Medford in 1885

Dr. E. P. Geary, Who Was the First Executive of Medford City Government,
Tells of Early Days--Many Changes Made.
    "Medford has certainly grown since the time when I had the honor of directing her endeavors as mayor," stated Dr. E. P. Geary of Portland, who spent Monday in this city. Dr. Geary was mayor of the city in 1885 when the town was first incorporated.
    "In those days where now large modern business blocks stand we had nothing but brush to levy taxes on. It was a crying need in those days to secure money enough to cut the brush back along the street now known as Main. We had little money for improvements, and I remember well agitation even at that early date to bond the little town in order that it might grow. The seed of progressiveness which was sown at that time has since produced wonderful results.
    "Being mayor in 1885 was not much of a job. I imagine it would cut heavily into a physician's time should he tackle the job now."
Medford Mail Tribune, February 27, 1912, page 2
    Medford (Or. & C.)--Bear cr. nearby. Trout and salmon; May and June best months; hotel $2 p. d.
William Harris, The Angler's Guide Book and Tourists' Gazetteer of the Fishing Waters of the United States and Canada, The American Angler, 1885

    The new town of Medford, situated on the railroad at the point nearest Jacksonville, has grown in a few months to be a thriving place of about a hundred houses, but it has not, as many expected, robbed Jacksonville of its trade or of its importance as a general center.
A.H., "Jackson County," Oregonian, Portland, April 25, 1885, page 4

    Four miles farther down the R.R. is Medford, one of the most business places in the valley, considering its age. It is principally settled by people from Atlantic states. It is located 4 miles east of Jacksonville, on the west side of Bear Creek. The land where the town is located is poor and gravelly, except a small part of the south end. Four miles northwesterly is Central Point. Here are a few business places, but the R.R. managers saw fit to pass this Central Point by without giving them a depot, and this has not only injured the old settlers but evidently has injured those who are expending their means in Medford, as the company is now aiding in putting in a switch at Central Point. If they had put this in at the beginning the principal part of those in Medford would have preferred to have went into business at Central Point. But now two towns so near each other will not do as well as one would
Martin Peterson, "Descriptive Letter of Jackson County," Ashland Tidings, June 12, 1885, page 1

    Saturday, Sept. 26[, 1885]. We came through Rogue River Valley. It is a nice country, the first we have seen since leaving the Willamette. Passed through Center [Central] Point, Medford, Phoenix, Talent and Ashland. Medford is a new town and a lively little place. Ashland is quite a town; the business part is crowded together terribly and the streets are narrow. We are camped in the edge of town.
Mary E. Lacey Herren, "'This Worry I have': Mary Herren Journal," Brenda Hood, ed., Oregon Historical Quarterly, Fall 1979, page 235

    Our valley is filling up very fast with solid, substantial men from the East, and our towns along the railroad are building up very fast, and almost every acre of land that will do for a garden spot or a chicken ranch is being taken up, and the wonder is how so many families live in our small towns and more especially our new towns, for the soil where they are built is so poor that it will hardly sprout blackeyed peas, and still they appear to live and dress well. Medford, the principal railroad town in the valley, is steadily growing; new buildings are going up every day, and car and wagon loads of lumber are continually arriving, but the people of Medford are not satisfied with wooden shanties, they are putting up a number of substantial brick buildings, besides a number of wooden buildings.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Items," Roseburg Review, October 16, 1885, page 3

    In company with Jacob Wagner, the Tidings editor took a ride through a good portion of the central part of the valley last Saturday, stopping at all the towns and budding cities on the route. At nearly every town the citizens appeared to think that every other town in the valley was on its last legs, and that theirs was to be the chief city of the county. Having seen them all within a very short time, we can report that none are yet buried as completely as Pompeii and Herculaneum, and at every place there was signs of life and hope. At Talent several new buildings give the village an air of improvement and prosperity. At Phoenix little improvement is to be seen, but the town has its flourishing mills and its steady, modest business and is apparently undisturbed by dreams of any mushroom growth in the immediate future.
    The building boom which has made the place so lively during the summer still continues. The fine large brick buildings erected by Geo. W. Williams and J. S. Howard are about ready for the plasterers. The block is two stories in height, and the lower part will contain four fine store rooms. Mr. Howard will occupy his own building--his store in the lower part and a fine dwelling fitted up above. D. H. Miller & Co. will occupy the largest of the other three stores with their hardware and drug business, and the post office. One of the others will be a bakery, and other a jewelry store, it is said. The Byers & Jacobs brick is being fitted up for a hotel and will have 27 fine lodging rooms and a parlor on the second floor. Angle & Plymale, who carry a large stock of general merchandise, are preparing to build a substantial brick store immediately east of the wooden building now occupied by them. The foundation is already laid. A. L. Johnson has just moved into his new brick dwelling, at the front of which is his banking room, fitted up with a fireproof vault of the most approved design. A number of fine dwellings about the town have recently been completed, and two or three wooden business houses are being finished up. I. A. Webb, the contractor and builder, has the contract for several new buildings, among them being a dwelling for Mr. Dorson, in Howard's addition, and A. P. Talent is preparing to put up a dwelling upon his lot. The main business street has been greatly improved by a line of sidewalk on each side within the past two months, and altogether the town looks more businesslike and settled than at the last visit of the writer. D. W. Matthews, formerly of this place, has his drug store in faultless condition and appears to be doing a good business. W. H. Mayfield is landlord of the Central Hotel, R. F. High has a barber shop here, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert keep a restaurant, and Chas. Hosley, of Ashland, is one of the proprietors of the handsome new meat market recently opened.
Ashland Tidings, October 30, 1885, page 3

Last revised March 28, 2020
For more complete names of persons identified by initials, see the Index.