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
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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History
11:41 am
Fri January 9, 2015

Landlord Kills Renter’s Wife and Son in Coquille

Children were rarely in danger from strangers or neighbors in Oregon’s early years, but an incident in July 1889 stands out.

Chris and Elizabeth Eationhover had moved to Coquille the previous year with their 4-year-old son and rented the farm of John and Fidelia Gilman for a four-year period. Gilman soon regretted his decision and tried to persuade his new tenants to leave. When persuasion didn’t work he opted for murder.

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History
8:54 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Roseburg Party Honors 100-Year-Old Steam Engine

 

In December 2014, Roseburg, Ore.’s Stewart Park celebrated the 100th birthday of Steam Engine No. 1229  with a party.  One 9-year-old at the party described the 67-ton, oil-burning steam engine as “a beautiful piece of history.”

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History
8:43 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Medford Opera House of 1902 Burns Down in 1912

 

Work began on J. R. Wilson’s new opera house in Medford on May 9, 1902, and a grand opening was held in July.  The owners touted the wooden building as one of the finest, best furnished and safest in a fire of any public hall in Southern Oregon.

A fuse in the electric lighting system burned out and delayed the evening program at the grand opening. 

Minstrel shows, moving pictures using Edison’s marvelous machine, musicians and plays soon graced the stage.  It also hosted political events, including talks on taxation, prohibition and women’s suffrage.

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History
8:35 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Boston Merchant Outfits Oregon Coastal Trading Ship

 

Excited by reports reaching Boston in 1850 of gold and new settlements in the West, a merchant named Gardiner outfitted a ship for trading along the Oregon Coast. A Capt. Coffin commanded the vessel, named the Bostonian, and Gardiner’s nephew, George Snelling, took charge of the expedition.

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History
8:32 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Indian Myth Describes Creation of Black Butte Dome on Interstate 5

 

Travelers on Interstate 5 between Mount Shasta and Weed, Calif., pass closely by the 6,325-foot-high Black Butte Dome. A creation myth of the Abjumawi Band of the Pitt River Indians explains its origin.

At a time when both humans and animals were considered people, the Creator lived on Mount Shasta with his son and daughter.  The Creator provided Shastina dome as a private annex for the daughter, but warned against visiting the valley to the west. 

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History
9:41 am
Fri January 2, 2015

Early Surveyor Marks Meandering Oregon-California Line

The U.S. General Land Office hired Daniel Major in 1868 to survey the Oregon-California Line. 

Major used a sextant and a crew of 19 to locate the intersection of Nevada, California and Oregon, which he marked by placing three large black bottles and a cottonwood stake surrounded by rocks.  He also erected a sandstone monument with the states’ names engraved on the sides.

Continuing west, Major tracked the 42nd parallel all the way to the Pacific.  Near today’s I-5, the surveyors marked the intersection of the “Emigrant Road to Jacksonville.”

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History
9:38 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Child Star Barbara La Marr Becomes Screen Vamp

 

Billed as “The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful,” silent-screen actor Barbara La Marr was for a time the most advertised actress and greatest box office attraction in America.  She mesmerized audiences as a child in 1904 and later as an adult. With her black hair, heart-shaped face, enormous brown eyes, and cupid’s-bow mouth, she was most often cast as the silent-screen vamp.

She was born Reatha Dale Watson in 1896 in Yakima, Wash. Her father, William W. Watson, a newspaperman, eventually moved the family to Medford, Ore., and her uncle, J. C. Watson, was a judge in Ashland.

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History
3:06 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Silver Lake Fire Kills at Least 40 People in 1894

One hundred twenty years ago this month, a Christmas Eve fire in Silver Lake, Ore., killed at least 40 people and seriously injured many more. Silver Lake is on State Route 31 in northern Lake County.

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History
3:05 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Wild Horses Face Uncertain Future

 

Wild horses in Eastern Oregon have been seen as a problem for more than 100 years. Today the Bureau of Land Management pastures, but does not slaughter, more wild horses than remain in the wild.

By 1901, demand for horsemeat in Europe had tapered off and Oregon’s only slaughterhouse in the Portland suburb of Linnton had closed. But the Boer War in South Africa created a sudden demand for horsemeat, and the slaughterhouse reopened in 1902. That year more than 10,000 wild mustangs were rounded up and sent to Linnton.

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History
3:03 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Hoboes Seek Free Jail-House Dinner

 

For a time, many transients in the late 1920s headed for the jail house in Gold Hill. The “occasional hobo,” as the homeless were called in that time’s vernacular, jumped from a Southern Pacific freight car as the train slowed to pick up a mail pouch. Pilfering a chicken or a few ears of corn from a backyard garden, a transient was assured of an improvised hobo stew under the bridge south of town, or a free jail-house dinner.

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