As It Was

Classics & News: Mon-Fri • 9:30am & 1pm | News & Information: Mon-Fri • 9:57am

Colorful vignettes dedicated to the regional history of Southern Oregon and Northern California. As It Was is an all volunteer effort -- produced by Raymond Scully and narrated by Shirley Patton in partnership with writers from the Southern Oregon Historical Society.

If you have a writing background and would like to submit an As It Was essay for consideration, email your written piece to

A collection of As It Was essays is available in a high-quality paperback book at the JPR Online Store.  Each episode is also available below.

The Western writer Zane Grey saw something in Claude Bardon worthy of a main character in a book.

The Brown girls, Jennie, Mary and Emogene, were born in Oregon in the 1860s.  They grew up shifting summer and winter between the family’s two properties, spending winters on a gold claim on Sterling Creek out of Jacksonville, and summers on a large cattle ranch east of Eagle Point.

Eight Illinois Valley women organized the Friday Afternoon Garden Club in 1927, changing the name later to the Illinois Valley Garden Club.

When he was born, Bahamas was weak and not expected to survive.  He was an unremarkable crossed Angus-Jersey steer on a farm two miles upriver from Klamath, Calif.  With bottle feeding and tender care he grew strong, gentle, beloved -- and lived to inspire a community.

Growing up in rural Oregon communities in the early 1900s was a combination of hard farm and ranch work, a few months of school and lots of good times.  For the Charley family in Brownsboro, chores always came first -- and there were plenty of them.

By 1900, the United States had some 210,000 one-room schools, at least 100 of them in Siskiyou County, Calif.

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.

For a time, shallow Goose Lake had enough water to support a motor ferry promoting land sales in the Klamath Basin east of the Cascade Mountains.

The first Europeans to explore the Klamath Basin on foot and horseback in the early 1820s were amazed at how the Indigenous people near present-day Klamath Falls, Ore., depended more on canoes than
horses.  When the army, gold miners and settlers arrived by mid-century, they too relied on water travel.

The first woman to become a senator in the Oregon Legislature was Kathryn Clarke in 1915.  She had more than a little help from her cousin, Gov. Oswald West.

During World War II, the United States established civilian-staffed Aircraft Warning Service airplane spotters along the country’s east and west coasts in May 1941.

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.

Travelers often ponder its name when they visit the Steamboat Inn at the confluence of Steamboat Creek and the North Umpqua River, some 40 minutes east of Roseburg on State Route 138.

Alarm spread through Medford, Ore., one morning in 1917 when residents found small cards on front porches or slipped under their doors with the message, “You Will DIE This Christmas,” with DIE in capital letters.

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.

A trail in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness is named Shorty Noble Way for a miner who declared in a 1978 interview that he was “the last free man.”

The Rogue Valley’s orchard boom went bust after 1912.  A letter sent to the New York City Daily Worker in 1939 said land scams continued with slick guys deceptively promising riches through fruit-land speculation to strangers arriving at the Medford train station.  The writer enclosed a poem written by Mary Agnes Daily for the Ashland Tidings in 1918, which reads:

During its 1900 July Fourth celebrations, Medford featured a hot air balloon daredevil, Professor Chris Nelson.  For a fee of $125, Nelson said he would ride a trapeze attached to the balloon to an elevation of 5,000 feet, jump from the balloon and parachute back to earth.

Mary Adams was born at Waldo, Ore., in 1861.  When she grew up, she moved to Grants Pass to start a dressmaking business while working as a housekeeper to make ends meet.

Medford, Ore., quadrupled in size from 1900 to 1910, one of the fastest growing towns in America.  Its second elementary school was built in 1906 on rabbit scrubland just north of town.  Two nearby subdivisions sprang up with small houses on small lots and were annexed to the city.  The area became known as the Liberty Park neighborhood.