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.


In pioneer times, people with excruciating toothaches often turned to a blacksmith to pull the offending tooth.  By 1887, the Oregon Legislature passed the Dental Practices Act to protect people from untrained dentists.


Ashland’s charter of 1874 provided for the care of vagrants, a town marshal, fire protection, and a jail.  Life in Ashland, population 300, had been chaotic with too many drunks, frequent fires, and poor sanitation. Just like today, the town was on a major travel route that attracted homeless outsiders.  The nearest lawman was a day’s ride away in Jacksonville, the county seat.


Crusading editor George Putnam found himself in jail shortly after taking over direction of the Medford Tribune in 1907.

The opening of the Sacramento to Portland stage line by the California Stage Company in 1860 was of great significance. The company boasted 750 horses, with investment capital topping $1 million and roads totaling 450 miles.  By 1865, the company had 1,250 horses, with more than 1,000 miles of roads, including 400 miles into Oregon and 100 miles into Nevada.


Even after being convicted and sentenced to hang, Roseburg dentist Dr. Richard Brumfield insisted he could never have committed the grisly 1921 murder of hired-hand Dennis Russell.


Identical twins Keith and Dale Edwards shared an interest in trains.  As a child, if Keith could not be found, he was usually down at the train yard.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, everything changed for Masuo Yasui, his wife, Shidzuyo, and their seven children.

Douglas County residents have expressed interest in flying ever since the Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, N. C., in 1903.


When the honorary curator of the U.S. National Herbarium first visited the Klamath Indians in 1896, he compiled a list of 40 plants in use, including roasted lily seeds called Wokas, still popular today.

Peter Post and Jonas King opened the Old Kentucky Saloon in Lakeview, Ore., in 1896.  When a fire destroyed the building and most of the town four years later, Post and King decided to rebuild, using brick rather than lumber.

Dunsmuir, Calif., established in 1887, grew rapidly, the population reaching 350 by the end of the following year.


After more than six months on the Oregon and Applegate trails, the William H. Riddle family faced some 100 curious Indian men, women and children as the family established permanent camp in Southern Oregon’s Cow Creek Valley.  The year was 1851 and the nearest settler was eight miles away and only four were within 25 miles.


Oregon lumberman and rancher George Washington Riddle crossed the plains as an 11-year-old boy in 1851.

Merrill was a tiny town in southern Klamath County when the prohibition movement was gaining momentum across the country in the early 1900's.


The Logging Museum at the Collier Memorial State Park near Chiloquin, Ore., offers visitors a glimpse of Eastern Oregon logging from the primitive harvests of the 1860's through today’s large-scale operations.


The Greensprings Highway, officially State Route 66, heads east into the mountains from Ashland on a historic route in use for at least 160 years.


When the wind blew from the southwest and the clouds scudded across a new moon, she screamed!


Siskiyou County, Calif., appointed its first county physician, John Ridgely in 1855.  For impoverished patients to receive his care, they had to petition for help by appearing before the Board of Supervisors.  They couldn’t own any property or possess any assets.

Deer are probably the most common garden invaders in the mythical State of Jefferson today, but 100 years ago in Bandon, Ore., gardeners had a domestic nemesis.  Cows and horses were ranging through the coastal town, chomping a smorgasbord of lawn, flower and garden vegetables.

In the late 1800's, the self-proclaimed “Poet of the Sierras,” Joaquin Miller, was known for his colorful  dress, restless travels, and flamboyant writing about the West.  But like many artists, Miller struggled with his personal relationships with women.