Alice Mullaly

As It Was Contributor

Alice Mullaly was raised in the same Central Point home where she lives today with her husband, Larry. A graduate of Crater High School, Oregon State, and Stanford universities, she taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York.; Mill Valley, California, and at Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. She retired from Southern Oregon University where she trained new mathematics teachers. Mullaly’s husband was also a teacher as are her two daughters. Her husband is a Southern Pacific Railroad historian, and both of them enjoy hunting for “the story” in primary sources. Alice’s mother was an early member of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, and Alice has been an SOHS volunteer for nearly 30 years. She enjoys the puzzles people bring to the Research Library, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.

The Brown girls, Jennie, Mary and Emogene, were born in Oregon in the 1860s.  They grew up shifting summer and winter between the family’s two properties, spending winters on a gold claim on Sterling Creek out of Jacksonville, and summers on a large cattle ranch east of Eagle Point.

Growing up in rural Oregon communities in the early 1900s was a combination of hard farm and ranch work, a few months of school and lots of good times.  For the Charley family in Brownsboro, chores always came first -- and there were plenty of them.

The Rogue Valley’s orchard boom went bust after 1912.  A letter sent to the New York City Daily Worker in 1939 said land scams continued with slick guys deceptively promising riches through fruit-land speculation to strangers arriving at the Medford train station.  The writer enclosed a poem written by Mary Agnes Daily for the Ashland Tidings in 1918, which reads:

Medford, Ore., quadrupled in size from 1900 to 1910, one of the fastest growing towns in America.  Its second elementary school was built in 1906 on rabbit scrubland just north of town.  Two nearby subdivisions sprang up with small houses on small lots and were annexed to the city.  The area became known as the Liberty Park neighborhood.

There was a land rush in Oregon in 1902 by people seeking homesteads on timber lands.  They poured off the trains in places like Ashland, where self-declared land agents were waiting with buggy and farm wagon to lure them to alleged timber lands 60 to 150 miles to the east.

In 1861, Sarah Slagle York and her husband moved to a home on Southern Oregon’s Applegate River where they raised 12 children. Years later Sarah wrote down her memories of that time.  Here is one of her stories.

One file of newspaper articles at the Southern Oregon Historical Society Research Library in Medford, Ore., is labeled “Romance,” an ironic misnomer as the folder contains stories of murder and suicide resulting from bad love affairs. 

On a warm sunny day in July, 1858, all was ready for the wedding of Miss Wagner and Mr. Pursely in Phoenix, Ore.  The Justice of the Peace had provided all the appropriate preliminaries before the 60 guests.  Miss Wagner stood before the groom in her best dress.  Pursely was a little tipsy from alcoholic fortification.

In 1894, a terrible fire burned down the Silver Lake general store in South Central Oregon, where 200 people had gathered on the second-floor ballroom for a community dance.  An exit door that opened in, instead of out, and a collapsed stairway contributed to the death of 40 people and injuries for another 50, many severely burned.

There was little in the background of Kenn Knackstedt to suggest his future contribution to Southern Oregon history.

Miwaleta, chief of the Cow Creek band of Umpqua Indians, befriended the Riddle family when they settled in Southern Oregon in 1851. Young George Riddle later wrote about his family’s relations with the band.

In the 1880s, eleven Eastern Star chapters were established in Oregon, many of them in Southern Oregon.

In 1922, Pacific Power and Light Company, better known as Copco, was putting up a high voltage line from Prospect to Springfield, Ore. The 125 miles was steep and rugged country--impassible for trucks and mechanical equipment of the time.

When Joseph Voyle died a pauper in Berkeley, Calif., in 1915, his obituary said he was a mystic and philosopher who had studied geology and electricity much of his life.

In 1903 Bill Warner became the first rural mail carrier for Medford, Ore.  He used a bicycle in the summer or a horse-drawn, two-wheeled cart. When rain turned the roads to mud, Warner carried the mail on horseback.

People who remodel old houses often find surprises.  For example, John Derrickson bought the old Samuel Williams house in Grants Pass, Ore., in 2010.  While cleaning the upstairs, he came upon old papers, booklets, and more -- a treasure trove of Williams family history.

California physician Dr. Francis Townsend developed a plan in 1932 to get the country out of the Great Depression. He proposed that everyone over 60 years old be given $200 a month that had to be spent that same month.  Townsend said it would stabilize the lives of the elderly and provide jobs for the young, and could be funded with a 2 percent sales tax.

Minneapolis banker Delroy Getchell arrived in Medford, Ore., on a sparkling day in January 1909, seeking a mild climate for retirement.  He liked the looks of the place.

In 1913, the Oregon Immigration Bureau and Oregon Agricultural College published a book describing a typical farmer in each of several regions in the state.  For Southern Oregon’s small farm, they chose to highlight a 13-acre place with a pear orchard and garden area.

The Tom Mix Circus came to Medford, Ore., on May 5, 1936, for a one-night stand.  A series of incidents made it memorable.