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 the Southern Oregon Historical Society at

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


Early pioneers demonstrated their value of education by building the first schoolhouse in the English Settlement area of Oakland, Ore., in the 1850s.  A one-room schoolhouse that replaced it in 1910 is part of today’s Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park on Elkhead Road. The federal government’s Registry of Historic Places listed the second school building in 2007.


The diary of a recent immigrant’s first days in Southern Oregon reflects his concern for the near future. William Hoffman, his wife and five daughters arrived on Oct. 29, 1853, on the Applegate Trail. Here are some diary excerpts:


A century or more ago few activities offered more thrills on a winter night than sledding, or “coasting” as it was known at the time.


Whether it was an issue of money or politics, the fact is that on the first day of school in Jacksonville, Ore., in 1921, school directors asked Superintendent Stultz and eighth-grade teacher Miss Bradshaw to leave the school. As they walked out, the entire student body of the high school and eighth-grade class left in protest.

One of 13 children, Emmitt M.Tucker Sr. was born in 1892 in a log cabin on Jumpoff  Joe Creek near Grants Pass, Ore.  He spent his early childhood near Trail in a stone house built by his father.  As a young boy walking to school in deep snow, Tucker began thinking about machines that might make traveling over snow easier. 


The community of Brownsboro east of Eagle Point, Ore., takes its name from an early settler, Henry Brown, who received a Donation Land Claim on Little Butte Creek in the early 1850s.  He hunted and raised cattle in the Brownsboro area and sold the meat to Jacksonville miners. 

In the days before motorized transport, it was difficult for pioneer ranchers in Siskiyou County to move their cattle to market, especially over the mountain passes.


Around 1945, Jorgen Jorgensen started a Medford, Ore., dairy business on North Riverside Drive that produced milk, ice cream, cottage cheese and butter.


It was the unhappy fate of a fish peddler in Klamath Falls, Ore., to venture out on frozen Upper Klamath Lake one day in January 1915 and never return to shore.


When the miners and pioneers first arrived in the West, iron and other metals were scarce. They turned to wood for piping.  One man whose name has been lost over time made a living traveling with a portable lathe auger all over Siskiyou County, Calif.


A prospector-poet named Clarence E. Eddy gained national fame in the early 1900s with gold mining songs and poems.  Eddy grew up on a farm above the town of Myrtle Creek, Ore., and became an itinerant printer, editor and prospector.  His poem about mining-camp follower “Lizzie King,” buried on a hill above a “lonely western valley, laments mining’s “marring” of her and the land.  Here’s an excerpt:


Only a horse trail connected Diamond Lake and Crater Lake National Park in 1921.  That was before the superintendent of the park, Alex Sparrow, invited the vice president of the Southern Pacific Railroad, E.O. McCormick, to ride the trail.  Their ride convinced them it was time to build a motor car road between the lakes.


In late May 1916, the accidental shooting of a little girl by her brother shook up the little coastal village of Bandon, Ore.

Today only a Forest Service wooden shelter from the 1930s remains at the Dead Indian Soda Springs historic site along Little Butte Creek east of Eagle Point, Ore.


Baby animals have always been an irresistible attraction for human beings.  Such was certainly the case in the early 1900s as the Lower Klamath Lake National Wildlife Refuge south of Klamath Falls began attracting growing numbers of birding enthusiasts and tourists.


The headline in the Lake County Examiner on March 26, 1914, proclaimed, “Murderer Caught.” The alleged murderer was E. C. Illingsworth, who had survived and fled the area after a shootout 13 years earlier that killed a popular police officer.  Now, it seemed he had returned – at least that was what many people were thinking.

The rumor that he was back started when Lake City resident W.S. Painter walked into Sheriff Smith’s office to report he had just spotted Illingsworth, whom he knew and had last spoken with the day after the murder.  Sheriff Smith told Painter to go back and make sure he was right.  Painter later called to confirm it was the murderer, who had abruptly quit his job on a nearby ranch and was headed out of the area in a hurry.  The sheriff overtook the suspect before he reached Cedarville.

At the time of the arrest, the suspect “appeared greatly frustrated” and denied being Illingsworth, though he did admit to going by several false names. 

In the early 1970s, a roving herd of Angora goats grazed along the slopes of 1,200-foot Mount Nebo, in Roseburg, Ore., blissfully unaware they had become four-footed weather forecasters.

Mr. Spock: Pear Blossom Parade Marshal

Mar 3, 2015


Over the years the Rogue Valley Pear Blossom Festival parade has had many famous grand marshals, but 40 years ago, the parade marshal was literally out of this world!


It’s certainly true that gold attracted thousands of European-rooted settlers to Southern Oregon who took a lot of ore from the streams and rivers. But can it really be true that gold was used as street paving and railroad ballast?


Oregon and California trailblazer Peter Skene Ogden has been described as a man of “of great endurance, courage, and modesty.”

Born in Quebec in 1794, Ogden crossed the Rockies in 1817.  After leading a massacre of the Cowlitz tribe, Ogden seemed to turn a corner, becoming an able leader. Though he often found himself at odds with various tribes and openly detested a number of them, he married a Nez Perce woman, who accompanied him on several expeditions.