The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jerry Jerome

Jerry Jerome, August 23, 1935 San Diego Union
August 23, 1935 San Diego Union

'Jerry' Jerome, Winston Churchill's Cousin, Recalls Past
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
    "Winston and Edson are both sports." Those were the words of "Aunt Lil" many years ago. Winston, of course, was the late Sir Winston Churchill, England's great war leader. Edson, no one would suspect, was E. C. Jerome of Medford, known throughout the West Coast and Canada as "Jerry."
    Even more surprising to most people than his real name of Edson Corlies Jerome is the fact that Jerry and Winston were cousins.
    No one who had read the life of the great statesman of our age--[omission?] no one who has known Jerry through the years, however, will dispute "Aunt Lil's" characterization of the two.
    Jerry says he has no documentary proof that his grandfather, Moses Jerome, and Winston Churchill's grandfather, Leonard Jerome, were brothers. But it was always accepted as fact, substantiated by photographs in the photo album of the beautiful Jennie Jerome, mother of Winston Churchill.
Jerry Jerome, January 31, 1965 Medford Mail Tribune
"Real Big Shot"
    Leonard Jerome "was a big shot, a real big shot, in New York's upper crust. Moses Jerome was a farmer." Jerry recently explained their lack of communication when interviewed on a cold January day at the inviting fireside of his home on the Old Stage Road, where "Bunny" and he have retired.
    Alike--Churchill and Jerome? At least in their dissipations, Jerry is quick to admit. He used to smoke 15 cigars a day when the Great Northern Railroad, with which he started his career, was paying for them.
    Does he require good brandy? "Not exactly." But Canadian Crown whisky is his favorite drink. He has a friend in Calgary who sends it, or brings it, to him, lots of it, once a year.
    Does Jerry tell a good story? Does he appreciate a practical joke? Those are questions no one--but no one--who knows the history of Medford during the first half of the twentieth century would ask.
Promote Park, Medford
    Jerry was once the "Big Eruption" of the Craters, a band of boosters in the Rogue River Valley whose accomplishments in the promotion of Crater Lake National Park and Medford were outdistanced only by their stories and their trickery, most of it directed to the neighboring city of Grants Pass.
    The Craters were, as one other "Big Eruption" described them, "wonderful fellows individually, but collectively . . . (three little words seldom seen in print)."
    Jerome was born in Rantoul, Ill., in 1887. The family moved to Cookston, Ill., where he graduated from high school and two years later joined the staff of the Great Northern Railroad and made every large terminal of the United States and Canada. He made his first trip to the Rogue Valley in 1910, accompanying his mother, his young brother, Kenneth, and his sister, Fern, who came to be near Mrs. Jerome's parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry DeWitt Corlies.
Supervises Shipment
    Jerome returned to Southern Oregon to supervise shipment of materials for the first Copco dam for the Prospect Construction Company. The McLeod Bridge, which went out in the recent Christmas flood, was constructed to get the generator base across the river.
    Harry Stoddard, superintendent of Rogue River Electric, ancestor of Pacific Power and Light Company, hired Jerome to make an inventory of power company properties in Oregon and California. There he met Elizabeth Margaret Schoenenberger, known as Bunny. She was teaching school in Yreka.
    They were married in 1916 and Mrs. Jerome taught in the Medford High School for 27 years. They were both closely associated with the school system, Jerry as timekeeper for the football team for 40 years. He treasures his striped team sweater given to him when the players were still known as "The Tigers."
    He has watched three generations boom over the goal line, and he got the Medford High School band its first invitation to the East-West game in San Francisco. During all the years that classic has been played he has missed just five games.
What He Missed
    "The only thing I ever missed," Jerome reviewed his past, "I wasn't invited or didn't know about it, so my mother said." Ill health has recently forced him to become a "stay at home."
    The biggest celebration of his life was Oregon's Diamond Jubilee, staged in Medford and Jacksonville in 1934 with Jerome as general chairman. The only blight on the whole affair was the surprise June rain, which poured down the night before the opening of the pageant and the night the special train rolled in from Portland with guests and representatives of Pathe news here to cover the jubilee.
    The parade was so much longer than Pathe News had anticipated that the photographer ran out of film before it was over and actually wept when some of the best entries moved by, Jerome recalled.
Money Was Scarce
    "There were things in that parade that hadn't been seen before and haven't been seen since in any one display," the former chairman declared. "But money was scarce in the early Thirties and the two rodeos were the only thing that pulled the sponsors out of debt."
    Jerome recalled that one of the underwriters, the late George Hunt, owner and operator of Medford theaters, accompanied his check with this comment: "For Banwell's folly and Jerry's big hat." A. H. Banwell was then secretary of the Chamber of Commerce. The hat was a gift to Jerry for the celebration, not from the underwriters.
    The jubilee opened with an address by Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace of President Roosevelt's cabinet. It continued through [a] historical pageant, written and directed by Angus Bowmer; parade, contests, tournaments, two rodeos and a grand ball.
    In 1939, while he was field representative for the Shasta-Cascade Wonderland, Jerome engaged in another big celebration--the World's Fair in San Francisco. He promoted the building entered by the Wonderland organization.
Back to Discussion
    Urged back to discussion of the ruses perpetrated by the "Craters" for Medford against Grants Pass when both cities were younger, smaller but more robust and occasionally ribald, Jerome recalled the faked visitation of the president of Mexico.
    It was for dedication of the Caveman Bridge to which the Grants Pass Chamber of Commerce issued invitations to many notables of the South and West. Medford Craters decided that the president of Mexico should attend. The late Earle Davis, who spoke Spanish fluently, was the star player in the deception. Faked telegrams, uniforms, car license plates gave authenticity to his arrival. He was given the place of honor in the dedication parade, and when the parade march halted in the city park for a few words from the president of Mexico a scroll was unrolled, reading "Greetings from the Crater Club."
    "One Grants Pass friend never spoke to me again," Jerome lamented.
Other Practical Jokes
    There were other practical jokes built around radio programs that weren't actually on the air, and the marathon race to Grants Pass with the late James Grieve of Prospect Hotel and Jerome as entries.
    But on the serious side, Jerome has served as a director in the Medford Chamber of Commerce, distributor for Texaco Oil Company and developer of the old Page block on Main and Riverside, in Medford.
    He is senior past potentate of Hillah Temple of the Shrine, senior past exalted ruler and 53-year member of the Medford Elks Lodge. He is past president of the Pacific Northwest Shrine Association, past director Court 108, Royal Order of Jesters, and holds a life membership in the Shrine association in all of North America and Mexico City.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 31, 1965, page B4

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    Crushed a Finger--Edson Jerome, employed in the Great Northern yards at Crookston, had a finger badly crushed while lifting a heavy piston from a car.
"The City," Grand Forks Daily Herald, North Dakota, March 21, 1906, page 4

    Edson Jerome, who has been visiting friends here, returned yesterday to Crookston[, Minnesota].
"East Side Briefs," Grand Forks Daily Herald, North Dakota, August 5, 1906, page 3

Crookston Visitor.
    Edson Jerome, one of the well-known Crookstonites, is in the city today in company with the baseball aggregation which plays the university and Pickett teams in this city.
Evening Times,
Grand Forks, North Dakota, May 9, 1908, page 10

En Route to Great Falls.
    Edson Jerome, a prominent young man at Crookston, well known in this city, passed through Saturday evening en route to Great Falls, Mont.
"News in General of the Society World," Evening Times, Grand Forks, North Dakota, September 6, 1909, page 9

    Edson Jerome was over from Crookston[, Minnesota] last evening to see "The Talk of New York" at the Metropolitan.
"Society Personals," Evening Times, Grand Forks, North Dakota, October 15, 1909, page 9

Having a Good Time.
    Crookston Times: A card received in the city this morning from Edson Jerome locates him at Great Falls, Mont., where he is just more than enjoying the warm weather. He arrived there Saturday from Butte, where he met Carrol Dotson, who made a number of warm friends in this city last summer, at which time he was manager of the Times contest. Mr. Jerome expects to spend Christmas in Crookston.

Evening Times,
Grand Forks, North Dakota, December 14, 1909, page 11

    In Trinity Episcopal Church last Monday evening, Miss Elizabeth M. Schoenenberger, youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Schoenenberger, became the bride of Mr. Edson C. Jerome of Medford, Oregon. The Rev. Halsey Werlein Jr. solemnized the wedding, the double ring service being used. Members of the family and a few intimate personal friends only witnessed the ceremony.
    The brides' attendant was her sister, Miss Mathilda Schoenenberger, while her brother, Mr. Max A. Schoenenberger, attended the bridegroom as best man.
    The bride is a young lady of attractive personality and is deservedly popular throughout the valley. She is a graduate of the San Jose High School and of the San Jose State Normal. For the past three years she has been at the head of the commercial department of the Siskiyou County High School, at Yreka.
    The bridegroom was formerly traveling representative of the Great Northern Railway company in the East, but since coming to the coast has been connected with the California-Oregon Power Company, at Medford, Or., at which place the young couple will make their home upon their return from a honeymoon to Lake Tahoe and other scenic points in the high Sierras.
"Mrs. Edson C. Jerome, Who Before Her Marriage in Trinity was Elizabeth Schoenenberger," San Jose Mercury News, July 16, 1916, page 13

Medford Elks to Play Ball.
    MEDFORD, Or., Sept. 13.--(Special.)--Two rival baseball teams made up of members of the local lodge of Elks will clash in Medford Sunday for the championship of that organization. Jerry Jerome will captain one team and J. J. Buchter the other, while Owney Patton will act as referee. C. E. Gates, ex-president of the Commercial Club, will be water boy, and Colonel George P. Mims, recently appointed postmaster, will chase the balls. An admission fee of 15 cents will be charged and a thrilling contest is expected.
Oregonian, Portland, September 14, 1916, page 16

    Mrs. E. C. Jerome arrived home last night from her three months sojourn with relatives at Santa Cruz and San Jose. Mrs. Jerome will teach in the commercial department of the high school this year.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, September 5, 1918, page 2

Medford Elks Elect.

    MEDFORD, Or., March 5.--(Special.)--At the largest attended session in its history, the Medford lodge of Elks, which numbers close to 1000 members, last Thursday night elected the following new officers with only two contests: Exalted ruler, Jerry Jerome; esteemed leading knight, Carl Y. Tengwald; esteemed loyal knight, William J. Warner; esteemed lecturing knight, Floyd H. Hart; secretary, Lee L. Jacobs; treasurer, V. H. Vawter; tiler, M. C. McDonald; representative to grand lodge, O. O. Alenderfer; alternate representative to grand lodge, George T. Collins.
Oregonian, Portland, March 6, 1921, page 10

Jerry Jerome
    The first dollar I ever earned was picking pie cherries in Illinois at a cent per pound. The pounds were large and the cherries small. By getting up at four a.m. a boy could pick 25 pounds a day, and I stayed with it till I had enough to buy a tin-plated watch. I was only 12 years old, and all the kids in town were my competitors.
"How I Earned My First Dollar," Medford Mail Tribune, October 7, 1921, page 4

"Jerry" Jerome Joins Auto Supply Company
    An announcement was made today that E. C. (Jerry) Jerome has bought a half interest in the Auto Supply Company of this city and will be associated with M. C. Wright in this firm. Mr. Jerome's entrance into the Auto Supply Company will make an expansion in the business of that firm, it is understood, and accessories will be handled on a much larger scale in Southern Oregon.
    The Auto Supply Company was established last year by Mr. Wright, who is better known to Southern Oregon motorists as "Doc," and has become of the leading accessory firms in this section of Oregon. Both Mr. Wright and Mr. Jerome are well known throughout Southern Oregon, which will more than ever assure the success of the reorganized concern. The Auto Supply Company has the sales agency for Sterling carburetors and distributes Veedol oils and greases, Farran-oid fan belts, Fisk tires and Alemite spring covers and parts. They make the claim that all accessories for motor cars, from cotter keys to the most expensive accessories, are available at their store on North Bartlett Street adjoining the M.F.&H. building.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 9, 1923, page 3

    It is very offensive to Mr. E. C. Jerome to be called Jerry, as he now regards such designation as incompatible with the dignity he has lately acquired in the local golf world. Also, in other ways he has greatly changed since winning honors on the links.
    All of which is caused by Jer--or rather Jerome--who is one of the ranking amateurs in the Rogue River Valley club membership, in fact is a very rank player, and who only plays golf on Sundays, having captured the handicap ball tournament on the links the past two Sundays in succession.
    His recently developed amateur skill is regarded as uncanny, and is explained by the fact that in his younger days at Harvey, Ill., he played shinny, the chief playing utensils of which are clubs, tin cans and a lack of fear of the hereafter.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 26, 1928, page 3

    Edson C. Jerome, affectionately called "Jerry" by his host of friends in Southern Oregon and through the Pacific Coast, is deserving of much credit for making possible and successfully preparing for the joint ceremonial of Hillah and Ben Ali temples in Medford today. As Potentate of Hillah Temple, Mr. Jerome has made an enviable record, climaxing his activities with today's gathering of California and Oregon wearers of the fez.
    For several years, Jerry has been one of the most active of the nobles of Hillah Temple and, in 1927, attended the Imperial Council Session at Atlantic City as a representative of the Southern Oregon temple. In addition to being Potentate of Hillah Temple, Mr. Jerome is impresario of Ashland Court 108, Royal Order of Jesters. He is a member of Malta Commandery, Number 4, K.T. and was a member of the Phillip Malcolm memorial class which received the Scottish Rite work in Medford this week.
    Previous to coming to this city, Jerome was special representative for the General Superintendent of Transportation for the Great Northern railroad system, traveling throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. In 1912 he moved to Southern Oregon and was associated with the California Oregon Power Company when the first Prospect power plant was erected. Since that time he has engaged in various business enterprises in this city and constructed the building at Main and Riverside Avenue where the East Side Pharmacy and other firms are located.
    Mr. Jerome has been active in civic, fraternal and educational circles of this city for many years. He is a Past Exalted Ruler of Medford Lodge 1168, B.P.O.E., a member of the Medford Boxing Commission and an advisor of the Hi-Y boys' organization in the Medford high school. As a member of a number of committees of the Medford Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Jerome has devoted much time to civic development work.
    Under the supervision of Potentate Jerome, Hillah Temple's representation at the Los Angeles Session of the Imperial Council promises to help further to put the local temple on the map of Shrinedom. Hillah will have a special train filled with Southern Oregon Shriners which will leave for the south on May 31st.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 27, 1929, page B4

State's 75th Birthday Anniversary to Be Observed.

    MEDFORD, Or., Sept. 30.--(Special.)--E. C. "Jerry" Jerome today was named chairman of the Oregon diamond anniversary celebration in this city next year, and announced that subordinate committees would be appointed soon to plan for the state's 75th birthday party.
    T. L. Stanley, general manager of the Shasta Cascade Wonderland, has pledged that organization's support of the celebration and Mayor Carson of Portland has informed the chamber of commerce here that Portland will cooperate, W. S. Bolger, chamber president, said today.
    Chairman Jerome will call on Governor Meier and Mayor Carson at an early date regarding the celebration plans. The program so far outlined includes an Oregon products exhibition, an air circus, and a pioneer relics show at Jacksonville.
Oregonian, Portland, October 1, 1933, page 12

Jerry Jerome, 1934, January 31, 1965 Medford Mail Tribune
 January 31, 1965 Medford Mail Tribune


    Mrs. Edith M. Jerome passed away Friday afternoon, March 17, at the home of her son, Edson C. Jerome on the Old Stage Road. Her passing was sudden and unexpected although Mrs. Jerome had not been feeling well for several weeks. She would have been 80 years old next April 1.
    Mrs. Jerome was well known in the valley. She arrived in Medford March 17, 1910, just 34 years before the date of her passing. For many years she was associated with the M. and M. department store in the ladies' ready to wear department where she made many friends in southern Oregon and northern California. She was of a very happy disposition and all who knew her loved her. During her younger life in Illinois she was very active in musical circles, being a very accomplished pianist. She was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church. During her later life she spent part of her time here at the home of her son, Edson C. Jerome, and part in Seattle with her daughter, Mrs. Wayne Leever, who will arrive here Sunday.
    She was born in Sagertown, Pa., April 1, 1864, and was united in marriage to Alfred E. Jerome at Rantoul, Ill., on Sept. 1, 1886.
    Mrs. Jerome is survived by two sons, Edson C. Jerome and Kenneth Jerome; a daughter, Mrs. Wayne Leever of Seattle; one granddaughter, Miss Jeraldyn Jerome and a brother, Frank M. Corliss, both of Medford.
    Funeral services will be held Monday, March 20, at 2 p.m. at the Perl Funeral Home. Interment in Siskiyou Memorial Park, Rev. Father George R. Turney, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, officiating.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 19, 1944, page 10

Last revised March 3, 2023