. They were married at the Methodist Japanese Mission in Spokane, and planned to make their home at the Lenia section house.

From the hangman beat: The pending execution of Charles Mayberry for murder was raising plenty of questions, since it would be the first official hanging in the region in decades.

Who would be the hangman?

“It’s not exactly a pleasant job,” said the U.S. marshal in Spokane, James McGovern. “Just for that reason, I am going to undertake it myself, instead of ‘passing the buck.’”

Some residents of the Colville Reservation, relatives of the victim, offered their services, but he felt that offer was “savoring too much of revenge.”

Where would it take place? The marshal originally said it would take place in the courtyard of the Spokane County Courthouse, but there was serious doubt about that. He was awaiting instructions from Washington D.C.