Transformation of This Valley of Wonders
What Was Not Here in 1876
My trip to Medford last week, accompanied by my wife, was one of pleasant thought and reflection. The day was warm and balmy, and as we rode along, viewing the many farm houses that dot the landscape on either side, my mind wandered back twenty-seven years and I recalled to memory some of the sad and pleasant changes that have occurred in that time. Then we ferried the river--50 cents a trip; no railroad traversed the county; not more than one-fourth of our many beautiful farms were in existence; Medford, Gold Hill and Central Point were unborn; all freight came by team from Roseburg or Redding and travelers came by stage. The famous Olwell orchard was then farmed to grain; the many costly and important bridges that span our rivers were not built; no telephone lines and but one telegraph line passed through the county. Many of the pioneer citizens who were active in county affairs at that time have passed away, but their names and memories should be respected and honored by all. Theirs was the high privilege of molding and directing the upbuilding of the commonwealth, so that the present generation may enjoy its present and future prosperity. Among those illustrious citizens we may mention a few, some of whom have already crossed the great divide: M. R. Ish, P. Dunn, Isaac Constant, T. Magruder, Thos. F. Beall, Thos. G. Reames, M. Hanley, J. B. Wrisley, G. Karewski, T. Chavner, Joseph Satterfield, Thos. Raimey, Haskel Amy, Thos. Collins, Mr. Pickens, Joseph Hanna, W. J. Plymale, E. D. Foudray. The construction of the Rogue River bridge marked a new era in the growth of the county and did more toward the development of our resources than any other public improvement.
Medford Mail, April 29, 1904, page 1
Reminiscences of a Pioneer
Continued from yesterday.
Many changes undreamed of by us in 1876 have come about. Jacksonville and Ashland were the two principal trading points in the valley, and our exports and imports were freighted [by] teams to and from Roseburg and Crescent city, giving to our county a long and discouraging drawback to immigration and the development of her many diversified industries. In 1876 trade and exchange of produce for your many wants was the prevailing custom. Today everything is done on a cash basis. It has just taken thirty years to change our complete county. Politically it has changed from Democratic to Republican, for in 1876, a man's nomination was equivalent to an election. My first taxes were paid to Sheriff Manning of this county in 1878. James Birdseye was the first Republican sheriff elected in the county. I can recall but few of the business men of Jacksonville in 1876, but we gladly recall few of the names whose forms are bent and are grey and grizzled with time. Among them we note J. Nunan, P. Donegan, P. J. Ryan, Mr. DeRoboam, J. R. Neil, Judge Prim, Judge Colvig, Judge Hanna, Adam Smith. There may be others that we have overlooked, but not intentionally. Time and space will not permit us to enumerate the names of the many prominent public men that have passed over the divide since 1876. It is hard for us to realize in these days how great a part they played in the settlement and civilization of our county.
J. G. MARTIN.Medford Daily Tribune, October 3, 1906, page 2. The October 2 issue, with the first installment of this article, is lost.
Editor, Medford Sun:
Sir--I was pleasantly remembered recently by a special invitation from my much esteemed neighbor and fellow townsman, Samuel Bateman, of North Maple Street, to accompany him for a day's rest, sightseeing and recreation to our sister city of Central Point, so we took tie-pass at 8 o'clock in the morning, leaving noisy, busy Medford behind for a day. We became interested in our walk from the start, as the day was warm and cheerful and the view delightful. My friend became at once infatuated with the sights and scenes through Rogue River Valley. They were so indescribably different from Montana, his former cold, bleak, fruitless home, and he also made it pretty interesting for me, pointing out the different towns and landmarks and their names that dotted the valley in the distance. We reached the city of Central Point at 10:30 o'clock fresh and game as a bantam rooster, found the city's streets full of farmers' teams, a very desirable class of citizens that gives life and activity and a pretty good indication that she is getting her share of the valley trade. Also the right impression to the visiting stranger.
Central Point, centrally located as it is, is a trading center and in the midst of fruit, grain and alfalfa fields galore, now clothed and carpeted with much promise; with her clean streets, attractive business houses, residences and brick building in construction, certainly points to a city of much promise. Here, somewhat bewildered, while looking about me with the untold changes and developments of the old Rogue River Valley, I at once called to memory my first ride through this section in the fall of '76. Things moved pretty slowly and quietly in those pioneer, mossback days, with Jacksonville and Ashland as the only two trading points. Their supplies were furnished from Roseburg, consuming about two weeks' time by freight teams, with amusing scenes of balky horses, breakdowns and cuss words through Cow Creek Canyon.
At that time old Rogue River Valley cultivated about one-quarter of its choice land. The balance was pastured, as stock raising was the principal industry. One wagon road then split the valley north and south, marked with stage stations and a cloud of dust from the overland coaches. One bridge, and it toll, spanned the Rogue at Rock Point. The court house, church and residences of Jacksonville and Ashland were principally wooden structures of the pioneer pattern, and the log residences and school houses dotted the country districts with the old worn rail fences. No party politics in those days. Every man who had any respect for his country or his yellow dog voted the straight Democratic ticket. Wheat was 40 cents a bushel, flour 50 and 75 cents a sack at the Phoenix and Eagle Point flouring mills, then run by water; hogs, cattle and sheep were a drug on the market. Ducks, quail and jackrabbits were as numerous as the stars and about as gentle as the barnyard chick. The circuit rider minister earned his salary of spuds, sorghum, flour and an occasional crazy quilt donated by some good Christian sister, for preaching the good old-time religion. But those were the good, old, happy, independent days when a man could kill his deer, catch his fish and dam the Rogue with salmon and fatten his hogs all without a license; also pay his 50 or 75 cents for the privilege of being put across Rogue River on Captain Bybee's ferry boat.
But to my pioneer farmer, merchant and associates of thirty-five years ago that are still living, and we hope enjoying health, peace and contentment on the sunny side of life, what do we observe today spread out before us in this rapid life and activity? Can we realize the endless transformation of this grand old Rogue River Valley in this brief space of time that has unfolded to us such a charming, lovable valley, newly clothed with indescribable changes and improvements in every industry over the dear old Rogue Valley that is almost forgotten, save her history. The new valley is now before us, the envy and admiration of all Oregon, the most attractive spot on earth for the tourist to rest and recuperate and the homeseeker to cast his everlasting lot. Isn't it pleasant for us today to see and admire the new Rogue Valley with her eight thrifty incorporated cities and suburban towns galore that dot the new valley with unsurpassed beauty and with her three undreamed-of railroads, telegraph and telephone lines that traverse the most remote sections of the new valley, with three free bridges that span the broad, swift Rogue River and as far as the eye will permit us to see her countless acres of clean commercial fruit orchards, with productive farms without number that have been carved out of the once rough, uninviting tracts once considered worthless to the pioneer farmer, orchardist, and speculator that gave us the interesting history of the old Rogue River Valley while in its infancy.
And now, patient, reader, is not the credit mostly due to the advent of the iron horse of the Southern Pacific Company, the new emigration of capital, custom and methods of industry that have so completely revolutionized the aged, decrepit Rogue River into this young, hopeful valley and gave to you, Mr. farmer, orchardist, stock raiser and speculator, a brighter and more promising future?
J. G. MARTIN.Medford Sun, May 12, 1911, page 5
SOUTHERN OREGON.We find the following brief description of Southern Oregon in McCormick's Almanac for 1876, which, though not full enough by far, is tolerably accurate. Some gross errors concerning the names of officials and the statistics of the several counties occur, which have been corrected:
JACKSON COUNTYis situated in the southern portion of the state, being separated from California by the Siskiyou Mountains. It is watered by several streams, the most important being the Rogue River, which follows a tortuous course before emptying in the Pacific Ocean. The agricultural resources of the county are very large, and some of the finest farms in the state are spread over the western section. The principal grains and fruits requiring a sunny clime thrive admirably and yield abundantly. It is well adapted to stock raising, as there are extensive quantities of rolling uplands which produce grasses in luxuriance.
County Officers.--Judge, E. B. Watson; Clerk, E. D. Foudray; Sheriff, J. W. Manning; Assessor, W. A. Childers; Treasurer, K. Kubli; School Superintendent, H. C. Fleming; Surveyor, James S. Howard; Commissioners, John O'Brien and M. A. Houston; Coroner, H. T. Inlow.
Statistics.--Population, over 5,000; number of voters, 1,279; value of property, $1,968,940; acres of land under cultivation, 135,010. County seat, Jacksonville.
JOSEPHINE COUNTYpossesses an area of 2,500 square miles. It has a rugged aspect, but there are some fine valleys possessing a rich alluvial soil well adapted to grains and fruits. The mountainous character of the region, the luxuriance of grasses, and the abundance of timber makes it well adapted for grazing.
County Officers.--Judge, M. F. Baldwin; Clerk, Chas. Hughes; Sheriff, Dan L. Green; Assessor, John Taylor; Treasurer, William Naucke; School Superintendent, J. M. Smith; Commissioners, J. Neely, S. Messenger.
Statistics.--Population, 1,130; value of property, $375,010; number of voters, 326; acres of land under cultivation, 5,946. County seat, Kerbyville.
LAKE COUNTYformerly formed a portion of Jackson and Wasco counties, but by act of Legislature passed in 1874 the new county was created. It is situated east of the Cascade Mountains, and possesses many attractive features. Its numerous lakes, from which it takes its name, are quite remarkable, one of them, Big Klamath, being 45 miles in length and navigable for vessels of considerable draught. These lakes form a favorite resort for myriads of waterfowl, and all of them, with one exception, abound in most excellent fish. The whole county has quite an elevation above the level of the sea, the altitude of the Klamath Lake basin, one of the lowest localities, being about 4,000 feet. Its topography is peculiar and picturesque, consisting of high mountains, broad valleys, placid lakes, winding streams and rolling hills. It is but sparsely populated at present, the principal settlements being in Klamath Lake basin, Langell's Valley, Drew's Valley, and the valleys of Lost River, Tule Lake, Sprague River, Chewaucan, Goose Lake, Crooked Creek, Summer Lake and Silver Lake. The climate is dry and healthful, warm in summer, cold and snowy in winter, the rainfall being very light during the entire year. The timber is confined chiefly to the mountains and foothills, and consists of pine, fir, cedar and juniper. The sublime climate of the county, its abundance of all kind of game, its wild and romantic scenery, and its valuable mineral springs make it alike attractive to the tourist, the sportsman, the invalid, and the weary emigrant seeking a home in the far West. Its chief industry is stock-raising, but the experience of the past year proves, however, that all the cereals and most of the fruits and vegetables of the temperate zone can be raised in great abundance. The thermal springs, one mile east of Linkville, have become quite celebrated of late for the cure of rheumatism, liver complaints, kidney infections and other diseases.
County Officers.--Judge, E. C. Mason; Clerk, N. Stephenson; Sheriff, Thos. Mulholland; School Superintendent, Quincy A. Brooks; Commissioners, A. F. Snelling, J. P. Roberts; Assessor, G. C. Duncan; Treasurer, George Nurse.
Statistics.--Population, 844; number of voters, 325; acres of land under cultivation, 1,057½. The area of the county is 11,400 square miles. County seat, Linkville.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 28, 1876, page 1
Last revised August 22, 2023