Lynching the Knocker and Burning the Hammer

The antithesis of "boosting" was "knocking"--practiced mostly against other regions, or against one's own town by anti-growth "mossbacks." Newspapers regularly editorialized against knocking, but as the Orchard Boom went bust in 1912, the editorials against knockers became more strident, even calling for the knocker's ritual execution.

See also mossbacks.

    The man who damns the town he lives in, the town where he does business, and the public who give him heir business, ought to be drummed out of town.
"City Items," Medford Enquirer, February 16, 1901, page 4

     In every locality there is a class of people which is always endeavoring to kill any project or enterprise which is intended to build up the community. They are in Medford, as everywhere else. Up in Washington they call them "knockers"--and the way they treat knockers at Loomis, in the aforesaid named state, is to tar and feather them and ride them on a rail. This is not wholly in accord with modern ethics but it is very effective, and one dose of the medicine taken according to the doctor's directions is quite enough to cure a whole community of knockers of the miserable, dog-in-the-manger disease. If one cannot say anything good of an enterprise it is more gentlemanly--and safer, in Loomis--to say nothing.
Medford Mail, November 22, 1901, page 2

The "Knocker" Is Everywhere.
    The "Ancient and Honorable (?) Order of Knockers" is one of the oldest known organizations. Its origin is lost in the mists of antiquity, its first grand master probably being the traditional serpent, who, jealous of the happiness and prosperity of Adam and Eve, got out his "hammer" and persuaded them that they were being imposed upon. Qualifications necessary for admission to the order are various, that most required, however, being a noted disinclination to witness progress or prosperity on the part of either individuals or the community at large. Whenever any new scheme looking to advancement--commercial, industrial or social--is lauded, it is the duty of every loyal member to get out his "hammer"--the symbol of the order--and to exert all his power and influence against the measure, until it is either killed or triumphs in spite of all efforts to down it. If in addition to the above qualifications the member proves that he is opposed to any kind of personal exertion, except that necessary to carry out the principles of the order, he is immediately advanced to the highest degree. Medford has a strong lodge of the order, and most of its members belong to the highest branch thereof. The local lodge has a record second to none. Various enterprises, which would have been of benefit to the town and the community at large, have been slaughtered in their infancy; others have triumphed in spite of them. But they are never discouraged. From the grading of a crosswalk to the building of a navy, there is nothing so small as to escape their attention, nor so large that they hesitate to tackle it, and when they depart this life, His Satanic Majesty has to put them in a special compartment to keep them from interrupting the progress of the infernal regions. Fortunately, for the good of the town, the "knockers" are few in number, but the activity they display in discouraging any new enterprise makes them strong.
    Now, there are probably very few of our citizens who will admit that they are members of the order, but just watch yourself awhile, and see if you don't find that you are speaking slightingly of some public or private enterprise--that's the "hailing sign"--don't use it more often than you can help.
Medford Mail, September 5, 1902, page 2

Prosperity Meeting a Huge Success--Packed House Cheers Optimistic Speakers

    Dawn of a new era for Medford, beginning of a period of good feeling, the rising of the bright sun of prosperity for a prolonged and steady shine over the Rogue River Valley was signalized at the Opera House Monday evening, when all the various and hitherto contending factions got together to bury the hatchet, ax and hammer and work together for the common good.
Speeches All Optimistic
    Optimistic speeches were made by leading citizens while musicians entertained the packed auditorium between the talks. Anyone who listened to the oratory of the leading business and professional men, to the array of facts and figures presented, would have gone away convinced that Medford has as yet hardly started on its path of growth that will eventually land it among the few large cities of the West.
    Judge W. M. Colvig opened the meeting and acted as chairman and in characteristic manner entertained his auditors with stories replete with humor and fact about city and valley, and the natural resources of both--both of which are practically unlimited.
    H. C. Garnett spoke entertainingly of the growth and progress of Medford since his arrival three years ago. He told how he first came to select this city as his home, after visiting every coast section from San Diego to Seattle, and predicted that nothing in prospect could cloud the future.
Bright Banking Prospects
    Hon. W. I. Vawter spoke of the prospects of city and valley from a banking standpoint, told how the wealth of the country [the local area] had increased during the past 20 years and what the prospects were for a much greater increase in the next few years. Deposits in banks have increased faster than the population and there was every prospect, he stated, that this region would have the greatest per capita wealth of any place in the land.
    John D. Olwell made an interesting talk on orchards. He stated that the present prosperity of this region is based upon 7000 acres of bearing orchard. In addition, there are 25,000 acres of young orchard soon to come into bearing, which will mean from 8000 to 25,000 cars of fruit annually. Each year, he stated, saw a still greater addition to the planted orchard area. Old eastern orchards, he stated, were being wiped out by the San Jose scale, and this section would soon supply the entire world with fruit, and a constant stream of gold will be poured into the Rogue River Valley.
Schools to Lead State
    Professor M. B. Sigas spoke on the educational interests of the city, their growth and prospects. In three years school attendance has nearly doubled and the ratio of increase still continues. He called for a liberal expenditure for education in Medford and said that soon this city will lead the state in school facilities for places of its size.
    Rev. G. L. Hall spoke entertainingly on "Looking Forward." He looked forward to a genuine Utopia and illustrated his hopes of a metropolis by humorous stories and illusions.
Kelly Makes a Hit
    E. E. Kelly spoke on the "Cogitations of a Tenderfoot," and made a decided hit with his appropriate stories. He expressed the greatest confidence in city and country [and] asked that the anvil chorus be suppressed for the benefit of the tenderfoot who might become a settler and made a strong plea for unity of effort with which the growth of Medford "can't be stopped."
    Rev. M. F. Horn spoke on the optimist as a citizen and sounded the keynote of the meeting in his plea for a bright outlook on the future. C. H. Pierce closed the addresses with a brief resume of the work of the Commercial Club and voiced the sentiments of those present when he asked that the public lend its moral support in its organized effort for boosting for a Greater Medford.
    Music was furnished by the Medford Band, by Professor John Norling and his cornet and by the Gore Brothers Quartet, all of which the audience showed its appreciation of by numerous encores. Judge Colvig made a plea for public support for the band by a series of concerts this summer at the park. The musical hit of the evening was the following song, sung by the Gore Brothers quartet:
(Written especially for "The Prosperity Meeting," January 13, 1908, by H. Whittington. Music "stolen" by William M. Colvig, author of "Beautiful Snow.")
                                        Knocking, knocking; who is there?
                                        Waiting, waiting, full of care!
                                            'Tis a mossback, always kicking,
                                                Many such we've seen before;
                                            If he will not take his licking
                                                Let us throw him out the door.
                                        Knocking, knocking, now it is done,
                                        And the boosting has begun.
                                            Now the knocker sees his error,
                                                Throws his hammer far away,
                                            And is boosting for the valley,
                                                In the ranks that lead the way.
                                        Knocking, knocking; pass it by!
                                        Boosting, boosting is our cry!
                                            We can boost up to the limit,
                                                And we need not use hot air,
                                            For our climate and our products
                                                Can't be beaten anywhere.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 14, 1908, page 1

An Excellent Suggestion.
    The following from the Medford Tribune is an excellent suggestion and one that could be acted upon by the different communities of the Rogue River Valley with good results:
    "It is high time that the cities of the Rogue River Valley buried the hammer, ceased knocking each other and worked together for the common good.
    "Ordinary business sense and experience suggests this course. The interests of one city are so closely allied with those of the other cities that as the country develops all must grow and develop with it.
    "What helps one town, helps all. It means as much for one place as for another to have colonists arrive and settle the valley and help develop its resources.
    "This year Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass will each spend from $2250 to $2750 for from 20,000 to 30,000 pamphlets descriptive of the Rogue River Valley and each of the cities. Each secures a full-page ad in the Sunset magazine. Here we have $7200 spent for 30,000 pamphlets and three pages in one magazine descriptive of the same valley.
    "If these cities had but united in their advertising efforts, one pamphlet would have done for all the cities and a one-page ad in Sunset. Then money would have been left sufficient to place an ad in several other magazines.
    "It is not too late for these cities to unite now to help exploit this valley. Let all of them join in installing a permanent exhibit at Portland, with a man in charge the year around, who will distribute literature and act as an information bureau for the Rogue River Valley.
    "The burden of a permanent exhibit would be too great for any one of these towns, but all together it would be an easy matter. In addition to Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass, Jacksonville, Central Point and Gold Hill could be looked to for substantial assistance.
    "It is more important for the future growth and development of the Rogue River Valley that such an exhibit be installed at Portland than it is even to advertise the valley in the East."
Central Point Herald, March 5, 1908, page 1


Once there was a rabid knocker
    Living in a little town
And he was a darn good knocker
    With a motto "keep her down."
Years went by and he kept rapping
    With that mighty club of his,
Till a man with eyes all snapping
    Came, and claimed to know his "biz"

People stared at him in wonder
    E'en the knocker dropped his stick
And said he, "why in thunder
    Did that fellow build the brick?"

Then the knocker grew excited
    And he gave his friends a fill
That he'd have his lost cards righted
    And kept knocking harder still.

Then the booster, hale and hearty,
    To each soul a greeting sent,
To attend his dinner party
    And most everybody went.

But the knocker sad and lonely
    Staid away with head bowed down
And he muttered, "I'm the only
    Knocker left in this darned town."

Soon he died, but still kept rapping,
    For the undertakers tell
That they heard his hammer tapping,
    Tapping on the door of Hell.

Central Point, June 29th.             COTTON.
Central Point Herald, July 1, 1909, page 1

Squelch the Knockers
    Some way must be devised for stopping the knocking indulged in perpetually by real estate dealers, who in their selfishness and greed discourage sales made by others in the mistaken idea that it will enable them to make a sale themselves.
    The Commercial Club must devise some means of ending the anvil chorus. In this the Mail Tribune will cooperate and publish in big black type the names of those guilty of trying to queer deals in which they are not personally interested.
    Every purchaser who locates here is the means of bringing other prospective purchasers, and everyone in the valley should cordially assist in locating people and boosting all sales, whether he gets any commission or not. This is a case where it should be one for all and all for one.
    When the deal for the Snowy Butte Orchard was pending, some real estate dealer went to the prospective purchaser and tried to discourage him from making the deal--an act contemptible in itself and injurious to the country. Such a man should be published and sent to coventry.
    It is refreshing in this connection to hear the reply that Judge W. M. Colvig made to a new arrival who complained of the six days' rain as a contradiction of Medford's claim to a fine climate.
    "Yes, it has rained for six days," said Judge Colvig. "It is nature's way of disposing of her discarded summer garb. The rain washes away the decomposing vegetation and removes the unhealthy vapors that would otherwise arise to endanger the health. The earth needs a bath that removes as if by magic the remnants of a too-luxurious growth and leaves it clean and healthy for her new dress. And did you ever see such a fine rain--so gentle that not a twig was disturbed, and so warm that it seems like summer? And this is the time of year you awake in the East to find a snowdrift on the floor and your water pipes frozen."
Medford Mail Tribune, November 23, 1909, page 4

Boosters and Knockers
     An energetic, resourceful, active booster is one of the best assets any community can have. Many such characters create the metropolis, regardless of natural disadvantages or geographical location.
    On the other hand, the knocker is the greatest disadvantage any locality has to contend with--the shortsighted, pessimistic, cold water barnacle, who disparages his community and plays traitor to his home city. A few of them will retard the progress of any section--many of them will kill its development.
    Medford has grown because of its many boosters and the fewness of its knockers. Still there are some of the latter class--though their ranks are growing fewer every month and the breed is doomed to an early extinction. Other towns have made slower growth or been stagnant because of the large percentage of knockers, whose energy is spent in tearing down when it should be spent in building up.
    As those who live by the sword usually perish by the sword, so those who live by knocking usually perish by the hammer. The real estate agent who tries to make a sale by queering some other agent's customer usually loses not only his own sale, but the chance to make future sales which the other's sale would have made possible through bringing in prospective purchasers.
    The man who speaks disparagingly of his own region creates a bad impression in the minds of strangers that makes them suspicious of the locality and its citizenship and loath to cast their lot with such. But the visitor who only meets boosters goes away favorably impressed, if not with the country, then with its population.
    The process of creating a city operates like the endless chain. Every new settler brings others, they in turn bring still others, and when the work is fairly underway, it is like the snowball rolling downhill, gathering momentum and size all the way until it becomes irresistible in its progress and cannot be checked.
    To start the endless chain, boosters are necessary. To continue it, everyone must become a booster, for the boosting spirit is contagious and irresistible in its effects, and does more to attract people of the right class than perfection in climate or multiplicity of resources and golden opportunities. And Medford has the right spirit and that is why it grows and will continue to grow, for its endless chain is in operation and must and will be kept growing.

Medford Mail Tribune,
December 5, 1909, page 4

Medford Knockers Driven to Ashland
Secretary of Commercial Club of That City
Says They All Are Locating There.

    Ashland, Or., Nov. 27, 1909.
    To the Mail Tribune: I wish to congratulate you upon the success you have had in ridding Medford of that undesirable class of so-called knockers. You have succeeded, I believe, in driving most of them to Ashland, but after a good deal of work [we] on our part have shipped most of them to some other place.
    We find, however, that our good neighboring town of Medford has a most willing, contemptible, lying bunch of knockers, who are using every opportunity to knife Ashland in order to discourage people from even taking a look at us, by the slanderous and most untruthful remarks.
    Now, all we ask is fair treatment, and if you will, through the medium of your newspaper, have this contemptible, unneighborly action stopped it will be greatly appreciated, I assure you.
    One instance in particular is called to our attention--that of a boarding-house keeper in Ashland, who took particular delight in taking people to Medford and introducing them to certain real estate dealers. Our natural conclusion is that some of your real estate men are stooping so low as any knocker could by offering to divide commissions on prospective sales.
    Kindly give such knockers wide publicity and I am sure that your actions will be greatly appreciated by the fair-minded citizens of both Medford and Ashland.
    Thanking you again and wishing you all possible success, I remain,
Secretary, Ashland Commercial Club.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 5, 1909, page 13

A Knocker
is a man who can't see good in any person or thing. It's a habit caused by a disordered liver. If you find that you are beginning to see things through blue spectacles, treat your liver to a  good cleaning-out process with Ballards Herbine. A sure cure for constipation, dyspepsia, indigestion, sick headache, biliousness, all liver, stomach and bowel troubles. Sold by Charles Strang.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 14, 1910, page 5

Don’t “Knock.”
     An exchange says that a new order, the Don’t Knock Society, has recently been organized in Buffalo. “Knock,” in this sense, is a familiar slang word that will be in the dictionaries pretty soon, if it isn't already. It means, don’t spitefully injure, detract or hinder others. The constitution of the Buffalo Don’t Knock Society declares:
     We believe that the practice of speaking ill of our fellow-men, otherwise “knocking,” is detestable, unbrotherly and uncharitable.
     We believe that many lives are ruined daily, that many hearts are made miserable and many men and women driven to desperation by the despicable practice of “knocking.”
     Every one caught “knocking,” saying something ill about anybody else, is fined 1 cent. And if every one who does this had to pay 1 cent for each offense, the accumulated sum would soon be large. There must be criticism, censure and reproof; but “knocking” is an evil habit. Some people “knock” their neighbors, some their acquaintances, behind their backs, some the city or state in which they live, and some are such chronic “knockers” that nobody nor anything suits them. They always pull back, never push; always hinder; never help.
     There are orders and societies enough, goodness knows, but an order of “Don’t Knockers,” if it could keep from “knocking” one another, ought to be beneficial.
Been Handed a Hammer Yet?
     Have you been handed a little toy hammer during the past few days? If not, you’ve got it coming to you, unless you are careful what you say. Mention any matter in an unfavorable way and you are apt to get one handed you.
     For instance, you start in something like this:
     “I went out to Eagle Point last night and I never saw such roads in my—“
     Then you get the hammer. It has already been slipped to a score or more in town, so be careful what you say, for you can’t tell who will dig that instrument up and tender it “yourwards” with a neat little bow.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 3, 1910, page 1

Argues on Train Against Passenger Coming Here--
Says His Friend Made Failure on Roxy Ann
    The following is just a specimen of the knocker arguments used by certain Willamette people against the Rogue River Valley.
    A well-dressed man got on the train at Eugene and walked through the car, and spotting a gentleman and family who looked like new settlers sat down beside the man and began in this fashion:
    "Emigrating, I see. Ha, ha."
    "Yes," replied the man. "I am going to Medford or somewhere near there. Received a booklet and friends wrote, so am going to settle there."
    "Don't do it," said the knocker, "that place is a boom town and next spring will see a panic. Why, I know a lot of folks who have bought there and are paying for some sucker to buy them out. They can't sell. Seventy-five percent of the sales are fictitious and 25 percent of the remaining are inflated and only half are cash sales.
    "A friend told me that the celebrated $400,000 sale was purchased for $40,000 and only $10,000 paid down. Think of it.
    "I was told that almost all of the orchards revert to the owners, for they are not able to pay for them as the crops do not pan out.
    "As to soil, well, it's bum. Granite soil and big rocks. They have to blow holes in the hardpan in order to plant the trees and 60 percent die."
    A Medford man was in the seat ahead and of course boiled over.
    "Were you ever there?" he asked.
    "No," said the knocker.
    "Well," said the Medford man, "you either lied just now or you were badly misinformed."
    "Well," said the knocker, "my friend farmed on Roxy Ann and he got no satisfaction. There's a sample of your land."
    "Huh," said the Medford man, "Roxy Ann is a mountain, not the valley. It's only a pimple on the valley's surface. In fact, do you know anything about the valley? Besides this, do you know that the largest and one of the best orchards is on that mountain?"
    "Which one is that?" said the settler.
    "The Western Oregon orchard, managed by Mr. Westerlund."
    "Oh, Mr. Westerlund," said the settler. "Well, my friend recommended him to me and I guess I'll go there. Westerlund, huh, he won several prizes. I guess, fellow, you have land to sell in this water-soaked forsaken land. Now ain't you?"
    The knocker bolted.
    The Medford man and the settler talked of the valley, and when the train stopped all got off. As the settler left he said:
    "I've got relatives near Sams Valley and, say, doesn't a knocker make you sick."
Medford Sun, December 29, 1910, page 1

    For several hours yesterday The Sun was hesitating. Hesitate and you are lost. The cause of the hesitation was to decide whether or not it would be safe to publish an editorial about the streets, fearing that to do so would "knock the town." It was while in this state of doubt that the worthy street commissioner of Medford beat us to it and cleaned up a block and a half of Main Street from the railway tracks east. He got busy with his nozzles and the way he went at that slumgullion was a caution. You never saw a fodder chopper that tore things up like the street commissioner did, and the beauty of it is that he once more saved the good name of Medford, for otherwise it would have been published broadcast that the streets were the dirtiest they ever were, and it would have "hurt the town."
    Things like that should never be published, for they "hurt the town." That is why The Sun never mentions the subject. For instance, it would not do now to say that Main Street east and west of where the mighty street commissioner left off is ten times muddier than ever it was, nor that North and South Central are the worst that any pavement ever came in contact with--but don't mention it, for it will hurt the town.
    Only yesterday a thoroughbred knocker called at the Sun office. He was treated most courteously and had no right to knock the town. All that was done to him here was to talk to him and to take the small change he had in his fingers, and he was supposed to be a gentleman, but when he went out the door he asked his question:
    "Why don't you plant fish in your lake out in front?"
    "Well, the horses keep wading through there and killing 'em off," was the sad reply.
    So it has been for the winter. Every time the fish get a good start the horses had to trample them underfoot, and if nobody else it was Weeks and McGowan's blacks drawing the hearse. The fish have had a hard time of it. Besides, they were in dire fright at one time that the street commissioner was going to drain the lake and leave the fish high and dry in the dust.
    But let's don't talk about it further; it will hurt the town. Besides, it was put up to the people January 10 and they voted for a continuation of the past and present progressive policy, which includes the streets. As the Evening Apologist once remarked, "The people are to blame. It was put up to them and they voted for it."
    To make a long story short, don't knock the town.
Medford Sun, February 18, 1911, page 2

Is Told That Holes Must Be Blasted to Plant Crops and Trees--
Trains Worked by Hammer Men
    A real estate man who returned Sunday from Portland says the people up there have their hammers out and are knocking hard against Medford and the Rogue River Valley. He represented himself to be in the market for land and asked several of the real estate men about this locality, and every one knocked on it. He was told the people here have to shoot the corn and other products in the ground and have to blast holes in the ground with dynamite to plant trees. He says across the street from the [Portland] depot and in other places are signs for central and eastern Oregon, but nothing is seen about Medford and the Rogue River Valley.
Medford Sun, March 28, 1911, page 6    The DuPont Powder Company actually did demonstrate using dynamite to blast holes in the Agate Desert hardpan for fruit tree planting in April of 1911. See the Medford Sun, April 13, 1911, page 1.

    Unfortunately for Medford and the Rogue River Valley, a great many investors with big money have been driven away by knockers and back-cappers. This city is spending thousands of dollars annually to advertise and bring investors here to develop the resources with which nature has so bounteously endowed it, and what is needed most of all is the money of these investors to create the wealth which is awaiting only for capital.
    Medford is inflicted with a class of citizens that it could very well get along without. It is a class of curbstone real estate brokers who have the idea that if they cannot make all the large and small sales themselves in the country it is their place to knock all other deals that come along.
    It seems that this nondescript outfit throngs the street corners of this city, and by intuition or otherwise is bound to find out, when an investor comes here, how much money he has, what he is after and with whom he is dealing. The first thing the curbstone gentry does is to try to take the customer from whoever he is dealing with and has property to sell or the legitimate agent for the same and make all sorts of false representations to get the would-be investor out of the notion. It seems to be the motto of these curbstoners that if they cannot make the deal themselves to knock the others so that their deal will fall through, whether it will profit them anything or not.
    Curbstoning in itself may be an honest calling, and there is no law to prevent it, but the person following that branch of the real estate business in Medford has no right, moral or otherwise, to retard the development of this wonderful region by driving out capital, as has been the case particularly in the past two or three months. There is no reason why the curbstoner cannot follow the ordinary ethics of the profession, and if all do not happen to think deals are of benefit to them in a general way they at least need not disparage the other propositions, providing sch propositions are not fraudulent.
    This paper has in mind one of these instances of recent occurrence, a deal of great importance that has been made in Medford perhaps in the last few days. It is no less than the leasing of the coal mines which was published in this paper last week. While the deal was pending it was fortunate that few if any of the curbstoners knew anything about it, but the moment that it appeared in The Sun a number of them presented themselves posthaste to the lessees of the coal mine and gave utterance to all sorts of disparaging remarks, asked them why they did not buy so and so and offered various other investments as substitutes. It so happened that the lessees were wise to the situation and properly rebuked the knockers, telling them that they knew what they were about and that the coal was there and in abundance and quality the best, the knockers to the contrary notwithstanding. In a word, they gave the curbstoners a calling down for their life.
Medford Sun, April 30, 1911, page 2

    That Grants Pass is afflicted with some of the same bacteria from which other Southern Oregon towns suffer is indicated by the following editorial reference in the Courier, of recent date:
    What to do with the knocker has again become a serious question in Grants Pass. This man will admit to you that it is a bad practice and wicked in the extreme, but he has got the habit and doesn't know how to cure himself. Poor fellow, he realizes that he is a disgrace to the few friends he has, a nuisance in the town and altogether an unlovely individual. Scripture teaches that it were better for this man to have a stone tied to his neck and be cast into the sea than live to offend the decent people of a community.
Central Point Herald, May 25, 1911, page 2


    One of the most peculiar manifestations of the neighborly spirit as between two nearby towns noticed lately was the spirit exhibited by the Grants Pass people and newspapers on the occasion of Central Point's recent excursion to the Josephine metropolis, says the Central Point Herald. So far as visitors could observe, Grants Pass had her glad hand in the sling that day. Central Pointers had a good time on their own account and paid full price for everything they got including the time they waited for supper. In return the Daily Courier on Monday evening dismissed the occasion with a gloat over the game score, a two-line reference to the 175 excursionists from Central Point and the remark that "Central Point rooters brought their band along and the band played a few doleful airs." Maybe we were doleful, but in God's name, what could make a bunch of normal beings more so than to be marooned in Grants Pass for five mortal hours?
Medford Mail Tribune weekly, June 6, 1912, page 3

Club to Lynch Knocker and Burn Hammer
Commercial Club Plans Great Celebration
To Symbolize the Reign of Harmony in the Valley
And the Death of Discord--Also Banquet.
All Cities of the Valley Invited
To Bring Their Hammers As Fuel for the Flames.

       At a meeting of the special committee of the Medford Commercial Club appointed for the purpose, it was decided to have a grand celebration to "lynch the knocker" and "burn the hammer" Friday evening, December 27 in the public square near the library.
    Following the ceremonies, there will be a light banquet at the Hotel Medford, where brief talks will be made upon the valley's needs and resources.
    It is planned to first parade the "knocker," a straw figure with a gigantic hammer, through the streets to the park. Here incendiary speeches against the knocker will be made and when the indignation of the mob is sufficiently fired, a Ku Klux Klan band will seize him, strap him to the stake and light the bonfire. As it burns, representatives of Ashland, Grants Pass and other towns are expected after brief speeches to hurl their hammers into the blaze.
    Then the club members will sit down at 9 o'clock to a light banquet or Dutch supper at the Hotel Medford, where it is expected that from 400 to 500 will participate. Brief speeches will be made on vital topics by representative citizens of all parts of the country.
    The hearty cooperation and assistance of all commercial bodies is expected and everyone in Medford is expected to assist.

Medford Mail Tribune,
December 7, 1912, page 1    This not to suggest that the KKK was actually active in the Rogue Valley in 1912. The "band" was almost certainly Medford burghers who may or may not have been costumed as KKK--the reference was likely just the reporter's joke. After all, this was three years before Birth of a Nation revived the Klan, and twelve years before the Klan's actual (and brief) emergence in the West.

Lynching the Knocker
   To signalize the era of harmony about to be inaugurated between all sections of the valley and the death of petty discord, enmity and strife, the Medford Commercial Club will on the evening of Friday, December 27, "lynch the knocker and burn the hammer," on the public square near the library building.
    A dummy figure representing the knocker will be chained to the stake in the center of a huge bonfire, after being paraded through the streets and while the band plays and the fire cracks, Ashland, Grants Pass and other towns will add fuel to the flames by throwing in their hammers, while orators pronounce the funeral orations.
    After the ceremonies, the club members and their guests will partake of a light banquet at the Hotel Medford, tickets for which are now on sale at the Commercial Club building for 50 cents apiece.
    It is planned to make the occasion the biggest get-together affair ever undertaken in the valley and the hearty cooperation of the entire valley is requested.
Editorial, Medford Mail Tribune, December 7, 1912, page 4

Medford and Adjoining Towns Will Burn "Knocker" in Effigy.
    MEDFORD, Or., Dec .--(Special.)--The Medford Commercial Club will hold a unique "get-together" meeting the night of December 27, when a "lynch the knocker and burn the hammer" programme will be carried out on the public square in front of the Carnegie library. A dummy figure representing the knocker will be chained to a stake and a huge bonfire built around it, after which representatives from Ashland, Jacksonville, Grants Pass and other districts of the valley will pass in parade and throw in the hammers of discord, enmity and strife.
    After the ceremony funeral orations will be delivered by prominent speakers and a banquet will be served in the Hotel Medford for 400 persons. It is planned to make the occasion the biggest and most unique booster meeting ever undertaken in the valley.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 10, 1912, page 6

    Medford Commercial Club is to hold a meeting and a banquet December 27 in Medford in which all towns and communities of the valley are invited to participate and the purpose of which will be to do away with the knocker and his hammer. His manner of taking off will be by burning at the stake after first being paraded through the streets to the park. A straw figure will be made up to represent the "knocker." Ashland, Grants Pass and other towns, says the Mail Tribune, will be expected to consign their hammers to the blaze after brief speeches. The idea is a good one, and no better thing for the valley could happen than to have all the hammers disposed of in some such permanent way. No good can come from any one town in the valley knocking another or from one person in any community or city knocking that community or city. Much good ought to come from earnest cooperation on the part of each and every person in the valley, and whether they can attend the meeting or not it would be a good thing to get rid of all the hammers whether they belong to some town or city or are simply individual property. "If you can't boost, don't knock."
Central Point Herald, December 12, 1912, page 2

Finds Knockers Wrong As Usual
     O. H. Barnhill of Ashland spent Tuesday in Medford interviewing Prof. P. J. O'Gara for a character sketch he is writing for Sunset magazine.
     "I heard in Ashland that Medford was all in," said Mr. Barnhill, "and that half the stores were vacant and times very dull. I walked from end to end on Main Street and found only two vacant store rooms and generally found much better business here than I had been led to expect. I don't see anything the matter with Medford and wish all our other towns were in as good condition.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, May 27, 1913, page 2

Wowie! What a Hot One.
    Here's one from the Salt Lake City Times:
"After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad and the vampire, He had some awful 'substance' left with which He made a 'knocker.' A knocker is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water-sogged brain, and a combination backbone made of jelly and glue. Where other people have their hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles. When the knocker comes down the street honest men turn their backs, the angels weep tears in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out. No man has the right to knock as long as there is a pool of water deep enough to drown his body in, or a rope to hang his carcass with. Judas Iscariot was a gentleman compared to a knocker, for after betraying his Master he had enough character to hang himself, and a knocker has not."
Central Point Herald, June 4, 1914, page 3

    Lord, please don't let this town grow. I've been here for eight years, and during that time I've knocked everything and everybody; no firm or individual has established a business here without my doing all I could to put them out of business. I've lied about them. I have done all I could to keep the town from ever growing and never have spoken a good word for it. I've made Marshal Holmes stop the boys playing ball on my vacant land. It pains me, O Lord, to see that in spite of my knocking it is steadily growing. Someday I fear I will be called upon to put down a sidewalk in front of my property, and who knows but what the city council may levy another tax against me. O Lord, please see that the Mayor and council do not burden me any more, 'tis more than I can bear. It would cost me money, though all that I have was made right in this town. Then, too, more people might come if the town grows. I ask, therefore, to keep this town at a standstill, that I may continue to knock. Amen.
Central Point Herald, November 19, 1914, page 2

The Knocker's Prayer
    Lord, please don't let this town grow or valley develop. I've been here for many years, and during that time I've fought every public improvement. I've knocked everything and everybody.
    No firm or individual has established a business here without my doing all I could to put them out of business. No man ever held public office that I have not called a grafter. I've lied about everyone, and would have stolen from them if I had the courage. I have done all I could to keep the town from growing and the valley from prospering, and have never spoken a good word for anyone, as thou knowest, good Lord.
    I've knocked hard and often. Whenever I saw anyone prospering or enjoying themselves, I've started something to kill the business or spoil the fun. Whenever someone tried to start something I've done my best to throw cold water on it. I've fought irrigation in any form, lest it make the valley productive. I've knocked the fruit business and lied about the orchards.  I've knocked the beet sugar factory and kept my acquaintances from signing an acreage, lest they make more than I do. I've knocked a lumber mill and all other enterprises trying to put life into the community--lest someone else makes something.
    Lord, I've never bought a thing in town that I could get from a mail-order house. I've poisoned my neighbors' dogs and fed my chickens on his garden. I'm against building a new church--even though I give nothing. Yet, in spite of all I can do, I am afraid the town is growing. Some day I fear I will be called upon to put cement walks in front of my place, and who knows but what I may have to help keep up the streets that run by my premises? This would be more than I can bear. It would cost me money, though I have made all I have right here. Then, too, more people might come if the town grows, which would cause me to lose some of my pull, for when times are dull the knocker comes into his own. I ask, therefore, to keep this town and valley at a standstill, that I may continue to be one of the chiefs.
    Give us this day our daily gloom; strengthen mine arm and leaden my hammer, that the blows may fall more heavily upon mine enemy, Progress. O, Lord, there has come into our midst those who seek to foster progress and industry upon us that shall maketh us to labor and sweat, and Thou knowest that Thy servant hast never perspired sufficient in lo! these many years to irrigate the moss that so flourisheth on his back. Spare us, O Lord, these innovations that we may vegetate and hibernate in sweet sloth. Amen.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 1, 1915, page 4

The Knocker's Creed
    I believe that nothing is right. I believe everything is wrong. I believe I alone have the right idea. The town is wrong, the editor is wrong, the teachers are wrong, the people are wrong, the things they are wrong, and they are doing them in the wrong way anyhow. I believe I could fix things if they would let me. If they don't I will get a lot of other fellows like myself and we will have a law passed to make others do things the way WE want them done.
    I do not believe that the town ought to grow. It is too big now. I believe in fighting every public improvement and in spoiling everybody's pleasure. I am always to the front in opposing things, and never yet have I advanced an idea or supported a movement that would make people happier or add to the pleasure of man, woman or child. I am opposed to fun and am the happiest at a funeral. I believe in starting reforms that will take all the joy out of life. It's a sad world and I am glad of it. Amen.--Ex. ["Exchange."]
Jacksonville Post, May 22, 1915, page 1

    Yreka, California has extended an invitation to members of the Medford Commercial Club to attend its celebration of its third anniversary on April 29, at which time it will escort the remains of Messrs. Knocker and Pessimist to the city limits and cremate them in the presence of Enterprise and Prosperity and their confident hosts. An extensive program has been prepared, including a banquet, at which there will be progressive addresses and music. Robert J. Nixon, the veteran newspaper man, will deliver the funeral oration during the obsequies over the ashes of the doomed Knocker and Pessimist, followed by other distinguished speakers in the banquet hall.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 21, 1916, page 2


Last revised February 22, 2022