This is in response to June 28 letter to the editor in the U-B by Nikki Brueggemann regarding Black pioneers, the Richard Bogle family.
Fort Walla Walla Museum’s mission is to discover, preserve and share Walla Walla regional heritage. That mission embraces the many groups, ethnicities and creeds that have made Walla Walla their home.
We absolutely agree with Ms. Brueggemann that the Black pioneers in Walla Walla should be remembered. The story of Richard and America Bogle and their family is an extraordinary one.
Richard escaped slavery in Jamaica, and at age 16 joined a wagon train headed for Oregon. He and his wife moved to Walla Walla, a segregated city, and successfully started several businesses. Their story is a testament to their strength in the face of prejudice.
While we currently have no exhibit specific to the Bogles, docents share his story during the school tour stop at the Pioneer Village barber shop — one of several businesses in which Bogle was engaged.
When we have a volunteer Living History actor interested in portraying him, his story is shared as a first person account with audiences during special programs.
The Bogles’ lives, accomplishments, and community impacts deserve to be celebrated and remembered, along with the military contributions of Black soldiers stationed at the Fort during its active years.
The Buffalo Soldiers, regiments comprised of African-American enlisted men and noncommissioned officers, were stationed at Fort Walla Walla at the turn of the 20th century. The museum has long been searching for artifacts or photos related to these regiments to augment our display of an African-American mannequin wearing a uniform representative of a corporal of the 9th Cavalry, who would have been stationed at the fort from 1902-04.
Through partnerships, research projects, and community initiatives, we are always seeking to expand the stories we tell, the perspectives we represent, and the audiences we reach.
We want this museum to reflect the stories, languages, family groups, and faces of all those who call this place home. There will always be more work to be done, but we are up for the challenge.
Fort Walla Walla Museum