The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Emil Peil

Peil moved to Medford in 1883 and was witness to its naming.

C. Emil Peil

    Emil Peil, an excellent blacksmith, has opened a shop at the central depot, and is prepared to do all kinds of blacksmithing, including horseshoeing, in good style and at reasonable rates. See his advertisement elsewhere.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 14, 1883 et seq., page 3

Blacksmith and Horseshoer,
at the new town, five miles northeast of Jacksonville,
I am prepared to execute all work in my line
promptly and at low rates. Give me a trial.
E. PEIL.                        
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 14, 1883, page 3

Oregon Blacksmith Shop
An unidentified Oregon blacksmith shop, circa 1900. The smith at the anvil is identified on the back of the original print as "Emil," and bears a resemblance to Emil Peil.

    Emil Peil, recently from the East, has a blacksmith shop built and is at work at his forge.
Excerpt, "Medford Town," Ashland Tidings, December 21, 1883, page 3

    T. E. Stanley and Betterton & Work have the two saloons, have been occupied for some time, as have also the blacksmith shops of Emil Peil and another of whose proprietor [George Crystal] we cannot give the name at this writing.
"Medford Items," Ashland Tidings, January 25, 1884, page 4

    E. Peil, the Medford blacksmith, visited Jacksonville this week. He is doing a good business.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 1, 1884, page 3

    E. Peil, Mulvany & Slagle and G. W. Crystal are engaged in blacksmithing here.
"Medford Items," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 29, 1884, page 2

    Emil Peil, the blacksmith, brother of F. A. Peil of Antelope, returned to Jackson County last week from Alaska, where he had been working at the celebrated Treadwell mine for some months. He may return to Alaska next spring.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, October 14, 1892, page 3

    F. A. Peil of Antelope last week welcomed his brother Emil back from his long sojourn at the Treadwell mines in Alaska. Emil will probably return to Douglas Island in the spring, when daylight comes again in that far northern clime, and resume his forge.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 14, 1892, page 3

    Emil Peil, the blacksmith, who had occupied the Hunsaker shop in the railroad addition for some months past, has sold his outfit to Mr. Bacon, a blacksmith recently from Spokane. Mr. Peil has an offer of a job at his trade at Cripple Creek, Colorado, at $4 a day, and will leave for that place within a week or two.
Ashland Tidings, October 18, 1894

    EMIL PEIL has the distinction of being an expert mechanic, and for many years has successfully followed his trade as a blacksmith in various localities. Since 1893 he has been a citizen of Ashland, where he now has one of the finest and best equipped wagon, buggy and implement stores in the city. Mr. Peil began dealing in agricultural implements in 1900 and recently built a fine three-story store building, 60x70 feet, to accommodate his increasing trade. He deals in all kinds of farm implements and carries the largest and most complete stock of its kind in Ashland. He makes a specialty of handling Benicia Hancock disc plows, Canton plows, Buckeye & Hodges harvesters and mowers, Bain wagons and Racine buggies.
    Emil Peil was born October 6, 1858, in Linkoping, Sweden, a son of Carl and Ulla (Carlson) Peil, who never left their native land, Sweden. The beloved mother died at the age of forty-eight years, and the father's death occurred in 1900, he being then in his eighty-fourth year. He served in the Swedish army and after returning to civil life took up the occupation of a farmer for a livelihood. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Peil. Three of these are living, all being residents of America. They are Frank, of Medford, Ore.; Emil, and August, a farmer in Idaho. Emil was reared to farm life in his native land and in 1873 he came to America, where his brothers were already located. He joined them at Calumet, Mich., and attended school there seven months, also taking a course in a night school. Subsequently he became apprenticed to the blacksmith's trade, and for eight years he worked at his trade in that locality. In 1881 he went to Denver and did similar work in the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad shops for a couple of years. While there he was a diligent student at St. John's Hall night school, from which he derived great benefit. In 1883 he went to Salt Lake City and entered the railroad shops of the same road there, but remained only four months, afterward proceeding to Oregon. His first work in this state was in Medford, where he established a blacksmith shop, which was also the first building to be erected in that place. He conducted this shop until the following spring, and then purchased a ranch on Antelope Creek, and like nine out of every ten who went to that section, he engaged in stock-raising. He still owns this ranch and has added to his original purchase until he now has five hundred and thirty-seven acres in one tract. He followed ranching for three years and in 1887 re-engaged at his trade as blacksmith during the building of the big tunnel through the Siskiyou Mountains on the Southern Pacific Railroad. When that difficult piece of engineering was successfully accomplished Mr. Peil accepted a position with the company and for two years worked in their shops at Sacramento.
    Leaving Oregon, Mr. Peil secured a lucrative position in the shipyard at Seattle, Wash., and worked there until the spring of 1892, then he went to Douglas Island, Alaska, in the interest of the Treadwell Mining Company. He made a second trip to that section for the same company the following year, but before its close he returned to Oregon, locating in Ashland, again taking up his favorite occupation. In the spring of 1894 he opened a shop near the depot, but the following year rented a shop opposite the Hotel Oregon. Two years later he bought the Matison blacksmith shop and devoted his entire time to the wagon and implement business. Since then Mr. Peil has given the latter business his undivided attention and his patronage is steadily on the increase. As a businessman he is shrewd and methodical and has few equals among his countrymen. While a resident of Michigan, he united with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and now affiliates with the local lodge, of which he is a past noble grand. He also belongs to the Rebekah Lodge, Woodmen of the World, and is a valued member of the Board of Trade in Ashland. In his political convictions he is ever on the side of the Republicans, and both his vote and influence are used in advancing the cause of that party.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904, page 224
George G. Peil, January 22, 1908 Southern Oregonian
January 22, 1908 Southern Oregonian

The Name "Medford."
    To the Editor: In the Monday issue of The Oregonian, January 23, in the "Those Who Come and Go" column, I read the statement that Medford, Or., was named in honor of Medford, Mass. This is a mistake, as in the fall of 1883 I heard the discussion between railroad officials and Jacksonville people as to the name to be given the new town, being located in the middle of the valley. They decided on Medford, meaning "the middle ford." The Jacksonville people, being somewhat jealous of the new town so near, called it "Chaparral City" for some time, as the location was overgrown with the shrub.
EMIL PEIL.                
Ashland, Or.      
Oregonian, Portland, January 30, 1933, page 6

                                                  by same
    I came to the United States with a neighbor of ours from Sweden, when I was 15. I got a job in a blacksmith shop. I bought a pair of high boots. They were large, and were loose around the calf of my leg. I had not been working long when a piece of red-hot steel fell from the anvil into the top of my bootleg. I couldn't pull the boot off, and neither I nor the blacksmith thought of splitting the bootleg. The steel burned to the bone. I still have a scar from it. The place didn't heal for eight months, though I didn't lay off my job; I couldn't afford to.
    This was in Calumet, Mich., and our principal job was sharpening drills for the copper miners. After a year or so I was getting $30 a month as blacksmith. I took a job at $48 a month as a driller in the mines. One day there was a cave-in so close to me that rocks rolled at my very feet. If I had been a dozen feet farther in the tunnel I would have been buried and killed. The ore vein was 8 to 15 feet through. We had a 500-foot tunnel at about a 45 percent angle. In the ore were many big nuggets of pure copper. It was then sent to Lake Linden, sixteen miles away, to a stamp mill, where it was crushed and the pure copper retained on the plates.
    After my narrow escape from the cave-in I decided to work on the top of the ground, so I went back to my blacksmithing job. Occasionally the heavy machinery in the mine would get broken and we would be called on to repair it. We would work day and night without rest to repair those heavy shafts so the pumping machinery could get to work again and the mine wouldn't be flooded. On one job I worked three days and two nights, stopping only for hasty meals.
    In 1881 [sic] I went to the Black Hills. I worked in a gold mine at Custer City. From there I went to Deadwood, where I worked at my trade awhile, and later worked in Rapid City and at Sidney, Neb. From there I went to Denver, where I worked two years. From Denver I went to Salt Lake City and got a job in a blacksmith shop. From Salt Lake City I went to Sacramento, where I worked at my trade. My brother, Frank, was at Kingston, N.M. After considerable correspondence we decided to go into the cattle business in Oregon. I had heard of Southern Oregon, so I went from San Francisco to Portland by boat, by train to Glendale, and by stage to Jacksonville.
    At Jacksonville I met some railroad officials and learned that they were trying to get Jacksonville to put up money to have the railroad pass through the town. The Jacksonville people thought the railroad would have to come there, so they refused any bonds. The officials decided to leave Jacksonville out and establish a town on the railroad about four or five miles from Jacksonville. I happened to be present when they were discussing a name for the proposed town. David Loring was a civil engineer employed by the right-of-way department of the Ore. & Calif. Railroad Company. One official wanted to name the new town something that would signify that it was midway between Central Point and Phoenix. He suggested "Medfort." The others objected to this, so they compromised on "Medford." The railroad was opened to traffic from Grants Pass to Phoenix in 1884.
    I didn't like to be idle, so I put up a blacksmith shop where they were going to locate the new town, while I looked for a tract of land at low price where Frank and I could run cattle. I sharpened plows, repaired wagons, shod horses and did general repairing for the farmers around Medford till the spring of 1884, when I bought a ranch in the Antelope country.
    Emil worked for Southern Pacific while he was at Sacramento, learning "railroad smithing"--from there he went to Seattle and worked for a steamship line in and did general blacksmithing. But the lure of still farther fields called him to Alaska. There (1892) he worked in the huge Treadwell mine; for two years, seven days a week with only the Fourth of July and Christmas off. After that stint, it was then that he settled down in Southern Ore.
    The ranch he and Frank didn't make money fast enough to suit him. Cattle were selling at $27 so in 1895 he bought a building, still standing, and started his blacksmith shop and hardware. This was in Ashland, Oregon. Emil was a huge man, standing well over 6 ft. At 78 he weighed 270 lbs., had wrists measuring 9½ in. and complained he was considerably shrunken from the days of his prime.

A Peil-Nail Family History, typescript, compiled by Sharon Peil Morrow, SOHS vertical file


Funeral Services for Pioneer Resident,
Businessman to be Held Sunday Afternoon.
    Claus Emil Peil, age 80, highly respected citizen and pioneer businessman of Ashland, died at his home at 52 Granite Street, Friday morning at 4:45 o'clock after an extended illness.
    Funeral services will be held at the Elks Temple at 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon, with the Rev. Charles M. Guilbert, vicar of Trinity Episcopal Church, officiating. Interment will be in the mausoleum.
    J. P. Dodge and Sons funeral directors are in charge of arrangements.
    The deceased is survived by his wife, Alice Applegate Peil, and a number of relatives.
    The death of Emil Peil marks an epoch in the history of Ashland and Jackson County.
    He was born in Sweden October 6, 1857. His father was for 40 years an officer in the Swedish army. He came to America at the age of 15. At Calumet, Mich., he learned the blacksmith's trade. He afterwards became a tool sharpener and worked in mines throughout the West and in Alaska.
    In 1883 he came to Oregon with his brother, Frank, to go into the cattle business. He first went to Medford, where he put up the first building in that city. In 1884 he bought a ranch at Antelope and for three years engaged in the cattle business.
    In 1893 he came to Ashland and started a blacksmith shop on the site now known as Peil's Corner. In 1897 he started his implement store which he conducted up to the time of his death.
    On June 10, 1910, he was married to Alice Applegate, the daughter of Ivan D. Applegate and the granddaughter of Lindsay Applegate, a prominent pioneer of Oregon.
    For the past 45 years Emil Peil had been a citizen of this city, and had taken an active part in its business, social and civic life. Perhaps no other individual more completely exemplified that pattern of life which we are proud to call American.
    Although born in Sweden and always proud of his native country, he came to be thoroughly American. As a penniless immigrant boy he began life in this country at the very bottom of the economic ladder. Through industry and thrift and integrity he gradually built up an independent fortune. All that he had he earned by the sweat of his brow or by services fully rendered to others.
    He never failed to meet an obligation which he had assumed. It was impossible for him to believe that any man would fail to live up to a promise. Many were those who imposed upon him and took advantage of his trust and his generosity. He chided and scolded them for their weakness, forgave them and stood ready to help them whenever they were in need.
    He was too loyal an American to ever become a radical partisan in politics. As a boy at home he had learned many passages of the Bible by heart and the standards thus gained--governed his daily living. He was unusually well posted in geography and history and could recite, in his native Swedish tongue, innumerable verses of classic poetry.
    His humble store was a shrine where men of all classes came for sympathy and advice. In all ordinary affairs of life his judgment was exceptionally sound. He was absolutely independent in forming his opinion about any subject, and no influence however strong could divert him from his own sound conclusion.
    Every man in the community knew exactly where he stood on any question which concerned the community. He did not hesitate to denounce publicly what he disapproved nor to defend openly any cause in which he believed, however hopeless or unpopular it might be.
    When his health began to fail and it was evident to his friends and family that the time had come for him to retire from business, he staunchly refused to quit. Like a captain who stands bravely on the bridge of his sinking ship he continued to carry on. "What," said he, indignantly, "would the farmers do for their implements and repairs if I should close my store?" The idea of service had come to be an obsession and he felt that it was his duty to carry on to the end.
    As he lay for weeks on his deathbed, knowing that the end was near, he never gave up or showed despair. He insisted that his implement store be kept open and gave minute instructions from day to day relative to the details of the business. The service to which he had devoted his life was of more importance to him than life itself.
    When his voice became too weak to talk he could still smile when old friends came to his bedside. To the last he was considerate and kind to those who watched and waited upon him, making no complaint, resolved to spare them worry or trouble on his account. His mind was clear almost to the end, and with the same systematic and practical judgment which had governed all his acts, he gave definite instructions regarding his funeral and the settlement of his business affairs. He remembered all his brothers and his sister, all of whom had preceded him in death, and requested that certain remembrances be sent to each of their children. Benevolent and thoughtful to the last, and loyal to those to whom he owed allegiance, he died bravely, as he had lived, with confidence that everything would be all right.
Ashland Tidings, January 7, 1938, page 1

    Emil Peil, southern Oregon pioneer, died at his home at 52 Granite Street, Ashland, early this morning after an illness that had confined him for the past four months. He was about 80 years old.
    Mr. Peil was a prominent Ashland merchant who took an active part in the development of southern Oregon. He owned much business and farm property in and around Ashland and was affiliated with numerous enterprises, including the Ashland Granite Company, of which he was a director.
    Mr. Peil operated what was at one time said to be the last "horse and buggy" store in the country. The store handled carriages, wagons, harness and other accessories associated with the old horse and buggy days.
    Mr. Peil was long a member of the Elks and Odd Fellows' lodges.
    Funeral services will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Ashland Elks temple. The Rev. Charles M. Guilbert will conduct the Episcopalian rites. The Elks lodge will also conduct a service.
    Interment will be in a mausoleum in the Mountain View Cemetery.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 7, 1938, page 1

Last revised July 28, 2014