The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

The Down Side of the Orchard Boom

A 1908 postcard from the height of the Orchard Boom (above). It reads: hellow fred i will send you a postal [card] did you git my letter times is Bum hear i gess i will git a job on a house at foots creek prety soon the[re] is 10 carpenters to ever job hear i may git a well or too to dig Chiefy is gon he left to day and went North good by Joe

Stands as Second County in Oregon in Assessed Wealth.
    Salem--Jackson County has sprung to second place among the counties of Oregon in taxable wealth. Marion County, which has for many years occupied second place, has dropped to fifth place, and perhaps lower. Not all the assessment returns have been received yet, but it is already apparent that at least three counties have stepped above Marion in assessed valuation.
    Multnomah County, of course, is still first, her assessment for 1906 not yet being definitely known. Jackson will come second with a valuation of over $12,000,000, Washington probably third with $10,660,000, Umatilla probably fourth with $10,165,000, and Marion probably fifth with $9,824,000. There are a number of wealthy counties yet to report, among them being Lane, Linn and Clackamas, any of which may surpass Marion and put that county still further down the list.
    Jackson County's assessment this year shows an increase of about 200 percent, for last year the assessment was only $4,650,000.
Lexington Wheatfield, Lexington, Oregon, December 14, 1905, page 3

    [Tom Gillan] went direct to Portland and from there to the Rogue River country. He stopped several days in Medford and saw the country surrounding it. He noticed its advantages and its disadvantages. One thing that struck him particularly was the many idle men all through the Northwest. At Medford there is a surplus of real estate dealers and no factories of any moment to supply a means of livelihood.
    What struck Mr. Gillan forcibly was the number of places for sale in Medford. He says that nearly every place has a notice, "for sale," tacked in a conspicuous place, and this does not appeal to him as an evidence of prosperity. There are automobiles galore owned by the real estate men, and when a train arrives there the men with the appearance of being well-to-do are carried to any point by the real estate men, while they show an utter indifference to the man garbed for labor.
"Home from the Coast," Richfield [Utah] Reaper, May 6, 1908, page 3

    Facts are the best boosters that Medford has. This little tale is better proof of the rapidity of Medford's growth than all the panegyrics of the real estate men. A short time ago S. J. Summerlin commenced the erection a four-room cottage on his lots adjoining the park. Three weeks is required for its completion, nevertheless he has been besieged by people to rent the house. One man offered to take the house for a year and pay rent from last Monday, though it would require three weeks to complete the house. As Mr. Summerlin wants the house for himself, he will commence the erection of a six-room house which he has already rented for a year, at $30 a month.
Medford Mail, February 5, 1909, page 1

Real estate ad, February 7, 1909 Sunday Oregonian
February 7, 1909 Sunday Oregonian

Boarding Places and Lodging Houses All Doing Tremendous Business.
    Medford's hotels, rooming houses and the like were never before so crowded with newcomers as they are at the present time. The Moore, the Nash and a host of rooming houses never before were doing as great a business. People have been turned away often or rooms found for them on the outside. The restaurants in the city are filled each day, and everything indicates that the present rate of business will increase as the summer comes on with the influx of people from the East.
    "I only wish that the Nash was twice its present size," states manager Johnson. "We are crowded every day and are forced to send people to other places because we have not the accommodations for them."
    "The Moore is doing a record business," states "the father of the West Side" [T. H. Moore]. "People are crowding us for accommodations, and we have not the room. Prosperity is surely here. I am surprised at the large number of newcomers."
    All the other men in this line of business have the same story to tell. People are coming by every train and must be cared for. The local business men are reaping a harvest.
    A new hotel for Medford is among the probabilities of the near future. Plans have been drawn, and part of the stock subscribed on a tentative proposition to erect a complete modern hostelry to accommodate the increased business. Both present structures are turning away people, and neither shows any indication of building the needed accommodations. The Nash some time since planned the erection of an addition [to] the "L" in the interior, providing 16 additional suites, with baths, but there has been no sign of building as yet. Neither has the Hotel Moore extended to the corner as once contemplated, the owner holding it more valuable for business purposes than for hotel. Mr. Moore, however, will provide a suitable site for a fine hotel on the West Side, and is understood to be figuring along these lines with capitalists.
Excerpt, "Hotels Jammed with Newcomers," Medford Daily Tribune, April 1, 1909, page 1

    An evidence of the rapid growth of this city is the great demand for office and living rooms. No sooner is a room made vacant than there is a score or more applicants for it. The number of new buildings that are going up every day does not seem to keep up with the ever-increasing influx of newcomers that every train brings in. Several professional men who have recently arrived in the city from the East to take up their abode with us have been unable, in many instances, to find rooms to open up their offices. The same has also been true of residences and living rooms and business locations. If ever there was a demand for new buildings of every description in Medford, it is at the present time.
Medford Mail, May 7, 1909, page 2

    Knockers have scoffed at Medford, saying, "Where is your payroll?" Well, let them knock again, for Medford will soon have the biggest payroll in Southern Oregon [with the completion of the Pacific & Eastern Railroad].
"Road Turned Over to Allen," Medford Mail, August 27, 1909, page 1

    Real estate men are complaining because people are taking lots and houses off the market. Everyone wants to buy--no one to sell.

"Personal and Local Brevity," Medford Mail, September 24, 1909, page 2

Rush of People to Medford May Necessitate Canvas Hotels.
    MEDFORD, Or., March 12.--(Special.)--So many people are coming to Medford that the town is unable to accommodate them all, and many are obliged to go to neighboring towns to secure lodgings. All the hotels are crowded, and every train brings people interested in this section of the country. At the meeting of the Commercial Club, held March 3, a petition was presented by the women of the Greater Medford Club, asking that steps be taken to procure a plat of ground on which tents might be pitched for the accommodation of the traveling public.
    The secretary of the Commercial Club of Medford reports that his office has received an average of 30 letters a day from people making inquiries about this section of the country and its resources.

Sunday Oregonian, Portland, March 13, 1910, page 62

The tent city on South Oakdale, 1910.

Accommodations Provided To Care for Overflow from Hotels--
Everything Prepared Complete and Sanitary--
Tents Built on Platform.

    The property on Oakdale Avenue, just south of the Washington School, has undergone a rapid transformation in the past two days, and a neatly arranged city of tents has made its appearance there.
    It will be remembered that some time ago the Greater Medford Club initiated a move to establish a tent city to accommodate the tremendous influx of people now being drawn to Medford by the city's extensive advertising campaign. The ladies took the matter up with the Commercial Club and a committee was appointed to further the project.
    Owing to the time and expense necessary for carrying out such an enterprise, the matter was finally dropped by the club. The committee, however, interested G. F. Cuthbert of G. F. Cuthbert & Co., the new house-furnishing concern, who at once took hold of the matter.
    Mr. Cuthbert states that the plan followed in the erection of the tent city is similar to that carried out in Santa Cruz and Southern California, and that no expense has been spared to make everything complete and sanitary. Each tent is built on a platform, with rustic sides, fitted with screen doors and wire screen on the walls, so that the entire sides of each tent may be raised, giving most complete ventilation. Canvas partitions between the tents give absolute privacy. Each tent is protected by a fly overhead. All are electrically lighted, and lights have been placed in the streets. The furnishing is entirely new and attractive.
    The entire premises will be well fenced, and a large office tent, toilets, etc., provided. E. S. Parsons, recently of Portland, has been engaged as manager.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 6, 1910, page 5

    In lieu of houses, five more tents were pitched by newcomers Saturday. There is no such thing possible as housing the people who are arriving every week, and the only salvation is tents as a temporary shelter. A department pavilion would be a moneymaker here at present.
"Central Point Items," Medford Mail Tribune, October 10, 1910, page 2

In Spite of Vast Amount of Building in Medford, Supply Can in No Way
Equal the Demand--Houses Rented Long Before Completed.
    In spite of the fact that Medford has done more building during the past year than ever before in her history, not alone in the erection of business blocks, but also in dwelling houses, it is almost impossible for a person to find a house to rent in the city. Every day one can meet a score of persons on the trail of suitable houses to rent, and night, after a day spent on such a quest, generally brings no result but fatigue.
    Many of the new houses erected in Medford last summer were for the sole purpose of investment. And in scores of instances the houses were engaged before the foundations had been laid. Today there is scarcely a house to be had. The newcomer is forced to spend weeks in overcrowded boarding houses before he can secure what he needs.
    There is a demand in Medford for any character of building, from a two-room shack to a ten-room modern residence. No sooner is one offered than it is taken.
    As an instance of the eagerness with which house are taken, the experience of Dr. E. H. Porter is in point. He started the erection of a residence on South Oakdale. No sooner was the foundation in than applications began to pile up, and before a single stick of timber was in place the dwelling was rented.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 30, 1910, page 3

Percentage Increase in Population Makes Great Showing.
    MEDFORD, Or., Dec 1.--(Special.)--The census bureau at Washington announced today the population of Medford to be 8840. an increase of 392 percent over the population of 1900, which was 1791. This increase is greater than that of any other city in the country, with the exception of Oklahoma City, whose percentage of increase was 393.
    Medford's greatest percentage of growth occurred during the last three years, the estimated population at that time being 3000. The census of Medford was taken last May. Since that time the population has been increased to 10,000. according to deposits in the banks and estimates made by contractors and postal authorities.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 2, 1910, page 1

    Medford, Ore.--Presumably as a result of a great deal of advertising, mechanics of all trades, among them a great many carpenters from the East as well as from the Coast, are flocking to this city. This oversupply of carpenters and other labor is playing havoc with our organization. While during the past few years, our services being in demand, we have maintained a decent wage rate, since [then] conditions have become bad, generally, all over the country, transient labor is moving about a great deal and many in search of employment have stopped at our city. This influx of idle men we are desirous to check, as it would only drain their resources and ours also, and work is not to be had. Traveling brothers will act wisely by avoiding this city.
The Carpenter, January 1911, page 38

    Statistics show seven cities of more than 5000, an increase of four since 1900. Most of them showed large increases. Medford heads the list with 393.5 percent; Eugene with 178.3 percent; Portland with 129.2 percent, and Ashland with 90.5 percent. None of the cities showed a loss.
"Suburban Count Shown,"
Morning Oregonian, Portland, January 14, 1911, page 4

    Houses for rent are a scarce article in Medford, if the complaints being made in this regard are any criterion. Newcomers state that it is almost impossible to secure a single modern house in the city. A few "oldtimers" in the house line are offered, but these are taken up very rapidly. According to local contractors, there will be a great amount of building done in the resident portions of the city this summer, as well as in the business sections. But nearly every house that is erected is for some family and is either owned or rented months in advance.
Medford Mail Tribune weekly, February 2, 1911, page 7

Carpenters Demand Increase.
    MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 4.--(Special.)--The carpenters' union served notice upon contractors in this city today that after April 1, the wage scale here will be increased from $3.50 to $4 a day. The higher cost of living was given as the reason.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, February 5, 1911, page 14

    William M. Colvig gave one of his interesting and entertaining talks [at the meeting of the Oregon Development League in Astoria]. He is known to be one of the best and wittiest public speakers in Oregon, and he was at his best. He spoke as follows:
    "For three years past I have been the president of the Medford Commercial Club, and, with my associates, have induced a great many people to come to Oregon, many of whom are now basking in the sunshine of happier and more prosperous days than they had ever known before, and yet I am sorry to say there are a few others who seem to have been 'over-much persuaded,' and who have either returned to the familiar faces of their old homes in the East or are found wandering up and down the Pacific Coast cussing the country and everybody in it. These few need parental guidance and should not have crossed the threshold where the 'old folks stay.'
    "As loyal citizens of Oregon we should be glad to welcome among us all those who are not afraid to face the obstacles which lie in the pathway of every new civilization. We should not hesitate to sing the praises of our home in this land of rich endowment, but there is danger that we may overdraw the picture and offer inducements that will never be realized by those who may come. We must, therefore, be careful in all our statements so that we will not be afraid to face the newcomer when he arrives."
"Awaken, Pleads Wilcox to Oregon," Morning Oregonian, Portland, August 15, 1911, page 1

From the May 1911 issue.

And the boom goes bust:

    . . . I would recommend that immediate steps be taken to build an addition to the present city hall on the vacant lot adjoining it on the south.
    . . . at the present time a large number of our citizens in the building trades are unemployed, and I deem it a time propitious for erecting a substantial addition to the city's building.
W. H. Canon, Mayor, "City Finances Shown To Be in Good Shape," Medford Mail Tribune, January 3, 1912, page 1

Feb. 7, 1912.       
To Our Brothers and Sisters of Organized Labor, Greeting:
    Through the daily press, monthly magazines, even by means of posters on the billboards, Oregon and its chief metropolis, Portland, have been widely advertised as a land of golden opportunities, where jobs are plentiful and men are scarce, wages high and living cheap. We desire to dispute these highly colored statements and to show you the true condition of the industrial affairs here in Portland and Oregon. We have at this date in this city alone 10,000 idle men, skilled and unskilled, destitute and begging for bread or a chance to earn bread, the larger portion of whom are new arrivals in this country, lured hither by the false advertisements of the open shop employers and the greedy land sharks, both of whom are desirous of beating down the wages now maintained by organized labor, wages that are very moderate considering the high cost of living.
    In many instances men have brought large families to this new country of undeveloped resources, only to be compelled to ask the city and county officials to give them the bread to keep their loved ones from the awful pangs of starvation. This condition is prevalent all over Oregon. From the widely advertised Medford in southern Oregon, a city of 15,000 inhabitants, comes the message that a thousand men are unemployed in that town--no chance to work.
    We ask you, therefore, to place this state of affairs before the membership of your locals and see that this information is given widest publicity in your papers. Enclosed are a few posters which we wish you to post in conspicuous places about the meeting halls of working men and women, that they may not be misled or inveigled into venturing into Oregon unless they have sufficient means to support themselves here until conditions adjust themselves.
        Yours fraternally,
                ARTHUR W. LAWRENCE, Sec'y.
"Official," Plumber's Gas and Steam Fitters' Journal, March 1912, page 40

Labor Leaders Say "Knock" Intended as Rebuke to Council
for Failure to Pass 8-Hour Ordinance

    MEDFORD, Or., April 5.--(Special.)--Citizens and "boosters" of Medford and the Rogue River Valley awoke Friday morning to learn that the Labor Union Council had issued a circular intended to keep away both the investor and farmer, craftsman and laborer. The circulars came back to Medford from the Middle West and stirred citizens and business men to demand at once a thorough investigation by the Commercial Club and Business Men's Association, asking that every union in the city be put on record regarding its stand in the matter.
    Union officials of the city Friday declared that the issuance of the circular was contrary to their wishes; that it was distributed without a referendum vote of the Central Labor Council, thereby making it illegal; that many of the union men did not know that it had been issued; that the "knock" was intended as a rebuke to the city for the failure of the Council to pass the eight-hour ordinance, and that the I.W.W. and Socialist wing of the Labor Council were the backers and promoters or the circulars.
    The facts in the case are these:
    That a committee was appointed by the Labor Council to frame the circular and that a draft was read in the council by D. C. White, a carpenter and Socialist candidate for councilman at the last city election. Union men at this time objected so strenuously to the circular that its particularly violent parts were eliminated.
    Union members also say that the circular was rushed through the Council and that they had no time to consider its points.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, April 6, 1912, page 7

(Hutchinson, Kans., News)
    Col. L. A. Beebe, secretary of the Commercial Club, received a letter yesterday from Z. H. Bissell, a former resident of this county, now located at Medford, Oregon, enclosing a circular warning people to stay away from that section.
    The circular is issued by the Central Labor Council, of Medford, and it warns people not to locate in that section. The circular says: "This entire country is overrun with an unemployed and disappointed army of men who have responded to unscrupulous advertising. All the really good land has been bought up. The land now being advertised is desert with hardpan only a few inches under the surface in which they must needs blast holes for fruit trees that cannot survive more than a few years, at from $300 to $500 an acre."
    Mr. Bissell, in sending the circular, comments: "The land around Hutchinson is not to be compared with this in the Rogue River Valley. Reno and Rice county land is far superior to this land here."
    Bissell is at present employed as a janitor in the First National Bank building in this city.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 8, 1912, page 1

A. W. Lawrence Insists Labor Council Is Essentially Right in Position.
    Following an informal reply to a letter sent from the office of the State Immigration Commission, calling attention to a second "famine letter" which had been issued from the Portland Labor Council and published in Eastern papers, A. W. Lawrence has sent to State Immigration Agent. C. C. Chapman a formal letter in which he reiterates his declaration that the Labor Council has not broken faith with the immigration authorities, since the letter was mailed prior to the conference called by Governor West.
    Mr. Lawrence, however, defends the Labor Council in its action in having sent out the letter and asserts that the essentials stated in it are true. He implies that the immigration agent is trying "to inject a two-months-old affair into a political campaign."
    Judge William Colvig, president and manager of the Medford Commercial Club, visiting in Portland yesterday, said that a letter similar to the "famine letter" sent out by the Portland Labor Council was sent out from Medford some time ago, warning people away from that city. Since that time, he says, the movement has fallen into bad favor with many members of the labor associations and that the typographical and plumbers' unions have both withdrawn their support from the campaign of unfavorable publicity, and several other unions have indicated their purpose to do likewise.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, April 10, 1912, page 14

Central Labor Council of Medford and Vicinity.
    We, the Central Labor Council of Medford and vicinity, deem it necessary that some steps should be taken to inform the working man who is thinking of changing his location to benefit his condition of the true conditions as they exist in the Rogue River Valley. A bunch of organized promoters, "boosters" and real estate men are advertising this country in glowing colors. They do not hesitate at any statement to catch the unsuspecting prospective settler.
    All of the really good land, which comprises about two-fifths of the Rogue River Valley, has been bought up by millionaires and speculators, who have boosted the price out of the reach of the man of moderate means, and who are at present advertising desert land, with hardpan only a few inches under the surface, in which they must needs blast holes for fruit trees that cannot survive more than a few years, at from three to five hundred dollars an acre.
    This entire country is overrun with an unemployed and disappointed army of men who have responded to this unscrupulous advertising. The churches, lodges and municipality of Medford have made many contributions to charity in order to tide their unemployed through the winter--and still men, willing and anxious to work, are begging for bread in Medford. And these deplorable conditions are not confined to Medford alone, but exist quite generally over the state of Oregon.
    Skilled mechanics are in the same boat with the common laborer and are having a hard struggle under these adverse conditions. Very few are at work.
    This letter is not put out, as some of the "boosters" claim, "to get a corner on labor," but to protect the working man. Any sane man knows that a "corner on labor," in these times of depression and unemployment, is an impossibility. The day of the homesteader is past in this vicinity, and unless you are prepared to support yourself by other means than day labor our advice to you is do not come to Oregon until such time when matters have been so adjusted that you can at least find employment and not be compelled to walk the streets looking for work while your savings, accumulated by hard work and sacrifice, dwindle and disappear.
Plumber's Gas and Steam Fitters' Journal, May 1912, page 23

    Along with the reductions in the cost of living in Medford that the public market will accomplish by lowering the cost of produce and meat, should come a reduction in rents, which are too high--higher in many instances than business will justify.
    The shortage in buildings during the period of phenomenal growth of the past five years forced rents in the business district up to exorbitant figures--to far in excess of a reasonable return upon the actual investment. Many of the landlords are trying to secure returns upon an inflated valuation, and by so doing, they are forcing unnecessary hardships upon merchants and through them upon the public--hence retarding the progress of the city.
    The majority of buildings in the business district are little better than shacks remodeled with modern fronts. There are few modern structures. Most of them are owned by the persons who bought them for small sums years ago and have owned them since, but now demand four or five times as much rent as they formerly demanded. As a result, for the first time in the history of the city, there are several vacant stores in the heart of the business district.
    Rents in Medford are higher than in Eugene or Salem, both larger cities. They are almost as high as in Portland. It is an unhealthy condition and should be remedied, and the landlords should be longsighted enough for their own future welfare to see it, and voluntarily reduce rentals, even where they have a lease that works a hardship upon the renter.
    A first-class modern, up-to-date store was recently driven out of the city because of exorbitant rent and the entire stock moved and a new store opened in another town. After remaining vacant for some time, the building was rented at half the amount or less paid by the firm forced out. This should serve as a warning to other landlords, who are likely to find themselves in the same predicament.
    Merchants who tack on excessive profits soon kill their own business. The same holds true of the property owner who demands unreasonable rentals, which must be based upon the business the tenant does as well as upon the original investment. There is no quicker way to kill a city than by driving people away by high rentals and consequent high prices.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 4, 1912, page 4

Wisconsin Best for Business
    "It is now over two months since we left Wisconsin, and during that time we experienced all kinds of climatic conditions, from the balmy zephyrs of the sunny South to the frigid climate of the frozen North. Since December 24th this particular part of "Sunny Southern Oregon," where the "pine and palm meet," has been enveloped in a heavy blanket of "the beautiful." On January 6 there was a heavy snow storm and blizzard that would put even North Dakota to shame. Over nine inches of snow fell, and at the present writing (January 13) they are having excellent sleighing.
    "Things are practically at a standstill--there are no improvements of any kind going on except at Portland. Going from Portland to this city we saw thousands of bushels of apples, in orchard after orchard, going to waste. The fruit industry is overdone; the production is greater than the demand, and has been for some time back. The heavy freight rates are a great handicap. The rate from Portland to San Francisco is nearly the same as that between Portland and St. Paul. The raising of alfalfa and stock is the most productive industry in this western country at the present time.
    "There are many things in the western country that are excellent--the climate, fruit, flowers and mountain scenery. These are very nice for those who have no vocation to follow for a livelihood, to enjoy and to admire, but for the man who must toil at manual labor to keep the wolf from the door, there is but a meager existence for him. Labor can be secured at your own price, and there is a large surplus in every coast town. All lines of business are overdone; it's the same in any line you wish to investigate. At the present time there are about 250 vacant houses in Ashland; 300 in Medford, the much advertised city of the Rogue River Valley, and it is about the same in every city, according to size, in the coast country that we have visited.
    "Good old Wisconsin has many conditions that some people don't like, but when its comes to the business end of it, it can turn out more cash to the amount of capital invested than any of this coast country that it has been our pleasure to visit. Its factories and enterprises exceed anything here in a dependable way. The advice of this Badgerite, for the young man, or middle-aged, who has the Western fever, and contemplates migrating to benefit himself financially, is to remain in the "bread and butter" states of the Middle West. He can make more clear money there in one year than he can in this country in two, unless fortune happens to smile on some venture or investment that he may have made. This is a splendid country to live in, providing you have enough of the "filthy lucre" to exist on the remainder of your days.
    "The young man who can gather enough cash together to buy 40 or 80 acres of Wisconsin land can become more independent than he ever could in this part of the West on a forty-acre orchard tract. A good dairy farm will bring in more ready cash than will a fruit farm, year in and year out.
    "As for ourselves we do not expect to make our home in the West permanently--we expect to eventually make our permanent home in the Middle West again."
    Ashland, Oregon, January 13, 1913.
River Falls Journal, River Falls, Wisconsin, January 23, 1913, page 1

    Oregon and the Northwest are suffering from the effects of land speculation. The era of rapid development of the past decade attracted in its wake a flock of speculators, whose contribution to prosperity consisted in inflating values.
    It is doubtful if any form of gambling is harder upon a country than land gambling. It upsets and unsettles communities. Give a touch of the get-rich-quick magic of buying on margins today to sell at an advance tomorrow, and the individual is spoiled for the humdrum life of toil.
    Land speculation is the same in theory, farther reaching in results, as faro, roulette, poker and other games of chance. It not only demoralizes the individual, but the community as well. It retards rather than builds up, creates a fictitious base and supplants plodding development with feverish expectancy and anticipation, a hectic flush that counterfeits real health.
    Land speculation not only withdraws individuals from useful production, but also land. No permanent prosperity can be built upon the process of swapping property, increasing valuations or staking out town lots. The citizen who lives by a raise in the price of property due to the growth of the community fulfills no useful part in the community's existence--is simply a parasite upon it.
    Inflation of land values is simply trying to discount today the development of tomorrow. The speculator is trying to cash in advance the industry and enterprise of the next decade or two. His contribution to society is no more beneficial than that of any other gambler.
    Productive work is the real basis of prosperity. Land is worth just what it can be made to produce. Without labor it is unproductive and therefore valueless to the community. No one is entitled to more than he creates, but everyone is entitled to all that he creates. But what does the speculator create?
    Every section has to go through the land speculative era--sometimes several succeeding speculative crazes. After artificial inflation has had its day, there is always the reaction--the period of depression--and the community is then in much better shape, much healthier, much sounder. When the artificial inflation has been squeezed, and people cease trying to live without labor, cease discounting the future and get "down to brass tacks," quit grafting and go to work, then the community has an assured future--and the sooner it realizes this the better.
    The entire Pacific coast country is going to have a phenomenal development during the next decade, following the completion of the Panama Canal, the San Francisco exposition and the railroad and highway development in prospect. But care should be exercised in every community to make prosperity permanent by preventing land speculation and inflation, that the future may not be too far discounted and that there may be no prolonged period of depression following.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 18, 1913, page 4

    To aid Governor West in his fight to secure state work for homeless and hungry men, against political enemies, Mayor Purdin, upon the suggestion of Councilman Millar, named the following committee to draft resolutions urging action and secure signatures in support of the governor's stand; City Attorney McCabe, Councilman Millar and Arthur Perry.
    Councilman Millar read an appeal from the League of the Unemployed setting forth present labor conditions. Millar held the action to be a humanitarian move. The committee will meet soon to take initial action.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 24, 1913, page 2


W. I. Vawter.
    Rogue River Valley in general and Medford in particular should and will enjoy a most prosperous year in 1914. Our lands are maintained at good prices, none of our first-class orchard properties are offered at a price less than in 1910. The fruit production should exceed that of 1913 by 25 percent. We are again doing something in the way of shipping out meat products. In 1910 we shipped in 75 carloads of potatoes; the year just closed we exported many carloads of garden products. Everything agriculturally is tending towards a stable and solvent condition which will bring in its turn a satisfactory prosperity.
The Toggery.
    The Toggery feels very optimistic as to the future business prospect of the Rogue River Valley and city of Medford. The big volume of trade this fall, and especially the past thirty days, we feel is due to the successful fruit season and is only an indication of what a few industries which furnish permanent payrolls would mean toward additional prosperity.
F. W. Street, Secretary Commercial Club.
    I have more than one reason to believe the prospects for the Rogue River Valley for 1914 will be good. The correspondence received by the Commercial Club has more life to it than a few months ago. People are really in earnest about coming to Oregon. The majority are in comparatively moderate circumstances but want assurance that while they are willing to work hard they want to know about our markets and net profits. The crop reports that have been collected for The Mail Tribune New Year edition are splendid, and 1,000 copies will be sent out to these people. We think it will be convincing, and the plans mapped out by the Commercial Club for 1914 is to give Medford a larger payroll. The public will be invited some time soon to hear Mr. D. M. Lowe of Ashland give his illustrated lecture and experiences at the Chicago land show, and if you are looking through blue glasses you will not need them after you hear him.
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.
Medford Furniture and Hardware Company.
    We are very optimistic as to future business conditions in the Rogue River Valley. Considering the condition of [the] valley at the beginning of the year 1913, we have had an exceedingly good trade. The conditions now, at the first of the new year, are much better than they were a year ago, due to a good fruit crop bringing good prices, also to the farmers raising a more diversified crop, and more stock to put on the market.
    The prospects are for more advancement in the country than in the towns, and this in itself is a very satisfactory indication to the merchant, as a town will always keep up with the country.
J. C. Mann.
    The year 1913 did not start out very promising, but it has far exceeded our expectations and has turned out to be the most prosperous one for us that we have had. We start the new year full of confidence in the future of Medford, believing that it is the best place to live, the best place to do business, and has the best people in America. There is no reason why 1914 should not be the best year for everyone. Let us do our best to make it so.
T. E. Daniels.
    In my opinion, said T. E. Daniels of the Daniels for Duds store, there never was so much reason for optimism on the part of the business man as at the present time. Locally we have passed through the trying period that every small city experiences after a rapid growth. Medford has stood the test, and in spite of all that has been said to the contrary, when compared with the other cities of the state we find our city has had its full share of business and has felt a comparatively small depression which has existed generally throughout the country since the Roosevelt panic in 1907. I am extremely optimistic in regard to the effect of the currency bill on business in the very near future, and the endorsement of the measure now that it has passed by a great number of the banks and other financial institutions of importance, I regard as evidence that we have a bright future to look forward to in business during the coming year. I have enjoyed a splendid increase in my business through the entire fall season, which to me is somewhat of "the proof of the pudding."
General Resume.
    The new year gives hope for the return of prosperity, and conditions without optimism point to, all things being equal, the most prosperous and happiest year so far recorded. The woes of 1913 were caused by man. In the readjustment now under way, the mistakes will be overcome. There was no unkind visitation of providence, nature was kind, and a new spirit of hope and optimism abides in the heart of the Rogue River Valley today with 1914 and its golden promises.
"How Medford Merchants and Leading Firms View 1914 Prospects from Prosperity Angle; Optimistic," Medford Sun, January 1, 1914, page 6

That Oregon Pear Story.
    To the Editor: I wish to make a few remarks as to an article published in the Pacific Rural Press of January 10 in regard to T. E. Scantlin's wonderful pear story, as he stated one grower received over $3400 from one acre. Now, I wonder how large one of these acres must be?
    I will say Rogue River Valley is a good pear country, but there is plenty of hot air, too. I lived in Rogue River Valley nine years, and six years near Medford, and was in the fruit business myself, and have some knowledge about pears. My Bartletts were second to none, but I did not get returns such as a person reads about.
    I am also sending you clippings from the Medford Mail Tribune, so you can see what the Medford boosters think of California. It seems to be their hobby to come down to California to boost for Rogue River Valley and knock this country. Dr. W. S. Goudy says he has not seen the sun since leaving Medford. Well, I have seen such times in Rogue River Valley, too. And he says California is catching retribution for her misdeeds. If there were anything in that, the Medford boosters have something coming to them, too. Mr. Westerlund was connected in a large orchard tract when I lived there, and probably is yet. He evidently wants to turn the suckers to Medford.--M. DEMMES, Gridley.
    [Mr. Demmer sends us a choice collection of misrepresentations, which we will not kill space with. The proverb says that such things always come home to roost.--EDITOR.]
Pacific Rural Press, San Francisco, February 14, 1914, page 209

    To correct the evils arising in the past from moving houses through the streets, an ordinance was passed by the council making it necessary for the owner of the building to secure a permit, put up a bond for all damage that might be incurred, unnecessary delay, and pay for the handling of telephone and telegraph wires. Shade trees on East Main were ruined a few months ago by house movers, and at times structures have been left standing in the streets for a day or two at a time.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 22, 1914, page 6

Medford to Get $20,000 Hotel.
    MEDFORD, Or., July 11.--(Special.)--J. C. Barnum, owner of the Barnum Railroad, between Medford and Jacksonville, has started the construction of a $20,000 hotel across from the Southern Pacific depot on Front Street. The hotel will have 40 rooms will be three stories high and will cater to the commercial trade particularly. Mr. Barnum is a great believer in Medford's future and declares that now is the time to invest in local real estate, as a revival in business through Southern Oregon and the state is imminent.
Sunday Oregonian, Portland, July 12, 1914, page 54

(From the Corvallis Gazette.)
    "From reports, I had expected to find Medford dead enough to smell bad," said [Corvallis] Mayor [Walter K.] Taylor, "but I talked with many business men, and I found no one who felt that Medford was suffering more than the slump that is general. In fact, different ones said to me that their business the past few days had been better than for some time, and they had no fear for the future. I saw that practically the entire city was paved, and asked several if they were not going it rather strong. They thought not, and said the entire county ought to be paved."
"Corvallis Mayor Is Much Pleased with Medford," Medford Mail Tribune, August 12, 1914, page 3

To the Editor:
    I read in your paper of Sept. 9 about a possible proposed bond issue to pay [the] city paving bill. I am not familiar with all the details that have led up to the present situation in Medford. I should judge, however, from what I read that the city fathers in the past have saddled a very heavy paying debt on the residents and owners of property in Medford.
    If we look at this from an outsider's point of view, we see the picture about as follows:
    1st--A growing city with an enthusiastic group of city fathers and a general desire to improve the city.
    2nd--An order from the city council to pave the principal streets of the city, etc., with ten years to pay for the paving.
    3d--Paving is done and payments are begun by the property owners.
    4th--Close financial conditions sweep over the United States and hang on like an English bulldog, and is still with us.
    5th--People become discouraged and stop paying street assessments, rents go down, and the city under this heavy burden of taxes is a good city to move away from. Some people give up their property for the taxes, which soon eats into the value of property.
    6th--A general desire for some kind of relief is manifest in a bill to rebond the city for a longer time, to gain the needed relief.
    Now what would be a possible solution of this condition? And how could the city fathers compensate for their overenthusiasm in ordering the city paved when if they could have looked into the future they would not have issued the order?
    It has been suggested by a party who read this article in your Sept. 9th issue that the equitable thing for the city fathers to do now would be to issue bonds for one-half of the cost of paving, and the property owners to organize a league and agree to pay the other half on the condition that the city pay one-half. And, if it is found to be equitable, to extend this offer to future pavements. This would not work a hardship on anyone and would treat all citizens alike. Those who have paved will be on the same footing as those who have to pave in the future.
    This arrangement, I am convinced, if carried out, will put new life into your city, make everybody feel pleasant over the situation and greatly relieve the present intense strain and money stringency.
    Yours for the future prosperity of your beautiful city, by one who is interested, if not present.
S. R. COOK.                       
Medford Mail Tribune, September 23, 1915, page 5

(By Mary Agnes Daily)
My orchard 'tis of thee
Peach, pear and cherry tree,
    Of thee I sing.
No more thy blossoms bright
Cheer me up day and night;
The truth I may as well indite,
    I have the blues.
In debt I'm immersed quite,
And freedom's holy light
    Don't shine for me.
All sorts of insect pest
Doth thy fruit buds molest,
I fain would treat it as a jest
    But I cannot.
God save us from the blight;
No longer does my might
    Avail to curb it.
From frost I try to shield,
Smudge pots adorn my field.
Oh! would I had the power to shield
    Thee from thy plight.
My orchard now to thee
I owe my poverty
    And I shall quit.
I cannot help my fate;
My sleep you dissipate;
With gloom you saturate
    My entire being.
So now I'll sell thee cheap,
For some poor cuss to keep
    Till he's tired, too.
And when at length I'm free
With naught to worry me,
My orchard 'tis of thee
    I'll sing no more.
But when I part with thee
Some other industry
    Will claim my tin.
Perchance 'twere raising wheat,
Or else the sugar beet
With motions deft and sweet
    May rope me in.
But whatever it may be
I still will think of thee
    But not thy bounty.
No doubt I soon shall be
Housed, clothed and fed you see,
    By Jackson County.
Ashland Tidings, April 22, 1918, page 8

    "More real estate changed hands in one month last summer than in the previous seven years," announces Mayor C. E. Gates of Medford. "We are now in better condition than when the boom was on. Our crops are record-breakers and the prices are good. In short, the orchard business is at last just what the boomers and promoters used to say it would be. The trouble with our country was that the boys came in with too much money and they did their farming at the university club and at the country club. Now they have to get in and work and run the orchards properly and the result is just what it should be. Then the boomers paved the streets, put in a water system and saddled the town with debt until the assessments were higher than the property was worth. The bankers stood behind the town and there were no failures. Well, not long ago we put all the old debts into a jackpot, issued new bonds and started out afresh. Interest will be paid on the new bonds for three years and then every interest-due date a percentage of the securities will be canceled Medford has found itself."

"Those Who Come and Go," Morning Oregonian, Portland, October 11, 1919, page 8

May 13, 1920
    This is a strange town with residences scattered out all around and miles of paved streets that are partly lined some places for blocks and blocks with shacks and vacant lots. A peculiar town. I can't see any great future for it.
Diary of Fred Alton Haight

    THE GOOD OLD DAYS! Every now and then someone hereabouts heaves a sigh and regrets that Medford isn't the Medford of the golden days--the boom days--the get-rich-quick days of 1910-11.
    To hear these gloomy goslings talk, one would suppose that Medford reached its pinnacle a decade ago and has been steadily declining ever since.
    As a matter of fact, the very reverse is true. Many years ago Medford did have a boom, which is only another term for an economic spree, and like most sprees in the pre-Volstead era, there was an awful headache the next morning.
    The good-old-day wailers have never gotten over that headache. Their heads have never cleared up. Nor their eyes. Convinced that the boom had busted, they proceeded to assume that Medford had busted, and they have been suffering under the delusion ever since.
    The good old days. Oh, if they would only come back. Well, let's hope they don't. For booms, while exhilarating, never last. And in the end they always cost more than they are worth.
    Today Medford is in better shape in every way than it has ever been before. It has more people, it has more homes, it has more money in the banks, it has more payrolls, it has more prosperity and it has better promise for the future than it ever had before.
    This isn't booster talk. It isn't even propaganda--as yet. It is the plain unvarnished truth supported by plain undeniable facts.
    The Medford Chamber of Commerce has recently completed what might be termed an economic survey of the city. The results have been charged. The survey includes everything from bank deposits to building permits, and from precipitation to postal receipts--and the index line of every chart is not only higher than in those so-called good old days, but in nearly every case has steadily risen ever since!
    These charts are soon to be printed in this paper [see below]. They will make excellent reading. The will be particularly excellent for those poor victims of the inferiority complex, who harp on the good old days, without realizing for a moment apparently that they can't hold a candle to the days that are here.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 17, 1923, page 4

    Once upon a time Medford had a boom. Like most booms the Medford boom busted. Also like most booms the Medford boom was followed by several years of acute depression, rendered all the more painful by the contrast between abnormal activity and subnormal activity.
    That Medford boom has never been forgotten. Its aftereffects have never been forgotten. But what has been forgotten, what very few local residents have apparently realized, is that several years ago Medford recovered from this boom collapse, regained its normal health, and since then has been going steadily forward, until today Medford is in every way in better condition than it has ever been before.
"Medford Has Found Itself," Medford Mail Tribune, November 30, 1923, page 3

    It is a fact not generally known that one of the most influential factors in turning the tide of public opinion which set in against Medford following the collapse of the boom of a few years ago to a favorable channel was the session of the grand lodge of Odd Fellows held in this city, about a dozen years ago. Already rumblings of comment had begun to sweep over the state that Medford was headed for the graveyard. The grand lodge session was held and was attended by hundreds of representative men and women from all over the state. So splendidly did the Odd Fellows of this city and other public-spirited citizens rise to the occasion and entertained the visitors so royally that that session was voted the best and most enjoyable ever held up to that time. The visitors returned to their homes singing the praises of Medford, and this favorable impression entirely squelched the adverse reports that were becoming current.
"New Mausoleum To Be Dedicated Here on May 20th," Medford Mail Tribune, May 7, 1925, page 6

    In 1919, 750 delinquent lots were on the city's hands. Over a full-page advertisement was necessary to list them for sale, but since that time the number has gradually decreased, and when such lots were last listed for sale early this spring only 100 were included. At the present time the few lots that are still on the city's hands will no longer be advertised because of insufficient numbers.
    During the past six years owners of delinquent property in the city, realizing the benefit that would be derived if settlement were made, have either deeded the lots to the city, or have paid amounts covering delinquent taxes. The city attorney's office expects that the remaining few delinquent lots will either be paid up or deeded to the city in a very short time.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 10, 1925, page 7

    Medford had just undergone its first big boom when Gates arrived, and even the advent of his numerous and healthy family did not save it from a heavy decrease in population. The city had been paved enthusiastically, but the assessments didn't yield enough to meet the improvement bonds, and the city government was as broke as if it had been located in Florida. There was a million dollars due and nothing to pay it with except real estate and future prospects.
    Pop made himself part of Medford, and he was there to stay. The business men and taxpayers turned to him to take the job of mayor. He did so on condition that at the same election when his name was submitted, a charter amendment would be carried abolishing the salaries of mayor and councilmen. The measure carried almost unanimously and Pop was elected. He served six years without salary or expense account, from 1916 to 1922.
    Refinancing the city was the first task. Improvement bonds had been sold as low as 66 in order to get paving in front of every lot before new lots were subdivided. Pop's administration succeeded in refunding the city debt by selling a big new bond issue at par, and was smart enough to stick the bond buyer with the $1,575 cost of engraving and printing the new bonds, so the city got the entire face value of the issue without a nickel discount.
"'Pop' Gates Has 'It'," Medford Mail Tribune, July 13, 1930, page 7

Oakland, California.
Editor People's World
Mr. Harrison George
San Francisco, Cal.
Dear Sirs:
    Reading William Z. Foster's homestead adventure in the Progressive Weekly, that excellent magazine supplement to the People's World, reminds me of our experience on a small ranch in Ashland, Oregon for five years, and how slick guys with long pencils behind their ears welcome strangers when you alight at the town stations; next they lure you to "splendid tracts" of fruit land that "rapidly increase in value."
    I would like for Mr. Foster to read the sad experience of an Ashland, Oregon school teacher, portrayed in her poem "My Orchard 'Tis of Thee" [above]. I am sure he would be pleased to see this.
    Not knowing where I could reach Mr. Foster, I am taking the liberty of asking you to dispatch it to him.
Yours truly,
Daily Worker, New York City, May 2, 1939, page 7

    The fast-talking realtors had assured the greenhorns from the East that in six short years the profits from the fruit trees would allow the owners to spend their winters in sunny southern California among the palm trees, and no irrigation was required due to the natural sub-irrigation of the soil on the valley floor. What prevaricators those eager promoters turned out to be.
    A big land boom hit the valley in 1909 with so many buyers getting off the trains that the Southern Pacific Railroad company set up tents on the Medford station property to bed down as many as two hundred investors every night. Dad was offered double his investment, but we were settled in the new home and he turned it down. Within three years nine out of ten of the new orchardists had moved on or returned to their former homes. The value of the young orchards had taken a nose dive. The land boom actually ended in two and a half years, and without irrigation water, the young trees didn't have a chance.

George W. Vilas, Tales of a Rogue Valley Rogue, 1974, page 28

Last revised July 11, 2022