Medford in 1900

    We give above a picture of a young western city. It is Medford, upon the Pacific Slope, in the southwestern part of Oregon. We call attention to this place as presenting a very interesting example of the rise and progress of a typical western town and of the manner and value of the work our Church is doing through the instrumentality of its Home Missionary and Church Erection Boards.
    The pastor writes that the view is taken from the water tower, about a block and a half west of the church. In the foreground are seen the Presbyterian Church, and upon the right the manse. The church is on the corner of the main business street, about two blocks from the center of the city. The lot extends to the small oak tree seen in the picture, and the manse lot occupies the most of the remainder of the block to the dividing fence. In the picture the railway station shows as standing across the street [actually at the far end of Main, in the background], but a large force of men are at work upon a new depot, which is to be the largest and most commodious between Portland and Sacramento. This will be seen across the track where in the picture (if you use a magnifying glass) you can see a covered wagon standing.
    A large brick hotel is to take the place of the wooden structure seen on the corner near the depot, but the principal part of the residence portion of the city does not appear in the picture. The site, as is evident, is picturesque and beautiful. In the background appears the magnificent range of the Cascade Mountains, distant about thirty miles, the highest peak of which is Mt. Pitt, which reaches an altitude of 10,500 feet.
    The life and progress of our Church in this place is an illustration of what is being done in the hundreds of young communities springing up and growing rapidly to maturity throughout the great western empire.
    Medford was founded in 1883, upon the railroad newly opened between Portland and Sacramento. [The railroad reached Medford, then Ashland in 1884; it didn't link Portland and Sacramento until 1887.] The Presbyterian home missionary was the first upon the ground, and in 1885 a little church of nine members was organized. In December 1886 the present writer received a letter from the minister in charge in which he said: "At the last meeting of the Presbytery I state that it is the purpose of our people in Medford to build a church edifice, not an expensive one, but neat and comfortable, sufficiently large to meet present wants. To do this we would need the aid of the Board of Church Erection, but how much we could not then say. The Presbytery, however, agreed to recommend our contemplated church to the Board, making the estimate at $400. Well, we have gotten the stone for the foundation and the lumber together, and the church is now in process of building, thus putting our shoulder to the wheel first. We now think $500 will be severely needed to help us finish and be wholly out of debt.
    "At least we have determined to make up the rest, whatever it may be. Now, dear brother, what can you do for us? Medford is a new town on the railroad, is three years old, has now some 500 inhabitants and not a church edifice of any denomination in it yet, though our Methodist and Baptist brethren are talking of building. I began first of all to preach there, and that, too, in a board shanty used as a school building. We have eleven members in the town and vicinity, four more sixteen miles away whose ecclesiastical relations are with us. We have no session as yet, but hope to have one in due time. We are all poor in purse, the Lord knows whether in spirit. Let us close with; 'What can you do for us?'
    "Your co-laborer in the Lord,
    It was not, however, until the next August (1887) that the building was far enough advanced to make formal application to the Board. Then the membership had grown to twenty-one, but the congregation could only raise $100 towards the salary of the pastor. The Home Board sustained him upon the field, and the Board of Church Erection promised $500 towards the $1,500 building in process of erection. In August the building was completed without debt, Mr. W. S. Ladd and Mr. H. W. Corbett each contributing $100 in accordance with their declared resolve to have a share in every Presbyterian church building in Oregon.
    For the next eight years the town and the church steadily grew in numbers, until, in 1895, notwithstanding several churches of other denominations had been organized, the membership reached eighty, and the congregation was able to contribute $500 towards the support of the pastor.
    Then occurred what seemed a great misfortune. August 17, 1895, the church building was utterly destroyed by fire. The people, not discouraged, bravely undertook the work of rebuilding. By the provision of the Board that it shall always hold a policy of insurance for the amount of its mortgage, $700 was recovered from the company.
    To this the Board added $100, and the people undertook the erection of a new and more commodious building, costing about $2,500. This it will be remembered was just at the crisis of the "hard times" following the great business depression of 1893 and 1894. The story of the self-denial with which they met this emergency is well worth reading. The pastor, Rev. A. S. Foster, wrote: "It is earnestly hoped that the Board may grant the full amount asked in this application. It is only by a great struggle and great sacrifices that the church can hope to rebuild. For example: One young lady forgoes purchasing gold-bowed glasses and puts the $8 into the church; a number of children have given from 50 cents to one dollar each; the Sunday school children went without Christmas presents and gave their money towards the building; $13 were given by the Sunday school; one lady received a present of money from the East for Christmas and quietly gave it to the church, and other similar instances might be cited. These are samples of the sacrifices made, and of the earnestness and anxiety of the people to assist in the rebuilding of the church. The very best has been done that can be on the field in view of the hard times and the poverty of the people."
    With such energy and devotion success was assured and the building completed.
    Three years more elapsed, and the people were ready to complete the work by buying a commodious and attractive manse.
    Again they came to the Board, but it was to borrow from the manse fund. In making application the pastor wrote:
    "Medford remembers with gratitude the assistance your Board gave in the erection of a house of worship after the fire two years ago. But now we need a manse. We have just assumed self-support, and therefore both pastor and people are called upon for heroic self-denial. But I think we could raise five or six hundred dollars towards a manse next summer provided we could borrow six or seven hundred more from the loan fund, which the church and minister could easily pay off in installments of one hundred dollars per annum, as rent costs that much now. We need at least a thousand- or a twelve-hundred-dollar house, and a lot costs about two hundred. Our city now has about 3,000 inhabitants, and will undoubtedly be the largest city in Southern Oregon in another year. Our church here, too, has taken a prominent stand in the community."
    Upon canvassing the congregation the pastor's expectations were more than fulfilled, and a property costing $1,500, adjoining the church, and as represented in the picture, was bought, and with a loan of $500 from the Board, to be repaid without interest in five annual installments, will be owned without other debt, and the church, now independent and self-supporting, has before it a bright and promising future of usefulness in the Master's work.
    Is not this history, running through some fourteen years of steady advance, an object lesson, picturing the genesis and development of a pioneer Presbyterian church; the fostering care of the Church at large over its infant congregations, and the intimate and helpful cooperation of the Boards, as established agencies, doing its work? The present pastor is the Rev. Adolph Haberly.
    Starting in 1885, in a village of 500, with nine members and an annual income towards its own support of one hundred dollars, it has grown to a membership of nearly one hundred, and in a city of 3,000 inhabitants it is self-supporting.
    With the aid of $600 from the Board of Church Erection as a grant, and $500 as a loan and protected by the insurance policy held by the Board from disastrous loss, it has erected two houses of worship and a beautiful manse, and owns property valued at not less than $5,000, free from indebtedness except to the Board.
    It is for such work that our churches are contributing to the Boards they have established as their agencies, and the fruits thereof will be gathered for generations to come.
E. N. W.
The Assembly Herald, April 1900, page 526

    MEDFORD, Jackson Co., pop. 2,500; fire area 6 blocks; bldgs., brick and wood, 2 and 3 stories; wooden roofs not permitted; no fireworks ord. Fire dept.--1 hose carriage, 1 extension ladder; hose, rubber good 500 ft.; value of equipment $1,000; value of bldgs. $400; membership 22, volunteers; bell alarm.
    Water Supply--Source, Bear Creek; system, gravity; pump from canal to reservoir; capacity 66,000 gals.; pumping engines, dy. capacity 432,000 gals.; pipe 2¾ miles, 6 to 2 in. dia.; 150 taps; service pipe galv. iron; 19 hydrants; 25 valves; pressure, fire 150 pounds; cost to construct to date $26,000; int. on bonds 6 percent; ann. ex. $1,100.
The Insurance Year Book 1900-1901, The Spectator Company, page 281

    It is surprising that Medford's population does not reach 2,000, in which one respect it seems to fall behind Ashland. In business, enterprise and life, however, Medford far outstrips Peach Blow Heaven.--Klamath Falls Republican.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, December 28, 1900, page 7   The Mail performed its own count and found a total of 2109 residents in Medford.

    A Stranger:--"I notice in Medford that very nearly all your business blocks are built of brick. I like that. It indicates a substantiality and stability that is not often seen in towns the size of Medford. It indicates a permanency that is good for a town--and I tell you I like it. I have no personal interest in your town as yet, but I hope to have, and if any one thing more than another would induce me to become interested it would be your fine brick buildings, your well-selected and well-arranged stocks of goods, and your enterprising business men."

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, September 21, 1900, page 7

Last revised March 1, 2011