Mrs. F. K. Deuel Sees Third Generation
Protect Initial Investment
By EVA HAMILTON
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
Families come and families go when a new city is developing. Some merely skim the cream off the milk of early progress and go on to other frontiers. The new, alone, has charm for them.
Others stay and develop an empire to be treasured by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. So it was with the city of Medford. Today it counts the family of F. K. Deuel among those who stayed to plant the seeds from the early flowering of the city and to stake a claim in the Rogue Valley of the future.
Few who make the initial investment live to see a third generation protect it. Mrs. F. K. (Nancy E.) Deuel, 1018 S. Oakdale Ave., is one of those few. And in many other ways she is a remarkable woman.
She has moved with agility from one mode of transportation to another throughout her years. She has accepted the social transition that has accompanied each change--from horse and buggy to auto--to airplane--to jet in her time which has spanned almost a century.
Welcomed ChallengeWhen the surrey was replaced by the touring car, Mrs. Deuel donned her duster, driving gauntlets and veil. When airplane travel reached Medford she found her world expanding and welcomed the challenge of wings over wheels. When the jets were added to airplane travel she envisioned her family drawn closer together, and this was reason enough for her to accept the new conveyance, unafraid.
While she has accepted all the changes on the American scene from the 1890s to the 1960s, her role in life has remained the same, which may seem a paradox to many people. She has never gazed with envious eyes upon the career woman but remained content to be "mother, grandmother and great-grandmother."
It was in keeping with this role that she recently boarded the 8:45 a.m. jet flight at the Medford-Jackson County Airport with her destination Honolulu. There she celebrated her 97th birthday March 11 with her youngest son, Kramer Deuel, and family. She was accompanied on the trip by her son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Gain Robinson of Medford.
Mrs. Deuel came to Medford in the fall of 1894. Her late husband had chosen the new Jackson County town as the place to continue in the mercantile business.
Nurtured by RailroadApparently he believed in hitching his star to towns born of railroads. He came from Harris, Mo., nurtured by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul line. The Southern Pacific had given life to Medford.
The move to Southern Oregon was precipitated by the suggestion of Deuel's mother, Mrs. Mary Stewart [wife of A. J. Stewart, sister-in-law of J. H. Stewart].
"Prices here are pretty high," she had written from the Rogue Valley. "If you could come here and sell goods at the prices which were your habit, I think you would do well."
Deuel came and he did well. Merchandising was his line, and from that day forward there has been at least one leading retail store operating in a Deuel building in Medford.
So it is that the story of the Deuels (Fred K. and Nancy E.) is to many the story of merchandising in Medford.
Events Mark YearsStirring events marked the years of Deuel's progress and Medford's growth. Medford was the baby in the family of Southern Oregon cities and had few inhibitions to stunt its growth. But Mrs. Deuel became apologetic when questioned about the city's history and quickly explains that the city was not her domain.
"I should know," she will answer, then add, "but I gave all my attention to the children. I really don't remember too much about what happened outside my home. It was always open house here," she recently commented, giving an inclusive glance to the spacious rooms that have been home to her since 1910.
"All the neighborhood children came here," she mused. "They gathered 'round the center table. Everyone had a center table," she explained with a quizzical smile for what constituted "keeping up with the Joneses" in house furnishings of the early 1900s.
"I was interested in all the children. I was glad to have them here. I wanted it that way," the slender woman, whose snow-white hair is always in a neat coiffure, revealed more animation than she evinced for any other subject.
Married in MissouriMrs. Deuel was married in Missouri two weeks before her 20th birthday. There were three little Deuels with their parents in the train to Oregon. Their father had chartered a car and into it put most of the family possessions. Three more Deuels were born during the years they established the new home.
Their eldest son, H. B. (Hob) Deuel of Medford, recalls that he was "nursemaid for a number of years" after their arrival to two horses and two cows that made the trip. He also remembers his father's racing stallion "Tokyo" and the races that he won on the old track south of South Oakdale Avenue.
His sisters, Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. E. P. (Ned) Vilas, remember better their mother's favorite driving mare which had an addiction for backing up at the most inopportune times and their own pony "Coalie" with white harness and high English trap which their father gave them. These are remembered by a number of valley people who enjoyed frequent trips in the gay conveyance during their childhood.
Deuel loved horses, Mrs. Deuel recalled, and so do his descendants. White horses, carrying princes and princesses, prance across the murals that decorate the sunny library at 1018 S. Oakdale Ave. today. Deuel brought the pictorial border from the East on one of his buying trips. It was placed in the room which was his billiard room when the house was constructed, and it has never been removed.
Love of horses, though strong, did not influence the Deuels, however, to resent the "horseless carriage." One of the first automobiles in the valley was the Deuel "Tourist," a long, tan touring car. At approximately the same time the C. I. Hutchison and H. U. Lumsden families, also Medford merchants, were riding in "Reos."
The first Deuel store in Medford was "Deuel and Stevens." It was located on East Main Street just west of the present Hubbard Brothers store. W. B. Stevens was Deuel's brother-in-law. The two men established stores in Medford and Albany, and when they dissolved partnership Stevens took over the Albany store and Deuel retained the Medford business.
H. C. Kentner, a cousin of Deuel, came out from Missouri to succeed Stevens in the company, and the next store was known as Deuel and Kentner. It was located across Main Street and west of the first establishment. The building, 230 E. Main St., is still owned by the Deuel family. It was most recently occupied by Karl's Shoe Store and is now undergoing a remodeling program in preparation for a new tenant.
"STORE STAFF--This is the way the Deuel & Kentner store and staff of nine appeared in about 1904. The store was located at what is now 230 E. Main St., where a remodeling project is under way.
It was then numbered 246. The outside signs read 'Boots, Shoes and Furnishings' and
'Dry Goods and Clothing'."
The store was moved again in 1908 to the large Deuel building, which still occupies the corner at East Main and Bartlett, home of Burelson's, owned by Miller's, a subsidiary of P. N. Hirsch & Co.
During the intervening years the store underwent many changes in growth and management, but the buildings always remained Deuel's. Kentner bought out Deuel and changed the name to H. C. Kentner Company during one period. In 1914, Deuel assumed the store again and became affiliated with May Company in a partnership. The May Company name was not of long duration. The newcomers left and Deuel took over their interests preparatory to the return from World War I of his two sons, H. S. (Hob) Deuel and the late Luther Deuel.
Take Over ManagementThe sons took over management of the store, but "neither of us liked the store business," Hob Deuel recently recalled [of] those days. "So in 1923 the store was sold to J. B. Russell and became known as 'Russell's.'"
Several fires occurred during the Russell ownership, and in 1929 the building was completely gutted, ending the Russell regime.
In 1933 the Deuel building was remodeled for an entirely new experience. It became the grocery store and meat market of Luman Brothers.
In 1941, it went through still another complete renovation and reconstruction. It became Burelson's, purchased by Mrs. Nunya Lizberg and moved from North Central. It was Mrs. Lizberg who sold to Miller's.
Adds Other EnterprisesAs time marched on, Deuel added other enterprises to his success as a merchant, much of which Mrs. Deuel attributes to "his knowledge of the eastern markets, which he continued to visit regularly."
He became one of the organizers in 1906 of the First National Bank, serving as vice president with William C. Crowell, a Medford lawyer, as president. The bank was established on the corner now occupied by the Clock Restaurant at Main and Bartlett streets. It was moved across the street between South Central Avenue and Front Street and remained there until purchased by the First National Bank of Oregon, which constructed a new building on Main and Front streets.
H. S. Deuel was active in the bank from 1909 until World War I, following which he returned to the board of directors and remained on the board until the sale in recent years.
Buy OrchardWith Alfred Weeks and Edith Orr, F. K. Deuel bought and developed the Del Rio Orchards in the Gold Hill area in 1906. Later Miss Gertrude Weeks and Mrs. Deuel continued ownership of the orchards for many years. Hob Deuel then bought Miss Week's interests and transferred them to his son, H. S. Deuel Jr., who is now at home there with his family.
Another property in a different category still in the family is Fernwald Farm in Sams Valley. This Deuel bought in partnership with the late Charles Strang, Medford pharmacist.
The Deuel-Strang partnership endures, and C. Virgil Strang resides on the farm.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 19, 1967, page B2
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T. K. Deuel experienced considerable of a circus on Monday of this week. He was engaged in "breaking in" a colt, but the animal didn't quite fancy his procedure--began to kick--dashboard took a scoot heavenward--Mr. Deuel slid forward (unintentionally, of course) into the shafts and for seconds that seemed like hours the gentleman was very liberally mixed with the animal's kicking machine--escape was made with only a few bruises to man and beast, but the buggy, that is a wreck.
Messrs. Deuel & Stevens expect to be in readiness to open their stock of dry goods, boots and shoes about September 15th. Their location will be in the Barnum new brick building on Seventh Street. These gentlemen propose putting in a very complete line of the above goods and will enter into a swift competition for a share of the immense business which comes to Medford.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, September 7, 1894, page 3
Contractor J. A. Eggers commenced work on a new barn for merchant B. F. Deuel Wednesday morning. The building is to be put up on Mr. Deuel's recent real estate purchase, in southwest Medford, and is going to be a good one. It will be 22x30 feet in size, two stories high and to one side is to be a good-sized tower--and it is to climb to a good height. The barn is to be finished in the best style of barn architecture and will be the best building in the city--for the use intended.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, February 21, 1896, page 5
F. K. Deuel has sold his interest in the firm of Deuel & Stevens to W. B. Stevens, and will seek a location in southern California.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 31, 1898, page 3
F. K. Deuel
F. K. Deuel & Co. took advantage of the lull in business New Year's Day to move their stock of goods to the new store building which Mr. Deuel has fitted up for that purpose. Contractor Perry Stewart and architect I. A. Palmer put in a new plate glass front to the building which is one of the best in Medford--in workmanship and convenience. The handiwork of J. W. Ling is seen in the painting and papering of the interior of the building and the fixtures, manufactured and placed in position by Weeks Bros., are as fine as can be seen in any store building along the line. The new store is 140 feet in length, well lighted from both front and rear as well as from a large skylight. Altogether Messrs. Deuel & Co. have as pleasant and well-appointed [a] business place as could be wished for.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 4, 1901, page 7
Merchant F. K. Deuel left Tuesday morning for a six weeks' trip in the East. He will visit New York and Philadelphia for the purpose of purchasing his full stock of goods, and will be accompanied home by his family, who are visiting relatives at Harris, Missouri.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, July 12, 1901, page 6
Sam'l. Richardson, of Harris, Mo., arrived in Medford last Friday and has taken a position as salesman in F. K. Deuel & Co.'s store.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, September 6, 1901, page 6
Merchant F. K. Deuel returned last Friday from his seven weeks' trip to eastern cities. He was accompanied from Albany by his partner, W. B. Stevens, and from Missouri by two other parties who are partners of theirs and who conduct stores in that state. The quartet visited New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, and in each city they bought goods for their respective stores.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, September 6, 1901, page 6
Sunday morning 10,000 pounds of dressed poultry were shipped from Medford to San Francisco by Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express, for the Thanksgiving trade. The principal consigners were F. K. Deuel & Co. and Cox & Perry.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, November 29, 1901, page 7
F. K. Deuel and A. W. Hubbs spent Sunday in Ashland. The latter will be manager of the mercantile establishment which the former will open in that city about August 15.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 12, 1902, page 8
L. P. Hubbs, of Carthage, Illinois, has engaged his services as salesman to F. K. Deuel & Co., and will arrive in Medford about August 25th. His brother, A. W. Hubbs, who has been a salesman in this establishment for several years, has formed a partnership with F. K. Deuel, and they will establish a mercantile house in Ashland in September. The style of the firm will be Deuel & Hubbs, and Mr. Hubbs will be in charge.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, July 11, 1902, page 7
L. P. Hubbs arrived in the city Wednesday from Carthage, Illinois. The gentleman is a brother of Art Hubbs, salesman for F. K. Deuel & Co. Mr. Hubbs is very much pleased with the appearance of our country and seems pleased because of the fact that he has arranged for permanent residence here. He will take the position now occupied by his brother, and Art will go to Ashland and manage a general store there which is to be opened by himself and Mr. Deuel about the first of September. Mr. L. P. Hubbs has been a traveling salesman for an eastern wholesale house for a number of years, but is not entirely unfamiliar with the retail business, having served several years behind the counter. His wife and son will arrive in Medford in about a month.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, August 1, 1902, page 6
Miss Rose Hockenyos, saleswoman in Deuel & Co.'s store, left Tuesday for a two weeks' visit with friends at Portland and Astoria.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, August 15, 1902, page 6
Miss Clara Brown has taken a position as saleswoman in F. K. Deuel & Co.'s store.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, August 15, 1902, page 7
L. P. Hubbs, salesman at F. K. Deuel & Co.'s store, expects his family to arrive from Carthage, Ill., today, Friday. Mr Hubbs has rented the Merriman residence, on North D Street, and at once [will] commence housekeeping.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, August 29, 1902, page 7
F. K. Deuel has gone East, to buy goods for the stores he is interested in. He was at Ashland and Albany this week.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 14, 1903, page 3
Mrs. F. K. Deuel has gone to St. Louis, Mo. to visit her sister, who has been quite sick. She was accompanied by her children.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 6, 1903, page 3
A change has been made in the personnel of the firm of F. K. Deuel & Co., the name and style of the new firm being Deuel & Kentner, Mr. H. C. Kentner having purchased a half interest in the business. Mr. Kentner was formerly engaged in the dry goods business in northern Missouri and since last September has been a salesman in the store in which he is now a half owner. He will have full charge of the business. Mr. Deuel has retired from active store work, for a few years at least, and will give his attention first to the enjoyment of a good rest and then to looking after other matters in which he is interested. Mr. Kentner's family will be here this month and will make Medford their future home.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 12, 1906, page 5
F. K. Deuel of the Valley Mercantile Co. arrived in El Centro Thursday night from his home in Medford, Oregon. He is accompanied by his son, Harold, who is going east to enter college. Mr. Deuel is much pleased with his business venture here and while in the East will buy an immense stock for the large store he will build here next fall.
Imperial Valley Press, El Centro, California, June 23, 1906, page 5
FLYING TACKLE SNAPS LEG
Boy Football Player Is Injured in Game at Medford.
MEDFORD, Or., Sept. 28.--(Special.)--Luther Deuel, aged 14 years, son of F. K. Deuel, South 1018 Oakdale Avenue, sustained a compound fracture of the right leg between the knee and ankle while playing football at the high school yesterday. Young Deuel made a flying tackle to stop Alex Ware, a teammate, and in the fall the other lad fell across Deuel's leg. The breaking of the bone was heard by other players.
The accident occurred during the practice hour. Professor Frost, of the high school, gave temporary aid to the youth, who was later removed to his home, and physicians set the broken bone. No one is blamed for the accident.
This is the second accident that has occurred to the squad this season. William Vawter, a member of the first team, sprained an ankle two weeks ago. Young Deuel was a member of a second team.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, September 29, 1911, page 1
Miss Mary Susan Deuel, daughter of F. K. Deuel of Medford, left Friday morning for Berkeley, Cal., where she will attend the annual banquet and convention of her fraternity, the Alpha Chi Omega. She will also spend about six weeks in Frisco visiting with friends and attending the fair.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, May 1, 1915, page 6
Chester Stevenson has been receiving a visit from Delmar A. Thompson of Pendleton, who with Elvin S. Crutchfield of Spokane has recently bought the Deuel store at Medford. Crutchfield was a former resident of Medford nearly a score of years ago.
"Local and Personal," Ashland Tidings, May 6, 1915, page 5
CHANGE IN FIRM AT DEUEL'S
D. A. Thompson has purchased a proprietary interest in the F. K. Deuel department store and assumes management of the same immediately. Mr. Thompson was for six years general manager of one of the largest department stores in North Yakima, Wash., but comes here from Pendleton Or., where he has been department manager and buyer for the dry goods and ladies' ready-to-wear department of the Alexander department store for the past three years. He has had extensive experience both behind the counter and as buyer in the eastern market and is thoroughly familiar with the western trade.
Mr. Deuel retires on account of his health.
The store will be closed until Monday to complete invoice and to prepare for a big sale which starts Monday.
Medford Sun, May 13, 1915, page 5
F. K. Deuel & Sons New Firm.
F. K. Deuel and sons, H. S. and L. J., have assumed active charge of the May Co., of which F. K. Deuel has been the principal owner, and will change the name of the corporation to F. K. Deuel & Sons. They will remodel and rearrange the interior of the store and add a line of men's clothing and furnishings now and a line of shoes for men, women and children later. F. K. and H. S. Deuel recently returned from a buying trip to the eastern markets.
Mr. Deuel is one of the pioneer merchants of Medford, but for the past few years has been devoting his time to his ranch. He is well posted in all lines of merchandising. His sons have been conned [sic] with the Deuel store and other business houses in Medford, are wide-awake young men and are popular. Both of them served their country in the recent world war. The Deuels will be welcomed back into the business circles of Medford.
A. W. Hubbs, who has so ably managed the May Co. for about two years, is one of the most popular live-wire young business men of Medford. He has not decided just what he will do but expects to remain in Medford and has two or three propositions in view. His many friends in the city and county hope he will decide to remain here.
Medford Mail Tribune weekly, September 18, 1919, page 2 This story also ran in the Medford Sun, on September 14, page 7.
$12,000 FIRE AT DEL RIO ORCHARD
The Weeks and Deuel Del Rio warehouse at Rock Point near Gold Hill burned to the ground last evening about ten o'clock at a loss estimated at $12,000, partly covered by insurance. The packing house had just been made ready for packing, which was to start this morning. There were two carloads of box shook on hand, a carload of paper and all the usual packing equipment. The origin of the fire is a mystery. As the doors were open, it could not have been caused by spontaneous combustion; in fact, the entire building seemed to burst into flame at once as if it had been soaked with gasoline and a match applied. The owners, however, make no charge of incendiarism. The only fortunate feature of the fire is that none of the fine fruit at the Weeks and Deuel orchard was destroyed. Luke Deuel went to Rock Point this morning to assist Mr. Weeks in making arrangements for the packing of the fruit at some other place. Halbert Deuel is in Portland.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 9, 1920, page 6
DEUEL, Halbert S., business manager; b. Harris, Missouri December 25, 1890; to Oregon 1893; Culver Military Academy 1906-10; m. Aimee B. Wing November 21, 1922; children--Halbert S. Jr. Manager F. K. Deuel establishment; assistant cashier, 1st National Bank 1911-17; lieutenant, World War; manager department store 1919-24; Mason; York Rite; Shrine; Craters Club; Chamber of Commerce. Republican. Address: 1100 S. Oakdale Avenue, Medford, Oregon.
Who's Who in Oregon 1929-1930, Oregon City Enterprise, page 70
Valley Fuel Sold; Owners Plan to Retire
Sale of the Valley Fuel Company, owned and operated by H. S. Deuel and Gain Robinson for more than 35 years, to Naumes Equipment and Fuel Company, was announced today.
The sale became effective early this month. Most of the employees have remained with the business and are now located with Naumes Equipment and Fuel Company, 2233 S. Pacific Highway.
The Valley Fuel Company shop at 11 W. McAndrews Road will be maintained until the solid fuel has all been sold, Robinson said this morning, explaining that it is the heating oil business that has been purchased by Naumes. The owners expect to have the solid fuel disposed of by July 1, at which time Robinson and Duel plan to retire.
The land on McAndrews Road, on which the fuel company has been located since June 1961, was sold last fall to the Southern Pacific Company.
The Valley Fuel Company was operated on West Main Street in Medford until the move was made to McAndrews Road.
In Business Many YearsRobinson and Duel have been in business in Medford since the early 1900s. Robinson was first a partner in the Patton and Robinson agency, which sold tractors and other farm equipment and later automobiles. He then joined Owen-Oregon Lumber Company (now Medford Corporation) as sales manager and remained with that company until Deuel and he bought the Valley Fuel Company from Harry Fredette.
Prior to purchasing the fuel company, Deuel managed the estate of his father, the late F. K. Deuel, owner of one of Medford's early department stores and other holdings, including the Del Rio Orchards.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 8, 1966, page 1
Last revised March 9, 2017