Maryann Mason

As It Was Contributor

Maryann Mason, who lives in Ashland, has taught history and English in the U.S. Midwest and Northwest, and Bolivia. She has written history spots for local public radio, interviewed mystery writers for RVTV Noir, and edited personal and family histories.  Her poetry has appeared in Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review (1999), Rain Magazine (2007), and The Third Reader, an online Journal of Literary Fiction and Poetry. In 2008 she published her first chapbook, Ravelings.  She organized a History Day for Southern Oregon, and as an English/history teacher she assigned the National History Day project to her students every year for many years.

In Jacksonville, Ore., many children died in accidents and disease outbreaks in the early days, including diphtheria in 1859 and smallpox 10 years later.  Eight-year-old Mary Bailey was shot when her older sister tried to take a dangerous gun away from her. Mary Angel was 18 months old in 1858 when she fell into a washtub filled with scalding water and died the next morning.

In 1895 Jacksonville, Ore., Sadie Trefren’s parents had just buried their 17-year-old daughter, Mary, who had died of typhoid fever during the town’s epidemic.  So when Sadie fell in love with Albert Perry, they were saddened she would leave the family home, but happy she had made a good match.

In 1860's Oregon, most young men, and even teenagers, had guns and went hunting.

Bill Hanley, the Jacksonville-born owner of the Double O Ranch in Eastern Oregon, operated five ranches and had access to thousands of acres of public range.  In 1913 his cattle operations covered 200,000 acres.

In 1925, a group of Medford men offered 1,000 shares at $25 each to form the Lake of the Woods Recreation Corporation. Their goal was to create a summer fishing resort at the lake with a hotel, store, cottages, and 15 to 20 boats for the 1926 vacation season. 

The 1890’s brought fascination with a new vehicle—the bicycle.  Enthusiasts could buy a Golden Eagle bike for $30 and a Phoenix Wheel bike for $40.

Ashland’s Fourth of July was pretty typical in 1972, with at least half the town lining the streets watching the fly-over and parade until a 1920s antique fire engine jerked and jumped down the boulevard with the Fire House Dixieland Five aboard.


Dame Shirley was the pen name of Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe, who wrote 23 letters about her experiences in the Rich Bar goldmine camps on California’s Feather River.  The rough life of the 1851 miners fascinated Clappe, an Amherst-educated doctor’s wife.


Ashland’s charter of 1874 provided for the care of vagrants, a town marshal, fire protection, and a jail.  Life in Ashland, population 300, had been chaotic with too many drunks, frequent fires, and poor sanitation. Just like today, the town was on a major travel route that attracted homeless outsiders.  The nearest lawman was a day’s ride away in Jacksonville, the county seat.


At Christmastime in 1885, Medford had about 100 buildings and 400 people.  On the other hand, the railroad had spurred growth in Ashland, which had a population of about 1,000. The Rogue River Valley had just begun its fruit industry, shipping apples, pears, and peaches to buyers on the other side of the mountains.  Phoenix was producing cider and jelly from orchard waste. 

The invention of the automobile required the building of better roads and highways as the number of cars in America increased from 8,000 in 1900 to 40 million by 1930.  Touring motorists packed food, camping gear and their families in the car and began enjoying the freedom of camping anywhere along the roads.  It didn’t take long for communities to begin offering free auto camps.


The Oregon Caves were discovered in 1874, but didn’t get widespread attention until 1888, when promoters generated exaggerated publicity.

“Keeping Travel” was an expression for hosting travelers when Richard Beswick and his wife bought property in the 1860s from homesteader A.M. Johnson along the California-Oregon Stage Road on the southeast bank of the Klamath River. Johnson, who raised cattle, horses, and trapped along the river, maintained good relations with the Indians who hunted and fished on the property. 


The log drivers on the Klamath River had one of the most dangerous jobs in the logging industry as they herded thousands of logs down the Klamath River to the sawmill in Klamathon near today’s Hilt, Calif.

Known as river hogs, the drivers dressed in wool to keep warm, from underwear to shirts and pants, and wore caulked boots with 42 spikes in the soles. 

The summer of 1889 was especially dry in Beswick and the Butte Valley along the Klamath River.

Wells and springs ran dry and the hay crop was poor.  The extreme weather was followed in November by a storm that left three feet of snow on the ground.  That was followed by a blinding blizzard that dropped an additional three feet of snow.

A box inside the archives of the Southern Oregon Historical Society contains hundreds of black bordered funeral notices families sent to friends and relatives in Jacksonville, Ore., from 1862 through the early 1900s.

 History writer Barbara Hegne describes some early cases of strange diseases and suicidal behavior in her book titled Settling The Rogue Valley: The Tough Times—The Forgotten People.

  An oil derrick builder, Jaston Hartman, left Ohio and moved to Jacksonville in 1900, where he used his skills to build Oregon barns.  He soon became Jackson County’s bridge superintendent.

 Zane Grey made the Rogue River famous for its fishing in the 1920s and 30s, but he couldn’t have done it without the river guide and boat builder Glenn Wooldridge.

The Metro Goldwyn Trackless Train visited the Rogue Valley the first week of November l925, ten years after it had been invented by the H.O. McGee Manufacturing Co. of Indianapolis, Ind.