Medford in 1884

    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 tinshop 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 [George Crystal] of whose proprietor 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

Mrs. Barkdull Has Seen Medford's Growth
From Days Before Rails Came

By Eva Nealon Hamilton
    A lot of water has run down from the hills to supply the Medford thirst and a lot of pavement has been laid and re-laid since the first train whistled into the flat along Bear Creek, which was to become a city, 50 years ago. And those progressions have been particularly evident to one, Mrs. J. W. Barkdull, who came to Medford before the railroad, although her lack of gray hairs and her youthful step would not indicate such a record.
    To anyone who thinks Medford hasn't grown much, she will display a birdseye view, photographed from Nob Hill, she said yesterday, when coaxed into reminiscing about the very early days.
    "You couldn't get lumber to build a house then. It was too muddy to haul it in, and the railroad, which was giving birth to the city, hadn't reached the local destination," Mrs. Barkdull recalled.
    "Most of the people lived at the Empire Hotel, Medford's first, which was located where the Jackson County Bank building now stands [at the northeast corner of Main and Central].
    "Others lived in the backs of the small stores, which later appeared on Front Street, facing the railroad tracks."
    The Barkdulls were fortunate in getting enough lumber from Williams Creek and other sections to build on the Barkdull lot, purchased January 28, 1884. The Barkdull Building now occupies the lot [at 121 North Central, current site of the ARC], and in it Mrs. Barkdull has her apartment, where yesterday she told the story of Medford's first school first lodge, first hotel, first post office and the first train in.
    The Empire Hotel was operated by her sister-in-law, Mrs. J. W. Cunningham. It was a two-story frame building, 25 by 26 feet in size, with rustic finish, and included front office, dining room, hall, kitchen, 12 bedrooms and wash-rooms. It was later destroyed by fire.
    Railroad men and other visitors who came to Medford "put up at the Empire." Among them was the late Dr. E. P. Geary, then physician for the railroad.
    Medford's first lodge, "The Good Templars," was a prohibition organization, Mrs. Barkdull stated, as all the first settlers were church people. The organization did give dances, however, and among those who attended, Mrs. Barkdull recalled John Jacobs, brother of Lee Jacobs, Fort Hubbard and the late Miller Maury.
    There was a skating rink where the fire hall now stands and it was a very popular gathering place. Box socials were also quite the thing and Sunday school drew a large crowd to the Lee Jacobs house on Central, where the city's first school was also taught. The schoolmaster's name was Williamson, and he taught between 25 and 40 children before the first school building was erected.
    Churches grew up rapidly in Medford, Mrs. Barkdull said, and she soon became follower of the Baptist faith, to which she is still true today.
    Two saloons were going up when the Barkdulls came to Medford, one located on the present Brown's corner and the other near the present location of Hubbard Bros.' store.
    J. S. Howard, "father of Medford," who operated the city's first post office on Front Street in '84, lived in the back of the building until he could get sufficient lumber to construct his home [at 128] North Central, now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Meader.
    As soon as farmers got their crops in, they all started teaming to bring in the lumber and other of the city's needs. Mrs. Barkdull's brothers drove from Roseburg to Crescent City. The first mail was also brought in by team from Redding, where the railroad stopped.
    When the first rails were completed into Medford, there was general celebration and the two trains a day were awaited with the same enthusiasm, Mrs. Barkdull related, as accompanied the arrival of the circus. All the buildings faced the railroad tracks, and so did all the people, every time the train came in. In the birdseye view of the city in '84, the windmill erected for loading the train with water is much in evidence.
    The Barkdulls came into Medford from the country. They were married in Jacksonville, 55 years ago, where Mrs. Barkdull was born as Clara Ferguson, in 1861. Her father, Robert L. Ferguson, had come to the pioneer town from Portland, to blacksmith for the miners. He had been in Oregon for many years, having located in the northern section of the state, Mrs. Barkdull said, when Milwaukie was larger than Portland.
    Medford was then divided into two farms, one owned by the Phipps family, the other by the Brobacks. Main Street followed the line fence which separated the two, when the town was laid out. Many pine trees covered the landscape.
    Mrs. Barkdull makes her home with her son, Emmett Barkdull, whose old school nickname, "Mose," has followed him down to the present time. Mr. Barkdull died a number of years ago. From the time she came to Medford in 1884 she has lived on the same city lot.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 24, 1934, page 3

    "We came here in February, 1884, Mrs. Barkdull said, "and Medford was quite a young city then. There was a grocery store on Sixth Street where the Diamond Cafe was [127 East Sixth], and Ike Webb lived where the Band Box is now [223-227 East Sixth]. Geo. Haskins, father of Leon, had a house over on Bartlett, and D. T. Lawton's father built where the Groceteria is now. Mrs. Lawton and Mrs. Haskins started a millinery shop there.
    "Noah Lyon built where the service station is now, across from the city hall, and John Theiss lived where the Elks Club has its temple. The church was built about 53 years ago, as I remember."
Excerpt, "Meader House Built in 1889," 
Medford News, June 4, 1937, page 1

First Medford Aid Society Was Civic Organization
Is Shown in Book of Minutes
    No desire for elimination of the masculine mind from the woman's club room was existent in the city of Medford in 1884, according to the by-laws of Medford's first aid society, the book of minutes, now treasured by Mrs. John Cochran, reveals.
    For the by-laws open with the statement "Gentlemen shall be entitled to all the privileges of this society, except voting."
    The book of minutes was purchased by Mrs. G. H. Haskins, carried on the membership roll as Helen L. Haskins, when the society dissolved in 1892. Her daughter, Mrs. Cochran, now treasures it as one of the interesting relics of early Medford society.
    The aid society was organized as a civic, not a church, group in 1884. The work of the organization was directed toward advancement of the "interests of good society, fostering learning, stimulating intellectual and religious culture to relieve distress and want."
    The first sidewalk to mark the city's streets was constructed by the society. It was a boardwalk, leading from the north end of the depot, then located in Main Street, to the school, which occupied the block where Jackson County's new courthouse is now situated. Several years later the walk was removed by order of the town council to make way for paving and the walk was donated to the Methodist, Christian and Episcopal churches. It was constructed by the aid society for the use of children, who were then finding it difficult to get to school in winter and spring because of the excessive mud filling Main Street.
    Other property belonging to the aid society was donated to the three churches when the last meeting, for dissolution, was called in the furniture store of Mrs. I. A. Webb, February 4, 1892.
    Numerous entertainments and socials were sponsored by the society, the record book shows, to raise funds for philanthropic work. The committees for the events carry the names of many well-known citizens. In the music group were: Messrs. Will Gore, Ed Gore and George Webb and Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Young.
    The membership of the society, at organization, included: Mesdames Susie M. West, Francis M. Lawton, Lou J. Foster, C. W. Vrooman, Lizzie Johnson, Carrie A. Gore, Nettie L. Howard, Hattie Webb, Aggie Childers, Agnes Geary, Elmira Childers, Cora A. Eggleston, Helen L. Haskins, A. S. Johnson, D. T. Lawton, D. H. Miller, R. L. Webb, E. P. Geary, H. F. Wood, C. K. Fronk, H. E. Baker, B. S. Webb, S. W. Foster, W. S. Gore, Isaac Woolf, Nancy Woolf, S. C. Childers, M. A. McGinnis, Rose L. Robinson, Harriette B. Hawley, Elma R. Young, W. E. Young, S. Whitney, Ella Black, Mollie B. Mimmau, C. W. Wolters, F. A. Jeffries, Chas. P. Strang, C. B. Carlisle, R. A. Finney, Ella L. Short, C. K. Fronk, Emma Whitman, Emma Isaacs, W. P. Hammon, Ella Gore, S. C. Watton, Lottie Hoxie, Wm. S. Barnum, M. S. Damon, Emma Powell, Sarah M. Whitman, Miss Jennie Morgan and Miss Ida Naylor, Messrs. Chas. W. Wolters, J. S. Howard, J. W. Short, W. P. Hammon, W. H. Gore, Hoxie, S. R. Follett.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 21, 1934, page 3

Last revised July 28, 2012