Sharon Bywater

As It Was Contributor

Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management. Her husband, Peter Krasilovsky, is a media analyst. Sharon plays the recorder and volunteers for the Southern Oregon Historical Society. She enjoys the wonderful Oregon outdoors, as well as theater, and musical concerts.

The Jackson County Courthouse, newly renovated in 2016 with modern heating and air conditioning, has transitioned into the Jacksonville, Ore., City Hall.

Jacksonville, the original county seat of Jackson County, didn’t have a proper courthouse until 1884.  For years, court had been convened in a crudely built, two-story building shared with the Masonic Temple. The Democratic Times derided the dilapidated structure as “a disgrace to the county,” and the Sentinel asked, “Is it not time that the county had a courthouse that would not be mistaken for a barn?”

In 1903, William F. Isaacs opened the Toggery on Main Street in Medford, Ore., offering fine clothing, hats and gloves.  A son of Oregon pioneers, Isaacs was an avid fly fisherman and believed in the power of advertising.

Roy Parker, a longtime mill operator in Selma, Ore., had a hard time collecting an inheritance because the army believed he had died when his troop ship blew up and killed everyone aboard at the start of World War I.  Parker was listed among the dead even though he had arrived too late to board the ship.

As a young girl growing up in Minnesota at the turn of the century, Hilda Montgomery, born Matthea Thorseth, always loved to write.  She used to scribble notes and stash them in her apron pocket while doing chores on the family farm.  She later moved to the Pacific Northwest and became a teacher and best-selling regional author.

In 1910, the Barnum and Bailey Circus came to Medford, astounding the town with a herd of exotic zebras.  At least one man refused to be fooled by their beautiful black stripes. 

In the early gold-mining days, prospectors had difficulty finding women to marry.  The men far outnumbered the available women, so casual dating was not an option. 

The small town of Klamath Junction, or what was left of it, was reborn briefly during the drought of 2014 when the mud-caked foundations of old structures emerged from the waters of Emigrant Lake.

George Riddle was only 11 in 1851 when his family emigrated West in a covered wagon. They settled south of Roseburg, Ore., in an area known as Cow Creek.  During his life, George and his family witnessed the turmoil and change of the growing state.

Tales of gold and adventure lured 26-year-old cabinet maker Abel Helman to California, leaving his wife and family behind in Ashland County, Ohio. 

In the Victorian era, few women owned their own businesses, let alone became photographers, even amateur ones.  In Ashland, Ore., sisters Anna and Ida Hargrove did both.

Frank E. Ross traveled far and wide, but after a lifetime of adventure, returned to his roots in Jackson County, Ore., where he became president of the Southern Oregon Historical Society and served on the Jacksonville Museum board.

In 1896, Susanne Homes was a member of the first graduating class of Southern Oregon State Normal School in Ashland, a forerunner to present-day Southern Oregon University.

Oregon was a rough place to live in 1911, especially for widows, but Oregon women demonstrated repeatedly that they were not to be dismissed lightly.

Verne Athanas started out working in the Oregon lumber industry and ended up as a successful writer of Westerns.

Francis Gustavus Swedenburg settled in Ashland in the early 1900s and became a leading citizen by founding the city’s first hospital and becoming its chief surgeon.

William Bybee of Jacksonville, Ore., was a popular, respected citizen.  Married with a wife and children, he owned a house and had twice served as sheriff.  The community was shocked when on March 27, 1886, he was accused of murdering his nephew Thomas Bybee.

Effie Hillsboro was only 17 when she married Wes Birdseye and moved to a hand-hewn log house near Gold Hill, Ore., in 1898.  Wes died young, leaving Effie with three boys to raise, a mortgage, and back taxes.  Told a “mere woman” could never make a go of it, Effie responded by saying, “This place belongs to me and my boys, and we are going to keep it.”

It is said that the McCully House in Jacksonville has been haunted by a “friendly, calming” gentleman sitting in a chair.  Some who say they sighted him believe he is the ghost of the original owner of the house, Dr. John McCully.

Historian Kay Atwood reports that back in the early 1900s, President Theodore Roosevelt was already familiar with comfort camping.  These days it’s called “glamping,” or glamorous camping.

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