Kernan Turner

As It Was Editor & Coordinator

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP.  His assignments included the World Desk in New York City and 27 years as a foreign correspondent and bureau chief, living and working in Mexico and Central America, South America, the Caribbean and the Iberian Peninsula. His final assignment was as chief of Iberian Services in Madrid, Spain. He retired in Ashland, his birthplace,  in 2002, with his wife, Betzabé “Mina” Turner, an Oregon certified court interpreter.  He and his wife are active boosters of Ashland’s Sister City connection with Guanajuato, Mexico.


On his third Western expedition in 1845-46, military explorer John C. Fremont and legendary frontier scout Kit Carson led a raid on a Klamath Lake Indian village in retaliation for a night ambush that had killed three expedition members.

A rare plant discovered in 1876 by an Episcopal priest, Edward Lee Greene, grows only in four known places in Siskiyou County, including near Jackson Street in Yreka.

As settlers and miners rushed into Southern Oregon and Northern California in the early 1850s, violent clashes with Native Americans also increased.

Applegate Rancher Rupert Maddox recalled for an oral history project how versatile his 1914 Model T Ford was, especially when water flooded the carburetor while fording a swollen creek.


The Poet of the Sierras, Joaquin Miller, once proposed creation of what he called “a sort of Indian Republic” with Mount Shasta at the center.


When Crater Lake National Park enthusiast William Steel stocked the fishless lake with trout in the late 1880s, he unknowingly upset the food chain and endangered the lake’s unique sub-species of salamander called the Mazama Newt.


Crusading editor George Putnam found himself in jail shortly after taking over direction of the Medford Tribune in 1907.


Even after being convicted and sentenced to hang, Roseburg dentist Dr. Richard Brumfield insisted he could never have committed the grisly 1921 murder of hired-hand Dennis Russell.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, everything changed for Masuo Yasui, his wife, Shidzuyo, and their seven children.


When the honorary curator of the U.S. National Herbarium first visited the Klamath Indians in 1896, he compiled a list of 40 plants in use, including roasted lily seeds called Wokas, still popular today.

Southern Oregon rancher John Johnson of Milo, Ore., struggled for decades to get the U.S. Congress to return 40 acres of property taken from his inherited homestead.


After more than six months on the Oregon and Applegate trails, the William H. Riddle family faced some 100 curious Indian men, women and children as the family established permanent camp in Southern Oregon’s Cow Creek Valley.  The year was 1851 and the nearest settler was eight miles away and only four were within 25 miles.


Oregon lumberman and rancher George Washington Riddle crossed the plains as an 11-year-old boy in 1851.


The Logging Museum at the Collier Memorial State Park near Chiloquin, Ore., offers visitors a glimpse of Eastern Oregon logging from the primitive harvests of the 1860's through today’s large-scale operations.


Born between 1814 and 1818 as a slave in Kentucky, Letitia Carson died in 1888 on her own Southern Oregon ranch with a two-story house, smokehouse, cattle, pigs, and an orchard of more than 100 trees.


A prospector-poet named Clarence E. Eddy gained national fame in the early 1900s with gold mining songs and poems.  Eddy grew up on a farm above the town of Myrtle Creek, Ore., and became an itinerant printer, editor and prospector.  His poem about mining-camp follower “Lizzie King,” buried on a hill above a “lonely western valley, laments mining’s “marring” of her and the land.  Here’s an excerpt:

One of Oregon’s first female doctors was an outspoken advocate of women’s suffrage and Prohibition before shaking up the state in 1904 by calling for the sterilization of criminals, the insane and the developmentally disabled.


Dr. Bethenia Owens-Adair faced gender discrimination throughout her life. 

In the 1870s, most U.S. medical schools refused to enroll women.  That didn’t intimidate Owens-Adair, a divorced mother who at 27 had opened a successful hat and dress shop in Roseburg, Ore.  Graduating in 1874 from the Eclectic School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Penn., she returned to Roseburg to wind up her business.

The life of Dr. Bethenia Owens-Adair was so full that today’s episode will be the first of three to explore it.  She once said, “The regret of my life up to the age of thirty-five was that I had not been born a boy… (and was) … hampered and hemmed in on all sides simply by the accident of … (gender).”

Each August when she was young, Frances Aiken Pearson of Prospect, Ore., and her family joined hundreds of other berry pickers for a week or so on Huckleberry Mountain.  In an oral history recorded in 1981 when she was 95 years old, Pearson exclaimed, “Oh, but those were great days!”