The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

W. J. Dean in Washington

    MEDFORD, Or., Dec.

Jan. 8, 1914--"Our front door bell has been out of commission for a long time. S. & I set in to see where the trouble lay. Found the thing quite complicated. Had a time getting it together after taking it apart. Found it was not put up right in the first place--spring is wrong. Seems to work now. Reminded me of the puzzling time I had with the electrical apparatus in the early '80s when I was engaged in putting up a scientific layout of instruments to be used [in] experimental lectures. Am sure I never devoted more persistent & unflagging study & labor on anything than on that. I may add that while I learned something about the subjects of air, electricity and magnetism, the venture was not a success financially. So we (I had a partner) sold the outfit to the University of Washington at Seattle for less than half its cost to us, donating several lectures to aid the University to pay for the apparatus. There was a 40-cell battery, electric machine, 50-dollar induction coil, large electromagnet--homemade--all kinds of vacuum tubes etc. etc. etc. I was given the credit--honor if you will--of being the first one to introduce any electric light in a house or hall in Washington (then a territory). We used a regular carbon street lamp, not the largest size, operated by a bichromatic battery of 40 cells. A very brilliant light was thus produced, but it would hold up but a few minutes. This information we did not impart to the audience, however. I believe I was fairly well 'up' on electricity at that time--about 33 years ago. I would not cut much of a figure, however, in answering questions on that subject now. It is simply marvelous the progress that has been made in that science during the last three decades."
Diary of Willis John Dean. Original in possession of the Talent, Oregon Historical Society.

Willis John Dean

    UNIVERSITY LECTURES.--The faculty of the Washington University have decided to give a course of three lectures on Electricity and Magnetism. They accordingly made the necessary arrangements with a distinguished lecturer, Prof. W. J. Dean, to deliver these lectures. The main object was to aid the University in the purchase of Prof. Dean's very valuable collection of different kinds of apparatus. Last evening being the appointed time for the first of this series, about two hundred and fifty or three hundred persons met in the University chapel. At about half past seven the exercises were opened with a chorus by the school, after which Prof. Bradley read a very pathetic piece. The President then introduced Prof. Dean, who commenced the first lecture by relating the progress of electricity from its discovery. By a simple rod of ebonite and a cat's skin he explained the theories of frictional electricity, which were once the puzzle of philosophers. A little boy was then placed on an isolated [sic] stool and charged with electricity generated with Tippler's [sic] improved electric machine. Anyone touching the boy would receive a slight shock or spark. A circle was then formed around the ball by persons taking hold of hands; the ones at the end then touched the pole of a Leyden jar and all received a shock. The sensation was a slight twitch in the elbows. Galvanic electricity was then explained with many interesting machines and a powerful battery of forty cells. An electric light was produced which cast the lamps completely in the shade. The Edison light was more mild, but equally wonderful. A current was passed through tubes containing oxygen, hydrogen and rarefied air. The effect was grand, producing lurid lights of very bright and different colors. Many other interesting experiments were performed, which one should have seen to appreciate. Mrs. Wise then followed with a solo, "The Last Rose of Summer." The exercises were closed with a humorous recitation by Prof. Bradley. Throughout the evening the audience  demonstrated by their actions that they were highly pleased with the exercises. This evening the Professor will treat mostly of magnetism, and it is hoped will be greeted with as large an audience as last evening.
Daily Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, March 8, 1883, page 2

    Last evening for the second time our townspeople assembled at University Hall to witness the experiments in and to listen to the lecture on electricity and magnetism.
    The hall was filled with an interested and attentive audience. At about 7:45 the house was called to order by President Powell, who announced the first thing on the program to be a song, "Some Day I'll Wander Back Again," by Prof. O. P. Lee, assisted by Miss Retta Ripley, Miss Edna Ward and Mr. J. Ripley. Prof. Dean began his lecture by relating the discovery of, and enumerating the different names given to, the lodestone, after which he demonstrated with a simple apparatus how like poles attract and unlike poles repel.
    Ampere's law, treating of the earth as a magnet, was fully explained.
    Next was produced an instrument formed of a brass tube filled with sealing wax, and in the center of this was a rod of soft iron. When connection was made with the galvanic battery it formed a very powerful magnet. A soft bar of iron, being struck while pointed toward the magnet, was magnetized so it would repel the point of the needle.
    The Professor then explained the route of the magnetic current around the earth, and concluded by exhibiting a powerful electromagnet which would grasp a piece of iron so firmly that a boy was unable to sever the connection.
    The audience was then favored with a humor recitation--"Pyramus and Thisbe"--from Prof. Bradley, who never fails to please. After a rousing encore he related an "Incident in a Negro Church," which completely capped the climax. This evening, besides a lecture on pneumatics and experiments with the atmosphere, there will be good music and recitations from Professors Lee and Bradley. Turn out and aid the University, and you will be instructed and amused for so doing.
Daily Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, March 9, 1883, page 2

    Another good audience assembled last evening to reap the benefit of the third and last lecture of this series. The exercises were opened with a song by the school, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye," which was rendered by request of President Powell.
    Prof. Dean then commenced the lecture on pneumatics, after his usual style, by reciting the earliest theories of air and water.
    With very good experiments he showed how nature abhors a vacuum, and he also related how Galileo found that nature does not abhor a vacuum below 33 feet.
    It was proved that common atmosphere had a weight or pressure of about fifteen pounds to the square inch. The pressure from within is equal to that from without, hence, bleeding at the nose when ascending high mountains, where the air becomes rarefied.
    Oxygen gas was then produced and its uses explained. Life would be intensified and shortened by breathing oxygen. Combustion is aided by oxygen, but nitrogen is a suffocating gas, and will extinguish a flame. Snakes will live in nitrogen for several months.
    A white precipitate was formed by the union of lime water and carbonic acid gas. There is a valley in Japan where carbonic acid gas is so prevalent that it is dangerous to travel there.
    During a short intermission Prof. Bradley read Tennyson's sublime poem entitled "Break, Break, Break." The electric light was then compared with the burning of magnesium wire, which gives the purest light known to the world.
    Prof. O. B. Johnson then brought forth the little phonograph. He proceeded to salute "Mr. Phonograph" and carry on an ordinary conversation. The machine imitated the sound so well that it met with great applause. The Professor fully explained the phonograph and created great sport by making the little fellow repeat funny sayings.
    A song was then rendered having the title "Kallamakeewahgoolurkilykankangeewakillivan," which, translated, means "Home, Sweet Home," with variations.
    Prof. Bradley recited with a great deal of vim that old but very comical piece, "A Sneak in School."
    President Powell then made a few remarks, in which he thanked his people for their hearty cooperation in this work. He said that $120 being received, they would be enabled to purchase the apparatus. In about two or three weeks the students will give their second series of entertainments, the proceeds of which go to purchase musical instruments.
Daily Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, March 10, 1883, page 2
Last revised February 11, 2020