Oregon's Biggest Liar Imitates Grandfather's German Style


Friday, Feb. 10, 2017


Sharon Bywater


3 123

Ivan Hathaway Jones grew up in Oregon listening to his grandfather tell stories in the German style known as Munchhausen, that takes its name from the exaggerated adventures of a fictional 18th century German nobleman, Baron Munchausen.

Hathaway soon became known as Oregon’s biggest liar, stretching the truth, as one friend put it, “to an unbustable extent.”

Born in 1870, Hathaway lived most of his life in rural Curry County, hauling mail by mule from Dothan to Illahe.  He stopped at cabins along his isolated route, telling outlandish stories of his Rogue River adventures. In the story titled “The Balky Mule,” Hathaway fords a stream with a bear and two deer on his back that were too heavy for his mule. Wondering why his burden is so heavy, he discovers the mule has somehow climbed on top of the deer and bear.  As Hathaway put it, “That’s mah story, an I’m stickin’ to it.”

Hathaway died in 1937 from a fall along the Rogue. His stories have been collected in Stephen Dow Beckham’s book titled “Tall Tales from the Rogue River: The Yarns of Hathaway Jones,” and in the University of Oregon’s folklore archive.

Sources:  Nash, Tom. "Browse What's New? About Us Get Involved For Teachers Workshop Ivan Hathaway Jones (1870-1937)." The Oregon Encyclopdia, Portland State University and Oregon Historical Society, 2017, https://oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/jones_ivan_hathaway_1870_1937_/#.... Accessed 6 Jan. 2017;

"Baron Munchausen." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Wikimedia Project, 8 Jan. 2017, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Munchausen. Accessed 28 Jan. 2017; "Ivan Hathaway Jones World Renowned Master Story Teller." Hathaway Jones Tall Tales Festival , 2017, www.hathawayjones.com/tales.htm. Accessed 28 Jan. 2017.



Select for Ashland Tidings: