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 Online Store.  Each episode is also available below.


A Daughters of the American Revolution monument on Camp Baker Road commemorates Civil War-era Camp Baker west of Phoenix, Ore. The camp served the soldiers of Company A, Oregon Volunteer Cavalry, established in December 1861 to “keep an eye on the secessionists in Jacksonville.”


Born between 1814 and 1818 as a slave in Kentucky, Letitia Carson died in 1888 on her own Southern Oregon ranch with a two-story house, smokehouse, cattle, pigs, and an orchard of more than 100 trees.


Early-day travelers faced not only roads destroyed by high water, snow and ice, but also bridge collapses or closings that isolated and disconnected communities.


Many amateur and professional baseball games were played at Miles Field in Medford, Ore., which was built because of the driving force of a single man.


Pushing south, the Hudson’s Bay Co. established a trading post in 1832 near the confluence of Calapooya Creek and the Umpqua River, and two years later moved it downriver to the confluence of Elk Creek, where Elkton, Ore., is located today.


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.