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 publicrelations@sohs.org.

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.

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History
1:00 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Gas Plant Lights Up Jacksonville in 1903

Medford and Ashland, Ore., had electricity before 1900 because they had enough water power to run generators, but Jacksonville residents and businesses still used kerosene.

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History
1:00 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Fruit Cellars and Smoke-Houses Preserve Fruits and Meats

 

Early settlers in Southern Oregon depended on wild fruits and animals for much of their food.  Longtime Prospect resident Jack Hallenbeak described in an oral history interview how his family stored food for winter.

The family gathered huckleberries and wild blackberries known as dewberries and his father brought peaches from the Rogue Valley. 

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History
1:00 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Deputy Sheriff Collects Faux Fingerprints

 

Legal authorities commonly use fingerprints today to identify and convict criminals.  It wasn’t always so.

In 1893 sheriff’s deputy J. K. Mount had the job of making sure the Chinese citizens living in Coos County paid their poll taxes.  Oregon had recently passed a law requiring them to pay special taxes. After paying the annual tax, they received a receipt.

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History
1:00 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Female Publisher Makes Name for Herself in Klamath County

Many small towns in Northern California and Southern Oregon had their own newspapers, but few had an editor as colorful as Catherine Terry, a Baltimore typesetter who bought the Merrill Weekly Record in Klamath County in 1909.

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History
1:00 am
Mon February 2, 2015

Frontier Justice Goes Awry in Callahan, Calif.

 

Around 1900 an angry mob sought but failed to apply frontier justice in Callahan, Calif.  A man known to have a terrible temper had drawn a knife and threatened to “disembowel” another man standing at the bar in Baker’s Saloon.  Others in the saloon grabbed the man with the knife and tied him up.  In the heat of the moment, they decided to hang him from a nearby bridge. 

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History
1:00 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Woman Survives Lightning Strike on Mountain Lookout

Zella Wright and her husband, Herb, spent the winter of 1942-43 as lookouts scanning the skies for enemy aircraft for the Army Air Corps Aircraft Warning Service. Their lookout was on 6,000-foot-high Blue Rock Peak in the mountains east of Butte Falls, Ore.

Interviewed in 1982 for an oral history project, they told U.S. Forest Service historian Jeff LaLand the tedium and isolation was only occasionally relieved by the hum of an airplane overhead, none of them Japanese.

But one day was literally a shocker for Zella Wright when lightning struck their lookout station while she was talking on their hand-cranked telephone.

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History
1:00 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Cowboy Historian Recalls Desert Livery Stables

Christmas Valley cowboy Reub Long, co-author of the book titled The Oregon Desert, wrote that before the early 1920s, “No town was much until it had a livery barn.”

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History
1:00 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Jews Fleeing Russia Establish Southern Oregon Colony

Jewish emigrants fleeing anti-Semitic violence in Russia established the New Odessa farming colony in 1883 near present-day Glendale, Ore.

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History
1:00 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Visitor Recalls Yreka’s Early Saloons or “Whiskey Mills.”

Writing to a cousin in 1873, Joel Anson Shepard describes Yreka, Calif.’s saloons, also called Whiskey Mills.

“The glare of the gaslight almost dazzles us,” he writes. “...the room is large, high and the walls and ceiling beautifully frescoed … with oil painting(s), and chromos … Four billiard tables occupy the center of the room … Opposite is the bar with its glittering glasses and fancy colored and ornamental decanters.”

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History
11:15 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Indians Turn Klamath Lake Lilies into Diet Staple

Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon’s largest fresh-water lake, enriched the diet of Klamath and Modoc Indians for centuries.  The lake provided fish, ducks and duck eggs, and western yellow-lily seeds, called Wokas, an important source of dietary starch.

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History
2:42 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Watershed Councils Enhance Quality of Oregon Water

In 1995, the Oregon legislature authorized formation of community watershed councils to enhance the quality of water in their catchments or drainage areas.

Southern Oregon has several councils, including the Applegate, Bear Creek and Upper Rogue. Other councils are named the Partnership for the Umpqua Rivers and the Coos Watershed Association.

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History
2:43 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Chipmunk-Chasing Dog Becomes War Hero

 

A chipmunk-chasing fox terrier named Two-Bits became a World War II hero.

In the winter of 1942-43, Two-Bits lived with his owner in a fire lookout perched above a cliff on 6,497-foot Whiskey Peak in the Rogue River National Forest.  The Army Air Corps was using the fire-lookout as part of its Aircraft Warning Service.  The lookout, Bill Zeigler, scanned the skies for enemy aircraft while Two-Bits chased chipmunks.

Historian Jeff LaLand relates the story:

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History
2:42 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Peter Skene Ogden Crosses Into Siskiyou County

In January 1827, Canadian fur trader-explorer Peter Skene Ogden and his men reached the Klamath River and California.  They discovered hot springs just south of the Oregon line.

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History
2:28 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Tule Lake Basin Grows Spicy Horseradish

Right after World War II, the government offered returning veterans homesteads in the Tule Lake Basin near the California border with Oregon.

The 213 homesteaders’ traditional grain crops grew with vigor in the rich, lake-bottom soil drained by the Bureau of Reclamation, but a single, high-desert summer frost wiped them out.

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History
2:27 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Son’s Suit in Missouri Depends on Date on Mom’s Tombstone

In 1902, George Priddy of Medford, Ore., tried to prove his mother’s tombstone in the Central Point Cemetery was worth a million dollars.

Priddy and his siblings had been told by their parents that they owned a part of their maternal grandfather’s farm in Jackson County, Mo. Supposedly, his mother was still a minor in 1853 when she sold her one-ninth interest in the property to get money to go to the gold fields of California.

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History
3:21 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Oregon Stringtowns Get New Names or Disappear

A popular nickname for new settlements in the 19th century was Stringtown.  The name referred to communities that were strung along a creek, river, stage road, or railroad line. Sometimes the towns grew and received permanent names, but more often they were abandoned and forgotten.

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History
3:20 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Two Rogue Valley Men Named Taylor Go to War

In 1898, two unrelated Rogue Valley men named Taylor went to The Philippines during the Spanish-

American War as volunteers, perhaps welcoming a chance to see more of the world.

Jay Taylor was with Company B of the Oregon Volunteers from Ashland, Ore. He became ill in training, but after 30 days returned to his company and sailed for The Philippines where he fell ill again. Recovering from surgery, he went to the front lines, sickened and died in a Manila hospital on March 25, 1899.

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History
3:19 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Diary Marks Steps in Pioneer Woman’s Life

 

Mary Elizabeth Cory was born on Dec. 26, 1850, in Indiana, where she learned to speak both Dutch and English.  The family moved to Kansas where her father kept store.  To quote her diary, “his customers were mostly Indians, as there were very few white people in the settlement.” They returned East again, where Mary at age 14 taught primary school for $2 a week.

In 1868, the Cory family arrived in Scott Valley in western Siskiyou County, Calif.  Now 18, she taught school again.  The next year she met pioneer James H. Walker at a picnic.

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History
3:15 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Cowboy Historian Considers Legacy of Early Lakeview Doctor

Cowboy historian Rube Long once wrote that Irish immigrant Dr. Bernard Daly of Lakeview, Ore., would be remembered long after other desert doctors were forgotten.

Long referred to the bachelor doctor’s scholarship fund, established in 1922 and worth nearly $7 million today. It continues to pay college educations for Lake County high school graduates. Daly’s other accomplishments were in the fields of law, politics, banking and business.  He owned 14 buildings in Lakeview and the largest ranch in South-Central Oregon.

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History
3:12 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Cow Creek Umpquas Prosper Despite Broken Treaties

The territory of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians once extended from Crater Lake to the Willamette Valley, and south to the Rogue River watershed.  But in an 1853 treaty, the Cow Creek Band ceded 800 square miles of land for less than three cents an acre in return for protection, housing, and education.

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