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.

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.

A headstone engraving in the Linkville Pioneer Cemetery in Klamath Falls reads:

Dedicated to the unidentified victims

Houston Hotel Fire

Sept. 6, 1920.

One of the most horrible incidents of the Rogue Indian wars of 1855-56 was the midnight slaughter of John Geisel and his three boys by knife-wielding Indians at their home near Gold Beach, Ore.  The Indians burned the house and abducted Geisel’s wife, Christina, and two daughters, Mary, 13, and infant Annie.  It’s a story that’s been told many times.


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.