The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Extreme Spelling in Medford

When men were men.

    Not for many months has so much pleasurable anticipation been caused in the city as was promulgated by the announcement that as a feature of the Elks lodge meeting tomorrow night an old-fashioned spelling bee would be held, 20 men on each side to be chosen by the leaders, those two former well-known school teachers of this county, Court Hall and Gus Newbury.
    The rivalry between the two spelling leaders has reached an intense stage, and the battle cudgel has been taken up by their ardent followers. This morning the Mail Tribune received the following from Mr. Hall under the heading:
"Attention My Brother Elks:
    "Brother Elks who years ago were former pupils of mine are requested to attend the Elks lodge tomorrow night.
    "Your presence is earnestly desired in order for me to win a contest in a spelling match with an opponent who has been taking legal advantage of me for the past twenty-five years.
    The news of the above slander reached Gus Newbury this noon and provoked the following characteristic reply:
    "I have been advised that one J. Court Hall, who is a broken-down school teacher of prehistoric times and was compelled, after 'teaching' one term of school, to get out of the profession because of the advancements which were being made in the profession and with which he could not keep pace, is circulating some slanderous reports about me because I have unfortunately been selected to he pitted against him in a spelling match at the Elks Lodge for Thursday night; and I am informed that he is calling upon all his former pupils to assist him in defeating me in this spelling contest.
Hall Scholars in Pen
    "I wish to advise my brother Elks that I have no fear of the result if he can obtain assistance from no other source in the unfair methods he is pursuing, excepting from his former pupils, for if my recollection serves me correctly, owing to the baneful example set by the said J. Court Hall while he was engaged in the profession of teaching, most of his pupils have served, or are serving, terms in the penitentiary and, therefore, could  not possibly be members of the Elks lodge. It is my purpose to rely upon the patriotic members of the Elks order and not upon any such pernicious outside influences as this man Hall is calling upon.
    "I remember that I took a teachers' examination once upon a time at the same time this man Hall was admitted to teach in the public schools of Jackson County, and at said time I was privately informed by Bill Colvig, who was then the county school superintendent, that the only reason he granted a certificate to this man, J. Court Hall, was because of the temporary respectability that said Hall had acquired because he sat at the same table with me while we were undergoing this examination.
    "And I beg to say that had it not been for the prestige which I gave him upon that occasion that he could not have succeeded in getting a certificate, and now that he is making these slanderous attacks upon me I wish to advise all my brother Elks that frequently during the examination, in order to pull this man Hall through and so that he would not be embarrassed by a failure, I assisted him in solving the problems which were presented and giving him the necessary information in grammar, history, etc., and ever since said time I have had great compunctions of conscience and have repeatedly, upon my bended knees, asked forgiveness for this sin which I committed against the rising generation of youth in this county who happened to be so unfortunate as to be required to attend school to this man, J. Court Hall.
    "I wish it understood that I have no feelings of vengeance in my makeup and wish to say that I have diligently all my life left the vengeance matter to the Lord, but now that the jealousy of this man has manifested itself in the attacks which he has made, I deem it my duty to the citizenship of Medford to make the foregoing disclosures.
"Very respectfully submitted,
    Mr. Hall never batted an eye when he learned of the above attack, but smiled confidently and after hesitating a moment said:
    "Why the poor old long-legged ignorant boob. He's dead from the Adams apple up, as will be plainly seen at Thursday night's contest."
Medford Mail Tribune, December 10, 1919, page 5

    The spelling bee of the Elks lodge last night between two sides of 20 men each chosen by Gus Newbury and Court Hall was an interesting and mirth-provoking affair, which was won by the Newbury side which had three men still standing--Messrs. Domergue, Frank Farrell and Geo. Hilton--when the last man of the opposing side, J. J. Buchter, went down by misspelling the word porosity--whatever that means. Five or six other Hallites went down on the word chamfer.
    Following the big match a contest was immediately pulled off between Hall and Newbury, with the cards stacked against the latter by the referee, Jack Aitken, aided and abetted by the majority of the Elks present. Jack called off from a medical book the words to be spelled and gave Court all the easy ones like blood, liver and body, and to Newbury all the hard ones like peritonitis and carbon dioxide, until he finally fell by the wayside.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 12, 1919, page 3

Mr. Newbury Accepts Defi of Mr. Court Hall for Spelling Bee.
    Brother Elks: My challenge to Elongated Gustavus Newbury for another spelling match is still unanswered. Among real sportsmen the victor always gives a return match to the loser. Brother Elks, you all know how Gustavus won. It was by trickery, mispronunciation and hitting below the belt. My challenge remains open for one week. If in that time my challenge is not accepted, all brother Elks will know that Gustavus is afraid by meeting me that he will lose the championship.
    It grieves me to think that many years ago when Gustavus was but a rube, I was the means of his passing his first successful examination--by whispering to him how to spell words
Mr. L. L. Jacobs,
    Secretary Elks Club,
        Medford, Oregon.
    Dear Sir:--During my absence in California a letter came to my office from yourself which remained unopened until my return, and by a perusal of this letter I find that a member of the lodge of Elks, who from the standpoint of being a speller is certainly a "has been" and judging from results attained by him in the past in spelling matches, really is a "never was."
    It really seems that these incompetents in any line, whose accomplishments never reached any position beyond that of an expectation or an anticipation "to be," must really be floored several times before they wake up, if they ever do, to a realization of the fact that they really belong to the "never was" class.
    This fellow goes by the name of Court Hall, and sometimes signs his name J. Court Hall, but being at all times one and the same person, to wit: Court Hall.
    Really it is no credit to prevail over an incompetent speller like Court Hall; but since he has an ambition to get before the public and particularly before the Elks' lodge, I presume that it becomes my duty to accept the challenge which he has issued for another spelling match, and gratify his overweening ambition for prominence.
    I do this, feeling that my reputation as an accurate speller will he jeopardized because of the fact that I am matched against such an incompetent speller as Court Hall. However, you may inform Mr. Hall, through the medium of the press or otherwise, that his challenge is accepted.
Very truly yours,
    I really ought not to accept this challenge until this man Hall in a spelling match will prevail over some man of an acknowledged reputation as a speller, but Ido so for the purpose of giving him one more and a last chance.
    It seems as though this man Hall never will get over talking about the fact that 30 years ago, at a teachers' examination on a basis of 100 percent as being perfect, he got a grade of 50 percent in spelling, and. he thinks that qualifies him to consider himself in the class of real spellers.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 30, 1921, page 4

    To the Editor:
    I am happy to announce that my more or less esteemed contemporary, Brother Newbury, has at last posted a forfeit to meet me Thursday evening in the promised spelling contest and while he has ducked, sidestepped and evaded my every effort to get him in the spelling arena, I believe the forfeit posted will keep him from running out of this contest.
    I dislike to recall old memories that may embarrass my contemporary, but his base ingratitude, leaves no course open to me other than to expose his pretentions. Down deep in the organ that somehow functions in the tall task of driving the blood through his elongated frame, he knows that in the mental arena he has small chance with me.
    I first met him thirty-six years ago when we were taking a county school examination for teacher's certificates. On that occasion I recall the woebegone expression that mantled his youthful and hatchet-like countenance as he vainly struggled to answer the simple and elemental questions propounded. Out of sympathy I looked over his spelling paper and corrected the all too numerous and ridiculous errors and I have often thought in late years, when reading some of Ring Lardner's character stuff, that somehow Ring must have inherited some of Gus' ancient spelling papes [sic]. It was entirely due to my kindness and pity that he got by that examination. I also recall how he went out into the rural districts and boarded "round with the patrons." In those days they fed teachers according to their standing and ability and Gus has had stomach trouble ever since. One only needs to look over the contenders to know who was who in those days.
    So much for our early form, on present dope no one should give him a look in. Like some of the beautiful movie morons, of which he is the physical antithesis, he has degenerated rather than advanced, as an evidence of which he has taken up the law as a profession.
    Those of you who are without pity and figuratively do not object to the sight of blood should come out and see the slaughter which will surely come off on Thursday, April 27th.
    Medford, April 21st.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 22, 1922, page 6

    To the Editor:
    May I ask your indulgence in a little further space in which to reply to the ingenious and wicked falsehoods of my contempory [sic], C. Newberry [sic]. He charges that my license as a teacher was revoked.
    I have on exhibition at the Elks club three different teacher's certifikates [sic], issued under the Colvig, Pierce and Mitchell administrations. I have also affidavits showing that I taught four terms in one district. The records will also show that Newberry never taught more than one term in any one district. I merely cite this unhappy record to show that school boards in those days were made up of men of character and discernment.
    As a matter of interest, I was the youngest teacher ever receiving a first grade certificate in Jackson County and have held that record for thirty-six years. Also that the schools I taught turned out more teachers than any other rural schools in the county.
    Five of my farmer pupils distinguished themselves in the ministry, one pupil is now a railroad precedent [sic] and others hold high positions in the state and nation.
    Please refer to attached affidavit wherein Jack Aitken, judge of our late contest, makes oath that Newberry lost said personal contest by spelling conscience "consheanse." I desire to offer this suggestion in his defense. The word was entirely unknown to him, as he never had one, and doubtless thought it some new fangled breakfast food.
    May I say in conclusion that Brother Newberry is not altogether to blame. His early education being some what neglected. Certainly he has never heard of that simple classic of Aesoups' [sic] concernings the frog who tried to swell himself to the size of an ox with such disasterous [sic] effect, otherwise he would not have taken on such a contract.
Very Truly,
    To the Editor:
    Referring to article published by Mr. Newberry wherein he claims to have defeated Court Hall in a personal contest. The facts are as follows: Hall won the contest, Mr. Newberry going down on the word conscience which he spelled "consheanse."
Very Truly,
    J. C. AITKEN,
        Judge of said contest.
    Ed. Note: The spelling above is as written by contributor.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 27, 1922, page 3

    The spelling match of the Elks lodge is now but a much confused memory, because of the rival claims made by the many contestants on both sides. Court Hall's side asserts that they won the victory, and Gus Newbury's side claim they still have their self-respect and can look the whole world square in the face and tell their opponents of last night to make themselves scarce in a certain place. Instead of addressing themselves as brothers as usual the contestants in the spelling match are now using the words "scorpions," "robbers," and "fourflushers" in their fraternal conversation.
    The end of the match came suddenly after a hotly contested fight. When six men were still standing on the Newbury side and three on the Hall side, successful strategy was used by the Hall men, who had been counted out, by circulating word quietly to the Newbury men still "ali
ve" that lunch was being served in the basement. The Newbury spellers, as expected, stampeded at once for the basement expecting to grab a bite and rush upstairs again with it and get back into line again--all except their leader who did not get the lunch hunch because it was his turn to spell out a word, and the word given him was an impossible one that no human being could spell.
    Of course he flunked and was counted out, whereupon the gleeful Hall men unanimously claimed the match as they had three men standing; and not a Newbury man was in line.
    The Newbury men also claim that the word announcer read out only words of double meaning to them to spell and in a foreign accent, while to the Hall men he gave out only simple words pronounced in purest English. The Hall men make counter charges./files/newbury.html
    The feeling is such that the respective spelling merits of each side is in doubt, including their leaders, and nothing will settle this dispute except a match to the finish "on the square" in the future, between a half dozen of the best spellers selected by Hall and Newbury from their respective sides.

Medford Mail Tribune, April 28, 1922, page 5

    To the editor: By dint of good fortune I happened to notice a challenge submitted to me by one Court Hall for a spelling contest. Let me say that this man Hall has never personally challenged me to such a contest. Some of the members of the Elks lodge, knowing that Court had, in the remote past, taught one term of school in the county, concluded that it would be an entirely proper thing to have another spelling match and they have been prodding him to again challenge me, and finally this challenge comes, not to me personally, but through the columns of your paper and in a very obscure place in the paper.
    It is my judgment that he requested yon as editor to put this communication in a remote place in the paper so that it might escape my observation and then he would crow about my having failed to accept the challenge.
    You remember that a challenge was submitted about two years ago, and the contest was had, and the cohorts of this man Hall and himself went down to ignominious defeat before myself and other real spellers. In fact Hall misspelled the first word that came to him, which was the word sheet, and he spelled it s-h-e-a-t. I am of the opinion that he  hasn't improved any since that time, although during the past year he has been taking a course in spelling under the principal of the high school of Medford.
    At the time when Court passed the examination, Judge Colvig was county school superintendent and Judge Colvig informs me that Court never taught but one term of school, because he, Colvig, revoked Hall's certificate due to his inability to properly spell; and having been forcibly retired from the school business by the order of the county school superintendent he engaged in a line of business that is characterized by abdominal development at the expense of gray matter; and running true to the traditions of the business, Court's girth has had an ever-widening effect, but his ability to spell has developed in inverse ratio to the length of his waistband.
    However, I do desire to be just to Court, and it is only fair to say that he made a desperate effort to learn to spell and in fact he wore out one eye in that effort, but made no better success at it than learning to spell the word s-h-e-a-t, and this is a fair sample of his acquired ability in this line.
    I do not wish to be critical of Brother Hall because nature was not very generous with him in the matter of endowing him with the ability to either handle the English language or spell it correctly, and therefore he is entitled to our pity rather than our contempt; but I feel disposed to accept the challenge, although it is not the custom for a champion to meet an ignominiously defeated contestant until he has acquired some standing by having won some contest; but I shall make an exception to the general rule and will just give Brother Hall one more trouncing on next Thursday evening at the Elks lodge.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 22, 1925, page 6

    Considerable comment is going the rounds concerning the bitterness that has unwittingly crept into an affair that originated in the camaraderie of a local lodge room. About a month ago a friendly argument over finer points of the English language finally led attorney Gus Newbury to challenge Court Hall in a friendly spelling match. The match was set for January 14, Delroy Getchell being agreed upon as umpire, and the wagers were deposited in escrow in the First National Bank. The match was to follow the usual old-fashioned lines with the exception that the selected words were to be not less than four or over seven syllables.
    The event aroused so much interest that the live-wire officers of the Elks lodge grabbed the affair, offering the lodge room as the arena and the free use of the club dictionary by the umpire, who presumably will need it. In short, everything was satisfactorily arranged, but the partisans of the two competitors formed factions and within the last week feeling has run so high that the disappearance of Court Hall from the city has brought charges from his partisans that he is the victim of foul play. Mr. Newbury, on the other hand, countercharges that his adversary is in California nursing cold feet.
    A night letter just received by umpire Getchell has cleared the situation. Mr. Hall detailed the fact that he is merely detained in California to teach his grandson the alphabet and that he, Arthur Brisbane and H. L. Mencken are preparing a list of words to be used in the contest--words that Mr. Newbury will think Russian--and asking that the contest be postponed to January 28, which has been done.
    In lieu of this contest tomorrow night the Elks will be entertained by a big program assembled by J. J. Buchter, J. C. Thompson and Wm. Hammett. The program ought to be good if only in recompense of past failures of this committee.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 13, 1926, page 3

Newbury Is Answered.
    To the Editor:
    It has come to my attention since returning from a short business trip to Southern California that your paper has, during my absence, evidently connived with one Gus Newbury and published an article which I consider uncalled for, unnecessary, detrimental to my general good reputation and not based upon fact.
    Knowing Mr. Newbury's general reputation, I realize that I am depreciating myself in people's estimation by stooping to answer his baseless charges, and I have no desire to engage with him in an abortive, profitless and effectual dissertation of the scurrilous and unwarranted assault which he has made upon me in his usual piscatorial manner.
    However, Mr. Boyl of the chamber of commerce advises me that there are many new people in our community, many of whom have unquestionably not had time or experience enough to properly classify our citizens as gentlemen or rogues, as the particular case may be. It is my interest in these potential citizens, together with an earnest desire to enable them to get the proper start with the superior sort of people that I take this means of refuting the baseless charges hurled at me in such a cowardly manner, behind my back and during my absence.
    With no idea of braggadocio, I would like to call to Mr. Newbury's attention and to the attention of his few coerced supporters that since the year 1880, on occasions so numerous that my superior intellect fails to record them all, I have repeatedly, on the public platform and otherwise, demonstrated euphoniously my superiority in the lexicographical world. In truth it almost embarrasses me to necessarily call his attention to the fact that not once in these many years have I or my supporters suffered defeat orthographically at his inglorious hands.
    On these statements of fact, on the strength of past history and with the utmost confidence that right-thinking people will judge this case on its merits, I will enter the arena next Thursday night with no thought but on victory.
Sphygmochronographically yours,
"Ye Letter Box," Medford Mail Tribune, January 26, 1926, page 2

    The annual Elks lodge spelling match, with the members divided into two sides under Gus Newbury and Court Hall as the respective captains, is expected to draw forth the full resident membership and provide lots of fun at the lodge meeting tomorrow night.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, January 27, 1926, page 2

Newbury Answers Hall.
    To the Editor:
    To my great surprise in reading your paper last evening, I ran across one of the effusions of J. Court Hall, who has, ever since the time when he failed in a teacher's examination before Judge William M. Colvig, as county superintendent in 1884, sought to impress the unsophisticated and unsuspecting public with the idea that he knows something about spelling, notwithstanding the fact that in response to two challenges which the said J. Court Hall submitted to me, he was ignominiously defeated as a competent speller, and whose pronounced failure in the contest relegated him to the third grade class in the public schools as a speller.
    He has the nerve to appear in this issue of the paper, almost too late for a reply before the spelling contest comes off at the Elks lodge on Thursday evening of this week.
    Recently he resorted to the subterfuge of announcing to the public that he was visiting Los Angeles, Cal., on a business trip, when in truth, and in fact, for a month last past he has been taking private spelling lessons in the state normal school at San Jose, Cal., under one of the distinguished professors of that renowned institution of learning, and now he appears upon the scene just before the contest comes on and announces that it is his purpose to put it all over me and my side of this spelling contest when it comes on, on Thursday evening.
    Those who were present at the last contest will remember that he failed to spell the second word which was pronounced to him, and which was the word "where," and he spelled it "whare." Dr. Emmons, as pronouncer, gave him three trials to get this correct, and though he spelled it differently each of the other two times, each time he was wrong and was required to take his seat.
    It gives me great pain to make these disclosure about his inability and incompetence as a speller of very simple English words, but the unwarranted assault which he made through the columns of this paper yesterday justifies me in advising the public that he has no qualifications as a speller above the third grade.
    This man "Hall" at the close of this spelling contest is going to look like the German army after the Americans got through with them.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 27, 1926, page 2

    The Elks lodge session tonight will be a short one in order to give way to the big spelling match in which all members will take part with Gus Newbury and Court Hall as team captains. All known radical partisans of these two leaders will be searched at the temple entrance doors, which means that all weapons must be left in the anteroom.

"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, January 28, 1926, page 2

    As was anticipated, the spelling match held by the Elks lodge last night was a mirth-provoking affair, ruthlessly revealing widespread spelling ignorance among the contestants, no matter what their previous school reputations had been.
    In general, the match was deemed a draw between the teams of Gus Newbury and Court Hall, under which leaders the members were divided equally, although neither team captain will ever set the world on fire with his spelling ability. Each was chosen for his general pulchritude and reliability, and because no one else wanted to take the responsibility of being caught cheating in such a word combat.
    Miles Cantrall, on the Newbury side, upheld the intelligence of the Applegate section by being the last man down, and might be deemed the winner of the match, only towards the last the remaining members of both sides, including Miles, went down through inability to spell the word "echometer," which is the name of a graduated scale for measuring sounds.
    Court Hall went back to the sidelines through spelling the word "prunes" as follows: "Proones." Gus Newbury fell by the wayside when he spelled the condiment word "catsup" by drawing out the syllables "k-a-t-c-h-u-p."
    Delroy Getchell presided at the match and pronounced the words to be spelled, defining the meaning of each. Anyone not engaged on either side of the contest was impressed with Mr. Getchell's fairness, elocution and distinct pronunciation. However, the general alibi after each misspeller was declared out was:
    "Why, of course I fell down on that word because of the way Delroy pronounced it."
    Mr. Getchell selected all the words at random from Webster's collegiate dictionary.
    The two teams stood about equal up until the time the word echometer was given, which mowed all the remaining ones down.
    The military term "echelon" had previously mowed down a lot of spellers. Judge E. E. Kelly went into oblivion on the word "catafalque." He got the "cat" all right, but then failed on the "falque."
    Although both sides in general tried to play square all through the contest, there was much whispered prompting.
    Court Hall, after the contest was over, said: "I would have won that match hands down if Getchell had not had his mouth full of mush whenever he gave out words for our side to spell. Then, too, while I find that I had previously been misled by misinformation furnished me into making verbal attacks on Mr. Newbury prior to the contest, and I now know that he is a gentleman and scholar, yet some of his methods while the contest was on were questionable, to say the least, and had he abided strictly to the rules of the game my side would have won."
    Mr. Newbury in an interview, also after the affair was over, said in part: "There is little to say beyond the fact that Court Hall is a Christian and gifted man of integrity, beyond a few little tricks he is wont to use when his reputation as a speller is at stake. Even at that, if Delroy Getchell had not rolled his false teeth around in his mouth so much when he pronounced the words there would have been no question about our side winning."
Medford Mail Tribune, January 29, 1926, page 3

Mr. Gus Newbury:
    I hereby challenge you for another spelling match for the purpose of deciding definitely which one of us is the champion speller of Southern Oregon.
    Said contest to be held at the Elks temple Thursday evening, February 17th. You probably are aware that each of us has won one contest. In the third contest the audience thought I had fairly won, but for some unknown reason the referee declared the contest a draw.
    It is not my purpose in making this challenge to do any mud-slinging, for I realize the homeliest of men always have a few friends. I want every brother Elk belonging to 1168 to be present on this occasion to witness your coming defeat. I also want them to be present when our exalted ruler places the mantle of victory on my shoulders. In your declining years you must surely realize the hopelessness for a victory against a man who is in the very prime of life. No doubt you are aware that the winner of this contest will be deluged with movie contracts that will mean a fortune.
    Knowing you as I have for these many years, I cannot help but feel a certain amount of sympathy for you. When I am in movieland, flushed with success with my own efforts, I will endeavor to get you a minor part in the same company I will represent which should, no doubt, be of some beneficial assistance to you the remainder of your life.
    I am sure all brother Elks will appreciate the sympathy I am showing you in this great and last battle for spelling supremacy.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 9, 1927, page 8

To the Editor:
    I have just had an opportunity to consider the challenge of Court Hall in a spelling match, and in the language of Sir Walter Scott:
"I ne'er delayed when foemen
    bade me draw my blade."
    It has been my practice throughout my life, in any controversy, to select a "foeman worthy of my steel," and had the challenge issued from me I should have selected a man as an opponent who at least knew the rudiments of orthography, but since the challenge issues from Mr. Hall it behooves me to accept it, although as has been repeatedly demonstrated in frequent spelling matches at the Elks lodge, Mr. Hall is unacquainted with even the ABC of spelling.
    Rumors have come to me during the last two months that Mr. Hall's chagrin, because of the numerous defeats which he has suffered at my hands in the previous spelling matches, was still causing him to "see red," and during the two months referred to, I am reliably advised that he feigned illness and confined himself to the sacred precincts of his home in deep consultation with a spelling book that he had borrowed from one of the high school students. And, after this period of self-education, he emerged from his seclusion on "Groundhog" Day, seriously contemplated the atmospheric conditions, took a look at the sun, talked matters over with the teacher who had been pronouncing words to him during the last two months out of said spelling book, and concluded that this was an appropriate time to issue a challenge, before forgetfulness overtook him and robbed him of his recollection to spell a few words correctly.
    I am, therefore, accepting the challenge. Let me say, however, that, although I am almost devoid of a sense of humor, Mr. Hall's ambitions in the "movie world" really provoked a smile, and there promptly came to my mind's eye a vision of  Court standing side by side with Doug and Mary, Fatty and Charley; but then, again, another picture arises and I see the long line of human derelicts on the boundless ocean of "movie ambition," and when this contest is over there will be one other conspicuous failure piled up with the wreckage on that vast sea and labeled "J. Court Hall."
    It is my desire to see all Elks present at this contest, and when the smoke of battle has cleared away and the din of victory has died upon the winds, and the prostrate form of Mr. Hall lies unconscious on the floor, that all Elks will promptly indicate their desire for leniency by shouting "thumbs up."
Medford Mail Tribune, February 11, 1927, page 5

To the Editor:
    Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Gus Newbury will communicate with the Elks lodge at Medford, Ore., before Thursday evening at 8 p.m. and receive suitable reward.
    Mr. Newbury seems to have been under a great mental strain since accepting Court Hall's challenge for a spelling match. There is a possibility that Gus is secreted in some secluded spot studying the rudiments of spelling.
    Mr. Newbury's friends think it was a great mistake on his part to have accepted Court Hall's challenge; that it would have been a much wiser procedure to have forfeited the championship, thereby saving a certain amount of prestige, especially when the odds are so much against him to win.
    Mr. Hall is very uneasy about Mr. Newbury's appearance for this contest, and has kindly offered a reward in order to make sure of Mr. Newbury's appearance.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 16, 1927, page 3

    I am advised by Hiram Meader and other members of the Elks lodge that Court Hall has been making a minimum offer of $2.50 for spellers, and in the case of Brother Meader, and owing to his ability as an excellent speller, has offered Mr. Meader $5.00 if he would assist in this evening's contest at the Elks lodge.
    In other instances, Brother Hall has offered a bribe to good spellers who might be selected on the side of the undersigned to purposely misspell words. The undersigned has known this for several days and has arranged to have one of the banks in Medford, in cashing Brother Hall's check, to pay him in marked bills, and these marked bills are now in the possession of the spellers whom Brother Hall has attempted to bribe.
    In all probability, serious charges will be preferred against Brother Hall with the lodge at the ensuing session, irrespective of what the outcome of this spelling contest may be. The gravity of this offense is such that it is impossible for the lodge authorities to overlook it, and it is likely Brother Hall will, because of this, lose his membership in the Elks lodge. These facts show to what length Brother Hall will go to win this contest.
    I saw his  article about my disappearance and I notice about his suggestion that I should decline the contest this evening: It will be remembered that Jack Dempsey, figuratively speaking, got on his knees and asked Gene Tunney to do the same thing, and everybody knows the result of the scrap between Dempsey and Tunney. Dempsey is now a "has been," and Court Hall will be fitting company for the ex-champion when this spelling contest is over.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 17, 1927, page 3

    The Elks are all set for the big spelling match tonight between teams chosen by those two great spellers of Civil War days, Court Hall and Gus Newbury, which will take place immediately after a short lodge session, rain or shine.
    There will be no free performance or sideshow in connection, as the management deems that the efforts of the two rival "has been" spelling leaders will provide sufficient circus for all. The feeling between them is quite bitter, through each having publicly maligned the spelling ability of the other.
    The Mail Tribune was able to obtain verbatim copies of the latest exchange of notes between them this afternoon, which read in part as follows, the other part having been censored for the public good:
    Mr. Gus Newburry:--Rellative to tonight's spelling match I have the honnor to inform you that owing to a pane in my inards I will probably be greatly handicaped. However, I inform you of this simply to encourrage you and yours to do your best, and please dont interprut this as in eny way a crawfish on my part.
    Promptly on receipt of this Mr. Newbury replied as follows:
    Mr. Court  Hall:--Your white fether note received, and will say in reply that the pane you refer to is probably located in your crannium thru its emptynus. You will find us towing the scratch tonight and doing our stuf to purfection.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 17, 1927, page 3

    The Elks lodge spelling contest last night between teams of about 25 members each, selected by the two spelling captains, Gus Newbury and Court Hall, was an interesting and quite a mirth-provoking affair, which started off with a whirlwind of laughter when the long and lanky leader of the Newbury side, who was given the first word to spell, fell down ignominiously by misspelling the word "chauffeur" and was out of the contest.
    Mr. Newbury's face grew red, his knees sagged and he was speechless for once at this unexpected turn of events, while the members of his contingent turned their heads away shamefacedly, as the members of the Hall contingent were giving way to laughter and terms of derision.
    This was stopped finally when the great-hearted, sometimes, Court Hall raised his hand and admonished his men to silence, saying in grave and heroic tones:
    "Don't cheer, boys, the poor brothers are dying."
    Then the match, which proved a glorious victory for the Hall side, and a much-needed vindication for their leader, went on until the finish, which came about when Robert Johnson, of the Mason Ehrman wholesale grocery staff, the last man up on the Newbury side, misspelled the word "cantaloupe" and was waved to the woods, leaving two men still up on the Hall side who were George Neill, deputy district attorney, and Delroy Getchell, president of the Farmers & Fruitgrowers Bank.
    Court Hall himself was still in the running with three men of his side, but went to the woods when he misspelled the word "apologize" by using two P's.
    The official to announce the words, taken from a regular 7th and 8th grade public schools spelling book, was C. C. Lemmon, and the judge of the contest was Louis Ulrich.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 18, 1927, page 5

To the Editor:
    We are again confronted with the annual claims of one Court Hall to the spelling championship of Southern Oregon and particularly of the Elks lodge of Medford.
    The public has been in time past, and for several years, regaled with the exorbitant claims made by this man Hall and just what he could do when the spelling contest came on, but each time, with the exception of one, when the smoke of battle had cleared away and the din of victory died upon the wind, the Hall phalanxes were humbled in the dust. These annual effusions of his always suggest to me the exaggerated claims that are always made by some down and out prize fighter who consumes a great volume of atmosphere in telling what he can do.
    One year ago, after ten successive defeats, by dint of a chance blow, this man Hall's side in the spelling match was victorious, not due, however, to the ability of Hall as a speller, but due to some fortunate selections made by him to assist him on his side of the controversy; and as a result of the said lucky stroke, Hall has purchased a belt six inches wide, and the same is decorated in flaming colors and on it are printed in large capitals "Champion Speller of Southern Oregon," and this belt, having been conferred on Mr. Hall by himself, now decorates his midsection, while, with a lot of false pride and uncertain step, he glides down the main stem in Medford and on each street corner gathers around him a bunch of fellows to whom he tells his prowess as a champion speller.
    We have certainly grown tired of these representations and now submit this our challenge to him to meet him in deadly combat on the Elks lodge room floor on the 23rd day of February, 1928, at which time we will administer an eleventh cleaning to Mr. Hall. The trouble with Hall is that he thinks one accidental victory in eleven years makes him a champion, but we will certainly puncture this bubble of his when we get at him on February 23rd, 1928.
Very truly,
Medford Mail Tribune, February 20, 1928, page 3

    Once again Gus Newbury challenges his victorious adversary to another spelling contest. I had almost forgotten this man during his oblivion in the past four years and hence was very much surprised at his effrontery in challenging me for another spelling match after four straight defeats. Mr. Newbury's self-praise, his bombastic attitude, and his deplorable lack of veracity blinds him to the fact that he has been decisively and ingloriously defeated in four straight contests.
    The proper thing for the Elks club to have done would have been to have held an elimination contest in order to select someone qualified to make the contest interesting to me.
    The only reason that I can see for Newbury's unlimited conceit in his ability is that nearly fifty years ago he spelled down two little boys several years younger than himself at a little red school house located somewhere on Applegate.
    At each succeeding contest Gus has been easier to defeat; at our last match he went down on the first word given him--the simple word "chauffeur," a word that every automobile driver should know how to spell.
    In the past years these spelling matches have drawn great crowds. But another contest similar to the last is sure to lessen the interest hereafter.
    Already I have been accused of picking out an easy mark. But I assure the public that I have had no choice whatever in selecting Mr. Newbury. I certainly admire his courage, and out of courtesy to this oft-defeated opponent I can do no less than accept the challenge to meet him at the Elks Temple February 23rd, in what he so aptly describes "a deadly combat."
Medford Mail Tribune, February 21, 1928, page 3

    The annual spelling bee of the Elks lodge last night between sides captained by Court Hall and Gus Newbury proved to be one of the most mirth-provoking, interesting and dramatic in local B.P.O.E. history, and a provoker of bitterly intense feeling between the leaders and their respective followers, the like of which can only be compared with early stages of indignation aroused by the Hickman case. The contest drew a large crowd.
    The match finally ended through sheer exhaustion of the participants and audience, and Gus Newbury's team won, with Mr. Newbury himself the only one of his team lasting to the finish, and with only two men still upon the side of Court Hall, who had been eliminated from the contest early--Dr. Ed Shockley of the Medford lodge and contractor Swartley, a visiting Elk, who is a member of the Corvallis lodge.
    But the Newbury victory was only decided by the flipping of a coin. Newbury, Shockley and Swartley proved such good spellers that as time went on and the crowd became firmly convinced that the contest might last the rest of this week, it was finally decided to end the combat by the flipping of a coin.
    Rev. Wm. R. Hamilton, chaplain of the lodge, and judge of the spelling contest, flipped the coin, with Newbury taking "heads" and Hall getting "tails."
    Mr. Hall accepted the defeat graciously, but intimated later in an interview that the coin that was flipped up had a head on each side of it, and that that fact was only known to Mr. Newbury and Father Hamilton, who had been conferring close together earlier in the evening, after which Mr. Newbury was seen to hand over to the chaplain a wad of bills of unknown denomination.
    In connection with this alleged conference and passing of money before the match began Mr. Hall, who had gone down early in the match through misspelling the word "psychology," declared that [he] could easily have spelled it had it not been for the fact that Louis Ulrich, the spellbinder or man who gave out the words to spell, and very close to Father Hamilton, merely mumbled the word so as to sound like another one.
    The words to be spelled were taken from the regular eighth grade speller used in the public schools until all words were exhausted, and then the spellbinder began to use the dictionary.
    The spelling of the word "dissyllable," whatever that is, nearly caused a riot led by Captain Newbury and E. E. Kelly, who was on Hall's side. Each spelled the word differently and was backed up vehemently and to the limit by followers on the respective sides. Finally the officials, themselves at sea over the arguments and authorities quoted, Solomon-like, decided that both Newbury and Kelly were right, and threw the word out of the contest.
    Judge Kelly finally went down to defeat on the word "harelip," he spelling it "hairlip."
    Larry Mann went down for spelling the word "committee" with one "t," and Exalted Ruler Lemmon went to the sidelines when he spelled "vengeance" without an "e" in it.
    Harry Skyrman displayed his ignorance by leaving out the letter "e" in "sovereign." T. E. Daniels fell down on spelling the word "disappear" because he figured one "p" was enough in it.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 24, 1928, page 5

    If ever an anusement venture had a just case for suing for big damages the management of the Al G. Barnes circus possesses it, for Court Hall and Gus Newbury less than a week ahead of the appearance of that attraction in Medford will pull off their annual Elks lodge spelling match next Thursday night.
    Gus blames Court for this and the latter blames Gus, although both are candidly glad that the event is scheduled.
    The news of it leaked out today when Mr. Newbury informed a Mail Tribune  reporter that he had it on good authority that "that ancient stiff who after he learned to spel bottull with one 1 in his youth has swaggered around the West and Medford posing as a good speler and man of education, despite that every speling match between us in the Elks lodge for years past has been won by the side I captunned. Court is a gluton for punnishment and should be taken out for a long ride. Oh well, we'll have to lick him again."
    When interviewed this afternoon about Mr. Newbury's allegations Mr. Hall laid down his volume of Shakespeare and remarked with some vehemence:
    "If Gus said I ishued a chalenge for another spellin bee, he's all full of phrunes. Just tell him not to get too excited. Any chalenge I ishue for such a match would be to some one who can spell better than some once-was peddygogue who many years ago was a misfit edducator in the rural schools around Jacksonville and finally develluped into an atorney.
    "My best memory is that my side in all spelling matches for 10 years past between sides captuned by us as rivuls showed Gus up bad. Well if he wants another likking I'll be there."
Medford Mail Tribune, May 9, 1931, page 2

    To the Editor:
    Court Hall, who for many years past has given out to the public an exaggerated idea of his ability as a speller, because of the fact that forty years ago he taught school in a community where the highest class he had to teach was in the third grade, has lately, in the rural districts, asserted again that he was qualified to out-spell your correspondent, notwithstanding the fact that in ten contests which have been held at the Elks Club during the ten years last past, he has been defeated in each contest.
    I am advised that for more than a year he has been taking regular lessons in spelling, with the intention and purpose during the month of July to challenge the undersigned in a spelling match at the Elks Club. Having heard of his purpose to do so, and knowing that each evening he has had his wife pronounce words to him from the dictionary for more than an hour at a time, I concluded that we would do well to have another spelling contest at the Elks Club so that this man Hall can go down to defeat as he has always heretofore done.
    It was not the purpose of Mr. Hall to have a spelling contest next Thursday night, the 14th of May, and when I insisted that it should be had at that time, he appealed to the Exalted River to continue the matter for two weeks, as he had not had all of the words pronounced to him that he thought would be used at the spelling contest; in fact, last Thursday evening, during my absence, he made a special plea to the lodge to have the contest deferred for two weeks, but the Exalted Ruler and other members divined Brother Hall's purpose in asking to have the contest continued, and they insisted that the match should he next Thursday night. At that time, we hope to administer another drubbing to Mr. Hall, as we have in each annual contest heretofore had.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 11, 1931, page 5

To the Editor:
    I see in a late issue of your valuable paper that one Gus Newbury is getting rather bombastic in regard to a spelling match with Court Hall at the Elks club Thursday night.
    I am a resident of Applegate and have known both Gus Newbury and Court Hall for the past 47 years, and I know considerable about these gentlemen when they were boys struggling for educational supremacy in the early history of Southern Oregon.
    I taught school for more than 20 years in Jackson County and happened to be in attendance at the first examination these boys had under Superintendent Mitchell in the year of 1885. How well I remember that event. Neither of the boys could have been more than 17 years of age. Now here is where I want to show the people just how Gus got his first certificate to teach school. I am going to prove that Gus, outside of a few Applegate friends, never would have been heard of except through the kindness of Court Hall.
    When examination began I could see that young Hall had the coolness and confidence of an old-time veteran, while Newbury seemed nervous and ill at ease. However, Gus managed to get along fairly well until it came to spelling. About that time Superintendent Mitchell had occasion to leave the room. Gus immediately appealed to Court for help. Court at first shook his head. Then I saw a sorrowful look come over his face, and he leaned toward Gus and whispered rapidly for a few moments.
    Many years afterwards Gus confessed to me that he would not have passed his first examination for a teacher's certificate if Court Hall had not helped him out in his spelling.
    I have been a member of the Elks lodge for many years, and have attended all the spelling contests held in the Elks club room, and personally know that Court has won two more contests than Gus.
    Gus went down on his first word in their last contest, the word "chauffeur," a simple word that every automobile owner knows how to spell. Gus was not considered in Court's class during the big spelling matches held at Jacksonville in the early days. In fact, he was such a poor speller that he was rarely chosen by either captain. On the other hand, Hall was generally the first one chosen and always managed to be one of the last to go down.
    Gus has been in the law business for many years and has had the opportunity of increasing his knowledge in spelling, while Court, for the past 30 years, has been looking after his orchard interests with practically no training except in reading the daily papers.
    However, after a lapse of all these years, Gus has just about had time enough to catch up with Court in his spelling. This fact, no doubt, will make the contest quite interesting next Thursday night. And, by gosh, you can bet your Uncle Dudley is doing to be there.
OLD TIMER.           
    Applegate, Oregon
Medford Mail Tribune, May 13, 1931, page 5

Court Will Be There.
To the Editor:
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to answer Gus Newbury's vilification of my spelling. However, I will be at the Elks temple Thursday evening to give the usual account of myself, and no doubt will be quite leg-weary before the contest is over.
"Communications," Medford Mail Tribune, May 13, 1931, page 8

(By Ernest Rostel)
    Weeks of training and study failed to do Court Hall and Gus Newbury much good in their spelling match feud of long standing at the Elks temple last night. Each was confident of standing up until the last as captains of their respective teams, but two simple little words, taken from a seventh grade speller, proved their undoing.
    August Klocker, whose many years of typesetting and printing have given him a good acquaintance with the art of spelling, was last to go down for the Newbury side, giving way to Victor Tengwald of the Hall forces, whose ability as a speller had hitherto been an unknown quantity. Shortly before Klocker gave up the ghost, he had aid from Louis Ulrich and Tom Enright, who seemed to know every word in the vocabulary. E. C. Ferguson was last to go down for the Hall forces.
    Being a banker, Delroy Getchell possibly missed a calling as schoolmaster, as he directed the match with scholarly aplomb.
    Gus weathered several barrages until "prisoner" came his way. With a complete air of confidence he blurted out the wrong spelling, despite his long acquaintance with the law. When Gus took his seat, the morale of the Hall forces was improved and Court appeared highly confident.
    Here and there spellers dropped out. Hall's turn came again.
    "Spell spinach, a vegetable," the schoolmaster ordered.
    Another simple word, the spellers thought, and the Newbury team demanded the words be made more difficult by turning to the back of the book. The schoolmaster, looking over his glasses, demanded silence and declared he could run the match without outside help.
    Court smiled at the prospect of another easy word.
    "S-p-i-n," he started out slowly, and hurriedly ended up, "a-g-e, spinach," and waited for the other side to take the next word.
    "Sit down," the schoolmaster ordered, "you missed the word."
    However, Court's pride was hurt and he protested he did not understand, but his protests were futile and he took his seat while his opposing captain expressed great glee from the sidelines, and cheered his side on to greater efforts.
    The Gates brothers, Pop and Bill, apparently became tired of standing up or were in a hurry to do their spelling. Bill spelled familiar with two "m"s and Pop forgot the "u" in roguish.
    Stanley Sherwood had good intentions to do right for the Newbury side but spelled vessel with an "a." Carl Weaver forgot the letters in baptize and E. C. Solinsky didn't know much about the word "possess."
    Ralph Koozer, exalted ruler, must have been embarrassed when he failed to spell "embarrass," but the same word was also the undoing of George Neilson and Don Newbury. John Niedermeyer tried to spell "ambassador," but started out with an "e."' C. C. Lemmon knew how to spell "exhibition," but he insisted on leaving out the "h" and down he went. Ernest Smith forgot how to spell tying.
    With his team members all gone August Klocker made the last stand of the Newbury spellers against Vic Tengwald.
    Along came the word "pollination," and August, who knew the word by heart, failed to put in two "l"s. This made Victor the last man up, and he is soon to meet the seventh grade of the Agate school in a finish match.
    In commenting upon the ability of the teams, schoolmaster Getchell declared he hadn't seen so much good spelling for years and took pains to compliment George Neilson in standing up as long as he did. He expressed disappointment in the two star members of the contest, Gus and Court, and is buying each a sixth grade speller to study for the match next year.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 15, 1931, page 8

Last revised January 24, 2024