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.

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.

During the early 1900s thousands of cattle and sheep grazed on U.S. Forest Service land in the Modoc National Forest.

Snow-capped, 14,180-foot-high Mount Shasta has always attracted those pursuing the spiritual or the supernatural.  Some seek Bigfoot.  Native Americans consider it a sacred place.  Others believe it is inhabited by Lemurians, ancient, peaceful beings who live inside the mountain in a crystal city called Telos.

Rafters and hikers going down the wild and scenic portion of the Rogue River near the old mining town of Marial pass by a bright red farmhouse with a green lawn and gardens.

A 19-foot-high statue carved from a single alder tree by Russell Beebe of Talent, Ore., greets those who enter the Hannon Library on the Southern Oregon University campus.

In the 1920’s, hundreds of men with horses and wagons excavated rough, back-country terrain in the Southern Oregon Cascades to create the Fish Lake irrigation reservoir.  Today the lake, 35 miles northeast of Medford, Ore., provides year-round recreation and water for Rogue Valley farms and orchards.

Before World War II, the land around Barneburg Hill where Rogue Valley Manor now stands was undeveloped countryside.  Barnett was a country road and Interstate 5 didn’t exist.  The Frederick Barneburg family owned the hill and 2,000 acres surrounding it.

Southern Oregon became a getaway for Hollywood stars during the 1950’s, many drawn by the fishing on the Rogue River. They often stayed at Ginger Rogers’s ranch west of Medford, including Mario Lanza, the Hollywood tenor who starred in the 1951 hit movie “The Great Caruso.”

In 1857, Franklin Mowry was 27 years old, mining for gold on Jackson Creek near Jacksonville, Ore.  In a letter to his brother Silas in Pennsylvania, Mowry described the mining life Out West.

The movie director, James Ivory, is known for English period pieces such as “Room with a View,” “Howard’s End,” and “The Remains of the Day.”  Less known is that he grew up in Klamath Falls, Ore., and still spends summers at the family cabin at Lake of the Woods.

Even when Medford was just a small country town, its people yearned for music and other cultural activities.

Jacksonville’s first school stood on the hill known as Bigham’s Knoll, named after Jacksonville pioneer John Bigham. It opened in 1868, only to burn down twice in the early 1900’s.