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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Jackson County 1914

Jackson County
    The population of Jackson County at the time of the 1910 census was 25,756.
     Since that time it is estimated 5000 people have settled in the county.
    The leading products of Jackson County are apples and pears, this district having won sweepstakes prize for Spitzenburgs and Yellow Newtowns at the national apple show and at the Canadian international apple show.
    While two years ago Jackson County was importing eggs, hay and grain, hogs and farm truck of all descriptions, in 1913 three carloads of potatoes, two carloads of onions, two carloads of mixed vegetables, four carloads of baled hay and 300 cases of eggs have been exported.
    Nine cars of hogs have been shipped from the valley since January, 1912, and it is estimated there are 10,000 hogs in the county where there were less than half that number a year ago.
    In 1913 the largest fruit crop and the best average fruit prices have been received in the history of the valley. In round numbers 1079 cars of fruit have been shipped out, divided as follows:
                             Apples      Pears     Peaches    Mixed       Total
Medford . . . . . . . . 391          355               1               9          756
Central Point  . . . . 103            35                                            138
Ashland . . . . . . . . .   35              1             12             17            65
Gold Hill . . . . . . . .   30                                                               30
Phoenix . . . . . . . . .   28            18                                              46
Talent . . . . . . . . . . .   41                                                               41
Rogue River  . . . . .      3                                                                  3
Total . . . . . . . . . . . . 631          409            13             26        1079
    According to actual returns, deducting freight and commission charges, the fruit crop of 1913 brought $1,000,000 in cash into the valley.
    During 1913 the new Page Theater ($50,000), and the new Bear Creek bridge adjoining it ($40,000) were built, and the new Bullis electric line has been completed a distance of about two and one-half miles.
    Total building in the county in 1913 is estimated to amount to $275,000.
    The new $800,000 cement plant has been started at Gold Hill to supply materials for 50 miles of permanent highway which are to be built from Ashland to Grants Pass in 1914 at a cost of $500,000.
    Jackson County has 40 schoolhouses, 6840 school children and 200 school teachers.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 1, 1914, page C4


RICH SPOT WORK OF SELF-STEERING MEN
Rogue Valley Folk Are Ones in Thousands.
BARRIERS TO PARADISE BEATEN
Farmers Go to Opera in Autos and Garbed in Full Dress.
GOOD ROADS BIG FACTOR
David Swing Rlcker Finds All That Goes to Make Up Most Desirable Communities in Vicinities of Medford and Ashland.
BY DAVID SWING RICKER.

    MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 25.--(Special.)--Few of us are self-steering men. We let others steer us. We sit among the cushions, contented, complacent or in a quarrel with our desires and our purposes and let other hands manipulate the steering gear.
    Usually our chauffeur is Circumstance. Sometimes Lack-of-Opportunity or Shortsightedness. Most often it's Poverty. But whatever his name--the name we blame so that we may hold ourselves blameless--we allow him to take us wherever he wants us to go.
Most People Followers.
    We surrender our right of self-command and our privilege to give direction. We are followers. We accept leadership. We mark time. Out of 20,000 of us one of us is able to steer himself. The rest of us are steered. That's because something is the matter with most of us.
    If we have initiative, we lack the ambition to use it. If we have the ambition, we are without the sand. If we have the sand, we haven't the money or the ingenuity to get it.
    We accept our destiny as we accept our baptism, without protestation, because of the selection of occupation as in the ejection of creed we are hampered by the expectations of our relatives, who won't live to suffer with us the grief that comes with the mistakes they gave to us when they asked us to keep in step with family traditions.
Jackson Folk Self-Steerers.
    To the casual reader the foregoing observations would seem to have little or nothing to do with the resources, the fruitfulness or the good roads of Jackson County and its one best bet--the Rogue. River Valley. But they have. They have a lot to do with all of them.
    It is the self-steering man who has made Jackson County and its unequaled valley. The self-steering man lets nothing stand in his way. He fixes his destination. Then he slashes the bush and clears the path that leads to it. If blades and axes and saws fall him, he uses fire. If fire fails him he uses dollars. He destroys the barriers that stand in his way. He holds the steering wheel in his two hands. Ha has an instinct for self-leadership. He determines what kind of a life pleases him most; then he leads it. He doesn't say he would lead it if he could. He does lead it. He tears down every obstruction.
Rouse Valley Men Impress.
    The Rogue River Valley is crowded with men who ought to have been lawyers or doctors or politicians or publishers or bankers or brokers--ought to have been had they allowed family traditions to direct their lives. But they concluded to snap their fingers at ghosts and ancestral memories. Jeer at tradition, laugh at predestination's grip on society, tear loose from the harrowing narrowness and the stifling closeness of the occupations that had been marked down for them and go back to the land!
    That "back to the land" cry we have heard so much of lately has set most of us to thinking. That is the difference between us and the men down here. It set them to doing.
    Like most of us they dreamed of a bungalow-shelter set down among fruit-giving trees in a valley filled with soft air and sunshine, the rosy glow of exquisite dawns, the glare of richly colored evenings and wind tossed, sun-painted, perfume-exhaling blossoms. Unlike most of us, they got up and did what they dreamed.
    And they are here--many of the ones in many twenty thousands, the men with the nerve, and the resolution back of the nerve, to steer themselves and to choose the sort of life that pleases them most.
Many States Represented.
    One group came from Chicago, one from Minneapolis, one from the Dakotas and smaller groups from New York and other places farther back East.
    One by one they settled in the Rogue River Valley. They believed they had found Paradise. They still believe it. They are surer now than they were then. And other groups are coming. And they believe they have found Paradise. And they are going to be surer of it tomorrow than they were yesterday. Whether it's self-hypnotism or just a feeling caught out of the air, everyone's got it and whatever else it has done or has not done, the feeling that "here is Paradise" has built up the most contented community I ever have discovered engaged in the occupation of farming or gathered together in a city of 10,000 people. And what have they done--these people who are so cock sure they have found Paradise?
    They have set about their work as orchardists with an earnestness that has enabled them to produce several world's record yields of pears for the acre.
    They have gone about the work of producing for the markets with the same quality of zeal that their father and grandfathers went about the work of controlling the markets.
Civic Pride Created.
    They have helped to create the civic pride that has laid 20 miles of asphalt-paved streets in Medford.
    They have brought to their little "paradise" the life of the East. They have organized a University Club with more than a hundred members--graduates of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Cornell, from nearly every university of importance in America. They have established a country club with golf links and tennis courts; a drama league with an enthusiastic membership; a splendid theater, a hotel with metropolitan atmosphere and furnishings. And they dance the tango!
    The other day my wife and I were invited to the Country Club. We found 18 cars standing at the entrance cars--that belonged to the silk-stocking farmers and orchardists of "Paradise." Last night we strolled past a church where they were holding choir practice. There were seven cars standing at the curb.
    At night at the Medford Theater both sides of the streets are lined with cars, standing two abreast. The farmers of Rogue River Valley come to town with their wives to see the "troupe" at the "opry-house."
Evening Clothes Farmers' Garb.
    The University Club gave a tango dance. The farmers came in evening clothes and their wives with bared shoulders. In the farmhouses you do not find embroidered towels thrown over chair backs, embroidered piano scarfs or Battenburg! You find Chippendale and Sheraton, Sheffield and Warsaw and old English prints. And it is by these impressions that Medford lets you take its measure.
    It was late in the afternoon that my wife and I swung into the main street of this miniature metropolis of a miniature empire and made our way to the hotel. As we pushed open the swinging doors and stepped into the hotel office, we got our first impression of Medford. Unconsciously my wife's hands tucked some stray hairs into place and adjusted a hatpin. To get rid of my pack I motioned to a bell boy and allowed my freed arm to drop carelessly over the patch in my khaki coat. I was conscious of my unshaved chin.
    We slipped away that night to a little cafe down by the railroad tracks and ate our supper behind the shielding curtains of a booth. Thus did we gain our first impression of Medford's atmosphere--an impression that faded like the chilling and unpleasant mists of morning long before the mists themselves next morning surrendered to the sun while we stood on top of Ben Sheldon's hill and found about us a gathering of friendly names.
Growing Instinct Shown.
    Off under Wagner's Butte and the Grizzly Peak, nestled against the skirts of Roxy Anne, down in the valley, over toward Table Rock and the foothills of the Coast Range set down in natural snuggeries or looking out on the panorama of mountains, budding trees, bending river and well-kept city from the flattened tops of gently sloped hills were the shelters of folks from back home, city folks called to the country by the charm of an irresistible landscape or the natural impulse to make things grow--the impulse that causes the city-reared child to plant a peach stone or a watermelon seed and sprinkle the spot with water in the hope of prevailing upon a tiny tendril to break through the earth and open a leaf to the sun.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, February 26, 1914, page 1


DOLLAR IS LURE TO VALLEY OF ROGUE
"Paradise," Made by 76 Kinds of Soil, Yet Proves Lucrative to Settlers.
PACIFIC HIGHWAY IS BEST
Orchards Are Surrounded with Eastern Culture
and One Farmer in Five Owns Automobile and Supports Good Roads.
BY DAVID SWING RICKER.

    MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 26--(Special.)--In making an estimate of the Rogue River Valley it seems more like taking the measure of a friend than of the promises of a community or of fruit-yielding fields, yet in no other valley would these city folks have been able to build their paradise nor in this valley would many folks have been able to build as well or as thoroughly as they. Money was a prime requisite to achievement. They had it. Enterprise and indefatigability were essential. They had both. Room in which to build was necessary.
    Their paradise shelters 275,000 tillable acres, and the rest of the valley outside of it and along the tributaries of the Rogue River shelters 125,000 more acres. In the Medford district alone there are 3000 acres of full-bearing orchards; 4000 acres of orchards in part bearing; 35,000 acres of orchards between 3 years old and bearing; 30,000 acres of orchards under 3 years of age and 175,000 acres of unplanted orchard lands.
Paradise Is Extensive.
    The government report on the soil survey of the Medford area describes the area as covering 544 square miles or 348,160 acres. Included in these figures is a large section of the Applegate Valley lying south and west of the Rogue River Valley and separated from the main area by non-agricultural mountainous tracts.
    It was over the Rogue River area that I looked that beautiful morning from the top of Ben Sheldon's hill--my first view of Oregon's vast pear-producing region--and it was then that I understood, being inexpert in matters of fruit culture, why tillers of the soil had come from everywhere to the place they call "paradise," to plant the trees from which they expect to pluck their sustenance from now until their grandchildren take up their pruning knives. The government soil report catalogued 76 different kinds of soil in that valley that stretched out beneath me. And that's why they call the valley "paradise." And it's why I called it a little empire.
Products Are Varied.
    The valley produces now nearly everything that civilized men and women use to eat, and the only things it is not capable of producing are the fruits which belong entirely to tropical climates. Of course pears are its chief output, and the average acre yield from pears runs from $350 to $450, while one acre in the orchard of C. S. English last year yielded him a net profit, after every imaginable expense had been deducted, of $2000.
    It was a thousand figures such as these, and it was after Ben Sheldon had driven me over every foot of road in the valley, and I had talked with the farmers, one after another, that I discovered the folly of my conclusion that these men had been drawn to their paradise by the same desire to grow something that impelled the small boy to plant the peach stone. It wasn't the lure of the wide open spaces or the mountains, or the trees, or the smiling fields that had called them from the East. It was a less poetic lure, but one better understood by us who do not know how to prune or spray. It was the lure of the dollar. They would rather trust their trees to yield them 100 percent on their investment than trust the stock exchange or law practice or something else to yield them 5 percent. And they are getting their 100 percent without losing their health getting it, or their happiness.
     They have surrounded their orchards with their Eastern culture. They're having a good time. They're making money hand over fist. And when they aren't doing anything else, they are reading "How to Prune," "Soil Culture," "When to Spray and How," and secretly laughing at the poor devils back home who are wearing out their brains and their nerves straining over desks and reading ticker tape.
All Believe in Good Roads.
    And the farmers of Jackson County believe in good roads--every last one of them believes in good roads. They believe in good roads a little more than they believe in anything else, except their wives and their orchards. About every house owner out of five in Jackson County owns an automobile. That's one good reason why they believe in good roads. Another good reason is that they appreciate the economic value of good roads. And the result of their strong belief in good roads is that the private roads that run through the orchards of Rogue River Valley are better than 90 percent of the Pacific Highway from Portland to the Josephine County line north of Grants Pass.
     From Grants Pass to Medford there was not a bad spot on the Pacific Highway. From Medford to Ashland the highway is rock-ballasted and well surfaced. Yet, with their portion of the Pacific Highway considerably above the average maintained by the northern counties of Oregon, the county recently voted a bond issue of $500,000 to build its link of the Pacific Highway from California to Josephine County, and the first spadeful of dirt, commemorating the beginning of this admirable project, was turned a few weeks ago by Samuel Hill, of Seattle, the leading good-roads apostle of the West.
Ashland Also Is Alive.
    Not all of Jackson County progressiveness nor all of Jackson County good road enthusiasm is crowded into Medford. Twelve miles south, lying in the valley where the foothills crowd together and reaching over some of them back into the shadows of the Siskiyous, is Ashland--a little city that might have been picked up back in New England and set down out here, quaint, picturesque and surrounded by hot springs wherein lies its hope of a larger and fuller tomorrow; and lithia springs that soon will be made to serve its people with free lithia water at street-corner fountains.
    There's a new spirit in Southern Oregon--a spirit that ought to spread over the state--the spirit of cooperation among the neighboring communities. Ben Sheldon, our host while we were in Medford and a Medford booster to the tips of his fingers and the hair on his head and the soles of his shoes, did not want us to leave Jackson County until we had seen Ashland. So he took us over to the neighboring city on the best section of the Pacific Highway now in Oregon, the main thoroughfare between Medford and Ashland, rock ballasted, 68 feet wide
and which has been kept in relatively good condition for many years. It joins the asphalted main street of Medford with the asphalted main street of Ashland and passes through the towns of Phoenix and Talent--a trip no "Seeing Jackson County" travelers should fail to take.
Historic Phoenix Visited.
    Phoenix is a place of more than ordinary historic interest--the site of a former Army post, where still stands the old log headquarters occupied by Grant and Sheridan during their campaigns against the Rogue River and Modoc Indians. [The writer is likely referring to Colver house, which was neither a headquarters nor occupied by Grant nor Sheridan, neither of which fought against either the Rogues or the Modocs] About a mile north of Ashland we passed the Jackson hot sulphur springs, similar in chemical constituency to those that have made Paso Robles, West Baden and Hot Springs, Ark. world famous. And as we entered the city limits of Ashland we passed onto their longest paved street--a sample of the type of roadway which is to be built along the way of the Pacific Highway the entire length of the county.
    I wondered that first night we passed in the valley of the Rogue River--the night we slipped into the hotel and out of it--why strangers had told us as we crossed over the mountains that we were passing into paradise. And I wondered, too, why those who enter the valley seldom leave it or, if they do leave it, always hurry back. As we are spending our last night in the valley, we no longer wonder. We have felt the lure. It is trying to hold us back. We have analyzed it and we understand it.
Spirit of Valley Lures.
    Majestic as they are, snow-topped, pine-clad, purpling the valley's rim, standing shaggy and silhouetted against a sky into which the sinking sun has poured all the colors of the spectrum, it is not the mountains! Beautiful as it is in the lowering evening with lights twinkling here and there among the tens of thousands of trees that are not even whispering in the still, soft, fragrant air, it is not the valley. Nor is it the perfectly built Medford nor the picturesque Ashland. It's the spirit of the valley that has made this paradise! The open-handed hospitality that does not drop the stranger's hand as soon as it has sold him a lot, land or a bearing orchard, but keeps hold of his hand, makes him feel at home, tells him how to prune and how to spray and how to win in the new business of being a farmer--that's what has done it, the valley spirit:
    "Don't let us spend as much of our energy trying to get people to come here as we spend trying to make those who come here like it here. Then we won't have to worry about our little paradise. People will come into it."

Oregonian, Portland, February 27, 1914, page 7


JACKSON COUNTY.
(Jacksonville, County Seat.)
    Jackson County lies in what is known as the Rogue River Valley in the southwestern part of the state. It is bounded on the north by Douglas, on the west by Josephine, on the east by Klamath counties, and on the south by California. The population is 27,144 (U.S. census 1910, 25,756); of these, 89 percent are United States born; of the foreign 11 percent, about one-fourth are German; the remaining three-fourths are made up principally of Canadians, English, Irish, Scandinavians and Austrians. The total area of the county is 1,779,662 [acres]. There are 58,066 acres unappropriated and unreserved, of which 55,826 acres are surveyed and 2,240 acres are unsurveyed. Of the public lands 4,630 acres which had been previously taken up as homestead lands have reverted to the government during the past three years, which is an indication that they are not suitable for agricultural purposes. Of the assessed appropriated land, 128,500 acres are cultivated and 1,076,601 are uncultivated. Cultivated land is worth on an average of $68.40 per acre, and uncultivated land $12.30. The total value of taxable property in the county in 1913 was $37,357,379. The surface is level, rolling and mountainous. The rock formation in the western part is pre-Cretaceous; in the eastern part it is a combination of Cretaceous and Eocene. The natural forest growth consists principally of  yellow and sugar pine and fir. Fruit of all kinds, especially peaches, apples and pears, have been found to grow well on this soil, which is rich in all the essential chemicals. It is likely to be a very lasting soil. Its first need will probably be phosphoric acid. The soil is black and deep, ranging from ten inches to several feet. The subsoil is hard and white. The sugar beet, hemp, onions, sorghum and strawberries should grow well on this soil. The soil in the immediate vicinity of the valley consists of successive alluvial deposits of different geological periods and is very rich. Rogue River and its branches furnish excellent water power for milling purposes. The fuel used is wood and costs from $4 to $6 per cord. There are several mineral springs with good curative qualities in the county. The leading industry is farming. Lumbering is carried on extensively. There are 4 planing mills and one saw and planing mill. Mining is also an important industry. There are sixteen gold quartz mines yielding ore valued at $24.15 per ton, a number of placer mines, 5 asphalt mines, 2 copper mines yielding 30 percent ore, 1 iron mine; also quantities of asbestos, quicksilver and building stone. Among the industrial plants of the county are found brickyards, breweries, creameries, cold storages, electric light, flour and feed, fruit canneries, laundries, machine shops, printing, soda water and water power. The roads are in good condition. The climate is mild and congenial. The mean temperature during the spring months is 50.5 degrees, summer 61.1 degrees, fall 56.4 degrees, and winter 42.7 degrees. The normal precipitation per season is: Spring, 6.40 inches; summer, 4.36 inches; fall, 5.70 inches; and winter, 12.46 inches--total annual, 28.92 inches. A large percent of the Rogue River Valley has been put under irrigation.
Sixth Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Inspector of Factories and Workshops of the State of Oregon from October 1, 1912 to September 30, 1914,
Oregon State Printing Department, 1915, page 123


THE ROGUE RIVER REGION
    From Ashland northward to Gold Hill the railroad train will pass through
the famous pear and apple belt of the Rogue River Valley. This highly developed belt extends back from the railroad from two to six miles. These close-in lands, without orchards and suited to the general purpose farmer, can be purchased at from $150 to $250 per acre. If planted in young orchards they sell at from $300 to $600 per acre, the age of trees, location as to railroad facilities and character of soil governing the price. If in bearing orchards, the lands sell at from $600 to $1,000 per acre. Sales have been recorded at from $1,500 to  $2,000 per acre, while some orchards are not for sale at all.
    The reason for these high prices for bearing tracts is that the orchardists are making money. Reports, received by the Oregon Agricultural College from seventy-three apple growers selected at random throughout this district, show an average income of $230.88 per acre. Fifty-three pear growers averaged $335.96 per acre.
    Soils are somewhat variable in this locality and the frost line should be carefully looked up in locations in which the homeseeker is interested.
    Just as good lands as these can be had at from five to twenty-five miles back in the rolling hill country at from $10 to $50 per acre. They lie along the numerous small streams that drain the Rogue watershed, and will produce a superior quality of fruit on the benches, while the bottom soils are most desirable for growing clover and alfalfa. Fully 100,000 acres of such lands are adjacent to Ashland and Medford, brush lands and lightly timbered hills. The cost of clearing will average from $12 to $25 per acre after selling the accumulation of wood. These lands are suitable for diversified farming. Dairying is particularly profitable.
    Eleven miles west of the city of Medford lies Applegate Valley, a narrow but extremely fertile district which is largely devoted to alfalfa growing, dairying and stock growing, with considerable open range available. Improved lands are to be had at from $40 to $100 per acre, the tracts combining bottom lands for alfalfa growing and hillside lands. Unimproved lands may be had at from $20 to $30 per acre.
    This valley is perhaps more directly reached from Grants Pass, where the country breaks again into open stretches of fertile farming lands. At from eight to twenty miles from Grants Pass are 75,000 acres of bench and foothill lands that can be acquired at from $15 to $40 per acre. They are mostly brush lands that are easily and cheaply cleared. The benches produce tree fruits of high grade, while the bottom and hillside lands combined offer attractive inducements to the dairyman.
    To the west of Grants Pass are the Illinois and Williams valleys, small in area as compared with the Rogue River Valley, but extremely fruitful of opportunity for the cattleman, the dairyman and the hog raiser. The bottom lands in both these valleys are under cultivation and if bought separately they would cost from $50 to $75 per acre, but purchased in connection with the unimproved bench lands the price would average much lower.
    A railroad is now projected between Grants Pass and the Pacific Ocean, giving service to the Illinois and Williams valleys. Nine miles of grade are completed.
    Irrigation will add much to the value of land in the Rogue River Valley. Ample water is available and can be appropriated by the usual procedure under the laws. A number of canals are now constructed from which water may be rented for the dry months of June, July and August. Many farmers provide water for irrigation
by pumping, there being a heavy underflow.
    New settlers find employment by working their teams in the large orchards, $4.50 to $L00 per day being paid for man and team.
    Near Medford is the Roguelands Irrigation Project of 72,000 acres, where lands with water rights can be purchased at $175 per acre on seven years' time. This will be of interest to those who have had experience in irrigated lands or have convictions as to the value of irrigation in crop production.

Oregon for the SettlerSouthern Pacific, edition of November 20, 1914, page 14




Last revised June 19, 2015