The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Jacksonville History, Churches and Schools

A Brief History
Its Churches and Schools


[ 1939 ]

    Jacksonville is the oldest town in Southern Oregon, and a point of the greatest historical interest. Moderate and unobtrusive, half crowning a low range of hills, it is half hidden in the edge of the valley at its southwestern extremity. People wonder why it was built in an apparently isolated situation, but the story is simple. In the early days the whisper of a marvelously rich gold discovery was heard; it passed from mouth to mouth until it was told across the Siskiyous in Northern California and in the settlements of the Willamette. Soon the silent hills and gulches were touched as if by the wand of an enchanter and were whitened with the tents of thousands of eager hunters. The luxuriant grass and wildflowers that had sheltered the timid deer and antelope, or had yielded to the stealthy moccasin, were trampled into dust by the heavier feet of the stronger race. The lordly pines and oaks were stricken down, the hills and gulches seamed and scarred by the miner's pick, the townsite itself burrowed and honeycombed with drifts and tunnels, the oppressive silence of nature changed to a scene of restless activity. Time has healed the ugly scars and nearly every trace of the ephemeral city is gone, but the Jacksonville of today, with its pleasant surroundings, thrift and culture, is the substantial outgrowth of the chaos and social fervor engendered by the industrial avalanche so common in the mining regions. Much of the history of Jacksonville is unwritten, but, fortunately, many of those who dug its foundations and reared its churches and schools still survive, and upon the faithfulness of their memories must depend the accuracy of the records.
    It was in December 1851 or January 1852 that Rich Gulch was struck, the first gold being taken out near the present crossing of Oregon Street. Gold had been found somewhat earlier, on Jackson Creek nearly opposite the site of the old brewery, by two young men who communicated the fact to James Clugage and J. R. Poole, who were traveling through the valley. The result was the discovery of Rich Gulch by Clugage and Poole, who associated with them James Skinner and a Mr. Wilson, who jointly claimed four hundred feet of the Gulch. It was not long until the secret of a "discovery" where men could wash out a pint of gold in a day leaked out. In February, 1852, every foot of the Gulch was staked out and claimed, and by March the surrounding hills and gulches, in spite of the evident hostility of the Indians, were filled with the rapidly swelling population, and soon the first discovery was the center of an extensive mining region. In February a trading post was opened in a tent by Appler and Kenny, packers from Yreka, California. It was by no means a bazaar, the stock comprising only a few tools and a little "tom iron" [perforated sheet metal used in a rocker or long tom] the roughest clothing and boots, some "blackstrap" tobacco and a liberal supply of whiskey--not the royal nectar perhaps, but nevertheless, the solace of the miner in heat and cold, in prosperity and adversity. Other traders followed, bringing supplies of every kind, pitching their tents on the most available ground and finding plenty of customers flush with treasure.
    In March the first log cabin was erected by W. W. Fowler near the head of Main Street, the only street in the embryo city. Lumber was "whipsawed" in the gulches at the rate of $250.00 per thousand or purchased in small quantities from a saw mill up the valley. Clapboard houses, with real sawed doors and window frames, began to rise among the tents. The busy little town emerged from the chrysalis state and before the end of summer assumed an air of solidity and entered on the second stage of its existence.
    During this time a marked change had taken place in the social structure of Jacksonville. Gamblers, courtesans and sharpers of every kind, the classes that struck prosperous mining camps like a blight, flocked to the new Eldorado. Saloons multiplied beyond necessity. Monte and Faro games were in full blast and the strains of music lured the honest miner into many a dangerous place where he and his treasure were soon parted. Notwithstanding the loose and reckless character of a large portion of the population, unrestrained by the refining influence of organized society, crime was remarkably rare. It is true there was no written law. The hastily prepared handful of territorial laws, borrowed from the Iowa code and generally related to property rights, had hardly crystallized into shape, and were inoperate at so remote a point from the seat of territorial government, and where there was neither county organization or judicial officers. But there was a law, higher, stronger, more effective than written codes--the stern necessity of mutual protection--and a strong element had the courage and will to enforce it. Justice was administered by the people's court; its findings were singularly correct, its decrees inflexible, its punishments certain.
    In 1852 the first court of this character was convened. A miner named Potts was shot dead, without provocation, by a gambler named Brown. Immediately every claim was vacated. Men, not angry, but outraged by the dastardly deed, gathered in hundreds, and the assassin was secured.
    That fine sense of chivalry and fairness, common even on the frontier, prompted a proper investigation, and in the absence of a justice of the peace, W. W. Fowler was appointed judge.
    A jury of twelve men was selected. The case was tried by the rules of right and wrong, divested of legal technicalities. Brown was clearly proved guilty of a cowardly murder and taken to an oak grove, a little north of the site of the Presbyterian church, hanged and buried under a tree, a few yards west of where the church now stands. The remains have never been removed.
    The court was quietly dissolved, the Judge disclaiming the right to exercise further jurisdiction, but the lesson was salutary and effective.
    During the summer of 1852 a partial survey of the town was made by Henry Klippel and a Mr. Smith who laid out Oregon and California streets. In the fall of 1852 the demand for provisions largely exceeded the supply, and when the exceedingly severe winter set in there was serious cause for alarm. Snow commenced falling heavily about the middle of November until all trails were completely blocked and ingress to the crowded camp rendered impossible. Flour at once rose to one dollar per pound and the supply was soon exhausted. Tobacco sold readily at one dollar per ounce, but salt was priceless. Those who had a little to sell received sixteen dollars an ounce for it, the standard value of an ounce of gold. They would pour out a small quantity of salt into one side of the gold balance scales, then pour in gold dust on the other side of the scales until the scales balanced, making the salt literally worth its weight in gold. This extraordinary fact has never been duplicated anywhere, according to the writer's knowledge. Several adventurous men crossed the Siskiyous on snow shoes, returned with a small supply and realized a handsome profit. Fortunately game was plentiful and easily obtained and numbers of men subsisted for months entirely on meat, in many cases without salt, and suffered no serious consequences. In the spring of 1853 necessity compelled the creation of a judicial tribunal. Disputes to water, to mining ground or other species of property, were frequent and adjustments by arbitration had proved unsatisfactory.
    By common consent an immense mass meeting was held on Jackson Creek and attended by citizens of the town and miners from Rich Gulch. At this meeting a man by the name of Rogers was appointed "alcalde"--after the Spanish style and invested with unlimited jurisdiction. It was soon apparent, however, that Rogers was unworthy of public confidence and the fountainhead of power was again drawn upon.
    A dispute arose between two miners named Sims and Springer, involving the joint ownership of a mining claim in which Sims denied his partner's rights.
    An appeal was made to the alcalde's court and Sims was sustained. The case was one of peculiar hardships. Springer had held the claim while Sims was absent in the Willamette Valley, and during the winter had been unfortunate enough to have a leg broken.
    The wronged man now appealed to the people. He recited his grievances from camp to camp until the mining population was thoroughly aroused. There was a keen sense of justice among the frontiersmen, and a long established principle of their simple ethics demanded that a man should be the friend and champion of his partner, under all circumstances, instead of his oppressor.
    A rousing meeting was held, attended by over a thousand miners. The Alcalde stubbornly stood by his decision and the excitement became intense. Angry speeches were made and the officer was threatened with violence, whereupon a miner proposed the election of a "superior alcalde," holding that the power that created one court was competent to create another. The idea struck the crowd as sound and a superior judge was determined upon. There was but one man worthy of the honor, a high-spirited, educated miner, a native of Connecticut named U. S. Hayden, and against his earnest protestations he was unanimously proclaimed "chief justice."
    A bailiff was appointed, a jury empaneled and the case brought before His Honor on its merits.
    The appellant had as his attorneys P. P. Prim, who had exchanged Blackstone for the pick and shovel, and Daniel Kenny, who made up for lack of legal knowledge by a keen perception of frontier character and the soft spots of a miners' jury.
    Sims, the respondent, secured the services of Orange Jacobs, a young attorney from Michigan, recently arrived, more familiar with written law than with the unwritten code of the mining regions.
    As might be expected, Springer was reinstated in his right, and the decision of the court stood unquestioned. Two of the attorneys in this case subsequently occupied high places on the bench, Prim having been for eighteen years Circuit Judge and for one term Chief Justice of Oregon, and Jacobs having been for two terms Chief Justice of Washington Territory, and twice a delegate to Congress. Alcalde Hayden was honored for twenty consecutive years by subordinate judicial stations, and when death removed the ermine from the shoulders of the worthy officer, it was pure and stainless.
    The progress of Jacksonville, in 1853, was marked by the accession of many respectable families. Hitherto, Mrs. Napoleon Evans, Mrs. Jane McCully and a Mrs. Lawless had made up the sum total of ladies' society. [There were many other "respectable" women.] The immigration of the spring of 1853 poured in a large number of settlers, many of whom occupied the rich lands of the adjacent valley, while others located in the town. The improvement in society was more apparent than in the town itself. Many buildings were erected, neither ornate nor durable, but hastily and only to serve the necessities of the hour. Owing to the fact that all supplies were brought in on pack animals, not a single pane of glass was used in Jacksonville that year. Cotton drilling was a convenient substitute. One of the obstacles to substantial improvement of the town was the uncertainty of title. Clugage, one of the discoverers of the mines, had taken a donation claim covering the town site, but he wisely disclaimed any intention of interfering with the vested rights of miners, as he well knew that in a mining camp peaceable possession was a title that the government itself regards as valid.
    Many of the citizens had occupied lots and had built their homes with the full knowledge that Clugage had applied for a patent. Between these two classes and the claimant there was continual distrust and bickering. The uncertainty of the issue prevented substantial improvement, and the subsequent success of Clugage proved the greatest curse that could have been inflicted on a struggling community.
    1853 was a year of trouble and excitement in the new town. A deadly war had been determined upon by the Indians who every day were more emboldened by success and more eager for blood as each white life was taken. [The 1853 war was precipitated by one individual Indian; subsequent hostilities by the natives in that year were defensive.] Several settlers on the outskirts of the valley had been picked off by the straggling Indians. One afternoon the crack of a "Siwash" rifle was heard just within the eastern edge of town. A riderless mule with a bloody saddle galloped madly along California Street, and was recognized as that of a prominent citizen, Thomas Wills, who had been absent from town but for a few hours. Armed men went instantly to where the shot had been heard and soon returned with the bleeding body of Mr. Wills, who had received a mortal wound and survived only a few days. This audacious act angered and alarmed the townspeople, and among the families there was intense excitement, there being scarcely a bulletproof building in the town, which could be easily approached under cover from any direction. To make matters worse, arms were by no means plentiful, and there is little doubt that had an attack been made by force, and had the savages been willing to risk their skins, they might have captured and destroyed the little town. [The outnumbered and outgunned natives had their own families and villages to protect, and had no interest in foolishly attacking a town.] The people, aroused to a sense of their danger, effected a partial organization for defense. Pickets were thrown out nightly and the greatest vigilance was exercised by day. But, notwithstanding all precautions, only a few days elapsed until a man named Nolan was shot dead within rifle range of the business street.
    This species of warfare was exasperating, and it was but a few days before the Indians' method of reprisal was resorted to. Two Indian boys, "Little Jim" and another, mere striplings, came into town, perhaps from motives of curiosity, possibly as spies. It was scarcely possible that they were the miscreants who lay in wait at the very threshold of town to slay unoffending whites; there was not the slightest evidence that they had committed any crime--they were too young to be warriors--but in the bitter anger of the moment it was sufficient that they were Indians. They were soon seized by an excited crowd who scarcely knew what to do with the terror-stricken prisoners, and some of the roughest shrank from the commission of an act that they knew was not brave and that they feared was hardly just. The mob swayed and surged, wavering between desire and doubt, when T. M. Patton sprang upon a wagon and in a few words decided the question. The boys were hanged on an oak tree on the bank of Jackson Creek, while protesting piteously that they had never wronged the whites. Sober reflection brought regret for an act that by no means exalted the white character, and it is very probable that the dreadful savagery subsequently experienced by the white families was in retaliation for a deed that in calmer moments was regretted as neither courageous nor justifiable.
    On September 5, 1853, a regular court was held in Jacksonville by Hon. Matthew P. Deady, who had just been appointed United States District Judge for the Territory of Oregon by President Pierce, and it is almost needless to say that His Honor presided with distinguished ability. The officers of the court were L. F. Grover (subsequently Governor of Oregon and Senator in Congress), United States District Attorney Pro Tem Columbus Sims, Territorial Prosecuting Attorney, Joseph W. Drew, Deputy Marshal and Matthew G. Kennedy, Sheriff. The first case tried was R. Hereford vs. David M. Thorpe in assumpsit, and the Court adjourned to September ninth. The extension of the territorial jurisdiction over Jackson County was exceedingly satisfactory to the people, for it surrounded them with the decent forms of law to which they had been accustomed elsewhere, and relieved them of great responsibility. The crude judicial system born of pioneer necessity now passed away, but it can be safely said that it was stained by few errors but was sometimes swayed by passion. Simple as it was it afforded ample protection to the community.
    In May in the year 1853, communication was opened up by Cram, Rogers and Company of Yreka, a branch of the express house of Adams & Company of San Francisco. C. C. Beekman was regularly dispatched as messenger, extending his trips over the lonely mountains to Crescent City, carrying letters and papers and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gold dust. It looked strange that, during all the troublous times, the plucky messenger was never molested, although generally traveling alone, and always choosing the night to cross the Siskiyous. On August 27, 1853, the first child was born in Jacksonville, a son to Dr. and Mrs. McCully, and every miner and trader in the neighborhood considered himself a godfather to the newcomer and made it his especial business to spoil the graceless little scamp and teach him lesson that required years of Sunday school attendance to eradicate. The boy was named James Clugage McCully, in honor of the founder of the town who deeded the child a town lot for a birthday present. This was a year of the greatest prosperity. Exceedingly rich ground had been struck, not only on the main creek, but on both branches. Large stocks of merchandise had been packed in on mules from Crescent City, the nearest seaport, and distant one hundred and twenty miles. A hasty peace had been patched up with the Indians and the miners, allowed to work without molestation, poured large quantities of treasure into the town which was now the distributing point for a large territory. On Saturdays and Sundays the streets were crowded with buyers and sellers, Mexican packers, red-shirted miners, ranchmen and an occasional "Siwash" who moved sullenly among the motley throng with ill-concealed hatred of the strangers who were pushing him from his hunting grounds. Night, however, was the time of gaiety and enjoyment. The miner was always prodigal of his dust, and probably always will be, and the Jacksonville miner was no exception. Gambling and drinking were little disgrace, if the one was successful, or the other not pushed to the verge of debauchery, and it was often remarked by early settlers that there never was a mining camp where personal liberty was less restrained, better enjoyed and less abused than in the Jacksonville of '53.
    In this year a kiln of brick was burned for the store of [Maury] and Davis, and its walls were well advanced before the close of the season. Marl from the desert beyond Bear Creek was used instead of lime while, strangely enough, there was a ledge of the finest limestone within ten miles of town and daily passed over by scores of miners. The building, the first brick one in town, was finished the next spring and stood among the best preserved buildings in Jacksonville until burned in 1873 and replaced by the present town hall.
    During the pinching want of the winter of 1853, there were many sharp and decided contrasts. Generally the small store of flour was fairly divided until it was exhausted, but occasionally it was hidden, with an almost pardonable selfishness, by some who were more lucky than generous. One evening when flour was so scarce that it was no longer talked of, Henry Klippel and John Hillman were passing through a back lot on their way home when Klippel stopped suddenly and said, "John, I smell bread." "So do I," said Hillman, "Let's prospect." In a few minutes they found two delicious loaves set out to cool in the rear of premises occupied by a trader named Sam Goldstein. The temptation was great but, with proper generosity, they divided with the owner and took but one loaf. The next morning the two gentlemen visited the trader, priced clothing and boots until his patience flagged, and at last ventured on the subject of breadstuffs. "Ah ha," exclaimed the merchant, "I smell somedings. You ish de rascals dot stole mine loaf." "We are," replied Klippel, with the air of a man who had the situation in hand, "and we propose to have you divide flour as we divided bread with you last night, so shell it out." Approaching the boys with uplifted hands and a countenance beaming with truth, Samuel, with a voice husky with emotion, assured them, "So help him Abraham" that it took the last spoonful of flour in the house to make that loaf and, burying his face in his hands, he wept at his utter destitution. The boys departed in silence, deeply touched, but subsequent information as to the state of Sam's larder caused a lifelong regret that they had not taken the other loaf. During the winter of this memorable year, salt was the precious article, but neighbors kindly divided with each other--a pinch at a time--and even after the lapse of thirty years old pioneers in the country brought little presents to acquaintances in town, always refusing pay with the remark, "Could I take anything from a friend who divided salt with me in '53?"
    At the close of 1853 Jacksonville was in a prosperous condition. It was now the center of trade and the distributing point for a large area of rich agricultural land, as well as for an exclusive mining region. Those carrying the heaviest stocks at the beginning of 1854 were Maury and Davis, Appler and Kenny, Birdseye and Etlinger, Sam Goldstein, John Anderson, J. Brunner, Wells and Friedlander, Fowler and Davis, and Little and Westgate, the latters being also the proprietors of a flourishing saloon and bowling alley. A number of smaller establishments were kept by Joseph Holman and others who have almost passed from memory. A commodious hotel--the Robinson House--on the site of the present United States Hotel--was owned and conducted by Dr. Jesse Robinson, while a private boarding house, patronized by the elite, was managed by a Mrs. Gass, afterwards Mrs. W. W. Fowler. The Arkansas Stable was run by Joe Davis and was a flourishing institution. Dr. McCully was the proprietor of a bakery, and Hazeltine and Gibson were in the same business. Pyle and McDonough carried on a successful carpenter shop, and quite an extensive furniture shop was run by James S. Burpee. Ziegler and Martin, Cozart and Ralls and Thomas Hopwood did the blacksmithing, and the latter is credited with having made the first plow manufactured in the Rogue River Valley.
    The winter of 1853-4 was exceptionally cold and dry, diminishing the water supply and checking the supply of gold from the mines, but most of the miners were flush and enjoyed the idle months in gaiety or in dissipation, adding largely to the fast-growing town. Society began to crystallize into shape and caste asserted the right to draw social lines. The gentler sex, increasing in numbers, began to refine the community and drew, as a magnet attracts to itself, the better portion of society from the rougher mass and dictated greater conventionalism in dress and manners. The rough, unkempt red-shirted miner, or greasy packer, could hardly cope in ladies' society with the young bloods, attired in "boiled shirts'" and white vests, and those who desired the entree among the creme de la creme of Jacksonville society were soon provided with broadcloth and fine linen, and their wardrobes were at the service of friends during the owner's absence.
    With the increase of families came the necessity for a school and early in the winter one was organized by Miss Royal. The attendance was small and the studies did not run high in the educational scale, but, nevertheless, it gratified the pride of the friends of education, and many a miner shook an ounce from his purse into the hand of the enterprising teacher when she visited the claims, soliciting contributions for the support of the little school that, through many struggles and some subsequent opposition, had grown to be one of the best in the state.
    As population increased and the means of civilization were nearer there seemed to be no progress in morality. A regular court with all the necessary machinery had been organized under the territorial laws; but it failed to awe evil-doers or to suppress outlaws as effectually as the more primitive mode of the pioneers that preceded it. An examination of the records of 1854 shows an alarming increase of crime from murder and rape to larceny. The civil docket is burdened with every species of litigation, and it may have been that increased facilities for wrangling made men more captious and less inclined to observe their obligations and gave assurance to criminals. But whether this view is correct or not, the fact remains that the record is extremely discreditable. On the sixth day of February a new judge called court. The enemies of Judge Deady had been busy at Washington, it is said, and by the most gross misrepresentation procured his displacement--the Executive appointing O. B. McFadden, a citizen of Pennsylvania, to the territorial bench. Court was held in a building next to the New State Saloon, and it was a most unpretentious temple of justice. The bench was a dry goods box, covered with a blue blanket, and it is quite probable that the uncomfortable seat occupied by the Judge was so irksome that it had something to do with his rapid dispensation of justice. On the first day of court, Paine P. Prim and D. B. Brenan were admitted to the bar and the grand jury was empaneled. On the 7th, true bills were returned against Indians George and Tom, charging them with the murder of James C. Kyle, on October 7th, 1853. On the same day they were put on trial, Prim and Brenan having been appointed counsel for the accused. The proceedings were brief. The evidence, mostly that of Indians who were anxious to preserve peace with the whites, left no doubt as to the guilt of the prisoners, and the jury, with little deliberation, announced a verdict of guilty. In the meantime, the grand jury had returned another indictment against Indian Thompson for the murder of Edwards, in the spring of 1853, and he too was quickly convicted. On the 9th it appears from the record, Indian George was sentenced to be "hanged by the neck until dead," the time of the execution being fixed between the hours of ten and twelve of the succeeding day. But it does not appear that the other convicted murderers were ever sentenced, and the impression is left that time was so valuable that, in their cases, the formality was dispensed with. In passing sentence upon George, His Honor assured the prisoner that he had had as fair a trial and as ample means of defense as if he had belonged to the white race, but the lightning speed with which the Judge hurried the doomed wretch out of the world throws a slight cloud on the sincerity of his remarks. Though the record is silent as to the other two convicted murderers, all three were swung from the same gallows on the 10th of the same month.
    We now pass over a period of fourteen years, in the interval of which Jacksonville continued to thrive and the miners continued to dig the rich treasure from the hills and creeks. It may surprise the reader to learn that thirty-one million dollars worth of gold dust passed through the little bank owned and. operated by C. C. Beekman during those hectic days from 1853 to 1880, yet it is a matter of common knowledge. The old bank building still stands on a prominent corner on California Street, and all of the paraphernalia, including the old gold scales, are in place, just as it was the day the bank closed. During this time the wagon road was completed to Crescent City and huge freight wagons displaced the former mule pack trains. The stage road from Sacramento to Portland was completed and passed through Jacksonville, giving the town a daily four-horse stage. The time required to make the trip from Sacramento to Portland was thirteen days, while now it requires only about five hours, emphasizing the progress being made in these latter days. This period also marks the rise and fall of the various newspapers that were published in Jacksonville at that time, there being twelve different ones published between the years of 1855 and 1872.
    Late in the fall of 1868 a case that the physicians pronounced "chicken pox" was discovered among some half-breed Indians near town. There was no alarm until it was found to be smallpox of the confluent and most malignant type. Then efforts were made to repair the error of the physicians, but it was, unfortunately, too late. The first patient died, but the attendants had mixed promiscuously among the people of the town and the seeds of the terrible disease were effectually planted. A death soon occurred in town and the burial, though taking place at night, was conducted so blunderingly that several other cases appeared in the immediate neighborhood. The town was at once quarantined and people from the country were forbidden to communicate with it in order to prevent the spread of the disease. Schools, religious gatherings, and all other public assemblies were discontinued. A pest house was established south of town, to which nearly all patients were removed and where they received every possible attention and care. Notwithstanding the most rigorous quarantine, the disease was taken to the country where two deaths occurred, but fortunately it was confined to one locality only. There was a theory prevalent that smoke would purify the air and mitigate, or perhaps stay, the pestilence. Large pitch pine fires were built in the streets around which gathered anxious groups by day and night, waiting to hear who the next victim might be. This "hygienic" measure was fruitless. The clouds of smoke that hung to the hapless town by day and the ruddy glare that lit up its deserted streets by night only brought gloom and gave neither hope nor relief. For over two months this state of affairs existed and gradually the disease wore out the material that was most susceptible of attack and finally disappeared. Some of the patients recovered, notably those that had been vaccinated; but the number of deaths exceeded forty which, in a small community, left a perceptible vacuum.
    In the ensuing summer (1869) the town had a novel experience. One afternoon in July, a cloud, not much larger than a man's hand, hung above the western horizon. It attracted but little notice, but expanded gradually until it was apparent that some extraordinary disturbance was imminent. Suddenly the cloud burst, about a mile and a half west of town, and an immense volume of water was precipitated into Jackson and Daisy creeks. In a few minutes those streams, comparatively dry at that season, were swollen into dangerous and impassable torrents. Mining apparatus and stumps were torn up and swept down stream like reeds, cattle were borne down on the resistless flood and the streets of the town could have floated a canoe. Previous to the cloudburst, the air had been unusually quiet, but the rush of air to fill up the vacuum amounted to a genuine hurricane. Fortunately, its greatest force was spent a short distance south of town, where the standing pines were mown off about thirty feet above ground and left standing like gigantic stubble--a memento of the awful force of the elements.
    The great cloudburst and flood of 1869 marks the last great calamity that befell Jacksonville. The rich treasures of the region were gradually being exhausted until about the year 1880. Then, "The generals and captains depart, the shouting and tumult died," and Jacksonville settled down to the more prosaic life of a quiet town. However, mining is still being carried on in a small way by individual miners here and there, and several large outfits, with dredge and hydraulic gun, are still reaping a golden harvest by operating on a large scale. Yet the day of rich strikes and fabulous finds appears to be gone forever. At the present time (1939) Jacksonville is a beautiful little city of eight hundred and fifty people. Our stores, churches and schools will compare favorably with those of any town of like size in the state. We take especial pride in our two museums, one owned by the Native Daughters and the other by the Business Men's Association. Both of these museums contain many precious relics of the old days, which are viewed with interest by thousands of people every year.
    Jacksonville is governed by a splendid corps of city officials under the leadership of Mayor--Clinton Smith, Councilmen--Geo. W. Wendt, Thomas Lawhead, Howard Lewis, James W. Grigsby; Recorder--Ray Coleman, Treasurer--Lulu Saulsberry, Marshal--Albert Heckert, City Attorney--Harry Skyrman. Jacksonville is really a suburb of Medford, which is a wonderful thriving city of twelve thousand people, situated five miles east of Jacksonville and in the center of the valley. Medford is the county seat of Jackson County, and is really the metropolis of Southern Oregon. The valley at the time of the discovery of gold in Jacksonville was without settlers, save roving bands of Indians who passed through it on their hunting excursions. [Multiple tribes were in permanent residence in the valley.] Now, however, the once vacant lands are covered with beautiful pear orchards and ranches devoted to general farming. The Rogue River Valley pears have an international reputation, being shipped to many foreign ports, besides contributing largely to supplying the domestic demand for extra choice fruit. The valley produces an estimated three-million-dollar crop annually.
    Now we bring this brief history of Jacksonville, the wonder town of Southern Oregon, to a close with a tribute to the splendid men and women who, with indomitable will and magnificent courage, met the hardships and privation of those pioneer days and with sublime faith and bravery of the highest order overcame the obstacles and difficulties of those days when, to succeed, the times demanded men of strong character and determined purpose and women of faith and vision, who were a source of inspiration and encouragement to their husbands, and who cheerfully and uncomplainingly bore the hardships and dangers of those difficult days. We honor their names and cherish their memories with affectionate gratitude.

Rev. Joseph S. Smith Rev. G. W. Roork
Rev. T. F. Royal Rev. Father Booth
Rev. G. G. Belknap, P.E. Rev. J. R. N. Bell
Rev. J. W. Miller Rev. J. W. McGee
Rev. P. M. Starr Rev. Roscoe Oglesby
Rev. C. Alderson Rev. [E. G.] Michael

    During the year 1853, a large religious element arrived with the immigration, mostly from the western and middle states, and steps were taken to found a Methodist church. The most active workers were the Rev. Joseph S. Smith, afterwards Representative in Congress from Oregon, who had been assigned to Jacksonville as pastor, his wife and the Misses Overbeck and Royal, the two latter going from camp to camp and soliciting money from the miners for the church. Times were flush and there were few financial difficulties, as the gamblers and sporting men, with proverbial liberality, provided a large portion of the means and the edifice was soon under way. Possibly the sporting fraternity, to use their own phrase, were "hedging" against bad fortune in the world to come. The church was not finished that year but it was removed to the spot where it now stands and was finished by Rev. T. F. Royal, successor to Rev. Smith. It was used as a joint place of worship by the Methodists and Presbyterians for more than twenty-five years. The church was built of hewn logs and the roof was covered with handmade shakes. It was started in 1853 and finished in 1854, and was the first Protestant church west of the Rocky Mountains in Southern Oregon. Here the Gospel was preached and the ordinance of baptism administered; here the sacrament of the Holy Communion was observed and, at the altar of this old meeting house, the marriage vows were taken that united the lives of many happy lovers; here too, the people came bringing all that was mortal of their loved ones for the last obsequies, before taking the sad journey up the hill overlooking the town where the beautiful God's acre is situated and where there are approximately six thousand people buried. What tender memories cluster around this old church, especially to the older people whose lives have been lived within its shadow! Is it any wonder that we of this present generation are resolved, not only to restore the sacred old building, but to keep it as a Christian shrine and a perpetual memorial in honor of the memory of the noble pioneers who laid the foundation for the Church and Christianity in this community and indeed for all of Southern Oregon! In 1936 the Business Men's Association of Jacksonville started a movement for the purchase of the church and in cooperation with the city council and other benevolent citizens they bought the building and grounds for the purpose of restoring and repairing the church and of beautifying the grounds, with the idea of establishing a memorial to the old pioneers and to the days that are gone.
    In August, 1937, Rev. E. N. Mallery, pastor of the Presbyterian church in Jacksonville, suggested to the Business Men's Association that they hold a commemorative rally, inviting the public to celebrate with them. The suggested plan was agreed to and the meeting was announced. The public responded in a fine way, and on the appointed day it was estimated that seven hundred people attended the rally which was held in the old church. By the aid of loudspeakers placed in the open windows the overflow was able to hear and enjoy the services.
    The people greatly enjoyed a magnificent address given by Professor Irving Vining of Ashland, who was born and raised in Jacksonville, and therefore, had a perfect background for such an address. At the close of the address, a generous contribution was made by the people as a fund to be used in repairing the old building. This was used to buy material for a new roof. Later, an old fashioned working bee was held and more men than could be used responded. The old shingles were taken off, a new roof of hand-split shakes put on and the whole job completed in one day. The ladies, not to be outdone by the men, served a fine hot dinner in the parlors of the Presbyterian church. In September of the next year another rally was held and another great crowd which assembled was addressed by the Rev. Sherman L. Divine of Medford, in his own inimitable style, masterly, scholarly and touching. At this writing another great rally is being planned to raise money to complete the necessary repairs on the inside of the church, while extensive arrangements are being made for putting in a lawn, laying water pipes and setting out shrubbery on the grounds. When this is done the future of the old church seems assured. When completed, we feel that our labor of love, preserving this old church of "the days of old, the days of gold, and the days of '53," shall not have been in vain. Therefore, in grateful remembrance of those noble men and women who erected this building here as a monument in the wilderness to Christ and His Gospel, we honor their names, cherish their memories and thank God for their lives.

    The Presbyterian church of Jacksonville was organized November 22, 1857, the following named persons being the organizers: Rev. M. A. Williams, William Hoffman, Carolyn Hoffman, Elizabeth Hoffman, S. D. Van Dyke, Kezia Van Dyke, William Wright, Jane Wright, A. J. Butler, E. P. Rand and Mary Gore. The building was constructed of sugar pine lumber which was hauled by wagon and horse teams from Roseburg, one hundred and twenty-five miles distant. The beautiful stained glass windows were brought around Cape Horn in a sailing vessel from Italy. At the time it was built (1880) the church was the finest in Southern Oregon, seating two hundred and fifty people. It is still in a good state of repair and has been used continuously by the Presbyterian congregation. Also it is the first Presbyterian church erected in Southern Oregon and it proudly stands today as the "mother Presbyterian church of Southern Oregon." The building of the church was made possible by the generosity of two of the loyal elders, namely, C. C. Beekman and William Hoffman. Their large contributions made the project possible.
    The Rev. M. A. Williams was the first pastor. The name of "Father Williams," as he was affectionately known, is a name to conjure with. He was the first Presbyterian missionary to visit Southern Oregon, and for twenty-five years he continued to serve this community as pastor and the whole region as spiritual adviser. Besides Jacksonville, he organized the following Presbyterian churches: Phoenix, Ashland, Medford and Eagle Point. The present pastor deemed it an honor to foster a plan to erect a granite monument in memoriam of this godly old pioneer and his loyal fellow workers, and now there stands in front of the church a massive granite boulder bearing a large tablet of imperishable bronze upon which there are inscribed the names of "Father Williams" and his co-organizers.
    It is only fitting that special mention be made of William Hoffman, who for twenty-nine years was an elder and clerk of sessions in this church, and who gave of the best of his life to the establishment and perpetuity of this church. This venerable old house of worship stands today as a monument to his zeal and constancy. As an honor roll, I append a list of the former pastors. Rev. M. A. Williams, Rev. A. R. Bickenback, Rev. A. Ennis, Rev. Walter Conden, Rev. T. J. Hughes, Rev. T. J. Hedges, Rev. S. H. Jones, Rev. Paul S. Bandy, Rev. A. H. Gammons, Rev. Becker, Rev. H. K. Howard, Rev. Elmer McVicker, Rev. S. H. Jones (second pastorate), Rev. E. N. Mallery (present pastor).
    At the present time the church has a membership of about one hundred, with a like number in the Sunday school. There exists the most cordial relations between the pastor and the people. The church's special pride is its large membership of young people, who are loyal and zealous in all of the activities of the church. A fine choir of twenty voices, aided by a fine orchestra, adds materially to the worship program of the church. Both choir and orchestra are composed of young people. The church is in a sound financial condition, being entirely free from debt. And so with this fine equipment the church goes forward, holding aloft the torch of Christian education bequeathed by the old pioneers, striving to be worthy successors of such noble and heroic men and women of God.

    According to the records, in the month of September, 1853, the Reverend James Croke, a missionary of the Archdiocese of Oregon, visited Jacksonville and celebrated the first mass in the house of Charles Casey. Looking to the permanent establishment of a church, to be delayed several years however, the Rev. Father obtained, by deed of gift from James Clugage, four of the most desirable lots in town. A mission of several weeks, spent in administering to the spiritual wants of his people, disclosed a strong, steadfast and faithful Catholic society, and a third mission, in 1855, by Reverend James Cody of Yreka, found it increasing in fidelity and numbers by virtue of salutary admonitions and counsel of the visiting Fathers.
    The history of the Catholic church in Jacksonville is that of an active, untiring, zealous and religious organization. Those faithful to the Roman Catholic faith had been visited regularly by missionaries every year since the first visit of the Rev. Father Croke in 1853. His Grace, Archbishop Blanchet of Oregon City, had himself come over the rough mountains to administer to the spiritual wants of an isolated people and in October, 1858, the occasion of his first visit, a contract was closed with Berry and Kerr for the erection of a church on the land donated by James Clugage. In 1859 the edifice was nearly finished, and in 1860 services were held by His Grace, the Archbishop, who visited Jacksonville for the second and last time.
    In November, 1861, Rev. J. F. Fierens was appointed first parish priest of Southern Oregon, having his residence at Jacksonville. On the nineteenth of November, 1863, Rev. F. X. Blanchet, nephew of the Archbishop, was appointed second pastor of Saint Joseph, Father Fierens having been made vicar general of the diocese. The influence of this religious organization was soon increased by the establishment of St. Mary's Academy by the Catholic sisterhood. During the dreadful pestilence that raged in 1868-9, the priests and the ladies of St. Mary's were brave and untiring in their ministrations among the sick and dying--Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
    Owing to the dwindling population, however, the church was closed, as nearly as the writer can learn, about 1930 and is now used only for occasional services. Jacksonville retains a warm appreciation for the noble ministrations of the Catholic people, who rendered much loving and efficient service in those trying pioneer days.

    The first school in Southern Oregon was organized by Miss Emma Royal in Jacksonville, in the winter of 1853. [The Royals record a different version.] This splendid young lady went from camp to camp and solicited the aid of the miners to start a school where the young children of the town might be taught the rudiments of an education. She met with the success she merited in so worthy a cause, and with the gold given her by the miners, together with the contributions of parents and friends, she started a school in a single-room cabin, located on the Old Stage Road on what is now known as the McBee place. This school met local needs until 1867 and came to be known as the Humphreys school, so called after a teacher who taught many terms in it. The little cabin could no longer meet the requirements of the rapidly growing school and the hill east of town was purchased for a site. There the splendid brick structure now stands that houses the present high and grammar schools. On this site a two-story frame building was erected and used until destroyed by fire. It was succeeded by another larger building of four rooms. There were a number of private schools also, one being operated by Mr. J. V. Farley, and another by Mrs. Jane McCully, who turned her parlor into a schoolroom. Saint Mary's Academy was founded in Jacksonville in 1865 and was in all probability the first parochial school in Southern Oregon. By 1880 the public school had developed until there were nearly two hundred pupils and the annual expense was approximately $5,000. The community was unfortunate in the matter of fires, having had three buildings destroyed by fire, but out of it all there came the present grammar and high school building to which has been added a fine gymnasium. At the beginning of the current term, quarters have been provided for manual training with all the necessary tools and equipment. This will meet a long-felt want. The school ranks with the best in Oregon and is in a state of high efficiency and development. A splendid uniformed band and a fine orchestra, both under the very able leadership of Professor Botts, who is a noted instructor and a talented musician, are held in high regard. Professor Beck, the principal, and an able corps of teachers are giving Jacksonville a school that is a source of pride and great satisfaction to the people of Jacksonville.

Roy Smith E. D. McIntyre
Paul Godward Mrs. Hazel White, Clerk

    The writer wishes to tender a very grateful acknowledgment to the various persons who have assisted him in the preparation of this brief history.
    He wishes to give full credit to the help he has received from a history of Southern Oregon, published by Mr. A. G. Walling in 1884. He renders grateful thanks to all who have assisted him and to the advertisers who have made the printing of the book possible.
E. N. MALLERY, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church,
    Jacksonville, Oregon, September first, 1939.

Last revised December 8, 2022