Alice Mullaly

As It Was Contributor

Alice Mullaly was raised in the same Central Point home where she lives today with her husband, Larry. A graduate of Crater High School, Oregon State, and Stanford universities, she taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York.; Mill Valley, California, and at Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. She retired from Southern Oregon University where she trained new mathematics teachers. Mullaly’s husband was also a teacher as are her two daughters. Her husband is a Southern Pacific Railroad historian, and both of them enjoy hunting for “the story” in primary sources. Alice’s mother was an early member of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, and Alice has been an SOHS volunteer for nearly 30 years. She enjoys the puzzles people bring to the Research Library, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.

A picket line went up in front of the Holly Theater in Medford, Ore., on a Saturday afternoon in late March 1946.

A sealed lead tube containing a document wrapped in oiled silk is buried on Crater Lake’s Wizard Island, lying there undisturbed for 100 years. The Knights of Pythias planted it there when scores of Knights from all over the Northwest and Northern California met on Aug. 18, 1915, to initiate 26 new members. The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization that holds members to lofty ideals.

Sheep provided essential wool clothing for early Oregon pioneers, but only the Hudson’s Bay Company had any sheep.  In 1842 Jacob Leese broke the company’s monopoly by driving a flock of 900 sheep from San Francisco to the Willamette Valley. It was quite a trip.

Newspapers called them the “Tarzans of Dark Hollow.”  In April 1937 the two Harris boys, 14-year-old Robert and 10-year-old David, 10 ran away from home and began living off the land behind their home in Dark Hollow, Ore.

In Jack London’s 1912 novel of the Yukon gold rush titled Smoke Bellew, one character, Little Man, shares his hopes for a Rogue Valley future.  Here is an excerpt:

Medford, Ore., had so many people coming to see the wonders of the Rogue Valley that in 1909 hotel rooms filled early every day, and the Southern Pacific Railroad was allowing people to camp on the station grounds.

Trains don’t fly, but one regularly received a green light from the airport control tower in the early 1950’s in Medford, Ore. It happened like this:

Audio Pending...

Riders lampooned the Rogue River Valley Railroad, a 6-mile line joining Medford and Jacksonville Oregon, and its owner Bill Barnum.  What follows is a song from 1909, written to the tune of “It’s Just the Same Old Moon.”

It came out of the sky like a huge dragonfly and skimmed to a halt on the visitor flight line at the Medford, Ore., Airport on June 6, 1932.  Spectators saw with amazement their first Pitcairn Auto-Gyro, a forerunner of the helicopter.

Railroad accidents were common around 1900, but few as amazing as Frank Smith’s fall in 1932 in front of an advancing train on the Rogue River Valley Railroad in Medford, Ore.  Here’s how the Jacksonville Miner newspaper reported it:

As Ashland, Ore., became a railroad center after 1890, women seized on an unusual opportunity to prosper. Inexpensive vacant lots between the town and the railroad offered widows, divorcees and other single women a chance to buy property and rent out homes to itinerant railroad workers and their families.


Foots Creek, Ore., was an important mining district in 1884 when Silas Draper applied for a post office there. A miner and rancher for many years on Foots Creek, Robert Cook, learned the business, and in 1886 was appointed postmaster at the age of 62.


Patriotism and boosterism were terms applied to the life of J. F. Reddy of Medford, Ore. A Spokane pioneer, he came to Medford in 1903 to sell the Blue Ledge Mine, and stayed.

One old man was the champion drinker of Cinnabar Springs water in 1907 when Drew Clarin’s family came from Portland to spend two months at the resort, located just two miles from the Oregon-California border above Beaver Creek.  He could drink a quart-size tomato can of spring water in one touch to the lips.

J. D. Nunnally was a traveling man.  In July 1877, his travels had taken him to Roseburg, Ore. From there, he wrote back to his San Francisco newspaper, the Pacific Rural Press:


In 1861, Sarah Slagle York and her husband moved to a home on Southern Oregon’s Applegate River where they raised 12 children. Years later Sarah wrote down her memories of that time.  Here is one of her stories.


Having two teachers with doctorates teaching at a one-room school is unusual, but it happened in 1910 at the West Side School located between Central Point and Jacksonville, Ore.


When Dr. A. Erin Merkel became the public health officer for the Jackson County Board of Health in 1937, eight mothers were dying out of every 1,000 live births, the highest rate in the state of Oregon. When Dr. Merkel retired in 1971, no mothers had died in the previous 8,000 live births.


Robert Oglesby, driver of the Paisley-Lakeview stage tore into town late on the night of Dec. 20, 1901, to report the stage had been robbed. The sheriff returned with Oglesby to the Lakeview, Ore., cemetery  just outside of town and found the empty mailbags just inside the fence.  One hundred dollars in gold and currency was missing.

Austie Barron’s grandfather, Major Barron, arrived in the Rogue Valley in 1851 and took out a donation land claim a few miles south of Ashland, Ore.  He built a hotel and stage stop and developed a large cattle and sheep operation.