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.

A farmer fed up with boys shooting rabbits from a big Cadillac in front of his property in Grants Pass, Ore., fired at the car and hit Don Belding in the thigh.  Belding was one of nine teenagers in the Cadillac that October evening in 1912.

Althouse Creek in Josephine County was one of the earliest gold mining regions in Southern Oregon.  Mining continued there well into the 20th century. Today’s story is about one of the miners of 1922.

Siskiyou settlers depended heavily on wagon construction and associated foundries.  Louis Fafa built the wagon and furniture factory in Etna, which was expanded in 1877 by F.W. Frantz & Albert Wallis.  In addition to wagons and wheels, the company supplied wood products, including doors, sashes and mouldings.

The federal government’s Works Progress Administration put millions of the Great Depression’s jobless to work on public projects.  Most were unskilled men, but the WPA’s Federal Writers’ Project employed historians, teachers, writers, librarians and other white-collar workers.

As the Southern Oregon Historical Society celebrates 70 years of service to Southern Oregon, it acknowledges the contributions of thousands of volunteers, including Claire Hanley, the society’s president from 1950 until her death in 1963.  Before the society existed, Claire ran the Jacksonville Museum, which provided the society’s first artifacts.

The cartoonist who drew the original Donald Duck character for Walt Disney, Carl Barks, was born in 1901 on a farm in Merrill, Ore.  When he was 17, he tried to get a job as a newspaper cartoonist in San Francisco, but failed and returned to Oregon.

Saloons, card rooms and rowdy folks gave Medford, Oregon’s Front Street a poor reputation in 1911. Fights were common, but guns were rarely used.  When a “deafening report rang out” on the night of June 8, the saloons emptied, windows and doors opened and a crowd gathered to see who had been shot.

The front page headline in the five-cent Klamath Falls Evening Herald on Aug. 5, 1916, declares, “HUCKLEBERRIES ARE PLENTIFUL". The body of the story continues:

Mabel Ramsey wrote this poem about her mother, Amy Dysert, an early pioneer of the mining town of Golden, Ore.

Vernon Bookwalter began flying in 1919 with flight certificate No. 82 signed by Orville Wright.

The Ku Klux Klan swore in its first Oregon klansmen in Medford in 1921.  Within two years, the Klan claimed 35,000 members and more than 60 chapters in Oregon, as well as organizations for women, teenagers and foreign-born Protestants.

Northwest forests once attracted government scientists investigating tree-damaging insect infestations.  

A U.S. Forest Service lookout, J.S. McClemmons, was on a hand-crank telephone call one August afternoon in 1920 when lightning struck atop Mount Eddy in Northern California.

Women’s Movement Makes Lithia Park Possible

Sep 22, 2016

In 1908, women could not vote in Oregon. But the women of Ashland, Ore., wanted a park – so they organized.

B. F. Miller wrote that one day in the spring of 1855 when he was with 100 or 200 other men at the Sterling Mine, eight miles from Jacksonville , they learned the Indians were holding a “skookum wa wa,” or meeting, and the miners should keep quiet during the night.

One of Oregon’s most prolific and imaginative architects of his time, William C. Knighton, designed the National Guard Armory in Roseburg, Ore., that became a prominent site in the city’s downtown district in 1913.

There once was a town named Manila five miles west of Gazelle, Calif., in Siskiyou County.

The publisher of the Oregon Sentinel newspaper in Jacksonville, B.F. Dowell, called the hanging there of a 7-year-old Indian boy in 1853 “one of the saddest and most inhuman acts” of the Rogue Indian War.

An early U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report concluded that it was impossible to make the Rogue River navigable for steamers.

Living in rural Josephine County in the 1920’s meant not having electricity, refrigerators or ice in the summer.  So the Walters family developed a Fourth of July tradition of ordering a 100-pound block of ice and bottled sodas from the ice plant in Grants Pass.