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.

Despite legislative attempts to change its name to Alder Creek, Bully Creek in Southeastern Malheur County still goes by Bully Creek.

In August 1855, famed Civil War Gen. Phil Sheridan was a young lieutenant on an exploratory expedition in Southern Oregon. The soldiers ran into an armed party of Jacksonville citizens in hot pursuit of some Indians, but Sheridan soon surmised they weren’t anxious to find any “hostiles.”

In 1934, Shenie and Hattie Hogue and their two boys moved to Brushy Bar above Agness, Ore., reachable only by foot, boat or horseback.  Shenie worked for the U.S. Forest Service, building a guard station and patrolling for fires.

Southern Oregon’s Rogue River has had several names.

A 17-year-old Japanese-American boy in Hood River, Ore., wrote a poem shortly before committing suicide on Feb. 27, 1931.  The youth, Kay Yasui, son of Japanese immigrants Masuo and Shidzuyo Yasui, had faced racial harassment at a time Asian discrimination was especially high in the United States.  Much of his family would later spend World War II in Northern California’s Tule Lake Japanese confinement camp.

Gold Beach derived its name from a short-lived coastal gold rush between the town and Coos Bay, but it was coal that became a significant mining industry on the Southern Oregon Coast.

Canadian immigrant Joseph Edward Merriam spent many years at sea before sailing into the Eureka, Calif., harbor on June 19, 1885, with his wife, Clara Russell Webster.  A biography published 30 years later said Merriam never went to sea again.

Raised in rural Arkansas, World War II Army veteran Pete Williams went to work in 1943 for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Klamath County, Ore.


A residence near Williams, Ore., owned for a time by rock musician Steve Miller, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 2015.


The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department has closed the Wolf Creek Inn State Heritage Site for repairs while it searches for a new concessionaire.  The state originally closed the inn in October to install fire suppression sprinklers, but dropped plans to reopen this spring when it lost its concessionaire.


Wolves are reversing history in Southern Oregon and Northern California.  Intentionally eradicated from the two states by the 1940’s, more than half a century later the grey wolf has returned to the mythical State of Jefferson.


The Oregon Encyclopedia calls George Putnam, who purchased the Medford Tribune in 1907, the “epitome of the fighting editor.” He took on Jackson County’s corrupt political machine, and later the Ku Klux Klan’s unsuccessful attempt to control Oregon politics.


A mailman for a day, Frank Colvin described how in the early 1900’s  he delivered mail by horseback 22 miles from Gold Beach, Ore., to the post office in Irma.


Archaeologists have recently discovered preliminary evidence of human existence more than 15,800 years ago in Southeast Oregon’s Harney County.

Get ready, Klamath Falls, Ore.  It’s time for the little green bugs!

It was May 20, 1915, when more than 150 Klamath Falls business and professional men donned old clothes to improve 105 miles of highway in a single day. The Evening Herald newspaper called it, “The greatest and most successful co-operative civic movement in the history of Klamath Falls” up to that time.

Oregon pioneer Orville Dodge compiled the first history of the Oregon South Coast in 1898.  Titled the “Pioneer History of Coos and Curry Counties,” its 468 pages open with a florid description of what an imagined “first emigrant” found upon arrival “at the extreme (Pacific) border of a great land.”

The shipbuilding industry flourished for a time alongside sawmills on the Southern Oregon Coast in the days when lumber and coal depended on water transportation. A railroad didn’t reach Coos Bay until 1916.


West Coast states struggled to ready their roads for anticipated heavy tourist traffic when motorists around the country would flock to the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.


Josephine County libraries closed down in 2007 for lack of government funding. Almost immediately the Grants Pass Courier challenged the community to respond, and within two years, a private, nonprofit corporation had reopened all four county libraries.