Medford in 1884

MEDFORD. A recently established post office in Jackson County.
R. L. Polk & Co.'s Oregon, Washington and Alaska Gazetteer and Business Directory 1884-85,
page 206

    It begins to "look like business" at Medford now since the cars have reached the place. A large well has been dug to furnish water for the locomotives, and a windmill has arrived to pump the water up into the tank which will soon be built. The lumber for the depot building, all dressed and fitted, was brought up by last Saturday's train and can be put together in a very short time. The town has more than a dozen buildings now ready for occupancy, and several in course of construction. All the sawmills within reasonable (or unreasonable) distance in the valley have been drawn upon for lumber, and still there has been obtained only a small proportion of what was wanted. As soon as lumber is brought up on the cars the building boom will set in, in earnest.
    The several proprietors of the town, Messrs. Beekman, Phipps, Mingus and Broback, have divided their lots, each taking an agreed number, to which he has secured full individual title. Thus far lots to the value of about $8000 have been sold. The following list comprises most of the purchasers, although there are a few whose names are not down. Some of them have bought two or more lots each: W. B. Roberts, P. B. O'Neil, S. B. Hadley, Rachel E. Stanley, B. Rostelle, Byers & Jacobs, D. H. Miller, H. C. Mulvany, T. E. Stanley, F. B. Voorhies, Augustus Johnson, Nettie L. Howard, Vrooman & Miller, R. T. McCullough, Wm. Egan, P. McMahon, J. W. Cunningham, James Hamlin, A. L. Johnson, S. L. Dolson, G. Naylor, F. Heber, Wm. Robinson, ---- Robinson, J. C. Slagle, A. A. Raine, Isaac Woolf, Thos. McAndrews, John Wolters, Wm. Angle, J. S. Howard, H. F. Torrey, Mr. Hurt. The lots range from $100 to $500, those in what is considered the business part of town, 25x100 feet are held at $300, and a higher price is asked for the corners.
    Vrooman & Miller have their store building about finished. It is a fine room, 24x40 with a neat front, which they had made in Portland. One side will be occupied by Dr. Vrooman's Drug Store, and the other by Mr. Miller with a large stock of hardware, stoves and tinware. Mr. Miller will also have a tin shop completely fitted, and has engaged a first-class tinsmith. They will receive 10,000 lbs. of freight from Grants Pass this week, and will be ready for business within a few days.
    Byers & Jacobs will build a brick block 50x60 and another brick store 20x40. Large piles of brick are already on the ground, having been hauled from Jacksonville. The buildings will be made but one story high at first. Thos. McAndrews promises to burn a large kiln of brick and also put up one or more brick buildings during the coming season.
    T. E. Stanley and Betterton & Work have the two saloons, have been occupied for some time, as have also the blacksmith shops of Emil Peil and another of whose proprietor [George Crystal] we cannot give the name at this writing.
    J. S. Howard has the appointment of Notary Public, and is ready to attend to any business pertaining to that office, and also to conveyancing in all its branches. He has done all this work in the transfer of town property thus far.
    J. S. Howard has his store completed, and a portion of his stock of groceries already in it, with new goods on the way. He will be the postmaster, and it is expected the office will be opened very soon.
    Egan & McMahon have a fine, roomy livery stable building and barn, and are well prepared for business, having good horses, new buggies and hacks, and a good supply of hay and grain.
    Mulvany & Slagle are carrying on business at the Railroad Blacksmith shop, and if you want good work done a low prices give them a call. You will find John Slagle at the forge.
    J. W. Cunningham, of Jacksonville, is building a good sized hotel, and wants to have it ready for a dancing party on Washington's birthday.
    H. F. Torrey, of Willow Springs, is also building a good sized hotel, and wants to have it ready for a dancing party on Washington's birthday.
    A. L. Johnson, the real estate agent, has lumber on his lot for an office and will move over from Jacksonville as soon as the building is ready.
    Wm. Angle has a good sized dwelling house about completed for himself. H. C. Mulvany also has a dwelling house built and in use.
    S. B. Hadley has a good assortment of merchandise in a temporary store building, and will put up a good, permanent building, 25x40.
    F. B. Voorhies has his restaurant building completed, and is prepared to furnish the public with good meals at all hours of the day.
    A. S. Johnson has just finished a building for a meat market, and will begin the butchering business within a few days.
    Some six or seven wells have been dug in the town, all furnishing good drinking water at a moderate depth.
    George Howard is clerking in his father's store and F. W. Broback is clerking for Mr. Hadley.
    Roberts & O'Neil will build on their lots as soon as lumber can be had.
    Robinson Bros. have their barber shop about ready to move into.
    F. Heber will put up a wagon or cabinet shop on his lot soon.
Ashland Tidings, January 25, 1884, page 4

    MEDFORD.--In company with several others we paid a visit to the new town of Medford this week and found considerable activity there in the building line. The lumber for the depot buildings has commenced arriving from the north, and the work of putting it up will be commenced at once. A water tank to be run with windmill power will also be placed here. Among the business men who have got started in business we noticed the following: J. S. Howard, with a stock of general merchandise, and Sam Hadley in the same line of business. McMahon & Egan keep a livery stable there well supplied with livery outfits to go to any part of the country. Two saloons have also opened out there, one kept by Werk & Batterton and the other by T. E. Stanley, both appearing to do a good business. The new building for Vrooman & Miller's drug and hardware store is about finished, and a portion of their stock has already arrived so that they will be ready to commence business in a few days. Besides this there are two blacksmith shops, owned by Slagle & Mulvaney and Geo. W. Crystal, a boarding house by Wm. Angle and a butcher shop and barber shop owned by parties whose names we did not learn. Several other buildings are in course of construction, one being a substantial hotel building owned by Mr. Cunningham of this place.

Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 26, 1884, page 3

    Things are lively at Medford. The new buildings going up and the trains arriving and departing give an air of briskness and "business" to the place which is something novel for the people of this valley to witness.
    There are now thirty-six buildings in the town, all new, of course--a pretty good record for three months, with lumber as hard to get as it has been.
    The windmill for the water tank is nearly completed--the large arms, or wings, are being put on this week. If there is wind enough to turn the mill one day in each week the pump will carry up water enough to keep the engines supplied.
    F. B. Voorhies has his restaurant and variety store building nicely painted--a great improvement to its appearance.
Ashland Tidings, March 7, 1884, page 3

    The Oregon and California railroad will be opened to Ashland, three hundred and forty miles south of Portland, on the 5th of May. Considerable work has been done south of Ashland; two of the largest tunnels have been bored, and the road graded a short distance to the base of the Siskiyou Mountains. This work has been temporarily suspended, owing to the embarrassment of the Oregon and Transcontinental Company, and will not be resumed until the future policy of that company is decided upon at its annual meeting in June. There is no doubt, however, that the road will be completed sometime to its junction with the California and Oregon railroad at the state line, thirty miles south of Ashland, and this connection will be made sooner, perhaps, than present appearances would indicate. When completed, the line between Portland and San Francisco will have a large fast freight, express and passenger traffic. It will be the most picturesque route on the Pacific Coast. The portion now completed has scenic attractions of great variety and interest, and people living in Portland and the lower valley could not make a pleasanter excursion, particularly at this season of the year, while the earth is "flush as May," than a trip to Ashland would afford as soon as trains begin to run to that place. The cultivated portions of the country may perhaps be more accurately described as in their glory in autumn, when the ripe fruit hangs thick upon the trees and the golden grain covers the land. But when the apple trees are in blossom, and the dogwood and skunk cabbage, having, as Miss Cooper says, made an accurate guess at the season of the year, and spread themselves upon the palette on which the Paint King sets the colors of the year, the landscape as a whole is probably at its very best. A ride through the Willamette Valley at any time almost is sufficient to sustain the confidence of Portland people in its continued prosperity and growth. For it is from this valley largely that the wealth of Portland has been derived. Situated like Tyrus of old "at the entry of the sea," Portland has been similarly "replenished" by the tribute she has levied upon the traffic of the Willamette Valley, which is capable of supporting a population of more than a million, who will contribute still more to the growth of this city and to the value of the transportation routes which terminate here.
    After leaving the Willamette Valley the railroad passes through the Calapooia Mountains to the Yoncalla Valley and thence to the Umpqua, which is a succession of valleys among the hills, all very fertile and inviting spots for villages and farms. The South Umpqua Valley, through which the railroad runs on leaving Roseburg, is one of the richest parts of the state. But on either side of the road there are other valleys ensconced among the hills, of equal beauty and fertility, which will furnish, when fully developed, a large traffic. The road leaves the South Umpqua about twenty-five miles from Roseburg and enters the Cow Creek Valley, which is about thirty miles in length, and though narrow is fertile and capable of producing much more grain, hay and fruit than it has heretofore done with only a limited local market to stimulate production, while beyond on either side are ranges for stock. This has been a good sheep region, but the coyotes have now control of the country and the flocks are dwindling to small proportions. At Nichols, a station named, we presume, for one of the heroes of the battle of Hungry Hill, who still lives in the valley, the railroad begins its tortuous course through the Cow Creek Canyon, where the scenery is wild and the country incapable of much cultivation. Some of the hillsides are rich, and if the elevation were not too great they might bear grapes, but a good deal of the soil is a decomposed white granite, which cannot be profitably cultivated in any crop. The mountains, however, are full of timber, some of which, as the sugar pine, is very valuable. The railroad passes by many places of historic interest. Near Glendale is Hungry Hill, where the most disastrous battle in Oregon was fought. Grave Creek, Jump-off Joe and Table Rock are all associated with events of tragic or grotesque interest. At Grants Pass the railroad begins to ascend the Rogue River through a narrow valley, with here and there an open space inviting settlement, and all the way placer diggings, some of which are now profitably worked and more might be if water could be had for washing the gravel. Winding around Gold Hill the railroad passes out of the mountains into the famous Rogue River Valley, which has been so often described, though it is really the Bear Creek Valley, a branch of the Rogue River, which the railroad follows up to Ashland at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. The railroad leaves Jacksonville on the right about four miles from Medford, a new town situated in the center of the valley, and destined apparently to become the center of trade for that region. It has already some business and good prospects. At Phoenix, the present terminus of railroad traffic, an addition has been projected to the quiet old town. This is seven miles from Ashland, which for the present, while it remains the terminus of the railroad, will enjoy special advantages for business, such as Roseburg had during the ten years the railroad stopped there. This town is delightfully situated. It has an air of thrift and comfort, and, though it has no special boom, there are unmistakable evidences of assured growth. It is the manufacturing town of the county. The famous Ashland woolen mills, a fine flouring mill, a sawmill, two furniture and sash and door factories, and a number of other establishments run by machinery are located on Ashland Creek in the immediate vicinity of the town. Supplies for Fort Klamath and for the stock raisers of Lake and Klamath counties are purchased here and freighted by wagons to the points where they are required. This alone brings to Ashland a profitable trade, aside from that of the wealthy farming community in the neighborhood. A portion at least of the business in the mining regions below, at the prosperous town of Yreka and other points will reach the railroad at Ashland, and probably some of the cattle from the ranges east of the mountains will be shipped there.
    In another article more will be said about the country and railroad which is inviting it to a new and larger growth.
Oregonian, Portland, April 26, 1884, page 2

    James M. Hansbrough, former joint representative from Douglas and Jackson counties and now manager of the Franco American Hotel at Yreka, is in Medford spending his vacation and renewing old acquaintances. Although past 70 years of age, and once prominent in political circles of the state, the part of his life that "Jim" enjoys most in his reminiscences are the days when he was conductor on the Southern Pacific line running through Medford from Portland to Ashland.
    "The road was completed to Ashland in [1884], the year when I came on," he said. "On the same run was Dennis McCarthy, one of the most popular engineers the Southern Pacific ever knew. He was a big, jovial fellow, and all the kids along the line thought the world of him. He died just a few years back.
    "I can remember several of the children in the towns along the way, and occasionally meet them now--they're all grown up of course, and some of them have their own families. You see, often their folks would put them on the train, say, in Roseburg and entrust them to my care until they got to maybe Medford or Ashland, where they would visit relatives or friends.
    "Medford then was nothing more than a couple of tanks here and there, a house or two and perhaps a store. But like the other towns, it had its group of youngsters around the station to watch the train pull in. There was little Billy Isaacs, who now runs the Toggery clothing store, and the little Angle girls, Prudence, who is now Mrs. Hal Platt, Katie, now Mrs. Earl Gaddis and Bernice, now Mrs. Horace Howard. I believe the latter is in California."
    Mr. Hansbrough stayed with the railroad until 1903, in spite of being elected to the state legislature in 1902. He was succeeded in this office by the late W. I. Vawter. The former conductor is a brother of H. C. Hansbrough, who was the first representative to congress from the state of North Dakota, after which he was elected U.S. senator and held the office for 18 years.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 20, 1927, page 3

Jackson County Seat Nears 50th Anniversary
Mrs. J. W. Barkdull Tells of Rush for Lumber
To Build Homes As Railroad Pushes On.
    MEDFORD, Or., April. 28.--(Special.)--When Oregon celebrates her diamond jubilee here this summer, the city of Medford will observe her golden anniversary, Mrs. J. W. Barkdull, who was here before the first train whistled into the flat to give birth to a city, maintains. For it was 50 years ago that Medford got her start.
    "You couldn't even get lumber to build houses," the little woman, who has lived in southern Oregon since the day she was born in 1861, recalled yesterday. "The railroad was yet to arrive, but the news of its coming had brought many people into Medford. It was too muddy to haul lumber, and so the people lived in the backs of the stores, which were going up on Front Street to face the railroad tracks, and at the Empire Hotel, the first in the city."
    It was a two-story frame building, located in what is now the heart of the city, and Mrs. Barkdull's sister-in-law, Mrs. J. W. Cunningham, operated the hostelry. Leading among its guests was the late Dr. E. P. Geary, physician for the railroad.
    The Barkdulls were fortunate enough to get sufficient lumber to build a small home. It occupied the same lot where the Barkdull business building is now located, and on which Mrs. Barkdull has lived since coming here in 1884.
    As soon as the neighboring farmers "got their crops in," they all started teaming to bring in the lumber and needed merchandise. The first mail was also brought in by team from Redding, where the railroad stopped. J. S. Howard, the first postmaster, lived in the back of the post office, which also faced the approaching rails.
    The first school was taught in the Lee Jacobs house, which still stands on South Central Avenue. The same building was used for church when a minister happened along.
    "But the churches soon came to Medford," Mrs. Barkdull stated yesterday. "The first settlers were all church people, and the first lodge, 'The Good Templars,' was a prohibition organization.
    "When the first rails were completed into Medford there was a general celebration, and the two trains a day were met with the same festivity which accompanied arrival of the circus. The people all came down to meet the trains and to watch them fill up on water from the windmill, which was a landmark for many years.
    "The main street of Medford, as it remains today, followed the line fence which divided the Phipps and Broback farms, which preceded the city." [Main Street was near the fence line, but not right on it. See the town plat.]
    For the benefit of anyone who thinks that Medford hasn't made an important growth during those 50 years, Mrs. Barkdull has preserved a birdseye view of the city which reveals the windmill, the pine trees, the Empire Hotel and the few houses which dotted the railroad tracks. [The view referred to was printed in 1891.]
Undated clipping shortly after April 28, 1934, probably from the Portland Oregonian or Portland Journal.

Last revised December 21, 2017