Feb 022011

Provided by: Lincoln County Historical Society


When Mary Bensell came to Oysterville on Yaquina Bay, she was the first white woman to live there. The conditions were harsh, and Mary’s new husband was abusive. Diane Disse has written a new historical novel, The Edge, about Mary Bensell’s life and will speak on “Discovering Mary Bensell Through Research and Imagination” Saturday, Feb 19 at 2 p.m. in the Carriage House of the Lincoln County Historical Society.

Mary and her husband, Clark Sturtevant, traveled by ship from New York to Oregon by way of Nicaragua in 1865. Clark planned to work in the oyster beds on Yaquina Bay. Through the years on Yaquina Bay, Mary dealt with Clark’s abuse, a new love, the loss of a child, a raging forest fire, fears of an Indian uprising, and many other challenges. Examining the process of discovering Mary, Disse will talk about the role of research and the role of an informed imagination in writing historical fiction.

Disse has been writing most of her life, both for her personal satisfaction and for her professional career. She’s had several poems and numerous articles published and recently co-authored Newport, a book about the history of the city of Newport. She works as the museum educator at the Lincoln County Historical Society.

Disse moved to Oregon from Minnesota in 1992 to teach writing and journalism at Western Oregon University in Monmouth. In Minnesota she worked in public relations, marketing, and publications for the University of St. Thomas, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Disse has a B.S. from Moorhead State University in Minnesota and an M.A. in mass communications from California State University, Northridge.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Historical Society at 541-265-7509 or go online at oregoncoasthistory.org.

The Lincoln County Historical Society, which includes the Burrows House and Log Cabin museums, is located at 545 SW Ninth Street in Newport. The museums are free and open to the public. The Burrows House Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Log Cabin Museum is open Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Lincoln County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the history of Lincoln County.

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