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.

Girls Little League softball began nationwide in 1974.  That year 30,000 girls aged 8-12 signed up to play, and the first World Series was held.

A holiday picnic in Grants Pass ended sadly on Decoration Day in 1919, the precursor of today’s Memorial Day.

In 1856, Indian Agent George Ambrose led Indians from the Table Rock Reservation on a forced march 263 miles to the Grand Ronde Reservation.  Ambrose kept a diary of the 33-day march, his deadpan notes recording deaths, illness and hardships.

Thanks to nature, a late-night fire didn't totally destroy the town of Merlin in 1915.  It came close.

Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians are growing accustomed to wolves once again roaming the mountains. Grizzly bears might be next, some conservationists say.

In the early 1900’s there was something fishy about Grants Pass water.

Every traveler discovers that history isn’t found only in books, movies or online; it can be experienced in person. The Frances Shrader Old Growth Trail east of Gold Beach, Ore., offers that opportunity.

The fruit boys of Grants Pass, Ore., had a profitable business at the train depot, until the activities of some hoodlums put their enterprise in danger.

U.S. Marine Corps Major-Gen. A.A. Vandergrift couldn’t bear watching some 4,000 of his World War II troops deteriorating daily from tropical diseases in the South Pacific.

The county jail in Jacksonville, Ore., had nine prisoners before the night of the October 1909 escape. The sheriff was away and the deputy thought he had everything under control when the prisoners took their customary after-dinner exercise in the corridor outside their cells.  Seeing all was calm, the deputy left for his supper from 6 to 7:30 p.m. When he returned all was definitely not right.

Far from the battlefields of the Civil War, a grave stone near the remote Rogue River town of Agness, Ore., reads:

During World War II, keeping troops entertained on their long sea voyages was a major task. Technical Sgt. Larry Wagner of Ashland, Ore., knew just how to do it.

In 1865, three Holy Names Sisters traveled to Jacksonville, Ore., to establish St. Mary’s Academy. The school had 12 boarding students and 33 daytime students.  It soon outgrew its location and was moved to California Street.

Early newspaper society columns kept up with local residents.  Here are some excerpts from the “Local and Personal” column in the Ashland, Ore. Daily Tidings of Sept. 2, 1919:

As a child in Phoenix, Ore., Mary Jean Barnes Sturdevant saw famed pilot Charles Lindbergh fly over Medford in August 1927 and drop a signed proclamation calling for the advancement of aviation.  Mary Jean was hooked.

Gertrude Price Wardlow, who moved with her husband to Weed, Calif., in 1920, described the part of town where African-Americans lived as a snow-covered mountainous area known as Railroad Avenue.

In the early 1900’s, intellectuals, scientists and prominent visitors seeking information on Southwest Oregon knew to visit Dr. Walter Haydon in Marshfield, Ore.  Haydon was born in England in 1854, studied medicine and nutrition in London and took lessons in carpentry and metal work for his future travels.

Nineteen-year-old John Lucian Gardner of Eugene joined the Oregon Mounted Volunteers in 1855 to fight against the Indians of Southern Oregon.  He died in an ambush a few months later, his body buried in an unmarked grave in the Riddle family cemetery in Riddle, Ore.

Relations between whites and Native American tribes throughout Northern California and Southern Oregon were rarely easy, and for many years, devastating for native peoples.  After gold was discovered in 1851 near today’s Yreka, Calif., hostility and violence grew.

Grants Pass High School has two 1948 state football championship trophies.  There’s a tragic story behind how that happened.