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 publicrelations@sohs.org.

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.

Two early settlers, Henry D. Wright and Charles H. Fletcher, mined successfully in Oro Fino in Siskiyou County, Calif.

In July 1913 Winston Churchill visited Grants Pass.   This was not the Churchill who led the British during World War II, however.  This was an American Winston Churchill, a famous early 1900’s novelist and a New Hampshire state legislator.

Farms in Douglas County, Ore., have grown melons commercially since the early 1880’s. A photograph from 1886 shows horse-drawn wagons full of melons near Grants Pass waiting for shipment by rail. Even earlier, in August 1859, an itinerate preacher traveling by train from near present-day Dixonville to Ashland, Ore., noted in his journal, “The conductor gave me a watermelon.”

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.

Brilliant defense attorney Samuel Abraham Jetmore gained national attention practicing law in small South Central Oregon towns.

Few pioneer women in the 1850’s began their cross-country journey to Oregon as widows. And even fewer appeared on film.  Artinecia Riddle Chapman lost her husband five days before they were scheduled to join a wagon train, but she carried on. Accompanied by her parents and 1-year-old son, John, Artinecia led her wagon hitched to six oxen to Southern Oregon in 1851.

It came out of the sky like a huge dragonfly and skimmed to a halt on the visitor flight line at the Medford, Ore., Airport on June 6, 1932.  Spectators saw with amazement their first Pitcairn Auto-Gyro, a forerunner of the helicopter.

In the 1850’s, settlers named Barnes and Terry built a cabin some six miles east of Etna, Calif.  Because they were from Ohio, they planted a buckeye tree for good luck.  The landmark became known as the "Ohio Ranch," which later became the "Ohio House."  Irish immigrant John McBride purchased the ranch in 1858 and built the larger ranch house in 1860.

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 first American ship to round Cape Horn and touch shore in Oregon near today’s Tillamook was the Lady Washington, named for President Washington’s wife, Martha.  Capt. Robert Gray sailed the 90-ton sloop from Boston to the Pacific Northwest in the late 1700’s to trade for otter pelts.

Railroad accidents were common around 1900, but few as amazing as Frank Smith’s fall in 1932 in front of an advancing train on the Rogue River Valley Railroad in Medford, Ore.  Here’s how the Jacksonville Miner newspaper reported it:

Until the late 1800’s, Medford, Ore., did not have a hospital, forcing the sick and injured to receive treatment at home or in a doctor’s office.  Only very ill patients received nursing care until 1895 when Olivia Dyre Osbourne moved to town.  Osbourne was an 1892 graduate of the Illinois Nurses Training School and had worked at hospitals in Chicago.

Cornelius Gordon and his wife, Emily, crossed the plains in 1879 to settle on 144 acres located six miles up the Klamath River from Happy Camp, Calif.  An enterprising man, Gordon opened the Pennsylvania Mine and built his home from lumber milled at his own sawmill.  As a cobbler, he made shoes for his wife and six children, and as a homeopathic practitioner, he tended to the sick and wounded.  It was said he healed Gypsy John, a local Karuk Indian who’d been shot through a lung.

Raised in rural Arkansas, World War II Army veteran Pete Williams went to work in 1943 for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Klamath County, Ore.

Blackberries are to Southern Oregon as the suffocating kudzu is to America’s South.  Introduced as a crop in the late 1800’s, the invasive plant spread out and took over native habitat.  Whereas Kudzu doesn’t have much use other than animal feed, blackberries have been part of Oregon’s lucrative fruit production since the late 19th century.

Hampshire Field in Grants Pass keeps memories alive of a hometown Army Air Corps pilot shot down over China during World War II.

As Ashland, Ore., became a railroad center after 1890, women seized on an unusual opportunity to prosper. Inexpensive vacant lots between the town and the railroad offered widows, divorcees and other single women a chance to buy property and rent out homes to itinerant railroad workers and their families.

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.

Nearly forgotten, lifelong writings by Oregon pioneer Lucinda Ann Woodward-Horning passed in a sugar sack from one family to another. They were nearly forgotten when they found a home recently with great granddaughter Jan Barba Horn of Myrtle Creek, Ore.

 

A residence near Williams, Ore., owned for a time by rock musician Steve Miller, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 2015.

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