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Salem Pioneer Cemetery ~ Toyo Watanabe ~ part of the Marion County Pioneer Cemeteries of Oregon
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Toyo Watanabe
BORN: Abt 1874 DIED: 4 Oct 1895 BURIED: 8 Oct 1895
BIRTH PLACE:  Kitayama, Kitayama Village, Fuji County, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan (present-day Fujinomiya City).
DEATH PLACE: Salem, Marion Co., Oregon
IOOF - Japanese Woman - buried 8 Oct, b. Japan, d. Salem, Oregon, "murdered". 
1895 CENSUS- Toyo, --- b, Japan, 5', 100#, dark, female, age 20.
BIOGRAPHICAL: Funeral arrangements were made by Sadakichi Suzuki, male, from Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. She may have been a resident for over three years and one of the earliest Japanese to settle in Salem. She had been living in an apartment on the east side of Liberty between State and Court streets. George Sun was her landlord and had only known her for three weeks at the time she was murdered, so she may have just moved there. See article for additional details, references and probable photos of Toyo. "Japanese Discovery of Salem, Oregon" Summer 1992, Vol. 7, pg. 53. 
SEE ALSO: The is a long and detailed description of the murder found in the Daily Oregon Statesman 5, 6, & 8 Oct 1895
BIOGRAPHICAL: "1895 murder of Japanese woman never solved." 
By CAPI LYNN Statesman Journal 13 Jan 2004 
"A brutal murder that took place more than a century ago in Salem remains a mystery today. Toyo Watanabe, a young Japanese woman who lived here in 1895, had her throat slashed in her apartment on the east side of Liberty Street NE. She was buried in the northeast corner of Pioneer Cemetery, and her grave is thought to be the oldest Japanese grave in town. 
The headstone that once marked the grave is no longer there. It vanished sometime between 1992, when a photo was taken by a visitor from Salem’s sister city in Japan, and 2002, the last time that the cemetery was mapped by volunteers. "A lot of the markers were small, upright rectangles," said Tracey Saucy, one of the cemetery volunteers. "They broke off real easily." The location of Watanabe’s grave is preserved in the cemetery database, including the headstone inscription. The front of the marker had the word Japanese in English etched across the top and three vertical rows of Japanese characters below. There also was character writing on the back of the stone. The inscription included her address in Japan and the name of the person who made funeral arrangements. 
Watanabe’s murder was big news in Salem. As the Daily Statesman put it: "Not for six years, or since William Hawkins shot Harvey Ogle to death in June 1889, has this community thrilled to the shock of murder - that has no parallel in the criminal records of Salem and but few elsewhere." The motive, according to newspaper accounts, was presumed to be jealousy. Nothing in Watanabe’s apartment was taken or disturbed, ruling out robbery. One headline the morning after read: "Mouye Toyo Yields Her Life to the Passionate Rage of a Chinese Lover." 
Because of the press’ unfamiliarity with writing foreign names, Watanabe was referred to in print in various ways. Mrs. Tayo Watauabe and Maggie Tojo were among the other names used in reports. According to the 1895 Marion County census, there were 335 Asians living in the county. Of those, 305 were Chinese and 30 were Japanese. A female listed under only the name Toyo - age 20, 5-feet tall and 100 pounds - most likely was Watanabe. Although murdered later that year, she was alive at the time that the census was taken. There was discrepancy about her age. The inscription on her headstone listed her as 25, with a question mark. The Capital Journal reported that she was 21. Watanabe lived in the area of Salem that was called Chinatown. She had an apartment on the east side of Liberty Street NE between State and Court streets. She was said to have been the only Japanese woman living among the Chinese. 
"It was kind of unusual for a single Japanese woman to be here at that time," said Tom Yoshikai, a local historian on the early Japanese settlement of Salem. Years ago, when helping to renovate Pioneer Cemetery, Yoshikai once asked a longtime caretaker if he knew any details of Watanabe’s life. "Maybe she was a ‘business’ woman," the man said. Some reports referred to Watanabe as a courtesan. Others suggested that she might have been married. Much space was dedicated in the local newspapers to the grisly details of her death, but few to the details of her life. One account of the murder scene indicated that she was sitting at a small parlor table writing during the night of the murder. "She wrote a fair hand, and was addressing cards," one report said. It was suggested that she was a beginner in the art of writing. She was "known to be illiterate but anxious to learn this particular accomplishment," the Statesman reported. Newspapers questioned whether Watanabe was a law-abiding citizen because of her involvement in a "police court scandal" months before. 
According to research done by Barry Duell for one of his volumes of "Japanese Discovery of Salem, Oregon," Watanabe had been in court but not as a defendant. In May 1895, she had a young man arrested for stealing her ring and watch. In July, a Japanese woman had a Chinese man arrested for tossing garbage into her apartment. She was described as being the only Japanese living among the Chinese, so it was presumed to have been her. At the coroner’s inquest, Watanabe’s wounds were described as three slashes to the throat. One severed the jugular and was determined to be the cause of death. That cut also partly severed her windpipe and left her unable to talk when authorities arrived and questioned her about her attacker. She died within about an hour but not before she reportedly nodded in the affirmative when asked if the attacker was Chinese. 
Friends and admirers of the woman collected enough money to purchase a coffin and hire a hearse. The chaplain from Willamette University conducted the funeral services. The Capital Journal reported that only five Japanese attended. A Marion County judge reportedly offered a $150 reward to anyone offering information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of Watanabe’s murderer, but the reward went unclaimed. Two Chinese men were taken into custody early in the investigation, but they eventually were released. It was thought that they would be called as witnesses if and when the suspect was nabbed. Watanabe’s name soon faded from the news, except for references to the undertaker seeking compensation from the county for expenses related to the inquest and burial. Her killer is thought to never have been caught."

"---The press never confused Toya Watanabe with being anything other than Japanese, but due to the press' unfamiliarity with writing foreign names, she is referred to as variously as Mouye Toyo, Mrs. Tayo Wataunabe, Maggie Tojoy, Mayo Tojoys or Maggie Tuoyo. One account quotes Harry Sacra (perhaps Sakura?) a Japanese teacher in Portland as saying 'that one of her brothers resided in San Francisco, and that her parents were in Japan and were in poor circumstances, also that she was married, her name being Mrs. Tayo Watauabe.' The press expended a great many words concerning the death of Watanabe, but revealed surprisingly few details about her life. Among these few insights, there are unfortunately conflicting accounts, making it difficult to imagine the type of person Watanabe was. 'She had evidently been sitting at a table writing,--- She wrote a fair hand, and was addressing cards,' according to one account of the murder scene. However, another states, "The reception room had ---a small parlor table, on which [was some] writing paper on which was scrawled, in characters that spoke of a beginner in the art of writing, and no doubt made by the woman herself, who was known to be illiterate but anxious to learn this particular accomplishment. Such cramped and irregular writing as it was, it was difficult to decipher it." Additional accounts make it difficult to determine whether or not Watanabe was a law-abiding citizen or not. Says one article, 'She --- has never been in the police courts as a defendant.' But another article states, "It will be remembered that this woman was involved in a police court scandal some months since.' The press seemed most anxious to pin the murder on an Oriental even before the murderer was clearly known and the motive established. Blares one headline the morning after the event, 'Mouye Toyo Yields Her Life to the Passionate Rage of a Chinese Lover.'
Coronor Clough had made diligent inquiry and search for relatives of the deceased woman. Harry Sacra, a Japanese teacher at Portland, was in Salem yesterday and gave out the information that one of her brother resided in San Francisco and that her parents were in Japan and were in poor circumstances, also that she was married, her name being Mrs. Tayo Watanabe. Mr. Clough has decided to give the corpse a proper burial today in the county lot in Rural cemetery. The hour of interment may be 10 a.m. and. possibly, not until 2 p.m. The body will be placed in a neat coffin. The household effects of the deceased have been removed to the coroner's rooms and will be stored there for the time being awaiting any instruction that may come from her relatives in the future. 
Oregon Statesman 5 Oct 1895 5:2-3 
[English] JAPANESE [Japanese] 
Toyo Watanabe, Female, 25?, 
died October 4 1895, 
from Kitayama, Kitayama Village, Fuji County, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan (present-day Fujinomiya City).
IOOF Register of Burials 
1895 Census of Marion County Oregon (WVGS 1993, Vol. 1, pg. 73) 
"Japanese Discovery of Salem, Oregon" Summer 1992, Vol. 7, pg 53 
OS 5 Oct 1895 5:2-3
LOT: 291 SPACE:  LONGITUDE: N 44° 55.181' LATITUDE: W 123° 02.727'

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