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.

Northwest forests once attracted government scientists investigating tree-damaging insect infestations.  

When the Rogue River Indian War erupted in 1855, the U.S. military had 350 men assigned to the vast Oregon and Washington territories.  A militia called the Second Regiment Mounted Volunteers formed and played a major role in the war.  Its success depended on the smooth delivery of supplies to the troops.

On April 18, 1906, Grants Pass, Ore., purchased rights of way and rails and unloaded a trainload of equipment for building a railroad to Crescent City.  Plans were shelved the next day by the San Francisco Great Earthquake.

When he decided to travel to Oregon from Ohio in 1845, Alonzo A. Skinner was already a member of the bar, and a prosecuting attorney. He became the first judge in the Pacific Northwest.

James DeMoss and his wife Elizabeth were part of an 1862 wagon train.  They were musicians who traveled the world with their five children, playing 41 different instruments.  Son George played two cornets at the same time and also had the ability to play several different pieces of music at the same time. Son Henry composed the song “Sweet Oregon,” which became the unofficial state song for a number of years.

Beginning in August 1918, the flu spread to all parts of the United States in just six weeks.  By the time the epidemic ended, more than 50,000 of the 20 million people who contracted the disease had died.

Back in the days when a bridegroom was expected to have at least $1,000 in the bank and a job that paid $100 a month, Bill Bowerman was coaching at Franklin High in Portland in l934.  He loved Barbara in Los Angeles, but he was earning only $80 a month and saving for medical school.

Schools have always had a concern about the clothing students wear, some sending boys home for not having a belt on their trousers and reprimanding girls for wearing short skirts.

Her parents paid tuition of $9 a year for Eula Benson Foley, born in Central Point in 1906, to attend the two-room Howard Grade School in Medford.

A Klamath Falls woman became a famous pilot during World War II after pictures of her and other pilots of her gender appeared in glamour magazines and war-time advertisements.

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.