Medford in 1894

A Stranger's Opinion of Medford.
    Mr. S. S. Strayer, who, with his family, arrived in Medford a few weeks ago, writes a letter descriptive of his trip west and of Medford and the valley to the Times, published at Dallas Center, Iowa, which place was his former home. The letter was written under date of January 23, 1894, and that point relative to this locality and our people is given below:
    "We arrived here last Friday evening. Hired a wagon to take us out to John D. Whitman's. Found him well, had a hearty hand shaking, and they seemed pleased to see us, but were taken by surprise as was most everyone else."
    [Right here the gentleman tells of his trip through California, which would not be of local interest.]--ED.
    "We finally reached our destination and were soon seated at the hospitable board of our old neighbor, John D. Whitman, partaking of an excellent supper, supplemented with a dish of fine pears and the finest apples we ever laid eyes on. Well, we were not very hungry just then, but we could not resist the temptation and think we did justice to the contents of that dish. After a good rest that night we took in the city of Medford, which we found a much better town than we had expected to find. Word was sent out to W. S. Reep, who met us that evening, and next morning came with a conveyance to take us to Mr. Stewart's residence, which is one of the finest in the valley, and spent a few days with him. This is a beautiful day, the robins and larks are singing and the sun is shining in all its brilliancy. Mr. Stewart and his boys are loading a car with fine apples, and I take this favorable opportunity to write a few sheets to my friends in Iowa. I like this valley well. We have rented a small house in Medford, at $4 per month, and expert to move tomorrow, no special interference. I think we can live cheaper here than in any place we have seen in our long journey. This is one of the most plentiful countries as far as living goes. Fuel is cheap and plenty. We are highly pleased with our journey in the far west.
Medford Mail, February 23, 1894, page 2

    Last week's Gazette (Jan. 25), contained some information from Perry Tanquary which we meet by saying that we buy the same kind of "flour" (?) at from five to ten cents less per hundred for our cow! But of course she is a grade Royal Jersey.
    On the 28th of January our party met at the home of Dr. Wait, in the evening, a select few to practice the chants of the Episcopal church, and, of course, hymns. One gentleman had been in the boy choir of St. Paul's, London, and, of course, was au fait. The Doctor's wife, in conversation, said that the present year was the best financially they had ever seen, and that when seven years ago they came to the town a dollar was an unusual apparition; and, in fact, for the first year they got little but produce, which was all well enough, for bread and meat was their principal subsistence for the first year.
    The Oregon & California Railroad reached this far only eight years ago, and was completed through to the Sacramento about 1887. The Doctor came from Nebraska, Richardson County, to California. Hence, we must call this "good times" from the standpoint of a Southern Oregonian.
    A few days ago Mrs. Kendall was at a neighbor's whose husband owns a large tract of "sugar pine" near Crater Lake, at the head of Rogue River, who inquired if we would go on a week's "outing," expenses paid, and write [it] up. Yes, we'll go, for it is a vast arena of sightseeing, and takes us to the eastern declivities of the Cascades, where we overlook the "lake country" and sage plains for one hundred and fifty miles. The nearest stopping point will be seventy-five miles. The name is [Erick G.] Salstrom--Scandinavian. He has offered the new "Southern Short Line" eighty acres of soil gratis for a station, reserving the timber. Elsewhere it has been explained that "sugar pine" is superior to hard or yellow pine, and little inferior to soft or white.
    Crater Lake can be better described after seeing, but those who have observed tell us that it is on the highest of the surrounding Cascades, nearly up to the summer snow limit of "Thielsen" (Teelsen), a "snow cap." At one time the immediate walls were so perpendicular that no one attempted to reach it, and the United States troops once at Fort Klamath, now abandoned, constructed an approach. It is said to be well stocked with trout, but how they got in no one can even surmise, for there is no visible indication of an outlet. We'll know more someday, perhaps. On this tract the Rogue River in four leaps descends two hundred feet--a magnificent water power.
    It is said that the railroad will resume work by April first, and has for its ocean terminus Crescent City, where the California boundary strikes the Pacific. When the road is completed freights will be reduced one dollar per hundred from San Francisco. It is a curious circumstance that all San Francisco heavy freight comes to this valley by way of Yaquina Bay over a "stub" of this "Southern California." Why we don't know.
    Aaron Andrews talks of sinking the funds from his Illinois speculation in some of the dirt of this valley. Some of us decidedly disapprove, for he has already a good enough home in the mountains, all paid for and not a cent of debt. He has been surveying a ranch and some mining claims on Applegate, a stream twenty miles west, flowing northward to Rogue River, and has a few more jobs to complete over eastward on Antelope and Butte creeks.
    Our folks make three times the butter we use, but have been able to sell but once. Thirty pounds will glut the market for a week, and after it has been in the store for three days smells like cheese. No iota can be shipped. The trade in eggs and fowls, nevertheless, is brisk, for they bear transportation. The market is supplied well with the best of salmon. At supper on "groundhog day" we had all we could eat for ten cents. We get as much beef for the money as we used to find at Geenen's or John Franz's.
    The "peanut roaster" railroad changed crews two weeks ago, but the new fireman could not "raise the steam," and so the old hand was brought back, and now they drive twice as fast as before.
    A week ago Mrs. K. and Abby took a ride on it, and they stopped at our gate. Some time ago we described the road as five and a half miles long, connecting Jacksonville with the "Southern" at this place. The young conductor of course is off, but he is a lovely and unassuming little fellow.
    The grippe has not quite abandoned this land, but is not severe; and the writer just now has a touch. Immigration has stopped, no one having come for a month. Mr. Craven, the Methodist minister, has a brother--a Quaker--in the Grellet neighborhood, and once lived at Burr Oak. White, from Smith Center, seems to be getting into business, and is much liked. Our old friend, Prof. James Cox, talks of coming to this county to teach.
    So far we have seen no wild meat is brought in to sell, and only one lot of fowl, and they small ducks, scarcely half as large as mallards. Nevertheless, one was a "redhead."
    Today a neighbor young lady came to ask for skim milk. Abby poured out a lot, and the lady said: "How much?" "Nothing, it is skim milk." "Why, we've been paying four cents a quart for the same kind!" Now the "women" have a trade on foot.     Tonight Andrews and George are here, and the former is discussing prunes and apples with Mrs. K. The fruit crop was a failure last year in the "States," and yet fruit, especially the dried, is here a drag. At the fruit house apples with a mere speck on each can be bought for twenty cents per bushel. Hog packing is well over, and farmers have netted an average of seventy-five cents per bushel for their wheat fed to the animals. The mill and feed stores pay forty cents for wheat, and retail it at sixty. No, the millers give no money, but pay in any product of the establishment.
    Nearly all the accessions to the Methodists at the "revival" joined by letter and were mainly quite recent immigrants; hence they represented church elsewhere. At the Disciples all but one or two were renewals. One man said, "Oh yes, I belong in the States, but my bible don't describe any of the bodies here represented; and God is said to know the end from the beginning; guess I'll wait for a revelation." The Presbyterians claim quite a number of unattached and begin a protracted meeting in two weeks to compass their acquisition. The Christian Endeavor is here in some force but are discountenanced by the regular clergy. The Y.M.C.A. seems to be paling before other agencies on this coast, and a grey-headed Presbyterian elder remarked that it had outlived its days of usefulness and had never benefited the church.
    A new addition has been plotted on [the] west side of town just beyond us, in acre lots, sixty dollars each.

Medford, Oregon, Feb. 5, 1894.
Beloit Gazette, Beloit, Kansas, March 1, 1894, page 4  This letter was abridged on the front page of the Medford Mail of March 30, 1894.

Has It Ever Occurred to You--
   That Medford enjoys a great many things which larger cities lack?
   That many people here in town don't know that we have:
    A beautiful $12,000 school house, and that we will be compelled to build another very soon.
    A business college, occupying a whole building, built expressly for that purpose.
    A kindergarten.
    Six churches, and seven denominations.
    An ice factory.
    A brewery.
    A distillery.
    A large flour mill.
    A sash and door factory.
    Two lumber yards.
    A furniture factory.
    Two hotels.
    Two livery stables.
    A bank.
    An opera house.
    A half dozen large grocery houses.
    Five clothing and dry goods houses.
    Two millinery stores.
    Two hardware stores.
    Three implement houses.
    Two candy factories.
    Three second hand stores.
    Three jewelers.
    Two pork packing houses.
    Two photograph galleries.
    Three bakeries.
    Two feed and commission stores.
    Two furniture stores.
    Two blacksmith shops.
    Fruit warehouses.
    And after them all a bright, newsy paper that is thoroughly imbued with a belief in the power of mind over matter, and that a proper combination of brain and muscle has more of the elements of progress and prosperity in it than law and politics can knock out.
Medford Mail, June 8, 1894, page 3

    She never takes a backward step--that's Medford. She builds one or more brick blocks and an hundred or more residences each year--that's Medford. The people always put their shoulder to the wheel of progress and push hard--those are Medford people. She has added telephone connections and an electric light plant this season--that's Medford. Not a dwelling house is there for rent--that's Medford. Not a vacant store building--that's Medford. Never has had a business failure--that's Medford. Merchants all doing a good business--that's Medford. Farmers and stockmen drive an hundred or more miles to trade--in Medford.
Medford Mail, October 5, 1894, page 2

Medford's Invigorating "Ozone."
    Acts of courtesy, a spirit of progress and good will toward our fellow man are sure to reap a just reward. Upon the occasion of the State Horticultural Society's meeting at Ashland and when these members reached Medford from the north, they were met at the depot with the brass band, baskets and bouquets of flowers, and baskets and boxes of fruit. The little demonstration didn't cost much--in fact only a little trouble--but it advertised our city more than any one act that has been performed during the last twelve months.
    This is the way the Rural Northwest writes of the occasion:
    "There seems to be more 'ozone' in the air in Southern Oregon than in some other portions of the state. When the members of the Oregon State Horticultural Society, on their way to Ashland, reached the enterprising young city of Medford they were met by a brass band, and a large delegation of citizens who literally overwhelmed the members with bouquets and sent each on his way laden with a large basket of the choice fruits grown about Medford, and a pleasant remembrance. Such a demonstration would not have been strange in Dakota in its palmy days, but it is not a very common thing in Oregon. Naturally the visitors were impressed with the fact that Medford is going to increase in size and importance--because it has the kind of citizens who build up cities."
    A little further on in the Northwest's article appears the following, which is a part of the resolutions passed by the board at their meeting:
    "That special thanks are likewise due the people of Medford, and the ladies particularly, for the surprise of Tuesday morning last when they held up our train, but instead of robbing us, loaded us down with delicious fruit and covered us with beautiful roses."

Medford Mail, November 9, 1894, page 2

    Medford, Oregon.--Medford is one of the comparatively new towns of the southern part of the state. It is located in the Rogue River Valley, on the line of the Southern Pacific railroad, and is 328 miles south of Portland and 444 north of San Francisco. It was established about 10 years ago, and now has a population of some 1,800. Medford is four miles east of Jacksonville, the judicial seat of Jackson County, the two towns being connected by a steam-motor line.
    The country in the immediate vicinity of Medford is devoted almost entirely to the raising of corn, wheat, rye, barley, fruits and vegetables. Almonds, grapes, figs and fruits of a semi-tropical nature are raised here to perfection. The melons and peaches of the Rogue River Valley are renowned for their size and quality, and the fruit industry here is conducted on a scale that has made this one of the best-known fruit-producing belts on the coast.
    Medford supports a number of manufacturing industries, among which is a distillery with a daily capacity of 25 barrels, two pork-parking establishments, a sash, door and planing mill, a flouring mill with a capacity of 100 barrels a day, and
a brewery and an ice plant. The distillery has been in successful operation here for more than two years past. The inducements offered for the location of this plant at Medford were a liberal bonus by the people of the place and the special adaptability of the soil of the tributary section to the raising of the finest quality of corn. The farmers in the immediate vicinity of Medford, and in Klamath and Lake counties, in the extreme southern part of Oregon, have found a valuable market for their hogs at the pork-packing establishment established at Medford. The manufacturing industries located here have done much to advance the interests of the town, and it is significant of the enterprise of the people here that increased interest is yearly being paid to manufacturing at this point.
    Medford boasts of a number of fine brick blocks which line the main street. The business community is generally prosperous, and a number of the leading stores carry very heavy stocks of goods. Good public schools are maintained here. A new frame six-room school building has recently been erected at Medford, at a cost of $10,000. This building is well ventilated, it is heated by hot air, and is perfect in all its appointments. Six teachers are employed in the public schools at this point, and the average daily attendance of scholars is about 500. Seven churches are maintained at Medford. These are the Presbyterian, Episcopal, Christian, two Methodist, Baptist and Catholic. All of these religious organizations own church buildings of their own. Medford contains one bank, and one weekly newspaper, The Mail, is published in the town. Medford also boasts of a fine opera house, with a seating capacity of 500. One hotel and two livery stables furnish ample accommodations to the traveling public. The assessed valuation of city property at Medford is $262,413, and the only bonded indebtedness of the municipality is that incurred for the construction of the city waterworks plant, which involved an outlay of $20,000.
    The motor line which connects Medford with Jacksonville makes three round trips daily between these two points. Work has actually been begun on the extension of this road to tap an unrivaled sugar pine district, 75 miles distant from Medford. This road will ultimately be extended to Klamath Falls, 75 miles southeast of Medford. Klamath Falls is the center of a wonderfully rich farming district, and will prove a most important point on the completion of the road there. It is estimated that 50 miles of the proposed route of the new road lies through an inexhaustible forest of sugar pine timber belt, and the opening of this timber belt to the markets of Medford will do much to add to the solid prosperity of the latter place. That the people of Medford appreciate the benefits of the extension of the road is attested by the statement that they subscribed a bonus of $40,000 to the company building the line.
    If the resources of the tributary country and the prospective development of this district are duly considered, the prices asked for farming lands in the immediate vicinity of Medford are not unreasonable. Messrs. Hamilton & Palm, the leading real estate firm of Medford, quote the property adjoining the city limits at $75 per acre. This price decreases as the distance from the town limits increases. Messrs. Hamilton & Palm are thoroughly conversant with both city property and farm values in this part of the state, and information furnished by them on this section can be regarded as strictly reliable.
    The Hotel Medford, of which M. Purdin is proprietor, is conveniently arranged for the accommodation of commercial travelers, for whom free sample rooms are provided. This popular hostelry is located directly opposite the Southern Pacific Company's depot. The building is constructed of brick, it is two stories in height, and is comparatively secure from all danger of fire. The rates per day at the Hotel Medford are from $1.25 to $2. Courteous treatment of guests and an excellent table service are prominent features connected with the management of this hotel. Traveling men, and tourists especially, have found Medford's hotel accommodations better than the average, probably for the reason that the location of the town is such that a large surrounding country is more accessible from this point than from any other.
    One of the prominent citizens of Medford, and Jackson County, is D. H. Miller, who has lived in the Rogue River Valley since 1876. Mr. Miller, although a comparatively young man, is the pioneer merchant of Medford, having been the first to engage in business at this point. he first opened a store here nearly 10 years ago. He is a prosperous merchant, and seems to have the utmost confidence in the future growth and development of Medford and the Rogue River Valley.
    The present postmaster at Medford is J. S. Howard, who has lived in Jackson County since 1860. Mr. Howard is a civil engineer by profession, and he made the preliminary survey through Southern Oregon and Northern California for the Southern Pacific railroad. Jackson County was but sparsely settled at that time, and Medford had not yet been heard of. Mr. Howard thinks, however, that the development which this section of the country has had during recent years will be greatly increased in the future, owing to the natural resources of the district that, until recently, have been scarcely known.
Edward Gardner Jones, ed., The Oregonian's Handbook of the Pacific Northwest, 1894, page 210

Last revised September 21, 2019