The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Tomlin Notes

Death of Margaret Tomlin.
    News has been received of the death of Miss Margaret Ely Tomlin in Ashland, Ore., March 31. Her sister [sic], Mrs. John R. Tomlin, was with her and will accompany the body home, arriving Monday morning. Miss Tomlin was the only daughter of the late John H. Tomlin of this city. She leaves three brothers, H. L. Tomlin and John R. of this city and Walter M. of Purcell, Ok. The funeral services will be at the home of H. L. Tomlin, 631 Benton Boulevard, Monday afternoon, April 5, at 2:30.
Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri, April 2, 1915, page 4A

    Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Tomlin of Kansas City, former residents of Medford, and interested in the Three Oaks Orchard, are visiting the valley and expect to remain two weeks.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, April 23, 1915, page 2

    Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Tomlin of Kansas City, who are interested in the Three Oaks Orchard in this valley, are here visiting with friends for several weeks.

"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, April 24, 1915, page 6

    Articles of incorporation have been filed for the Tomlin Box Company, with a paid-up capital of $15,000 for the manufacture of fruit boxes and shook at Medford--an industry that will give steady employment to a dozen men as well as create a market for local lumber and supply orchardists with box materials.
    The company has leased the old planing mill property on North Fir Street, recently occupied by the Korinek Veterinary Medicine Company, and a complete plant, consisting of the most modern machinery equipped with individual motors has been purchased and shipped and will be installed by April 1 if possible.
    Officers of the corporation are John R. Tomlin, E. T. Tomlin and A. E. Reames. Paul Hansen, until recently with the Medford Sash & Door Co., will be in charge of operations at the factory. Lumber will be purchased from the various local mills along the Pacific & Eastern, though the company may later acquire its own timber tracts.
    The capacity of the plant at the outset will be 3000 fruit boxes per day. If the business justifies it, the plant will be enlarged to take care of all the business offered.
    Mr. Tomlin is a part owner in the Three Oaks Orchard, which he purchased in 1910. For two years he made his home in Medford, then returned to Kansas City to re-enter the grain brokerage business. He returned to Medford last summer and has spent the interval since studying the box industry and visiting all the factories on the coast.
    Mr. and Mrs. Tomlin have leased for the summer the Rebec orchard residence and will make it their home.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 9, 1918, page 8

    Jud Edsall and Fred Stillwell came in Monday evening from Prospect, with the boiler for the new sawmill that is to be placed at the junction of the P.&E. and S.P. railroad and Tuesday went back with the truck to bring out the rest of the machinery. So I guess that Medford is really going to have a large saw mill in the vicinity at last.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail Tribune, November 1, 1918, page 3

    John R. Tomlin of the Tomlin Box Company has purchased a tract of about five acres of land at the Crater junction of the Pacific and Eastern and Southern Pacific railroads from the Big Bend Milling Company and will soon begin the erection of a large box factory. New machinery has been purchased in addition to that utilized at the present site of the factory, in the Korinek building on North Fir Street, which will be moved, and the new plant will be ready to operate in the spring, affording a steady payroll for the valley.
    The capacity of the factory will be nearly double the present capacity, or about a carload of manufactured shooks a day. In addition a sawmill has been purchased and is ready for installation, while will ensure a good market for small cuts of logs by ranchers and timber owners.
    Since the box factory opened last spring, it has been in steady operation and is now marketing boxes in California and elsewhere. The shook is in demand as it has the reputation of being the best in the market.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 29, 1918, page 6

    Ed Welch, one of the mill men in the new mill in Medford, was here for dinner Saturday. He came out to load a large boiler on a car to be taken to Medford to be put in the Tomlin mill. Mr. A. J. Howd came in on the train Saturday morning and took a crate of turkeys out to his ranch. He and Ezra Whitley were diners at the Sunnyside.
A. C. Howlett, "Eagle Point Eaglets," Medford Mail Tribune, December 24, 1918, page 3

    John R. Tomlin of the Tomlin Box Company has purchased a tract of about five acres of land at the Crater junction of the Pacific and Eastern and Southern Pacific railroads from the Big Bend Milling Company and will soon begin the erection of a large box factory. New machinery has been purchased in addition to that utilized at the present site of the factory, in the Korinek building on North Fir Street, which will be moved, and the new plant will be ready to operate in the spring, affording a steady payroll for the valley.
    The capacity of the factory will be nearly double the present capacity, or about a carload of manufactured shooks a day. In addition a sawmill has been purchased and is ready for installation, which will ensure a good market for small cuts of logs by ranchers and timber owners.
    Since the box factory opened last spring, it has been in steady operation and is now marketing boxes in California and elsewhere. The shook is in demand, as it has the reputation of being the best in the market.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 29, 1918, page 6

Industries Are to Resume Operations and Payroll of $1000 a Day Is Expected.
    MEDFORD, Or., April 23.--(Special.)--Medford celebrated tonight the successful conclusion of the drive to secure $50,000 to clinch the retention and operation of the Pacific & Eastern Railroad from this city to Butte Falls, The required amount was reached at noon after a campaign of one week.
    This $30,000, with a like amount donated by timber interests at Butte Falls, will total $50,000 for initial payment on the purchase of the road and $10,000 for preliminary .operation. The sale price of the property is $270,000.
    With the announcement of the successful result of the drive, John Tomlin announced he would start construction of a $20,000 box factory near the railroad. The Applegate Lumber Company, which has been idle several months, will resume, and the Big Pines Lumber Company will start logging operations immediately in the Butte Falls district. The Butte Falls Lumber Company, with a new $100,000 plant completed ten months ago, will also start operations. This will mean the establishment of a payroll of $1000 day.
    A telegram was sent tonight to the owners of the Butte Falls Lumber Company in the East announcing the result of the drive, and it is expected the deal will be definitely closed in short time and the property turned over.
    The details of operation have not been made public, but it is believed the timber interests will operate the railroad for the first few months as a logging road exclusively.

Morning Oregonian, Portland, April 24, 1919, page 5

    Mr. and Mrs. John R. Tomlin of Medford, Ore. are visiting Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Neale at the Hotel Fontenelle.
"Personals," Daily Bee, Omaha, Nebraska, January 14, 1920, page 11

Sawmill Completely Destroyed, Origin Unknown--Other Industry Menaced.
    Over $25,000 in damage was caused to the Tomlin Box Company at the end of North Central in this city when the company sawmill was completely destroyed last night by flames of an unknown origin.
    The Tomlin sawmill blaze, covered by insurance, was discovered shortly before 10:45 and had already enveloped the large building, 130 feet long, in flames when the fire department arrived. The flames, which shot high into the heavens amid heavy clouds of black smoke, were put under control after a short fight with one line of pressure from the Stutz pumper and hoses from hydrants located near the blazing building.
    No plans have been made as yet for the rebuilding of the destroyed structure, which was erected in 1920 and was capable of turning out between four and five thousands of feet of lumber per hour for box factory consumption. During the course of the six years past, the mill had been enlarged several times. The equipment, with the exception of a few pulleys and drive wheels, is said to be beyond salvage value.
    Numerous comments were heard today in regard to the work of the fire department in putting the flames under control in the comparatively short time of one hour and a half, every spark being thoroughly extinguished. The situation last night had conflagration possibilities, with the box factory building a short distance away, together with seven million feet of stored lumber to the south. To the north, but removed for some distance, was the Owen-Oregon Lumber Company mills and yards. The wind, however, was blowing in the opposite direction, toward the city.
    After the fire was over and while preparations were being made to return the city fire equipment to the station, the Stutz pumper broke down because of a broken transmission in the crankcase. The new part, however, is expected to arrive tomorrow to put the large machine back in working order.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, September 24, 1926, page 1

    Work was started yesterday morning on the construction of a new sawmill of the Tomlin Box Factory, at the end of North Central Avenue. The old mill was destroyed by fire a month ago. The first task under way is clearing away the wreckage. The new plant will be the same size as the old one and cost about $35,000. It is expected to be in operation by February 1st, in time for the next season run. As formerly, the machinery will be electrically driven.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, October 26, 1926, page 8

The Tomlin Co. Improving Plant for Big Year
    The Tomlin lumber mill and box factory has shut down operations for a few days to clean out their pond, make some improvements and install new machinery preparatory to a greatly enlarged business this year.
    The company not only furnish box shook for local fruit packing houses, but have an extensive business in California among the packers of oranges, lemons, berries and other products.
    They recently constructed a new sawmill with modern equipment to replace the one destroyed by fire last year.
    This company has been enjoying an increasing business from the first.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 24, 1927, page 6

750,000 Pear Boxes Being Turned Out--
Improvements To Be Made Soon As Season Rush Is Over.
    The Tomlin box factory is now operating on a day and night shift, in order to handle the box business incidental to the beginning of the fruit harvest on the Pacific coast.
    According to John R. Tomlin, president of the plant, they will manufacture 750,000 pear boxes this season for the local pear crop, and estimates this is 80 percent of the local pear box demand. Last year the plant turned out in the neighborhood of 900,000 boxes. Mr. Tomlin figures that the decrease is due, to some extent, to a large portion of the local Bartlett crop being sold to the canneries.
    Mr. Tomlin says that he has been unable to get any line on the apple crop situation locally, except that the apples this year are of a high quality, and free from worms. He looks for a good apple showing and a highly favorable year for the fruit men.
    The box factory, besides manufacturing pear boxes for valley needs, is also turning out heavy orders for grape boxes for the grape districts of California.
    The Tomlin factory, after the harvest rush, contemplates a number of changes in the plant, including the installation of a pony planer and other equipment. There will also be a general changing around of the machinery, to increase the efficiency and output.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 2, 1927, page 8

Capacity of 5000 Feet per Hour--Make All Kinds of Box Shook--
Business Shows Rapid Growth.
    One of the most successful of southern Oregon lumber enterprises is the Tomlin Box Company, which operates a new mill and box factory north of the Medford city limits. Back in 1918, when John R. Tomlin established his first box factory at the corner of Fir and Fifth streets in this city, it was his intention to supply box material to accommodate the orchards of southern Oregon. One year later the company purchased the plant site at the junction of the Southern Pacific line and Butte Falls logging railroad, north of Medford, where a model box factory was constructed with the very latest high-speed electrically driven machinery.
Growth Is Marked
    When in 1918 this firm was manufacturing box materials in this city, approximately 2,000,000 feet of pine lumber was converted into box shook. Now, with a new sawmill which was completed this spring, an excess of 20,000,000 feet of lumber is utilized annually, evidence of the remarkable growth of this organization in less than seven years. The Tomlin plant [is] now operated the year 'round, with more than 200 men on his payrolls.
New Mill Complete
    Late last fall, the sawmill of the Tomlin Box Company was destroyed by fire, and this spring a new mill was erected which is considered a model of its kind. It is modern in every detail, with electric and steam-driven equipment and has a capacity of 5,000 feet of lumber per hour. The better grades of lumber are shipped to eastern and middle states for the manufacture of windows and doors. The lower grades of lumber are manufactured into box shook in the factory adjoining the mill. Since its completion the Tomlin sawmill has been operating day and night to meet the demand.
Box Factory Expands
    The box factory has grown and expanded until it is now producing over six hundred cars of shook annually, the principal portion of which is shipped into the state of California to the fruit and vegetable trade. Tomlin boxes are used extensively in the shipment of oranges, lemons, grapes, raisins, prunes, peaches, pears, apples, cantaloupes, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables, canned goods of all varieties and many industrial products.
Officers Local People
    John R. Tomlin heads the organization of the Tomlin Box Company as president and treasurer, while Floyd H. Hart is vice-president and secretary. G. M. Anderson is assistant secretary. R. I. Flaharty is assistant treasurer. Miss Lenore Knudson is in the office, and Henry Herman is superintendent. The factory foreman is Walter Sinclair. Frank L. Glidden is mill foreman, and John Pearce has charge of the yard. This organization is practically all composed of Medford people, and the large majority of employees live in this city.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 14, 1927, page B2

    The members of the Medford Rotary Club learned many interesting things about the box industry and its relation to the community today when Floyd Hart, secretary of the Tomlin Box Company, delivered a splendid fifteen-minute address on this subject.
    Mr. Hart's address developed many hitherto unknown facts concerning the local box industry. He stated that over 85% of the products of the Tomlin Box Company are marketed in California, which means that a considerable amount of money is brought into Medford from that state, approximately $2000.00 per day. Of the money received for this product over 90% stays in the community, stated Mr. Hart, the largest part of this being for labor. The present output of the Tomlin Box Company is between 40,000 and 50,000 boxes per day. A great deal of interest was taken in the following facts and figures concerning the different types of boxes manufactured by the local industry: Lettuce crates, 160,000; orange boxes, 385,000; raisin boxes, 387,000; asparagus crates, 150,000; cannery cases, 100,000. In this connection the speaker stated that all of the boxes for the Alpin Milk Company were made locally. Another interesting statement concerned the output of boxes for grapes. The speaker stated that last year they sold 975,000 boxes for wine grapes and only 60,000 boxes for table grapes. Boxes for packing Old Dutch Cleanser are also made here, the local factory turning out as many as 1000 per day at times. Many thousand crates for cantaloupe and honeydew melons, as well as broccoli, are also made in the local box factory. It was a revelation to all to learn that of the entire output only a small percentage of boxes were used for pears and apples, 175,000 pear boxes and 250,000 apple boxes being manufactured during the year 1926. Mr. Hart also touched upon the possibilities of Medford as a lumber center, stating that approximately twelve billion feet of pine is to be found in Jackson County. This is one of the last white pine belts in the entire United States. The local timber, however, is very inaccessible and is held mostly in comparatively small blocks. Many other interesting facts and figures were brought out by the speaker, who concluded his talk with an invitation to the local club to visit the Tomlin box factory at some future date.
Excerpt, Medford Mail Tribune, October 18, 1927, page 8

Tomlin Box Company Builds New Mill in 1927
    From a small beginning made in 1918 at Fir and Fifth streets in Medford, the Tomlin Box Company has grown from an infant industry into one of the big payroll industries of the city. The first year the company commenced business its factory required only 2,000,000 feet of pine lumber in manufacturing fruit boxes, while the year just past 20,000,000 feet of lumber was required for the same purpose.
    Last year a new up-to-date sawmill was built and new box factory equipment added to the plant, bringing it into its present efficiency and making it one of the best in Oregon.
    The company's sawmill the past year cut 10,000,000 feet of pine lumber, and considerably more than this was purchased from various small sawmills throughout Jackson County. Of this amount 20,000,000 feet of lumber was converted into fruit and commercial boxes. Of this output 15 percent went to the local fruit growers and the remaining 85 percent went to the California market, requiring 700 railroad cars to convey this product to the consumers in the adjoining state.
    The timber cut by the company's mill is supplied from Butte Falls or other points north, Siskiyou districts to the south and the foothills on the west side of the valley. These logs are delivered to the company's pond by the Southern Pacific railroad, the logging road to the Butte Falls territory, and by trucks.
    The site of the company's sawmill and box factory covers several acres and is in the factory district adjoining the city limits on the north, on the main line of the Southern Pacific railway. The equipment of the Tomlin Box Company's sawmill is an 8-foot bandsaw mill with a capacity of 5,000 feet of lumber per hour, and electrically driven. The planing mills and box factory is most complete in modern equipment, electrically driven and has a capacity at this plant of 60,000 feet of lumber per shift of eight hours. There are 13 electric motors employed in operating the mill running from 5 horsepower to 100 horsepower, while it takes 31 motors to operate the box factory, with motors ranging from 5 horsepower to 100 horsepower.
    The Tomlin Box Company is headed by John R. Tomlin, president and treasurer, and Floyd H. Hart, vice-president and secretary; O. M. Anderson is assistant secretary, R. I. Flaharty assistant treasurer, and Miss Lenore Knudsen is in the office, C. H. Herman superintendent, Walter Sinclair factory foreman and John Pearce yard foreman. All the members of the firm are Medford people, and the major part of the employees reside in the city.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1928, page D2

    The Tomlin Box Company of Medford has for one of its regular customers the Nestle's Food Company, manufacturers of Alpine milk, a coast product so well known to housewives as well as tourists and campers.
    The box shook shipped from the local mill goes principally to the Oregon plant of the company at McMinnville, and is cases in which the milk is shipped, some of which return to Medford and is found on the shelves of our local merchants.
    In 1927 the Tomlin Box Company sold almost $100,000 worth of shook to the Nestle's Food Company, and the first three months of this year it has been $15,000, a substantial increase.
    E. R. Phipps, Nestle's Food Company representative for southern Oregon, who was in the city today, says he is glad the Oregon milk is conveyed in locally made boxes.

Medford Mail Tribune, April 6, 1928, page 3

    Mr. and Mrs. John R. Tomlin of Medford, Oregon have arrived for a winter stay in Coronado and are at the Vanderbilt Apartments, 1412 Tenth Street. Mr. Tomlin is president and manager of the Wood Products Company of Medford.
"Personal Items," Coronado Journal, Coronado, California, January 21, 1931, page 10

    Among the recent guests at El Cordova were Mr. and Mrs. W. Jefferson Davis of Los Angeles, former San Diego residents.
    Taking an apartment for the winter were Mr. and Mrs. Walter W. Kroger. Also registering for an indefinite stay were Mr. and Mrs. John R. Tomlin of Medford, Ore.
Coronado Journal, Coronado, California, December 23, 1931, page 7

The purchase by [George] Hunt, Medford theater owner, of the Tomlin country residence on the Old Stage Road six miles from Medford was announced by the new owner, who said that he and Mrs. Hunt planned to move into their new home about August 1. In the meantime, the spacious Hunt residence on Wellington Heights will be placed on the market, Mr. Hunt said.
    Located on the 19-acre Tomlin estate is a two-story, 11-room white frame house of early American architecture, considered one of the most beautiful dwellings in southern Oregon. It was constructed about 25 years ago by Walter Bowne, now of San Francisco, and has been occupied by Mr. Tomlin since 1928.
    Profuse with shrubs and trees, and with an artificial lake with a small island in the center and a bridge leading to it from the shore, the estate is viewed by many as the loveliest in this part of Oregon. There are a small walnut and filbert orchard on the land and a larger tract of alfalfa.
    Mr. Tomlin, part-owner and founder of Timber Products Company in 1917 and a large stockholder in the Medford Ice and Storage Company, said that he and Mrs. Tomlin planned to spend considerable time in southern California but that Medford would always be his home. Mr. Tomlin said he planned to acquire in the near future a smaller residence in Medford.
    The transaction was handled by Charles A. Wing and the Wahl Agency.
"Tomlin Country Place, Cargill Apartment Sold," Medford Mail Tribune, July 13, 1941, page 10

John R. Tomlin, Well-Known Civic Leader Here, Dies
Long-Time Resident Was Semi-Retired

    John R. Tomlin, 78, a semi-retired lumber executive and rancher, well-known for his civic endeavors and philanthropies, died last night while visiting at the home of friends.
    Mr. Tomlin, a resident of this community for 40 years, was born July 7, 1879, in Nebraska. He moved to Medford in 1907 and remained for several years, then left for a time and returned in 1917 to make his home. His residence was 1503 East Main St.
    He started ranching here, and bought and sold several of them, then founded the Tomlin Box Company, in a small way, designed to supply boxes for the fruit industry. It prospered, and developed into Timber Products Company, one of Southern Oregon's most successful business ventures. It was sold recently to the Cyprus Mines Corporation of Los Angeles for several million dollars.
Philanthropic Activities
    Mr. Tomlin was well-known for his philanthropic activities, but his gifts to many of the community's charitable and welfare organizations were made on an anonymous basis, with Mr. Tomlin insisting that he not be identified as the donor.
    One of his recent major gifts was money for the construction of the new Girls Community Club, but he again insisted that his part in this not be known until after his death.
    He was a member of the Rogue Valley Country Club and the Elks Lodge.
    Survivors include a nephew, Walter Tomlin of Medford.
    Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Perl Funeral Home, with Dr. D. Kirkland West, of the First Presbyterian Church, officiating.
    Honorary pallbearers will be Eugene Thorndike, Frank Farrell, O. M. Anderson, Dr. E. R. Durno, B. E. Harder and Alfred S. V. Carpenter.
Medford Mail Tribune, October 10, 1957, page 1

Last revised May 11, 2021