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.

 A year after defeating the U.S. Army in the Battle of Hungry Hill in 1855, Tecumtum, the Indian leader known as Chief John, declared he wanted to live in peace with the white man, but would fight rather than be forced onto a reservation.

 The Southern Oregon University Herbarium was long neglected when botanist Frank Callahan offered in 2012 to clean and organize its collection of nearly 24,000 specimens.

There was a time when electrified railways ran through downtown Medford and connected Medford with Jacksonville.  Those tracks are long gone today.

 When the first frontiersmen arrived in 1851, there were some 9,500 Indians living in the Rogue Valley.  At the end of the Rogue Indian Wars six years later, only 2,000 Indians were left.  Stephan Dow Beckham’s classic book titled Requiem for a People says the Indians’ near extinction resulted from the Euro-Americans’ diseases, vices, technology and racial prejudice.

As tens of thousands of servicemen filled Oregon military bases during World War II, prostitution boomed in nearby towns.  Officials warned that it took only a few venereal-disease infected prostitutes to create a health hazard, often spread to the general population by so-called “khaki-wackey girls” cozy with infected soldiers.

 Two early photographers, Eadweard [cq] A. Muybridge of San Francisco and Louis Herman Heller of Yreka, covered the Modoc War in 1872-73 in Northeast California between Captain Jack’s small band of Indians and the U.S. Army.

 Try to imagine a 57-year-old Viennese woman, drenched from the rain, seeking shelter in 1853 in a remote Smith River Indian Village northeast of newly founded Crescent City, Calif.

A son of Oregon trailblazer Lindsey Applegate named Jesse Applegate Applegate (yes, that’s right: his middle and last names were the same) was an author, teacher and amateur ethnographer.  As a youth in the 1850s, he made close friends with the Indians near his family home in the Yoncalla Valley, which the Indians called Splashta Alla, the Valley of the Birds.

Sixty-nine years later, Marjorie H. Gardner described a road trip in 1922 from Eugene, Ore., to San Francisco, Calif.  Her family drove a Willys-Overland automobile and a Hupmobile, open touring cars with imitation leather seats and flapping side curtains.  Still under construction, Highway 99’s detours went through farm yards and badlands and over corduroy roads, wagon ruts and Indian trails.

On Sept. 21, 1993, the largest earthquake in Oregon since 1873 struck Klamath Falls in the form of two pre-dawn, 6-magnitude shocks within an hour and 17 minutes of each other.  They were felt as far north as Eugene and as far south as Chico, Calif.  A rock-fall boulder crushed a car on Hwy 97, killing the driver, and another person died of a heart attack. The violent shaking caused some $10 million in damages to 1,000 homes and other buildings, among them the county courthouse.

When in 1939 University of Oregon scientist Luther Cressman discovered the remains of bison, camels, horses and other ancient animals in the Paisley Caves next to Summer Lake, Ore., few anthropologists accepted the findings for lack of documentation.

Fendel Sutherlin took out a donation land claim in Camas Swale in Douglas County, Ore., in the early 1850s.  By 1901, Fendel’s daughter Anne Waite inherited his several thousand acres of land, and determined to establish a town in her father’s honor. 

  Spain was the first country to explore the Pacific Coast of North America in the 16th and 17th centuries. Its seamen contributed the first map of the coast between Panama and the northern boundary of California. 

Retired wildlife biologist Bob Smith didn’t hesitate on Oct. 24, 1999, to bid $19,000 for a wild horse rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management.  At a time when others were advocating slaughtering thousands of feral horses, Smith’s winning auction bid was a shocker. 

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