Medford Pioneers: The Meekers
Forty-two apples that weighed forty-five pounds made up a box of fruit sent from Medford this week by merchant W. H. Meeker to his brother-in-law, J. R. Brown, at Manson, Iowa. They were fall pippins and as fine specimens of the wonderful fruit products of this country as one often sees. The average measurement of the apples was twelve inches, and some of them weighed over twenty ounces. This fruit was grown up on Evans Creek by a Mr. Reynolds. No better evidence need be produced favorable to the great Rogue River Valley than the fact that a great many of our citizens are sending samples of our products to their friends in the East. They figure that a country that can produce as this does is good enough for the best people on earth, and they are anxious that their friends and relatives should enjoy some of its great blessings, and these means are taken to convince them that their written description can be backed by substantial evidence. Mr. Meeker is one of the several who is willing to share with his relatives the goods of this Eden land of ours, and while thus sharing he can gently remind them that there is room for a few more good hustlers in this valley.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, October 19, 1894, page 3
Rev. E. E. Thompson was up from Grants Pass last week and with him came Messrs. Meeker, Sturgis and Dorsey, three friends of his from Iowa. Mr. Thompson has been in correspondence with these gentlemen for some time and it was through his recommendation that they came to Oregon. Upon visiting Medford they decided to locate in this particular locality and have rented the G. W. Howard, M. S. Damon and Rev. Edmunds tenement houses and will commence housekeeping as soon as their household effects arrive from Iowa. The people have all returned to Grants Pass where they will await the arrival of their goods which were shipped to that place but which will not be unloaded until they reach Medford. These three will be followed by a number of other families from the same locality in Iowa. The majority of them will purchase small tracts of land and engage in fruit culture, and others may engage in business in Medford. Rev. Thompson is entitled to many kindly remembrances for his interest in our city's behalf.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, December 22, 1893, page 3
The "Cash Store" in New Hands.
Early this week a sale of the general dry goods stock owned by Goldstone Bros. was made to Rev. E. E. Thompson and W. H. Meeker, and on Tuesday they began taking stock. This work was completed Wednesday night, and the new proprietors are now in possession of the New York Cash Store.W. H. MEEKER & CO.
Mr. Thompson was formerly pastor of the M.E. Church of this place, but for the past year or two has been filling a like position in Grants Pass, which position he resigned a few weeks ago to enter into the business above mentioned. Mr. Thompson is a son-in-law of J. G. Van Dyke, of this place, and both himself and wife have many friends hereabouts who will be pleased to learn that they are again to be residents of our city.
Mr. Meeker is an old acquaintance of Mr. Thompson and came from Iowa to Medford last January. Prior to his coming to Medford he was engaged in farming pursuits and being a thrifty, hard-working gentleman prosperity came his way until he had gained a goodly amount of property, a portion of which he has now invested in the mercantile business.
The new firm, which will be Thompson & Meeker, proposes to add new goods to the extent of about $1000 at once to their already quite replete stock, and as they say, will carry as complete a line of goods as any house in the city.
The Messrs. Goldstone, Mark and Joe, who have conducted a successful business in this city for something over two years, will engage in the manufacture of clothing in New York in company with an uncle who now resides in that city. Joe will reside in New York and will have charge of the home business while Mark will be the coast traveling salesman for the new company.
Medford Mail, May 25, 1894, page 3
Goldstone Bros., having sold out their dry goods store, will engage in the manufacture of clothing in New York, in company with an uncle, who is already located there.
Rev. E. E. Thompson and W. H. Meeker have purchased the general dry goods stock of Goldstone Bros. The transfer was completed last week, and the new proprietors are now in possession. They will add goods to the amount of about $1,000 at once and carry as complete a line of goods as any house in the town.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 31, 1894, page 3
J. Meeker is making many improvements about his residence, on West Tenth Street. He has put up three new porches and a bay window, and the outside of the house is to be given three coats of paint--by the Murray boys--and the inside is being painted and papered throughout. Take the place from all sides and it's going to be a beauty when all improvements are completed.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, June 8, 1894, page 3
Two New Business Firms.
As will be seen by dissolution notice, published elsewhere, the firm of Thompson & Meeker has been dissolved. These gentlemen, after a very successful several months' business career, under the above caption, have decided to vary the arrangement somewhat, but as to which one drops out and which one drops in it is difficult to state--They both drop out and both drop in. Notwithstanding the fact that the ties of partnership are severed, the two gentlemen will continue to do business in the same building and same room, but their lines will be separate and distinct.
One of the new firms will be styled Thompson, Van Dyke & Co., and will be composed of E. E. Thompson and J. G. Van Dyke, with the "Co." a "dark horse." Of this firm there can be nothing said but kind words: Mr. Thompson has proven himself a most capable business man, and as a sociable and agreeable man to meet he is without a peer. Mr. Van Dyke is Mr. Thompson's father-in-law, is an old resident of this county, and has been engaged in farming, stock and fruit raising for many years, and by his earnest efforts and capability in these lines he has amassed a snug little fortune, a portion of which is now being put to use in the mercantile business. These gentlemen will handle boots, shoes, rubber goods, hats, caps, umbrellas, parasols, corsets and gloves, and will occupy the right-hand side of the salesroom. Mr. Thompson will have general supervision of the business and will be assisted by either Miss Edith Van Dyke or her brother John.
The other new firm will be W. H. Meeker & Co., and the "Co." in this case will be Mr. J. Meeker, father of W. H. These people are from Iowa, and while they have not been in our midst a great length of time it has been sufficient to prove them thorough business men, honest and upright in all transactions, and socially in favor with all--and to all these qualities is added the fact that they possess a goodly amount of capital and are not afraid to put it into business and homes for their families. This firm will handle dry goods, clothing, ladies' and gents' furnishings, fancy goods and novelties, and will occupy the left-hand side of the salesroom, formerly occupied by Thompson & Meeker.
The Mail hopes that the two firms above mentioned will gather in their share of the trade, and that their days in Medford may be prosperous ones. Their respective ads appear in the columns of today's Mail.
Medford Mail, March 22, 1895, page 4
W. H. Meeker & Co. are figuring on having an extension built on their store building, to extend back to the alley--not enough room in their present quarters. As soon as the owners of the building can be heard from they expect work to begin.
Medford Mail, August 16, 1895
"News of the City," Medford Mail, November 6, 1896, page 7
Mr. and Mrs. J. Meeker are over at Ft. Jones, Calif., upon a visit to their daughter, Mrs. Anderson.
D. H. Meeker, principal of the high schools at Escondido, Calif., arrived in Medford Monday night for a several days' visit to his cousin, merchant W. H. Meeker, and family. The two Mr. Meekers have been driving about the valley this week, and the visiting gentleman is very favorably impressed with the country and being a man of honest convictions and intellectual ability his impressions and opinions are of value.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, October 14, 1898, page 7
A very pleasant and surprisingly surprise party was given Clarence Meeker last Friday evening by about thirty of his schoolmates. His parents, merchant and Mrs. Meeker, induced Clarence up town on the evening in question and kept him at the store until the entire crowd had arrived, when he was given an intimation that he was wanted at home. The surprise was complete, but nonetheless a very pleasant affair. Various games were played, and much amusement prevailed throughout the evening. Refreshments of cake and lemonade were served.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 20, 1900, page 7
W. H. Meeker & Co. have put in a new and complete line of boots and shoes--a line they have not previously handled. Their advertisement appears in another column of this paper--in which is told the many excellent qualities of their goods.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, August 10, 1900, page 2
W. H. Meeker:--"I tell you business is good. We never before did the amount of business we are doing this fall. Why is it? Well, I couldn't tell you exactly how it does come about. I might way it was because we are carrying a better line of goods--that would be true, but it might not be the real cause. I might say the people had more money--but it might be said that that was political talk, and since election is over I don't care to continue the war into an issue that's past and gone. However, business is good. We had a letter from Bert Brown a few days ago. He is a traveling salesman for the same firm in whose wholesale establishment he began work when we left here. He is getting along finely and likes his work."
"Echoes from the Street," Medford Mail, November 16, 1900, page 2
W. H. Meeker:--"Had a letter from Clarence this week. He and Mrs. Meeker are enjoying themselves hugely at Pacific Grove and Monterey. They like these places immensely well, and Mrs. Meeker's health is greatly improved. Clarence will remain a couple or three weeks and Mrs. M. as many months."
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, July 26, 1901, page 7
Mrs. W. H. Meeker and son, Clarence, returned last week from a six weeks' visit and outing at Pacific Grove and Del Monte, Calif. Mrs. Meeker is very much improved in health, and both are enthusiastic over the delights peculiar to these famous summer resorts and the pleasures they experienced.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, August 23, 1901, page 6
Mr. and Mrs. J. Meeker are over at Fort Jones upon a visit to their daughters, Mesdames Bartlett and Anderson.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, August 30, 1901, page 6
Messrs. W. H. Meeker & Co. have made arrangements with the Portland Portrait Company, whereby they are enabled to give with every ten dollars' worth of goods purchased at their store a life-size 16x20 portrait. These portraits are made by the best artists in the land and would be an ornament in any home. They cost you nothing. Every $10 purchase gets a portrait.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, August 30, 1901, page 6
The Meeker brothers, formerly of Big Butte, now of Colorado, sons of A. J. Meeker, of Big Butte, spent last Monday night here, and on Tuesday, in company with their father, went to his home on Big Butte.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail, September 13, 1901, page 5
Misses Clara and Mac McIntyre, of Pueblo, Colo, arrived in Medford Monday morning for a visit with their uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Meeker.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, September 27, 1901, page 6
Mr. and Mrs. John Dunne left Thursday morning for Ft. Jones, Calif., where they will reside. Mr. Dunne recently traded his Medford property, near the Catholic Church, to Andrew Anderson for property in Ft. Jones. Mr. Anderson is a son-in-law of J. Meeker, and will move to Medford within a few months to reside.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, November 15, 1901, page 6
Miss Mae McIntyre spent Saturday with Medford relatives and was accompanied home by her sister. On Sunday Clarence Meeker came out and with Mr. Sandals and Miss Grace Dickison made a party to climb the lower Table Rock. They ate lunch by a blazing bonfire and report a good time in spite of fog and clouds.
"Table Rock Items," Medford Mail, November 22, 1901, page 3
A. J. Anderson and family arrived in Medford last week from Ft. Jones, Calif. Mr. Anderson some few months ago purchased property on North D Street in this city and will now occupy the same and make Medford his permanent home. Mrs. Anderson is a daughter of our good townsman, J. Meeker.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, February 28, 1902, page 6
Medford Business Man.
MEDFORD, Or., March. 19.--Edwin Brown, a pioneer resident of Medford, aged 52 years, died last night after a long illness. He was born in New York, and was in the War of the Rebellion, enlisting in 1862, and serving until its close. He was married to Clara M. Coyle in 1877. Mr. Brown was a member of the firm of W. H. Meeker & Co., dry goods dealers, of this city. He left a wife, living here, and one son, of St. Joseph, Mo. Funeral services will be held at the residence tomorrow, Rev. W. B. Moore officiating. Interment will be in Odd Fellows' cemetery.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, March 20, 1902, page 4
Mr. Meeker and family, of Medford, the Misses McIntire, of Colorado, Mr. Sandles, of Ohio, and the Dickison family, of this place, made the trip to Lower Table Rock Sunday afternoon and enjoyed it and the view very much. Several other parties from different parts of the valley were also there and found many wildflowers on top, also about twenty acres of plowed ground, which looked strange to old visitors.
"Table Rock Items," Medford Mail, April 18, 1902, page 3
Mrs. Hattie Bartlett of Ft. Jones, Calif. is visiting her relatives and many friends in this city. The lady is a daughter of Grandpa Meeker.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, May 2, 1902, page 6
The Methodist people gave their first lawn social of the season at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Meeker on Tuesday evening. The attendance was quite large considering that the weather was hardly of the ice cream order, yet it was not so cold but what many pleasant features of the outdoor entertainment were thoroughly enjoyed by the guests. The lawn was brilliantly lighted by gaslight and Chinese lanterns and about it were scattered booths and tables where ice cream, strawberries, cake and coffee were served in generous quantities and of a quality that was fully appreciated by those partaking. The parlors of the house were tastily decorated with festoons and bouquets of roses and other flowers, and in those the literary part of the entertainment was given. These consisted of recitations and vocal and instrumental music and each selection was of a high order and was rendered in a manner that evoked hearty applause from the audience. The receipts of the social were quite satisfactory to the ladies managing it, and they feel fully repaid for their labor and expense.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 6, 1902, page 7
W. H. and J. Meeker left Wednesday for Rancherie, where they will enjoy an outing of about ten days.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, July 18, 1902, page 6
The Standard Bearers will meet at W. H. Meeker's residence next Monday evening. Topic, Adelphia C. Goode, Missionary in Africa. The meeting at Miss Redden's last Monday evening was well attended.
"City Briefs," Medford Success, January 23, 1903, page 5
Grandpa Meeker's condition on North Riverside Avenue is improving slowly, but not as satisfactory today as his many friends would wish to see.
J. G. Martin, "North Medford Notes," Medford Mail, July 23, 1909, page 3
Mr. and Mrs. Medley and family, late of Missouri, occupy the Clarence Meeker residence on North Highland addition.
J. G. Martin, "North Medford Notes," Medford Mail, October 8, 1909, page 3
This is one of the exclusive dry goods and ladies' furnishing goods houses in the city, and you can almost identify them with this mention, without further description. This is their line, and they devote their entire energy to supplying the wants of their trade herein. Their stock of fancy goods and notions, dress goods, trimmings, hosiery and underwear is quite varied. And their line of ladies' suits is very attractive. Their prices in all lines have a decided downward tendency at all times. For fifteen years this house has been selling goods to the people here. They like the Rogue Valley and the people.
W. H. Meeker & Co., 231 E. Main St.
"What Do You Know About This?" Medford Mail, December 9, 1909, page 6
"Not how cheap, but how good" is an insignia of integrity that has been used for ages, and it has always applied to the goods of one of our oldest firms, Messrs. W. H. Meeker & Company. The general dry goods and ladies' furnishings line is carried. Messrs. W. H. and Clarence A. Meeker comprise the firm, and their reputation throughout the valley is that of fair dealers with upright methods. They are a part of the thrift and energy of Medford that has made the place the desirable location that it is. To the success of our city such pioneer business men can take their share of the credit due to the energetic and enterprising merchants of which Medford is so proud. They have built up a large and prosperous business along the lines of honest prices, honorable treatment of customers and employees and a large and varied line of goods of the best grade and assortment. The stock of suits, skirts, furs, ready-to-wear garments and novelties is especially large this season, and over $18,000 is invested and five people employed. Both members of the firm are affiliated with the Odd Fellows and the Commercial Club.W. H. MEEKER & CO. OCCUPY NEW STORE
Medford Mail Tribune, January 2, 1910, page 8
W. H. Halley has let the contract for putting in plate glass fronts with marble base in his two store rooms just north of the Mail Tribune office.
The corner room, No. 22 South Central Avenue, will be occupied about April 1st by W. H. Meeker & Co., who will be compelled to move from their present location at that time to make room for Charles Strang, who owns the property, and is himself looking for a location, owing to the recent sale of his present quarters to Nichols & Ashpole, who wish to establish their meat market there. Incidentally Nichols & Ashpole must move from their present location because the Medford National Bank wishes to extend its building to the alley between Main and Sixth streets.
"Halley Plans to Build New Front," Medford Mail Tribune, February 25, 1910, page 2
W. H. Meeker & Co. will move to [the] Halley block, South Central Avenue, about April 1.
"Social and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, March 7, 1910, page 5
March 29, 1910 Oregonian
Mr. W. H. Meeker was able to come down to his store last Tuesday for the first time in two months. He has been suffering from rheumatism but is now on the road to recovery. It has been the first time in seventeen years that Mr. meeker has laid aside the business, and his friends take great pleasure in seeing him back again. He leaves the first of the week on a trip to Portland.
"Brevities," The Saturday Review, Medford, August 6, 1910, page 1
The rooms have been entirely renovated and a modern front of plate glass put in. When finally settled in their new quarters, Meeker & Co. will have one of the neatest and best arranged store buildings in the city.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 4, 1910, page 8
PETITIONS COUNCIL FOR BUILDING PERMIT
Clarence A. Meeker has petitioned the city council for permission to erect a modern frame residence within the city fire limits. The property upon which the house is to be built is on North Bartlett Street between Third and Fourth streets, on lot 3, block 10, of Packard's addition to the city.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 7, 1911, page 4
C. A. Meeker, of the clothing company by that name, who recently built a home on North Oak Street near the North School, has sold it and is having erected a modern seven-room cottage on North Bartlett Street, near the home of his parents.
"Many New Homes in Medford," Medford Sun, June 18, 1911, page B3
MEEKER TO MOVE ONTO MAIN STREETThe firm of W. H. Meeker & Co. has rented the fine store building on East Main Street formerly occupied by T. E. Daniels and expect to occupy the same about January 1st.
This firm, which is now located at 28 South Central Avenue, has been engaged in the dry goods business in Medford for about 18 years and during all this time they have enjoyed a splendid business--all of which has been deserved. Their new location will give them an opportunity to increase their stock and make a better display. The new location is an especially desirable one, being more centrally located and on the principal and most traveled street of the city. That this long established and favorably known firm will continue the excellent trade they have enjoyed in the past is not questioned by anyone who knows of their honest methods and honest, serviceable goods.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 23, 1911, page 6
MEEKERS MOVE TO NEW LOCATIONMedford Mail Tribune, December 1, 1911, page 6
W. H. Meeker & Co. will open for business tomorrow at their new location, 228 East Main Street. The store is beautifully decorated for the Christmas holidays, and the large stock is displayed in a most attractive manner.
In order to clear out all of the fall and winter goods to make room for more holiday stock, Mr. Meeker started an opening Christmas sale. The people of Medford and the valley are invited to attend the opening. There will be music and souvenirs.
MEEKER & CO. IN NEW CONCERN
One of the newest new business institutions in Medford is the Medford Mercantile Company, which came into existence this week when the firm of W. H. Meeker & Co., of this city, and A. E. Kinney and W. B. Brown of Ashland perfected an organization and incorporated under the state laws with a capitalization of $40,000.
The officer of the new company are A. E. Kinney, president; C. A. Meeker, vice president and manager; and W. B. Beebe, secretary and treasurer.
The new company has absorbed the stock of goods carried by W. H. Meeker & Co., of this city, and the business will be conducted by the new company the same as previously except that new lines will be added, and those lines already carried will be increased in quantity and variety. Some of the new lines to be put in are shoes for both ladies and gentlemen, men's and boys' clothing, gents' furnishings, and ladies' ready to wear garments.
It is in the intention of the new company to make this stock of goods so extensive as to quantity and variety as to be second to none in southern Oregon. The amount of the entire capitalization will be used in stocking this one store if it is found there is a demand for that amount of goods.
W. H. Meeker & Co., which firm passes out of existence as the new one is ushered in, has been doing business in Medford for fifteen or sixteen years, and while they may not have done the largest business in the city, it is to the individual members' credit to say that they have conducted an honest business; a business which has always stood the fair dealing test among the people who have been their steady customers.
W. H. Meeker will have charge of the clothing department, and the large store building is now being made over to meet the requirements for this added department.
The new spring goods are expected to be in readiness for a public opening within a few days, but a date positive cannot at this time be made.
The new company will be styled the "M. M. Co.," using only the initials of the company's name.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 16, 1912, page 5
April 1912 Rogue River Fruit Grower
MEEKER MOVES TO NEXT DOOR
The Medford Mercantile Department Company, formerly W. H. Meeker and Co., of this city, has leased the Deuel building [the Hoover-Cooper Building, southwest corner Main and Bartlett] and will move thereto on January 1st.
This company now occupies the Adkins Building, one door west from where their new quarters will be, but a demand for more room has made it imperative that a new location be secured. They will occupy both floors of the Deuel building which will give them about two-thirds more room than they now have. No new lines will be added, but they will be given an opportunity to better display the large stock they now carry.
Since the organization of this company, about a year ago, there has been a constant increase of business and a corresponding increase has been made in the amount of stock carried.
A new and modern front will be put in the Deuel building, and the interior will be repainted and repapered throughout, and when completed it will be one of the finest store rooms in the city.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 2, 1912, page 2
C. A. Meeker, Manager M.M. Department Store.Much is the concern of many people regarding prospects and prosperity of the Rogue River Valley for the coming year, and justly so, for perhaps there is no other country in the West so widely known and looked to as a criterion of future prospects as is this valley and Medford.
Never in history has this valley been blessed with such abundant crops and good prices, causing all to wear an optimistic smile, not only farmer or fruit grower, but the merchant as well.
Our business passed all previous records in 1913, and, taking a view of 1914 from all angles, one can only predict greater results for the coming year.
Our best wish for all is a happy and a prosperous New Year.
"How Medford Merchants nd Leading Firms View 1914 Prospects from Prosperity Angle; Optimistic," Medford Sun, January 1, 1914, page 6
A postcard from Minnie Meeker, February 1917
C. A. Meeker Has 21-Year Record
Owner of Medford Department Store Began Career As Clerk
While a Boy and Has Been Head of Present Firm
21 Years; Vision of Boyhood Is Realized in
Substantial Firm He Has Erected
"The man who keeps himself attuned to the natural and creative forces of the universe, who is unafraid and who follows his 'hunches,' is bound to succeed." This briefly is the philosophy upon which was erected the successful record Clarence A. Meeker has made as head of the M. M. Department Store in this city for the past 21 years.
Clarence Meeker, as he is familiarly known to hundreds of people, in this city and in Rogue River Valley, began his mercantile career as a boy of 16 or 17 years, not by choice, but by force of circumstances. Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Meeker and their son, Clarence, arrived in Medford from their Iowa farm back in 1894, having been induced to locate in Oregon through the influence of E. E. Thompson. That gentleman also induced the senior Meeker to engage in the mercantile business with him. They purchased the stock then owned by Goldstone Bros. [operators of the New York Cheap Cash Store], and began operating under the firm name of Thompson & Meeker. The store was then located where Palmer Electric Store is now [at 234 East Main].
W. H. Meeker, who became one of the best-known citizens of Medford and who maintained at least an indirect connection with the store until his death at the age of 75, in 1930, purchased the interest of his partner, Thompson, one and one-half years later, and the firm then was changed to W. H. Meeker & Co. and operated as such until 1912, when a complete reorganization was formed with the son, Clarence, as owner and manager.
Mr. Meeker relates that soon after his father bought out Thompson's interest that the store was moved to where Strang's drug store is now located [at 213 East Main] and in 1910 to what is now the west half of Lamport's [226 East Main]. The year following they leased the Deuel building, immediately joining on the east, where the business was continued until 1923.
Vision Plays a Part"The removal from the Main Street location to our present home in the Medford Center Building [the Woolworth's Building] at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Sixth was one of the epochal events in the history of our firm," says Mr. Meeker. "I pondered over the advisability of moving for some time. To move so far away from Main Street was setting a new precedent in local merchandising, and not a few of my friends advised against the action. But I presume I was like all other boys, and soon after beginning work as a clerk in my father's store of evenings and during vacations, I had a vision of someday owning and operating a store as large as any in Medford." Incidentally, Meeker related here that the individual without a vision is like the man who has no place to go.
"My vision remained with me, and when I was debating whether to move to the present location my mental picture of a modern department store on a par with any in Southern Oregon reappeared very vividly, and that, or a hunch--whatever you call it--was one of the deciding factors."
Old Washington SchoolThe M. M. Department Store of today occupies two floors, each with a dimension of 80x100 feet, and is now one of the most centrally located in the city. From 18 to 22 people are employed regularly, which is sufficient evidence that Clarence Meeker has realized his vision and his ambition in a community in which he has resided since a boy of 12 years.
Mr. Meeker received his education in the public and high schools of Medford and began his attendance in the former when the old Washington School was the only one in the city.
Recalls School Mates"The old school," says he, "was not the brick school that was torn down a short time ago to make room for the new courthouse, but a frame structure which was burned to the ground and replaced by the brick school.
"I remember many of the boys and girls who attended the old Washington School. Among some of them were: Leon Haskins, retired druggist of this city; Wm. Warner, postmaster; Basil Gregory, policeman at Eureka; Mrs. Volney Dixon, Mrs. Earl Gaddis, Ward Webber and John Barnum."
Among those whom Meeker recalls were in business during his boyhood days here were Strang's Drug Store and Cranfield & Hutchinson, afterward Hutchinson & Lumsden, which firm is still doing business under the direction of C. I. Hutchinson.
Began Work EarlyThe subject of this story recalls that there was little diversion during his boyhood. When not in school, his spare hours were spent in the store of his father. His father came direct from the farm in Iowa to Medford and was unacquainted with the mercantile business. "It was a hard battle for many, many years. I had to work hard," says Clarence Meeker. "I had but little time for sports, although I enjoyed playing baseball at school."
Unlike most men who have had successful careers and are reaching their prime at the half-century mark, Clarence Meeker has not maintained his youth and energy through outdoor sports and recreation. Nearly all of his spare hours from business have been devoted to church work and to singing, of which he became fond when a boy. "I was born of puritanical parents. Attendance at Methodist church and Sunday school were duties I had to perform. Later it became a habit, and finally a pleasure, and I believe I have gotten as much diversion and as much out of life from my work in the church and the Sunday school as the average man."
Likes MusicHe developed a tenor voice while a young man when, and as he relates, "I sang at every festival and program given in the city." His love for music has not diminished with the years, and he is today a member of Medford's well-known Gleemen.
Except for four years as a member of the city council, Mr. Meeker has neither sought or held public office, but has taken an active interest in civic and other affairs of the city.
In calling to mind events of the more than 35 years spent in this city, Meeker says that era beginning in 1907 was the most outstanding. Of that period he says:
"To those of us living in Medford at that date it was impossible for us to visualize that the 'squirrel ranches' surrounding the town would ever be in demand. Their owners were barely eking out an existence, but one day the [Stewart] Orchard, now part of the Bear Creek Orchards owned by Rosenberg Bros., was sold at a price that was unusual then. Soon another tract was sold at a big price, and then another and another. The same properties began to turn with surprising frequency and always for increased prices.
"Our people marveled at the change that ensued almost overnight. Soon people began [to] arrive from South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and several other states. Medford was immediately changed into a tent city, so rapid was the growth and development, and became a beehive of industry and action. Some properties changed hands as many as six times and prices jumped to $1000 an acre. We then no longer referred to our farms as squirrel ranches."
The completion of the P.&E. railroad, which had long been a dream of Medford people, was also another event which is indelibly stamped on the memory of Mr. Meeker.
Keeps Pace with CityGetting back to the subject of his business and the years required in building it to its present level, Mr. Meeker said: "One of the secrets of our growth and success is that we have not been afraid to grow with the community. Another fear that must be banished to ensure continued operation is the fear to accept new styles and to buy in quantities. That fear has no place in modern business. Individuality also plays a prominent role. You must be yourself in business and build along that line. Building confidence, and maintaining it by making good the merchandise you sell, is another essential in attaining success. And, finally, businesses are much like people. Some continue to grow, while others quit and die young. I still have a picture of my business of tomorrow and a year hence, and through that and sticking tight to my ideal, I have every confidence that our store will continue to grow."
Medford News, July 7, 1933, page 1
CLARA J. MEEKER TAKEN BY DEATH
Clara J. Meeker, widow of the late W. H. Meeker and longtime resident of Medford, passed away at her home on North Bartlett Street at 11:30 a.m. today. Mrs. Meeker has been in declining health for several years, and is the last of a family of seven children.
She was born in Indiana October 17, 1857, and with her parents moved to Traer, Iowa when a small child. She grew to womanhood there and on January 1, 1879 was married to Mr. Meeker at Vinton, Iowa.
They then moved to Manson, where they resided until coming to Medford, Oregon in 1893 [sic], at which time Mr. Meeker established the M.M. Department Store.
Mrs. Meeker has been a lifetime Christian and was a very active member of the Methodist Church here. She leaves one son, C. A. Meeker of this city.
Funeral services will be held at the Conger chapel at 2:30 Sunday with the Rev. Joseph Knotts officiating, assisted by Rev. L. F. Belknap. Entombment will be beside her late husband in the Medford Memorial Mausoleum.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 11, 1935, page 3
MEEKERS OBSERVE 26 YEARS WEDDED LIFE MARCH 24Twenty-six years of married life caused C. A. Meeker, proprietor of the M.M. Department Store, to wear a red carnation in his lapel Tuesday.
"We were married 26 years ago, at 8:30 o'clock in the evening, at the home of C. H. Corey, on Jackson Street, by Rev. L. F. Belknap," Meeker said. "Mrs. Meeker's name was Minnie Corey."
Both the Meekers and Coreys were well known in early Medford history, Clarence Meeker's father starting business here in 1894.
Medford News, March 25, 1936, page 1
MEEKER, CLARENCE ALFRED
Mayor of Medford.
b. Traer, Iowa July 6, 1882; son of William and Clara (Brown) Meeker; educated grade and high schools Medford, Oregon; m. Ruth Esther Wheaton of Sheboygan, Wisc. and New York City Dec. 22, 1943; daughter Eleanor Jane; began as clerk W. H. Meeker Co. (established by father 1894) 1901-12; firm now known as M.M. Department Store, Medford, owner 1912-37; councilman 1931-35, 1940-42; Mayor Medford 1942-; owner M.M. Dept. Store Bldg., Meeker Bldg., Medford; director Commercial Finance Co. many years; member Oregon Retail Merchants Association (ex-director); active in Red Cross; director League of Oregon Cities 1940-; chairman Jackson County Housing Authority; member Chamber of Commerce; Elk; Odd Fellow; Mason; Republican; Methodist (chairman board of trustees); home 724 E. Jackson; office City Hall, Medford.
Capitol's Who's Who for Oregon 1948-49, page 385
Clarence A. Meeker and his wife, Minnie, were married in 1910. Although no children were born of this marriage, they left surviving them an adopted daughter, Eleanor Jane Meeker. Until 1938, Mr. Meeker operated a mercantile business known as the M&M [sic] store, originally established by his father in Medford, Oregon. Minnie Meeker during the same period gave music lessons, took in roomers and occasionally helped in her husband's store. In the years prior to May 31, 1938, each had been able through thrift and enterprise to accumulate considerable property of substantial value. Both then being elderly, it was their mutual wish to arrange their affairs so that their respective acquisitions would upon their death pass in accordance with their design and wishes. To achieve that end, they entered into a contract to execute what they denominated a "Joint & Mutual Last Will & Testament," and on May 31, 1938, jointly executed the will which we are here called upon to construe. . . .
With the exception of the signatures and attestation clause, the will as jointly executed by them in May, 1938, is:
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS, that we, CLARENCE A. MEEKER and MINNIE C. MEEKER, husband and wife, of the city of Medford, Jackson County, Oregon, both of us being of sound mind and disposing memory and having concurrently herewith entered into a mutual agreement for the testamentary disposition of our and each of our property in the manner hereinafter set forth, do hereby make, declare and publish this our Joint and Mutual Last Will and Testament, hereby revoking all previous wills and testaments at any time made by us, or either of us.
I.Each of us does hereby direct that upon his death all of his just debts and the expenses of his last sickness and burial be first paid out of his estate.
II .I, said Minnie C. Meeker, do hereby give, devise and bequeath unto my father, C. H. Corey, the sum of $3,000.00; unto my brother, C. E. Corey, the sum of $3,000.00, and unto my brother, L. H. Corey, the sum of $3000.00. I direct that any amounts that any of the foregoing legatees shall have borrowed from me be deducted from the amount paid to him and the balance only be paid to him. In the event of the death of any one or more of the foregoing legatees, prior to my death, I direct that his or their portion shall be paid over to the survivor or survivors in equal shares. I direct that the foregoing legacies shall be paid to said legatees as soon after my death as can be conveniently done without inconvenience to my estate, but in any event within three years from the date of my death.
I, said Minnie C. Meeker, do hereby give, devise and bequeath unto the First National Bank of Portland the sum of $3,000.00 in trust for the following uses and purposes:
I direct that said amount shall be held by said trustee and that the same shall be invested in government securities. I direct that from said fund there shall be paid to Bill Corey, my nephew, to cover the cost of a college education for him, the sum of $700.00 during his first year in college, the sum of $700.00 during his second year in college, the sum of $700.00 during his third year in college, and the remainder, including any accrued income thereon, during his fourth year in college. In the event said Billy Corey does not go to college or complete the full four-year course, the full amount of said fund or the balance thereof is to be kept invested by said trustee as aforesaid and paid over to him with all accumulations when he attains the age of 40 years, and shall thereafter be paid to him at the rate of $300.00 per year in payments of $150.00 semi-annually until said fund is exhausted. In the event of the death of said Billy Corey prior to his receiving the whole of said fund, any balance remaining shall be paid over to and become a part of the trust fund created for my daughter as hereinafter provided.
III.The one of us first to die does hereby give, devise and bequeath unto the survivor all of his household furniture, automobiles and personal effects, and the real estate occupied by the parties as a home at the time of his death.
IV.The one of us first to die does hereby give, devise and bequeath unto the survivor and the First National Bank of Portland, Oregon, the sum of $50,000.00 in money, or in the concurring option of said trustees, in any securities owned by such decedent at the time of his death at the market value thereof.
(a) Said trustees shall hold said trust fund and estate; they shall invest and keep the same invested in sound bonds or notes secured by first mortgages upon real estate, having in mind as high an income as is consistent with safety, and no higher.
(b) They shall have power to collect, compromise, sell or exchange from time to time any securities belonging to said trust fund and to invest and reinvest the proceeds realized therefrom as above provided. In case the survivor of us shall at any time become incapacitated, and in the event of his or her death, then said the First National Bank of Portland, Oregon, shall act as sole trustee hereunder.
(c) Said trustees shall at convenient intervals pay and distribute to the survivor of us, during the term of his life, the net income arising from said trust estate, the same to be his absolutely.
(d) If either of us shall at any time, in the opinion of said trustees, require any additional amounts from said trust estate for his proper maintenance or care, the same shall be paid to him from time to time from the body thereof.
(e) Upon the death of the survivor of us, all of the income from said trust estate, as aforesaid, shall be paid to our adopted daughter, Eleanor Jane Meeker, upon her reaching her majority, at convenient intervals during the term of her natural life and in case said income is not sufficient to pay said Eleanor Jane Meeker at least $125.00 per month, there shall be paid to her at least said amount and there shall, in addition, be paid to her such amounts in excess thereof as may, in the opinion of said trustees, be necessary to properly care for and support her and provide her with any needed medical or surgical care after the death of the survivor of us, the excess of such payments above the income of said trust estate to be paid from the body thereof and said trustee may, in its discretion, replace from subsequent income any of the amount of principal so withdrawn, after making the payments to our said daughter as above provided.
(f) In the event of the death of both of us during the minority of our said daughter, it is our wish that a suitable guardian of her person and estate during her minority be appointed and that sufficient funds be paid by said trustee from the income, or, if necessary, from the body of said trust estate, to properly care for and educate her, and it is our will that a reasonable amount be paid direct to her from time to time to be used by her for her personal expenses, and it is further our will that she be educated at Willamette University or some other educational institution of like character. We further direct that upon her reaching her majority any accrued and undistributed income from said trust fund shall be paid over to her.
(g) We further direct that our said daughter shall receive and enjoy the income and principal from said trust estate and that such income and principal shall not be subject to alienation by her, nor shall the same ever be liable for any of her debts.
(h) Upon the death of the survivor of us, and our said daughter having reached the age of thirty-five years, we hereby direct that one-tenth of the amount of said fund shall be paid by said trustee to our said daughter, and that thereafter, at the expiration of each interval of five years an additional one-tenth of said fund shall be paid to said daughter until five such payments have been made and said fund shall have been reduced to one-half of its original amount. The income from the remainder of said fund, and not less than $75.00 per month, shall be paid to our said daughter provided and in the event that at any time any portion of the remaining principal of said trust fund shall be needed to properly support and care for our said daughter, in the judgment of said trustee, such amount of the principal thereof shall from time to time be paid to her. Upon the death of the survivor of us and our said daughter, said trust shall terminate and said trustee shall pay over and distribute all the property belonging in said fund as follows: It shall pay the same in equal shares to heirs of the body of our said daughter, the descendants of any child to take the share of its ancestor. And in the event our said daughter shall die without leaving any lineal descendants, the said fund shall be distributed in the same manner and to the same persons as is provided in paragraph VIII of this will for the distribution of the residuary estate of the survivor of us. The survivor of us during his lifetime, and after his death, our said daughter upon reaching her majority, may apply to the court at any time for a decree removing the First National Bank of Portland as trustee and appointing another trustee in its place, and the fact that said applicant has permanently removed his or her place of residence from the state of Oregon shall be deemed sufficient ground for granting said petition and for the appointment by the court of a non-resident bank or trust company as such trustee.
V.The first of us to die does hereby give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of his estate, both real and personal, wherever situated, to the survivor of us absolutely.
VI.The survivor of us does hereby give, devise and bequeath unto said the First National Bank of Portland, Oregon, as trustee, such amount, if any, as may be necessary to make up any deficiency in said trust fund above provided for, below $50,000.00, which may exist from any cause at the time of his death; that is to say, such amount, if any, as may be necessary to restore said fund to the full amount of $50,000.00, said amount so bequeathed or devised by such survivor to become a part of said trust fund and to be subject to all the terms and conditions thereof as provided.
VII.The survivor of us does hereby give, devise and bequeath to our daughter, Eleanor Jane Meeker, the real estate occupied as a home by the survivor at the time of his death, together with all his household furniture, automobiles and personal effects.
VIII.The survivor of us does hereby give, devise and bequeath all the rest, residue and remainder of his estate, wherever situated, as follows: one-eighth thereof to each of the following named persons: Clarence H. Corey, Everett Corey, Lloyd Corey. The lineal descendants of each of the three above-named persons to take his ancestor's share in the event said ancestor shall have died previous to the death of the survivor of us and in the event that one or more of such persons die previous to the death of the survivor of us, leaving no lineal descendants, then the survivor or survivors of the three persons above named to take the share of the one or ones so deceased: Ethel Florey, Stella Roop, Mae Wycoff, Clara Neely, Harold Anderson. The lineal descendants of each of the above-named persons to take his ancestor's share in the event said ancestor shall have died previous to the death of the survivor of us, and in the event that one or more of such persons die previous to the death of the survivor of us, leaving no lineal descendants, then the survivor or survivors of the last five persons above named to take the share of the one or ones so deceased.
Provided, However, that the said Minnie C. Meeker may from time to time, by codicil to this will, executed by her in accordance with the statute, substitute other devisees and legatees for the three first above named and provide that such substituted devisees and legatees shall receive said three-eighths of said residuary estate of the survivor of us in such proportions as she may see fit, and Provided Further, that said Clarence A. Meeker may from time to time, by codicil to this will, executed by him in accordance with the statute, substitute other devisees and legatees for the five last above named and provide that such substituted devisees and legatees shall receive said five-eighths of said residuary estate of the survivor of us in such proportions as he may see fit.
VIII. [sic]The first of us to die does hereby appoint the survivor and the First National Bank of Portland, Oregon, executors of this our Last Will and Testament, in the administration of the estate of such decedent to serve without bond, and the survivor of us does hereby nominate and appoint the First National Bank of Portland, Oregon, executor of this will in the administration of his estate.
Supreme Court of Oregon, Florey v. Meeker, affirmed February 14, 1952
MAYOR MEEKER TAKEN BY DEATH; FUNERAL FRIDAY
Heart Ailment Fatal to Well-Known Civic, Religious Leader; Mayor Since '42
Clarence A. Meeker, mayor of Medford and one of the city's best-known civic and religious leaders, passed away at the family residence, 1216 East Main Street, yesterday at 9 p.m. He had been suffering from a heart ailment for the past few weeks.
Funeral services will be held in the First Methodist Church at 2 p.m. Friday with the Rev. Meredith Groves officiating. He will be assisted by the Rev. L. F. Belknap. The church choir will sing "He Lives" and "Near to the Heart of God." Arrangements are in the care of Conger-Morris funeral parlors.
Active pallbearers will be E. J. Newman, H. C. High, Major Albert Frank, Ben F. Schmidt, Floyd Burk and George Howard. Honorary bearers will be J. C. Collins, Vernon Thorpe, Ralph Woodford, Clatous McCredie, Eugene Thorndike and Frank Farrell.
Mr. Meeker first entered the city's service in November 1940, when he was elected to the council, and in November of 1942 he was elected mayor, taking office in January of 1943.
The deceased had lived in this city since childhood, having come to Medford from Rockford, Ia. in the fall of 1893 with his parents, the late William H. and Clara Meeker. His father founded the M&M [sic] department store in 1894, and in 1901 the younger Meeker joined the firm. He was active in the business for 36 years, selling to Charles S. Adair and retiring in April of 1937.
Methodist LeaderMr. Meeker, a leader in the Methodist Church for many years, first joined that body in September of 1896. He began work with the Epworth League, serving as its president for many years, and was a member of the general conference in 1920. For several years he served as Sunday school superintendent, was a lay leader for a time and also was chairman of the board of trustees.
Mr. Meeker taught the Shipmates' Bible class from the time it was organized 18 years ago until his illness prevented, this being considered a record by the church. He also sang in the church for many years.
He was affiliated with a large number of organizations of various natures, including the A.F.&A.M. No. 103; B.P.O.E. No. 1168; the I.O.O.F., having received his 35-year pin in that organization two years ago; Gideons, Sons of the American Revolution and Rogue Valley Country Club. He was a director of the Medford Y.M.C.A.
Through his work with the City of Medford he became interested in the League of Oregon Cities, having served as a member of the board of directors and as present of the group in 1947.
Interested in HistoryMr. Meeker was deeply interested in Oregon history and historical projects and was a member of the board of the Oregon Historical Society. For some years past he had worked towards having the old courthouse in Jacksonville made into a southern Oregon museum.
In 1910 Mr. Meeker was married to Minnie Corey of Medford, who passed away in September 1941. His marriage to Ruth Esther Wheaton, who survives him, took place in December 1943. Also surviving is a daughter, Eleanor Jane Meeker, at the family home.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 25, 1948, page 1
Mayor Clarence A. MeekerIt is seldom, indeed, that a community such as this can find a man with executive ability and qualities of leadership who is willing to devote his fullest time, talents and energies to public service. It is because Clarence A. Meeker was such a man that Medford can ill afford his loss.
A devout churchman, a successful businessman, an unselfish public worker, the late Mayor Meeker enjoyed the affection and trust of the people of this community and the respect of civic leaders throughout Oregon, with whom he had contact through long participation in the League of Oregon Cities.
Gregarious by nature, Mr. Meeker sought congenial companionship in numerous church and fraternal groups, and gave freely of his effort and wise counsel to each. His death is a real personal loss to almost everyone who lives in Southern Oregon, for this has been his home since childhood and his friends here were legion.
In 1901, Mayor Meeker became associated with the M.M. Department Store, which his father had established here a few years before, and under his prudent management the concern prospered. In 1937 he retired from active business, but a deep sense of civic responsibility prompted him to assume added burdens in city government. Those attributes of understanding and application, which had prospered him in his private business enterprise, were thus directed toward sound and businesslike administration of city affairs when he served as councilman, later as mayor.
"This community has been good to my father and to me, and I feel that I owe a debt of gratitude that can best be repaid by personal service," Mayor Meeker once said. That is why he gave so unselfishly of his time and efforts, without remuneration, toward building a better city. It was this willing devotion to civic duty that unquestionably hastened his death.
Though few of our generation, here in Medford, will forget his long and useful public service, a memorial should, by all means, be established in memory of Mayor Clarence A. Meeker so that others will be inspired to follow in his footsteps. As he worked unceasingly in recent years toward establishing a Southern Oregon museum in the old court house in Jacksonville, the completion of that project, for which he dreamed and labored, would be a thoroughly appropriate and fitting memorial.--H. G.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 26, 1948, page 12
Clarence Meeker, Medford Mayor, Is Heart Victim
Mayor Clarence A. Meeker, a resident of Medford since 1893, and prominent always in business and civic affairs, died Tuesday evening, February 24, of a heart attack after a brief illness. He leaves his wife, Esther Wheaton Meeker, and a daughter, Eleanor Jane, both of Medford.
Mayor Meeker was born in Traer, Iowa in 1882, and he came here from Rockford, Iowa with his parents. His father, William H. Meeker, established the M. M. Department Store, and in 1901 Clarence joined his father in the business. Mayor Meeker sold the business in 1937, and since that time he has devoted himself to civic and church work.
Prominent all of his life in church work, he was chairman of the board of trustees of the Methodist Church here for many years. He joined the church in 1896, and began his work in the Epworth League, of which he was president for many years. He was also Sunday school superintendent for several years, and always a lay leader.
Mayor Meeker was a member of the Masonic Lodge, the Elks, and the Odd Fellows, and recently received a 35-year pin in the latter. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, and was interested always in Jackson County and Oregon pioneer history.
Mayor Meeker was elected to the city council in 1940, and was elected mayor in 1942, serving until his death. During 1947 he was president of the League of Oregon Cities. He devoted his full time to the office of mayor, with the feeling that it was the duty of those with time available to give time to the affairs of the city.
Mayor Meeker married Minnie Corey in Medford in 1910, who died in 1941. In 1943 he was married to Ruth Esther Wheaton.
Funeral services will be this afternoon at 2 o'clock at the Methodist Church, with Meredith Groves officiating. Arrangements are in charge of the Conger Morris Funeral Parlors.
Pallbearers will be E. J. Newman, H. C. High, Major Albert Frank, Ben Schmidt, Floyd Burk and George Howard.
Medford News, February 27, 1948, page 1
Last revised May 6, 2021