Two-Fisted True Tales of Terror in Medford, Oregon

    A lively runaway occurred in the streets of Medford Tuesday. One of Worman's delivery teams, starting from the depot, tore down Main Street and across the bridge and out on the road leading by McAndrews' ranch, making a circle by the road leading back to town. When about half way around, S. McGee, who met the running team, grabbed the hind end of the hack and managed to climb in. The lines were dragging between the horses, but Mr. McGee managed to crawl out on the tongue, secured the reins, crawled back into the wagon and brought the animals to a standstill. This was a brave piece of work. Nothing was injured.
Southern Oregon Mail, May 6, 1892, page 3

    There was a right smart skirmishing of people off of the streets last Saturday when C. Mingus & Son's team came prancing around the corner of W. H. Meeker's store, hitched to a gravel wagon. Frank Mingus and Will Ferguson were hauling gravel with the team when a fool notion happened to catch them just right (the horses), and they started to run. They rounded Meeker's brick store very nicely and removed the underpinning from that gentleman's street display stands. When in front of I. A. Webb's furniture store they collided with an awning post and there left the hind wheels of the wagon and Will Ferguson. The latter was thrown about a rod and struck on his head and shoulder in the street, but fortunately received no serious injuries. The team took the fore wheels of the wagon out on Seventh Street at a very swift pace, and when they arrived at the M.E. Church, South, they began gyrating about that edifice like they were bent on corralling all possible of that which is good, as a standoff for the evil doin's they had been a-doin'. The team was uninjured.
    There is something in the atmosphere of Medford which seems to have a bad effect upon the equine populace of this Hub City of ours as well as those of the same family who come "a-visitin' of us." Saturday evening a couple of the Mayborn boys were driving down Seventh Street when "without cause or provocation" their horse began bucking and kicking, about two kicks to each buck--and the bucks were right close together, and so severe were the kicks that the dash, thills and headboard of the buggy were cycloned, as it were, into kindling wood. No damage further than as above stated. The horse was caught in doing its double shuffle kick act. Another horse escapade was "cut up" Tuesday morning when a team belonging to Thos. Baldwin, of Brownsboro, while standing in front of Wolters' grocery store, took a flying leap into a distant uncertainty and didn't land squarely into a condition to be easily handled until they had torn up the dust for about a mile out on the Jacksonville road. No particular damage.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, May 17, 1895, page 5

Caught in Forest Fire.
    H. D. Jones and family, Charlie Gay and Miss Cora Bates returned Wednesday from their outing on Elk Creek. They tell of a narrow escape they had from a forest fire. It appears that last Sunday they were driving up Elk Creek, and when about twelve miles above the fish hatchery they ran into a forest fire, but as it did not seem to be near the road they thought it would be possible to pass before it reached the road. They made the attempt, but when nearly opposite the burning timber the fire jumped to a point directly in their path and at their side. In their haste to get away from the flames, the team ran against a log, broke away from the hack and left the occupants with flames of fire on three sides of them. The womenfolk made a rush over fallen trees and through brush for Elk Creek and saved themselves from the flames by jumping into the stream. Messrs. Jones and Gay protected themselves as best they could and managed to push the hack to a place of safety further on, but not until their hands and faces were badly blistered and their clothing scorched. One of the horses was quite badly burned. The woods thereabouts was full of smoke and burning timber, and the women suffered for hours afterwards from having inhaled the smoke and hot air, and as a result vomited blood. Their faces, hands and limbs were bleeding profusely from wounds inflicted while fleeing through, over and under the logs in their rush for the creek. It was an experience of a lifetime, such an one as they do not care to go through again. The hack pole was so hot that their hands were blistered when it was hitched, while the hack itself was quite as hot.
Medford Mail,
August 15, 1902, page 6

Fatal Accident.
    S. A. Loomis, formerly of Tillamook, died at Ashland on Thursday night of last week, from injuries received in an accident on the Siskiyou. Loomis was crossing the railroad track at Siskiyou station with a four-horse team when he met a train. In attempting to back his horses from the track he lost control of them, and wagon, team and all went over a precipice. One horse was killed and Loomis received fatal injuries. His little boy, who was with him in the wagon, was unhurt.
Medford Mail, November 21, 1902, page 3

    J. W. Lawton had a lively mixup yesterday with a colt he was leading behind his buggy. It became frightened, and in the scrimmage fell down. Part of the time Wes was on top, and then again he wasn't. Several bystanders took a hand; finally the colt got loose from all of them and went home disgusted.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, April 30, 1909, page 2

    The team which draws Calhoun's milk wagon took one of its periodical spins Monday morning, with its usual luck--no damage, except to the team.
    They started on North Central, ran south to Tenth, were turned there and went east to Bartlett, thence north to Main, and in negotiating the corner one of the horses fell and the other piled on top of him. After the tangle of horses and harness had been unraveled it was found that one of the horses was badly bruised and only two jars of milk were broken.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 7, 1910, page 4

Makes Daring Leap for Team

Joe Prewer by His Athletic Prowess Succeeds in Gaining Foothold
on Speeding Wagon and Checking Runaway.
    Joe Prewer, a Medford expressman, was a whole Buffalo Bill circus in himself for a few moments on Central Avenue Saturday afternoon. His team, frightened at a covered rig of the Wells Fargo Express Company, raced from in front of the post office towards and across Main Street. At the corner in front of the Jackson County Bank, Prewer made a flying leap at the speeding wagon, and by good fortune landed on the side rail five and a half feet above the pavement. Grasping the reins with one hand and clinging to the wagon with the other, he guided the runaway team down Central Avenue and finally brought them to a standstill in front of the Southern Oregon Hospital.
    The daring leap was witnessed by several hundred people, who formed the Saturday afternoon crowd on Main Street. Experienced horsemen, in from the hills, said that nothing to equal it they had ever seen outside of a circus.
    Joe Prewer, although pale and breathless, took the congratulations of his fellows with modesty. He said that he had been born and raised on a Texas cattle ranch.

Medford Mail Tribune, January 20, 1911, page 8

Hangs Over Side in Perilous Position, But Secures Lines and Prevents Damage
    What was scheduled for a bad runaway with no telling the amount of harm was averted yesterday by the bravery of "Tex" Harriman, the driver, who caught the frenzied horses and brought them to a standstill within a few hundred feet.
    It was an express team and was standing backed up in front of the Medford Pharmacy on Central Avenue. The horses became frightened and started at express train speed in a southerly direction, crossing Main Street through the crowd and giving several persons close calls. "Tex" made a leap for the lines and caught the side of the wagon, throwing his body across the side, resting his stomach over the sideboard. He hung on like a cowboy and worked himself over into the rig in spite of whirls, zigzags and rough stuff until he got the lines, and then it was easy money for him. In a short time after passing Eighth Street he had the horses slowed down and soon came trotting back to where they started.
    No serious harm was done, but it was one of the most exciting runaways ever seen in Medford.
Medford Sun, January 29, 1911, page 8

Runs Away on Front Street, Twice Circling Depot--Driver's Daring Capture
    The team of "Tex" Prewer, which gave a spectacular performance a week ago Saturday in the form of a runaway on Central Avenue, repeated the performance yesterday afternoon in a much more spectacular fashion than on the previous occasion, with slightly more harm done.

A popcorn wagon--Clark's?--in front of the Nash Hotel in 1909.

    The team was standing by the curb on Front Street, opposite the Hotel Nash, and fastened with a weight as required by the city ordinance. Prewer was about twenty feet away, but when the horses started he was unable to get to the lines in the manner that he did last Saturday. The horses cut over the curb through the mud to the railway yards, making a circle back into Front Street and heading north. They swung in to where they started and with a wild lunge threw the peanut and popcorn wagon of E. L. Clark off in biplane fashion. It just happened that Mr. Clark was not in the wagon, but was a few feet away. The wagon was wrecked to the extent of having a wheel smashed and turning turtle, and popcorn was strewn over the pavement. The runaway tore on down Front and made two complete circles of the new depot at a gait and style that would have done credit in a Ben Hur chariot race. One of the hind wheels got caught in the railway track and collapsed as a result. This tended to slow down the team to some extent.
    Prewer is something of a sprinter himself, and the way he ran after the disappearing team resembled a deer. Just as the horses came back around the depot a second time he met them between the building and the railway track and he swung himself in front of them, managing to grab the harness, effecting a capture and bringing the frantic animals to a standstill. Prewer is a great horseman, and his prowess this time was seen even at a better advantage than in the daring exhibition of a week ago.
    The horses are a spirited pair of colts, the off one being a bay Hambletonian, and as stylish an animal as there is in Medford.
    This is the second experience of the kind in the past few months for Mr. Clark and his popcorn wagon. He is aged and cannot see well, which makes his vocation at the Main and Front Street corner all the more hazardous.
Medford Sun, February 5, 1911, page 5

    Frightened at the noise made by a passing concrete mixer, a team of spirited young horses attached to an express wagon belonging to J. S. Prewer ran away from their stand in front of the Nash Hotel, and, after making a wild dash up North Front Street to the Southern Pacific railroad station and circling that structure twice, were finally brought to a standstill on the depot platform by J. A. Overdorf, a driver for the Pantorium company.
    In their mad flight the team completely demolished a popcorn wagon owned by E. L. Clarke, which formerly stood at the corner of Main and Front streets.
    One of the rear wheels on the wagon to which the team was attached was broken off at the hub.
Medford Mail Tribune weekly, February 9, 1911, page 7

L. S. Beveridge Risks Life When He Clambers
To Tongue of Vehicle and Stops Maddened Horses
    A team belonging to C. H. Strunknitzed broke away from its fastening while at West Main and Fir streets yesterday and made a run, headed out West Main. At the corner of Grape and Main L. S. Beveridge made a dash for the wagon, caught it, climbed in, then climbed over the dashboard to the tongue and as the horses sped and swung from side to side, walked along the tongue until he was able to grasp the bridle reins, guided the team past obstructions at the site of the Hotel Medford and then set back on the reins until he had brought the team to a standstill near the Washington School.
    An automobile was following at a fast pace, in which were Ed Andrews and J. E. Barkdull, and when the auto arrived the gentlemen held the team until young Beveridge could get out and down from his perilous position.
    It was one of the most spectacular runaways and one of the most daring feats ever seen on the streets of the city.
Medford Sun, March 3, 1911, page 1

    Solemnly and sincerely, emphatically and invectively, Stanton Griffis with right hand uplifted unto the heavens is affirming and declaring "Never again." And from the way Stan says it he means it.
    It came about in this way. A runaway horse on Fir Street Tuesday afternoon was careening wildly down the street when Stan happened on the scene. With visions of a Carnegie He-ro medal, the young orchardist launched himself through the air in a manner reflecting credit on his alma mater, and succeeded in stopping the fugitive. In the melee Stan got stepped on, breaking a toe.
    As a reward Stan got what all He-roes get. He got out. Not even a thank you.
    Hence the "Never again."
Medford Mail Tribune, July 6, 1911, page 6

William Dutton Falls into Wheel; Is Killed
Resident of Valley 8 Years
Is Said to Have Been Intoxicated--Team Does Not Run
But Drags Unfortunate Man for More Than a Half Mile.

   William Dutton, who resides in the Antelope District near Eagle Point, while in a drunken condition Saturday afternoon was killed by falling into a wheel of the spring wagon he was driving on the Eagle Point Road. The man was dragged for more than a half mile, his head striking each spoke in the wheel. The team was not frightened and it did not run. Dutton was still alive when the team was stopped but died shortly afterward.
    Dutton had been in town during the afternoon and started home shortly after 4 o'clock. After he had passed Crest Brook about a mile he fell from the wagon onto the tongue of the wagon, his head falling into such a position that each spoke of the front wheel on the left hand side of the wagon struck his head. Tracks in the road show that he was dragged for more than a half mile.
Team Stopped.
    Professor [John] C. Engelhardt, who resides in the first house on the left-hand side of the road before reaching the top of the hill overlooking the desert, was the man who stopped the team. He was working in a field nearby and noticed the team coming along with no one in the seat. He called to his wife in regard to the strange appearance of the wagon and then ran out into the road and stopped the team. He then freed Dutton from the position but the man died within a moment or two after he was freed. The team was traveling on a walk and was stopped without difficulty. Engelhardt then called the police force of Medford and notified them.
    The exact manner in which Dutton lost his life will never be known. He had been drinking while in Medford and it is believed that he had become so drunk that he was powerless to help himself when he fell into the wheel. Where his head was striking the wheel the paint is entirely worn off the spokes showing that he had been carried a great distance. His body was in a horrible condition, blood stains covering his head and shoulders which had clotted with dust. His clothes were partially torn from his body.
    As soon as the police were notified Constable Singler and Deputy Sheriff Shearer went to the scene. Chief Hittson and Deputy Coroner Perl followed, the latter with the ambulance in which the body was brought to the city.
Son Notified.
   Mr. Dutton's son was in this city at the time of the tragedy and was at once notified. He went at once to the scene and later to his home where he had the sorrowful task of breaking the news to his mother, brothers and sisters.
    Mr. Dutton was a man of some sixty years of age. He lived in the Antelope section and leaves a wife and eight children. They are Mrs. Jane Hunt of Eddysville, Ore., George and William of Wisner, Idaho, Charles of Corvallis, Ed and Fred of Medford, Henry of Fossil and Mrs. Nellie Mooman of Williams. He had lived in this valley eight years, coming here from the Willamette Valley. He was a native of Iowa.
    The funeral services will be held from Perl's undertaking parlors at 2:30 o'clock Monday. Coroner Kellogg will hold an inquest Monday.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 23, 1911, page 1

Body of Antelope Creek Farmer Found Hanging to Axle

and Head Beaten Between Wheel and Ground
    His body fastened to and hanging from his wagon axle and his head battered between the spokes of the wheel and the ground, the lifeless body of William Dutton, Antelope Creek farmer, was found while the team plodded along on their homeward journey at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. The find was made by Professor Engelhardt, who lives about four miles from the city on the Eagle Point road.
    Professor Engelhardt was on his way home when he noticed the driverless team ahead of him. Just behind Dutton's outfit was a gravel wagon directed by a boy who, however, did not notice anything wrong ahead of him. Professor Engelhardt approached and found Dutton hanging on the front axle of the wagon in such a way that his brains were being battered out by the spokes of the wheel. The police were notified and Chief Hittson went to the scene in a car. The body was brought to Medford and is at the Perl undertaking parlors awaiting the arrival of Coroner Kellogg, who will hold an inquest Monday morning.
    It is thought that Dutton had a stroke of apoplexy and died before he fell under the wheels of his wagon. He was subject to such attacks and was also addicted to drink, which might have brought on a stroke.
    Dutton was born in England sixty-six years ago. He came to Iowa and from there to Willamette Valley. He has resided in Antelope Creek for eight years and is well known to the old settlers in Medford.
    He leaves a wife and eight children. His children are Mrs. Jane Hurt, Eddyville; George Dutton, Weiser, Idaho; Charles Dutton, Corvallis; Fred and Ed Dutton, Medford; William Dutton, Weiser, Idaho; Henry Dutton, Fossil, and Mrs. Nellie Mooman, Williams.
    The funeral will be held at the Perl undertaking parlors Monday afternoon at 2:30, after an examination by Coroner Kellogg. Interment will be made in the Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Medford Sun, July 23, 1911, page 1

Team Crashes Through Plate Glass Window
    A team of heavy horses belonging to the Standard Wood Yard this noon dashed full tilt through one of the large plate glass windows of the Weeks & McGowan Company's store on West Main [today's Joseph Winan's]. The noise of the impact was heard several blocks away, and people within the store thought the whole front had collapsed. No one was hurt, and the horses escaped with but few cuts.
    The horses broke loose from an attendant who had half hitched them to a wagon in Moore Court, the alley between Hussey's and the Moore Hotel, and ran north at full speed. As they emerged from the alley and were half way across the street, headed directly for the Weeks & McGowan store, one horse fell and the other dragged it to the curb, across the walk and straight into the glass where a little sign within read "Welcome."
    When the wheels of the wagon caught on the base of the window the horses came to a stop, were thrown completely out of the harness onto the floor of the store, where they kicked about and damaged a number of rugs, a clock and several pieces of furniture. Blood and mud were spattered on draperies, and the attractive show front was made to look like the aftermath of an explosion.
    Spectators wonder how far the team would have gone had not one of them fallen, and it is probable that they would have pulled wagon and all into the store. One plate glass window was broken to small bits and the one next was badly cracked. The damage will amount to between $150 and $200.
    The marks on the floor showing where the fallen horses slid extend 20 feet toward the center of the store, and show they went through a line of draperies, overturning three flower pots and scattering chairs in every direction. A new shoe, torn from one of the horses, still lies 16 feet inside the building.
Medford Mail Tribune weekly, February 15, 1912, page 3

Takes Up Chase in Automobile--Frank Jose Stops Horse
    To Mrs. Edgar Hafer, one of the best-known women automobilists of the Rogue River Valley, and Frank Jose, a traveling salesman with headquarters in San Francisco, Ella Tysart, aged 12 years, living with her parents on Jackson Street, owes her life. But for the coolness and womanly foresight of Mrs. Hafer and the bravery of Jose the little miss would have been trampled beneath the feet of a runaway horse she was riding Monday afternoon. As it was, she was taken to her home, hardly realizing the peril she faced, while her mother was worried to distraction.
    Monday afternoon Ella was riding her horse west on Main Street when it became frightened and ran away. Mrs. Hafer was driving in the same direction in her auto, and saw the efforts of the child to control the pony. She sped after the child, and when opposite the Medford Hotel picked up Frank Jose, who saw the runaway from the hotel lobby. Mrs. Hafer sped after the horse and headed the animal, and when a short distance ahead Jose leaped out and grabbed the bridle of the horse, bringing him to a sudden stop. In the meantime Mrs. Hafer had placed the automobile she was driving crosswise of the street in a chance effort to stop the frightened animal. Jose is a graduate of St. Mary's College, Oakland, and was formerly a football player.
    The ability of the little girl to ride also saved her life, for during the mad rush she lost both stirrups.
Medford Sun, September 24, 1912, page 1

Horse Plunges Through Plate Glass Windows
    When a passing automobilist cut out the muffler on his machine, J. T. Broadley's classic white steed pricked its ears, executed a nervous side step and bolted pell-mell over the curb and through a large plate glass window in the Medford Furniture & Hardware store [today's Woolworth's Building]. By the time a half hundred innocent bystanders had dragged the struggling and bleeding animal back to the street an inventory of the damage showed that three plates of glass had been shattered. The horse struck the corner window near the doorway, broke two panes, then was shunted toward the door where it broke the third glass.
    The employees of the M.F.&H. Co. are becoming accustomed to any unexpected entrances of horses and automobiles and declare that hereafter nothing short of a rampant street car will cause them to look up from their work. The horse, aside from a few scratches and the shock to its nervous temperament, is as fit as ever.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 3, 1913, page 1

Horse Runs Away Three Times in Fifteen Minutes
    A horse that ran away three times within 15 minutes furnished excitement for early morning pedestrians Sunday and for a time threatened serious injury to a number of onlookers who got in its way. The animal, driven by Chub Hamlin, turned a sharp corner onto Main Street at Central Avenue and pitched its driver to the street. It then ran west to the It Theatre, where it was stopped and where a frightened occupant of the carriage, a friend of Mr. Hamlin's, alighted. All through the race this man had desperately clutched a hickory cane which he dropped when the horse stopped. He explained that he had a sprained ankle and that he figured he was taking less chance by staying by the runabout than he would if he had jumped.
    One of those who had stopped the horse entered the runabout to drive the outfit to a livery stable, when it again broke loose and dashed head-on for Mussey's window. Here it was quieted by a couple of livery hands only after they had been swung in the air and badly shaken. The runaway then started, for no sooner was the horse apparently quiet than it broke for the big Weeks & McGowan window. Ira Dodge's passing automobile was in the line of travel, but by running his machine up on the sidewalk Ira was able to escape. The horse was stopped with its nose against the glass.
    Mr. Hamlin's arrival ended the festivities as he was able to drive the horse down Main Street without a great deal of trouble, although the speed he registered broke all city ordinances. Had the horse staged its performance on a crowded street the element of humor present might have been lacking.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 10, 1913, page 8

Runaway Team Plunges into Big Window at Gates'

    In a thrilling runaway accident Sunday afternoon Dave Litts, proprietor of a sales stable on North Riverside Avenue, miraculously escaped death or serious injury. The runaway horses attached to a load of hay finally stopped their mad dash when they collided with one of the large plate glass windows of the Gates Auto Store, [northeast] corner of East Main and Central. The window was crushed into myriads of pieces and one horse suffered bad cuts, from flying glass.
    The accident occurred about 2 p.m. The team and wagon were standing in the alley by the stable, and Mr. Litts, after tying the hay onto the wagon with a rope, was just about to drive away when the horses frightened at two boys passing on bicycles and ran away. They dashed straight out the alley onto North Central, turned south to East Main Street, and galloped down East Main. In the meantime while Mr. Litts was climbing down from the wagon his foot became entangled in the rope and he was dragged along on the street, receiving a severe bumping and pounding until the horses crashed into the store window.
    In trying to make the corner into North Riverside from Main Street the momentum of the wagon and horses was too much, and they swerved into the window. The impact threw both horses down and the wagon was wedged in between the corner of the building and a telephone pole. Mr. Litts was in bed today in a badly bruised condition but apparently escaped any broken bones or internal injuries.
Medford Mail Tribune,
June 10, 1918, page 6

Last revised September 12, 2018