Medford Pioneers: The Van Dykes
Vern VanDyke Recalls When Steelhead Were Area's Great Asset
By EVA HAMILTON
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
The greatest asset the Rogue River Valley ever had was steelhead in the river.
That's the judgment of Vern VanDyke, who rates as "the greatest years" of his life the years when fishermen came to catch the "greatest sporting fish of them all"--the Rogue River steelhead.
Now retired at his home, 301 Murphy Road, Medford, this member of the fourth generation of VanDykes to live in the Medford area still tells the kind of story that drew fishermen to his counter from many corners of the world when he was owner and operator of Lamport's Sporting Goods Store.
His shop, though modern and amply supplied with the latest sports equipment, retained that certain charm which Corey Ford of Hanover, N.H. gives to "Uncle Perk's" store in his stories of "Hardscrabble," carried in Field and Stream.
Came to Hear VernIt's common knowledge hereabouts that those fishermen didn't come just to buy. The Hardy reels, the Leonard rods, C. C. Filson coats, English waders and English boots, they bought. But they also came to hear Vern spin a fishing yarn and to learn from him the whereabouts of the best fishing water.
"They were real fishermen," VanDyke recently declared as he reviewed the days when anglers from faraway places were constantly swinging the doors of his shop.
"They had lots of money and they weren't snobs. They wanted the best and they were willing to pay for it. Why, Guy Kibbee bought a small farm up Elk Creek for a fishing camp. When he was through fishing he just gave it to a boy to keep. Yes, I'm sure that was Kibbee (referring to the longtime comedian of stage and screen). Big fellow, wasn't he? He came into the store, found a Filson coat that fit him, so he bought three. Never kicked about the price.
"Mario Lanza, the singer, was another one. He loved to fish the Rogue. He wanted the best equipment with which to do it. Wallace Beery, too. He was a great guy," VanDyke paused as he went through the list of actors who cast their flies on the riffles of the Rogue.
Calls from Grants Pass"Clark Gable," he continued. "He called me one night from Grants Pass. Said he was going to be late getting here and he was in need of tackle. 'Will you wait for me?' he asked. We were open when he got here. He bought three Hardy reels among other things.
"I sold lots of tackle to Andy Devine. George Murphy, too. Then there was Harry--what was Harry's other name?" No one volunteered to answer. "I knew Harry as well as I knew you. He caught eight steelhead, eight steelhead in one morning."
"How much did it cost to outfit a fisherman before World War II?" VanDyke was asked.
"I sent to England for their waders," he answered. "They wanted them thin and they wanted them to fit. The same with their boots. It was about $75 for a rod, the kind they wanted. There weren't any glass rods then. They wouldn't have used them if there had been. They were fishermen, real fishermen, strictly bamboo rod men: Fred K. Burnham, Frank Noyes, Nion Tucker, R. B. Young, Hubert Fleishhacker." The listing sounded like a review of the business directory of the San Francisco telephone book of the period.
Cost of Equipment"A reel was about $35, a Hardy reel I mean. Line $15. Waders $35 to $40. Cork [calk or caulk] shoes $15. Then the flies. Oh, we won't count the flies," Van Dyke hesitated. "About $175 I'd say to start them off."
"They had to know how and they always used good equipment," the retired merchandiser added. "They never quibbled about price."
"There were 15 teachers who used to come up every year from Southern California," Van Dyke volunteered, to show that all his customers were not very wealthy Bayites.
"They used to stay at Sunset on the Rogue. Lee L. Yancey was one of them. He later came to stay. He works now at North's Chuck Wagon. They used to start out on Friday night as soon as school was out and just keep coming until they got here. It was the steelhead fishing that drew them.
Come to Fish Steelhead"Those were the days when fishermen came to fish and there were steelhead to be caught. They didn't go for salmon fishing. That's not sport.
"Jim Webb, scenario writer for 'Cheyenne Autumn' and 'How the West Was Won'--his father Brown Webb and his uncle, Cox Webb, used to come to the Maud cabin on Rogue River every summer. They fished for steelhead at the mouth of Butte Creek and the Three Pines.
"One morning Brown Webb caught 17 steelhead, turned them all back but one. No, they weren't hurt," Van Dyke answered the shocked interjection. "They were caught on a fly. All these men I've talked about were fly fishermen. They wouldn't use anything but a fly. I know, I supplied their tackle. No spinning reels either. Harry was that kind, too.
"At first they stayed at McDonald's Rogue Elk Hotel. Then they built homes of their own on Rogue River. There was B. R. Pierce, who raised fancy horses in California. He was a real fisherman. So was G. A. Hunt, an orchardist and school teacher.
Would Start at Park"They used to start at Casey's (now a state park), come down the river to Big Rock at Trail. You surely know where the big rock is. Then to Jackson Falls. Curry Riffle at the Elks picnic ground down to the Grapevine, the mouth of Little Butte Creek. Three Pines. John Mace's High Banks, then below the Gold Ray Dam. It was all good fishing water when there were steelhead in the river. The best? The very best of all? Three Pines," Van Dyke answered with an extra gleam in his eye, "was the best riffle on the Rogue. The pines are gone now, one or two of them anyway. These new fishermen wouldn't know where to find it. We knew the spot. The Grapevine is good, too.
"Aubrey Norris and Dick Isaacs know. They are about the only real fly fishermen left here," Van Dyke said, paying the Medford merchant and Ashland banker about the highest tribute in his book.
The "best trout stream in the world" used to be Spring Creek in Klamath County, according to Van Dyke.
With Bill Muller, then employed by William F. Isaacs in The Toggery, and Charley Isaacs, brother of "Toggery Bill," Van Dyke made the trip into Spring Creek. He couldn't recall the year, but it was long before Flounce Rock Grade on the Crater Lake Highway was paved.
"Did you ever see the pumice dust roll up in clouds on Flounce Rock Grade?" he asked as he moved into a tale of the trip.
Rented Team, Wagon"We rented a team and wagon from the late Doc Pickel (Dr. E. B. Pickel), who then had the 401 Ranch. We got both for $1.50 per day. It took us four days to get to Spring Creek. They make it now in two hours. We camped on Butte Creek, Whisky Creek and at Arant's Crater Lake Camp. At the lake we went down the squirrel trail to the water, took a leaky boat over to Wizard Island, put our names in a bottle and tossed it into Wizard Island's crater."
The next day the trio arrived at the Indian agency and camped below Spring Creek. It was true to its reputation. They caught strings of beautiful rainbow trout.
It was Van Dyke's great-grandfather, Samuel G. Van Dyke, who chose Southern Oregon as [his] homeland and established the name of Van Dyke in this area. From that day to this there has been a Sam Van Dyke in Medford.
Samuel G. Van Dyke, the first, came from Pennsylvania and farmed the region south of Medford, now known as Voorhies Crossing [where Old Stage Road crosses the railroad tracks]. He was joined in San Francisco by his Pennsylvania sweetheart, Sarah Stewart. They were married and rode horseback from the Bay City to the Rogue River Valley. Years later, when Samuel Van Dyke died, his widow married "Preacher Williams."
"That's what he was always called," Vern commented.
Jackson County history lists him as Moses Allen Williams.
Started in MerchandisingVern's maternal [sic] grandfather Van Dyke started him in the merchandising field, which became his life's work. The grandfather had a dry goods store on Medford's Main Street. There were very few stores here then: Hutchison and Lumsden, Cranfill and Plymale. Just one that is still operating--Hubbard Bros., Van Dyke recalled. It was then run by Fort and Asahel Hubbard in the same location it occupies today. At that time, however, half the area it now covers was site of George Merriman's blacksmith shop.
Van Dyke worked for his grandfather in the dry goods store until 1917, when he joined Ed Lamport in the sporting goods store, now owned and operated by his son, Sam Van Dyke, and Jack Murray as Lamport's Sporting Goods and Saddlery.
Vern's maternal grandfather was Claus Kleinhammer of the Applegate area, another pioneer. Vern's roots are deep in pioneer and contemporary soil. His father, another Samuel Van Dyke, chose orchard and farm instead of merchandising in keeping with the preference of his grandfather for whom he was named.
Interested in FishingObviously more interested in fishing than the probing into his family tree, Van Dyke turned the talk back to the river.
"There may be some men someplace like those fishermen who used to come here and breathe new zest for living into the community," he opined, "but I don't know where. These kids don't know how to fish. But what's the use, anyway. There aren't any steelhead in the river."
"What was Harry's other name?" He was asked again. He shook his head, and the interview ended with a typical Van Dyke remark, not to be quoted, but clearly expressing his true opinion of present-day sportsmanship on the river.
"Scott," he declared a few days later by telephone. "Harry Scott, of course. Did I tell you Jackson Falls was a good fishing spot? I meant to. It was one of the best, and Harry Scott was one of the best fishermen."
Medford Mail Tribune, August 22, 1965, page B2
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ARRIVAL.--Our old friend John Van Dyke has just returned from the Atlantic States and, sensible to the last, has brought with him a better half. We are the happy recipient of a large piece of delicious cake. Call around, Lieutenant, we want to talk you into a state of insensibility, then whisper in your ear after you are gone.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 22, 1862, page 3
Born.Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, November 12, 1862, page 3
On the 8th October, to the wife of Lieut. JOHN VANDYKE, a son.
Born.January 28, 1864, to the wife of Lieut. J. VANDYKE, near Phoenix, a daughter.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 6, 1864, page 2
Born.Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 6, 1866, page 2
December 19th, to the wife of John Van Dyke, a son.
SEVERE ACCIDENT.--We are sorry to hear that Mrs. VanDyke, of Phoenix, while on a visit to Applegate on Wednesday tripped and fell, dislocating her shoulder joint.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 21, 1869, page 3
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.Was born in Butler County, Pennsylvania, August 7th, 1809. He remained with his parents until his eighteenth year, when he engaged as an apprentice to learn the tailor's trade. After two years experience, finding his health failing, he abandoned the business and returned home where he remained, assisting in improving his father's farm, until he had attained the age of twenty-five. Wishing to become settled in life, at that time he married Miss Kezia Gilmore and removed to Mercer County, then the residence of his wife's parents. There he [illegible] engaged in successful farming until the fall of 1845, when he removed to Lee County, Iowa, purchased property and again engaged in farming. In 1849 Mr. Van Dyke left his family and crossed the plains to try his fortune in the gold mines of California. He worked in the mines with varied success until August, 1851, when he started home, by way of Panama and New York, where he arrived late in October following. In the spring of 1852 he started with his family for Oregon, arriving in this valley late the following fall. After exploring the country for a location he purchased the place where he now resides, near Phoenix, from a man who had already located on it, and began making improvements. He has been almost constantly engaged in farming until the present, varying his business occasionally by running a freight team and selling goods at his own place. In 1873 Mr. Van Dyke met with the misfortune of losing his estimable wife, and having no children who were not grown, he was left alone. In 1875 he visited his early home in Pennsylvania, where he married his second wife, then Miss Sarah L. McDowell. He returned to Oregon the same year and again took possession of his old homestead, where he is still engaged in successful farming. Mr. Van Dyke is a member of the Old School Presbyterian Church. In politics he is a zealous Republican. He never sought office but has held several responsible public positions. He served one term as County Commissioner of this county. In [illegible] he was elected a member of the lower house of the Legislature, where he distinguished himself by an honest, conscientious and consistent course. He held the position of chief farmer and teacher on the Klamath Reservation during 1865 and has been several times supervisor of his road district. Among those who first fixed their homes in this valley there are none more highly respected by those who know them best than S. D. Van Dyke.
S. D. VAN DYKE.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 9, 1879, page 2
ANOTHER OLD PIONEER GONE HOME.
Death of Samuel D. Van Dyke.
Died, at his residence in Eden precinct, Jackson County, August 13th, 1880, after a brief illness, Samuel D. Van Dyke, aged 71 years and 7 days.
The immediate cause of the death the deceased was an accident which befell him on the 31st day of July, whilst in charge of a two-horse spring wagon and whilst traveling with his wife and niece to Ashland. In going down a grade in the road the trace became unfastened from the vehicle and Mr. Van Dyke, holding on to the lines, was jerked out of [his] seat and he fell heavily to the ground. In the fall he broke the cap of the hip and received such other bodily injuries the effects of which hastened his death. The horses running away left the wagon standing and fortunately no one else was injured.
Mr. Van Dyke was born in Butler County, Penn., Aug. 7, 1809. In 1845 he left his native state and settled in Iowa. Leaving his family, he came to the Pacific [illegible] remaining here but a short time he went back to [illegible] his family. Crossing the plains a second time he arrived in Rogue River Valley in the fall of 1852, homesteading the place where he lived and died. He is thoroughly identified with the country of his choice, which he endeavored to build up according to his means. In character, he was of a positive nature and deep religious convictions. The record of his Christian life was bright and unsullied. Straightforward and true in his dealings with his fellow men, his influence for good was felt wherever he was known. The lamentable accident which shortened his life did not find him unprepared for the final summons. Although suffering great bodily pain, his faith in Christ the Savior, whom he had served for many years, buoyed him up and strengthened him in his last trying affliction. He passed away from among us with the assurance that all as well and that a blissful immortality was awaiting him beyond this vale of tears. For many years he had been a member of the Presbyterian Church, and his funeral obsequies were conducted by Rev. M. A. Williams, according to the rites of that branch of the Church of Christ, and his remains were buried at the cemetery near Phoenix, being followed by hundreds of people. Mr. Van Dyke has been twice married in his lifetime, his first wife having preceded him to the better land about six years ago. The sympathies of a large circle of acquaintances and friends are with his present deeply bereaved widow and only son.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 18, 1880, page 3
Now, sir! I believe any poor boy can get well off if he's got pretty fair health. Why, there's John VanDyke, pretty well to do, he is, come to this country as poor as any of 'em; and not any more about him than any the rest of us! Well he rustled around, got a few cheap ponies and then went out of the valley, and I didn't hear anything but rumors for several years, when he came down all at once with a pack train and George Ernest as train boss, or teamster! Every pack animal had an 'aparejo' and George told me the outfit was worth $20,000 and John out of debt! 'But, Fred,' says he, 'the d---1 of it will be ever to get the money out of them!' I worked in John's train several trips to Crescent City, and I guess he made money every cargo!
Frederick Barneburg, interviewed in 1895 by Reese P. Kendall, Pacific Trail Camp-Fires, Chicago 1901, pages 412-413
John Van Dyke:--"Received a letter from my brother, Frank, who is a missionary at Singapore, India. He says he gets the Mail regularly, and that it is only about six weeks old when it reaches him. Says he reads every item in its columns--and enjoys its weekly visits. He throws a whole armful of bouquets at yours truly on the ads we are running in the Mail--says they are the best in the paper and cannot fail of producing good results. I can assure him that he's a good guesser. Our store is enjoying a splendid trade--better than ever before--and I attribute a good portion of it to our method of advertising--and of course the medium is a good one. Frank is statistical secretary of the Malay mission. He likes his position and location but it is not improbable that he will be transferred to Manila, the Philippine Islands being included in the mission in which he is working."
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, April 5, 1901, page 7
Merchant John Van Dyke accompanied his mother, Mrs. J. G. Van Dyke, and sister, Miss Sadie, to Colestin last Saturday, and remained until Sunday evening to get their camp in order. The ladies will remain there for about a month.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, July 25, 1902, page 6
Dr. J. E. Shearer, attorney L. C. Narregan, jeweler E. D. Elwood and Ed Van Dyke left last Saturday for a ten days' hunting trip into the Elk Creek country. From Elk Creek they will go by pack train thirty miles north to Fish and Wizard lakes, in the Umpqua country.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, September 19, 1902, page 6
Speaking of surprises! There was one sprung on Medford people Wednesday when a telegram came from San Francisco to Mr. Rufus Cox announcing the marriage of his daughter, Miss Minnie, to Mr. J. G. Van Dyke, Jr., a member of the J. G. Van Dyke & Co. mercantile firm of this city. While the wedding was a surprise to all it is conclusively evident that it had been prearranged by the parties interested. Some weeks ago the bride left Medford for San Francisco to receive treatment for an imaginary catarrhal trouble. She accompanied Mr. C. B. Williams, of the Fish Lake Ditch Company, and while in the city was a guest at his home, and at whose home the wedding took place. Mr. Van Dyke left Medford Monday evening, ostensibly to purchase goods for his store, and not even did members of his family know of his contemplated matrimonial venture--and the same is true as to the bride's family.
The groom is one of Medford's most successful business men, a man of excellent qualifications, exemplary in social and business circles and a prime favorite with all who know him.
The bride is one of the belles of Medford--a lady of culture and refinement, and possesses the many qualifications which have always made her prominent in all social gatherings of the city.
The friends here are all awaiting their return, which will probably be within ten days or two weeks, to shower upon them their heartiest congratulations--and there will be no one-sided congratulations--they can be, and will be, expressed with equal lavish unto both.
Medford Mail, October 10, 1902, page 2
HIS BODY IS RECOVERED
REMAINS OF JOHN C. VANDYKE TAKEN FROM ROGUE RIVER.
Medford Coroner Decides That the Drowning Was Such as to Require No Inquest.
MEDFORD, Or., June 29.--(Special.)--The body of John C. VanDyke, who was drowned in Rogue River yesterday, was recovered this afternoon. Over 100 citizens and friends in Medford worked from dark last night until 2 o'clock this morning with lanterns, grabhooks and boats. About 11 o'clock last night his hat was found, about 60 yards from where he was last seen. Just at daylight this morning J. W. Mahoney, M. F. McCown and J. D. Fay found his fishing rod about 20 yards beyond where the hat was found. At daylight a systematic search of the river from bank to bank was made. A sack was filled with rocks until it weighed fully 100 pounds, and was lowered where the body was last seen. This sack was dragged and finally taken out with grabhook, by this manner disturbing the body, causing it to move. This, however, is only a supposition. They had gone over the place where the body was taken out many times, and the river was searched three or four miles, the same ground being gone over until it seemed almost impossible that a body could be there. A reward was offered by C. C. Ragsdale of $50 to anyone who would recover the body in the Gold Hill and Grants Pass vicinity. A raft was constructed, and Jim Stewart, Tom Kearney and H. G. Nicholson caught the body with a grabhook and brought it to the surface. They were trying to get it on the raft when it slipped away from them and back into the water. It was finally brought up again by Guy and Eugene Childers and C. O. Ramsey, who were in a boat. The body was brought to Medford and is now at the family residence.
Coroner Pickel waived the usual inquest, as the conditions did not justify holding one. Mr. VanDyke was married last October to Miss Minnie Cox, of this city. He was 27 years old, and besides being a prominent business man was a member of the Talisman Lodge, Knights of Pythias. Funeral services will be held at the late residence on North C Street, Tuesday, at 2:30 p.m., Rev. W. F. Shields, of the Presbyterian Church, officiating. Services at the grave will be conducted by the Knights of Pythias lodge. Interment will be at [the] Odd Fellows' cemetery.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, June 30, 1903, page 4
DROWNED WHILE FISHING
The Treacherous Waters of Rogue River Claim Another Victim--
Many Citizens Join in the Search for the Body of John G. Van Dyke.
Sunday evening this community was shocked to hear of the drowning of J. G. Van Dyke in Rogue River while fishing.
J. E. Bodge, A. L. Eisenhart, Guy Childers and John Van Dyke had left Medford Sunday morning for a day's fishing on Rogue River. At about 3:30 they had arrived at the Curry riffle. The drowned man had waded down a sandbar (afterward described) to its extreme lower end and had been fishing in the current on the farther side. He had stopped fishing and taken in his line, preparatory to returning the way he had come. Whether he miscalculated his exact position regarding the deep water, or was overbalanced by the current, is not known, but the first thing his horrified companions saw of the accident was when he was struggling in the treacherous current. He wore wading pants--watertight--which filled with water almost immediately, and this coupled with the fact that he was unable to swim brought about his death. He came up twice after the first plunge. The first time he was on the surface nearly a minute, but seemed unable to help himself, and his companions were too far away to render him any assistance. The last time he came barely to the surface and then sank, never to rise again alive.
The accident occurred at what is known as the "Curry riffle" on Geo. Givan's place, about fourteen miles from Medford. At this point the river current is very rapid and deep. At the foot of the riffle is a deep hole. A short distance above is an island near the southern bank. The current of the stream around the island strikes the main current at the head of the hole before mentioned, making a strong undercurrent and eddy. From the point of the island, between the two currents, extends a sandbar upon which the water is quite shallow, but at the lower end it drops off abruptly into at least ten feet of rapid water.
Word was immediately sent to Agate post office and telephoned to Medford. Within half an hour several parties were on the way to the scene with appliances for recovering the body, and by nine o'clock fully sixty people were there.
A seine was procured and three boats, and with grappling hooks and the seine the search was kept up until 2:30, when it was abandoned until daylight came. At about 11 o'clock Mr. Van Dyke's hat was found on the bank some 70 yards below where he was last seen.
At daylight the search was resumed. Soon after daylight his fishing rod was found in about eight feet of water and almost in a direct line with where the hat was found and the place of his disappearance. This encouraged the searchers, but as the hours wore on many of them were convinced that the body had gone on down the river and that the prospects of finding it were very small. Still everybody kept on working.
At about 12 o'clock the workers were electrified by the cry, "We've got him," from a raft on which were Horace Nicholson, James Stewart and Thos. Carney. The excitement was intense for a few seconds and directions were shouted on every hand. The crowd soon quieted down and watched with intense interest the movements of the rescuers. Slowly the body was raised toward the surface. Stewart and Carney were lying face downward on the raft, reaching into the water to grasp the body as soon as it came close enough. Suddenly a thrill of disappointment ran through the throng waiting on the shore. Nicholson staggered slightly and pulled the hook from the water--empty. His hold had slipped. In the meantime, coming to the spot down the river as fast as oars and current would send it, was the only boat left on the scene. Manned by Guy and Gene Childers and C. O. Ramsey, it commenced circling back and forth over the spot where it was thought the body was. For fifteen long minutes the watchers waited. Then again came the words, "I've found him," from Ramsey. This time there was dead silence. As before the body was raised slowly and carefully. The Childers boys leaned over the side of the boat, careening it so that it almost dipped water. One reached down; Barney dropped his pole and plunged his arms into the water; Gene Childers grasped the oars and began to propel the boat toward the shore--and the long search was ended.
The remains were immediately placed in a hack and brought to Medford. They were first taken to the undertaking rooms of the Medford Furniture Co., and afterward to the residence on North C Street, from whence the funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon. Rev. W. F. Shields conducted the services at the residence, and the ceremony at the grave was under the direction of Talisman Lodge, K. of P.
John Gilmore Van Dyke was the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Van Dyke and a native-born citizen of Oregon. All of his life has been passed in the Rogue River Valley, and there was no one in the community who had more friends than John Van Dyke among those who knew him from boyhood.
No one but themselves know the awful sense of loss and the depth of sorrow which his young wife, his aged parents and his brothers and sisters must suffer in this tragic end to a promising and useful young life, but his friends can realize something of it from their own feelings.
In a business, social and fraternal way, the editor of this paper and the dead man have been the warmest of friends, and our heartfelt sympathy is extended to his bereft family.
The funeral was one of the most largely attended that ever occurred in Medford. After short services at the residence by Rev. Shields, the procession was formed. First came the high school band, playing a funeral march, then the Uniform Rank, K. of P., followed by members of Talisman Lodge, K. of P., then the hearse, by the side of which marched an escort from the Uniform Rank, followed by relatives and friends in carriages. When the head of the procession was crossing the bridge, the last carriage was just leaving the residence on North C Street. There were over eighty teams in the procession. Every business house and workshop in the city was closed during the funeral.
Medford Mail, July 3, 1903, page 2
JOHN G. VAN DYKE. For seventeen years John G. Van Dyke engaged in sheep-raising in Jackson County, and his good fortune in this connection has made him an enthusiast regarding the stock possibilities of his adopted state. This successful man and large land owner is solely responsible for his own headway in life, and few of his friends or associates claim sturdier or more practical traits of character. Out of his varied experiences he has evolved many interesting theories, and he attributes a large share of his progress to the fact that he has always attended strictly to his own affairs, has been cautious in his judgment, and broad in his tolerance and sympathy.
Born in Mercer County, Pa., July 27, 1836, Mr. Van Dyke is a son of Samuel D. Van Dyke, also born in Pennsylvania, grandson of John Van Dyke born in Westmoreland County, Pa., and founder of his family in Butler County, and great-grandson of John Van Dyke, who was born in New York and located in Westmoreland County, Pa. Samuel D. Van Dyke was by nature a wanderer during the earlier part of his life, and was known among his intimates as the "Wandering Jew." Previous to moving to Iowa in 1845 he had visited almost every part of the United States, his observing brain making note of people and general conditions. He married Kezia Gilmer, a native of Mercer County, Pa., daughter of Robert Gilmer, born either in Pennsylvania or Ireland, and the father of a large family. Mr. Gilmer was a blacksmith by trade, and he entertained a justifiable pride in his ancestral connections. Mr. Van Dyke naturally improved the opportunity to come to the West in 1849, his love of travel and adventure responding readily to the tales of gold which upset the equilibrium of half the people in the country. It is not recalled that he met with unusual success, for in 1852 he came to Oregon and took up a donation claim near Medford, upon which he spent the remainder of his life. Established upon a paying property of his own, he developed substantial and upbuilding traits of character, and became prominent in the agricultural and political undertakings of his neighborhood. As a Democrat he served as county commissioner, and in 1862 he was elected to the state legislature. With his family he was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and toward this and other worthy causes contributed generously of his hard-earned fortune. There was a daughter and son in his family, the former and oldest of whom is deceased.
In his youth John G. Van Dyke had scant opportunity for acquiring an education, and his broad general knowledge is therefore the result of intelligent observation and later application to books and periodicals. He was sixteen years old when he crossed the plains in 1852 with his parents to Jackson County, and he remained on the home farm until locating near Phoenix in 1862. In 1870 he located near Ashland and engaged in stock-raising. He had one hundred and sixty acres of land, and continued to improve it until 1885, when he came to the vicinity of Medford and started upon his seventeen years of sheep-raising. This was abandoned in 1899, owing to Mr. Van Dyke having contracted the grippe, although he still owns nearly seventeen hundred acres near the town. He also owns and for some time operated a general merchandise store in Medford, now being managed by his son. He has ten acres in pears and apples, but although general farming has always accompanied stock-raising, it is in the latter capacity that he has excelled, because he liked it best, and believed it to be the most practical way of making money in the county. He studied stock, became familiar with the individual characteristics of each kind, and always maintained the highest standards in his own selections.
In Pennsylvania Mr. Van Dyke married Sarah Stewart, a native daughter of the state, and she has proved a devoted and capable mother to her nine children, one of whom, John G., the sixth child, met death by drowning in June, 1903. William Stewart, the oldest in the family, is a resident of Ashland; Kate makes her home in San Francisco; S. G. lives on the home ranch; B. F. is in Singapore, China; Carrie is the wife of a Mr. Thompson of Chicago; Edgar A. and Edith A. are twins, and the latter graduated from the Albany College in 1903; and Sarah A. is at home. Mr. Van Dyke is a Republican, but aside from the formality of casting his vote has never identified himself with party matters. He is essentially a home-loving man, and finds his greatest enjoyment in watching and aiding the careers of his children.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904, pages 830-833
Ed. Van Dyke:--"Our closing out sale is proving even more of a success than we had anticipated. The store is full--just as you see it now--pretty nearly all the time and our salespeople--fifteen in number--scarcely have time to exchange a friendly greeting one with another. Well, let me tell you. It's like this. There is scarcely an article in the store which is not first-class in every particular. I have been buying goods for a number of years and I fancy I know a good article when I see it. This stock we are closing out now is composed of the same quality of goods we have always carried. There is practically no difference in buying from us now than before this sale opened, only the price is greatly reduced--cut half into on some lines. Sorry, but I cannot give you more of my time right now. Come in some other time--after we have sold out this stock of goods. What's that? You heard someone say that I had bought Mr. Hogan's stock? Let me tell you that right now I am selling goods--not buying. Let me tell you further that there is not an article in this store that was ever in Hogan's or any other man's store in this town. Hold on a minute; I will take part of that back. You see that cloak rack over there? Well, I bought that from Hogan to display goods on. You ought to give me credit for more sense than to buy up the leftover ends of any man's stock and put it with mine for a special reduction sale. Half of the women in town would recognize those goods if they saw them in San Francisco."
"Street Echoes," Medford Mail, December 1, 1905, page 1
E. R. Van Dyke:--"Say, this moving proposition is about the worst layout I ever went against. I've been getting ready to move into our new store for quite a few weeks, and I'm not quite all there yet. It's bad enough to change places of business or dwellings when you haven't anything else to do, but when a fellow tries to move and sell goods at the same time and at the same time has a lot of carpenters working in the same room and is compelled to stumble around over loose boards occasionally, he is likely to get a little impatient once in a while. But we'll get straightened out one of these days and forget all our present troubles."
"Street Echoes," Medford Mail, January 5, 1906, page 1
J. G. VAN DYKE, PIONEER, DEADMedford Mail Tribune, November 8, 1912, page 6
In the death of John Gilmore Van Dyke, which occurred at the family home in this city, on Thursday, November 7, 1912, there is taken from the ranks of early pioneers another of its most energetic, daring, home-loving and home-building members. Mr. Van Dyke was aged 76 years, 3 months and 10 days. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 2 o'clock, Rev. W. F. Shields officiating.
Mr. Van Dyke crossed the plains in 1852, and fought Indians in the now historic battles in this and Klamath counties.
In his life Mr. Van Dyke played an important part in the development of this section of Oregon and came here when but a boy. He lived here for sixty years and was one of the most widely known throughout the state of the old-timers. His dealings with the warlike Indians were both peaceful and warlike, as the occasion demanded. For a number of years he packed between this city and Crescent City. He was one of the founders of the Presbyterian church in Jackson County and a prohibitionist in politics.
When 12 years old he moved with his parents to Iowa, and four years later started for Oregon. Mr. Van Dyke was one of the most lovable of men and had a wide circle of friends in city, county and state.
A wife and seven children survive him. They are: W. S. Van Dyke of Ashland; Sam Van Dyke of Phoenix, Frank Van Dyke of Phoenix, Mrs. Carrie Thompson of Sterling, Colo.; Miss Edith A. Van Dyke of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Ed R. Van Dyke of Portland and Miss Sadie Van Dyke of this city.
VAN DYKE FUNERAL SERVICESam G. Van Dyke, a native son of Jackson County, and one of the best-known men in Southern Oregon, died at his ranch home, five miles south of Phoenix, Saturday, aged 47 years. Death was caused by an attack of quinsy and a complication of diseases following.
TO BE HELD TUESDAY MORNING
The funeral services will be held from the family home Tuesday morning at 11 o'clock, under the auspices of the Elks lodge, who will attend in a body. The Rev. J. K. Baillie of Phoenix will officiate, an old friend.
Mr. Van Dyke was born in Phoenix, Or., December 1, 1866. He leaves a family of six children--three boys, Verne, Everett and Lester, and three daughters, Margaret, Florence and Carol, and his wife, Catherine. Three brothers and three sisters are still living.
Deceased was well and widely known. For many years he held the position of county road supervisor. It was said of him that he was the most tireless worker in Jackson County, both for himself and the county. He lived all his life in this valley and was admired and beloved by scores.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 20, 1914, page 4
Everett Van Dyke of the Phoenix district was in Medford spending the week and transacting business and visiting with friends.
"Local and Personal," Medford Sun, April 13, 1915, page 6
Last Saturday the old residence on what was formerly the Sam Van Dyke ranch, just east of Phoenix, was burned down. The place had recently been purchased by the Bishop boys. The loss was considerable to the new owners.
Mary O. Carey, "Fire Destroys Old Residence Near Phoenix," Medford Mail Tribune, April 18, 1924, page B6
FINAL RITES TO PIONEER WOMAN OBSERVED TODAY
Riding over the Siskiyou Mountains on horseback, in company with the late Mrs. Coolidge of Ashland, in the early spring of 1862, Sarah S. Van Dyke, who passed away August 18, 1927, was one of the courageous women who helped make the early history of Southern Oregon.
Settling with her late husband John G. Van Dyke (who crossed the plains in '52) on the old Van Dyke farm three miles south of Medford, she raised a family of ten children, besides doing her household duties faithfully. She took a prominent part in church and social activities of Phoenix, Ashland, and later in Medford where she spent her last years. She took an active part in the old Presbyterian church at Phoenix and was the only living charter member of the First Presbyterian church of Medford.
Her ability and skill in managing her own business affairs, almost to the 86th year, was remarked about and admired by many of her friends. An unfortunate accident causing a fracture of her hip hastened her death.
The funeral services will be held today, Sunday, at 2:30 p.m. at her late residence, 9 West 12th Street.
Medford Mail Tribune, August 21, 1927, page 2
FRANK VAN DYKE TO RESIDE HEREFrank J. Van Dyke, Medford and Ashland attorney, and family are moving to Medford from Ashland in about two weeks to make this community their permanent home.
Van Dyke said that he and his wife and children, John, about 10, and Bonnie Jean, six, would temporarily reside at the home of his mother, Mrs. B. F. Van Dyke, 708 Sherman Street. They plan to build or buy a home and at present own a lot on Modoc Avenue.
A former Medfordite, the lawyer is returning here after residing 10 years in Ashland. He and Ben Lombard have offices in the Knox building in Ashland and in the Goldy building here. Van Dyke said he and his family are moving here because of a desire to make Medford their permanent home and because of business demands.
The children will enter Roosevelt School.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 24, 1948, page 12
Samuel Van Dyke Came West in 1849; Settled at PhoenixSamuel Van Dyke came west in 1849. In 1852, he came to Oregon and took a donation claim of 320 acres as his wife did later, making them 640 in all. Their home was located where the Orchard Park Farms now is, the little house just north of the barn being their first home.
They had one son and a daughter. In 1880 Sam died in an accident while going to Ashland; when near the Hot Springs, his horses became frightened and backed up, causing three tugs to come loose, and as the horses lunged forward they dragged him out of the rig he was driving and killed him.
Van Dyke always acted as marshal of all the parades in Jacksonville and Ashland, wearing a marshal's sash, which will be on display at the Old Stage House during the centennial observance.
The son, John G. Van Dyke, came west with his parents when he was 16 years old in 1852. Later he enlisted and served a year in the Civil War before he married Sarah Stewart in Pennsylvania. They were parents of nine children, the oldest being William S., whose wife still resides in Ashland. Sam, the father of Vern Van Dyke and Florence Fish; Frank, the father of Frank J. Van Dyke. Of the children, Ed Van Dyke is the only one now living. He resides in Portland.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 20, 1954, page C4
Mrs. Catherine VanDyke, Area Pioneer, Dies
Mrs. Catherine VanDyke, 96, widow of the late Samuel Gilmore VanDyke, and daughter of Southern Oregon pioneers Mrs. and Mrs. Claus Kleinhammer, died in a local hospital Wednesday.
Mrs. VanDyke was born at Sterlingville, Ore., July 14, 1867, and was educated in the Sterlingville and Jacksonville schools. At the age of 16 she went to the Willamette Valley to live with her grandparents and attended Santiam Academy.
She was married Oct. 14, 1888, to Samuel Gilmore VanDyke in the Phoenix Presbyterian church. Mr. VanDyke preceded her in death in 1914.
Planted OrchardThe couple had lived for many years south of Medford, where Mr. VanDyke planted one of the Rogue River Valley's early orchards. Later they moved to the Phoenix-Hillcrest Road section, where they also owned and operated orchards.
Mrs. VanDyke was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian Church.
After the death of her husband she resided in Los Angeles for 35 years.
Surviving are two brothers, A. S. Kleinhammer, Santa Rosa, Calif., and W. R. Kleinhammer, El Cerrito, Calif.; two sisters, Mrs. F. L. Hammer, Modesto, Calif., and Mrs. W. A. Hannon, San Francisco; one son, Vern VanDyke, Medford; three daughters, Mrs. F. A. Kazmier, Los Angeles; Carol VanDyke, San Francisco, and Mrs. R. S. Fish, Medford; and three grandchildren.
Services FridayFuneral services will be held at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the Perl Funeral Home with the Rev. George R. V. Bolster, rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, officiating. Private committal services will be in the IOOF Cemetery.
The body will lie in state at Perl Funeral Home from 4 o'clock this afternoon until 9 o'clock this evening.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 16, 1964, page 7
Van Dyke Retires from Bench
But He'll Continue Law Practice, Heavy Civic Schedule
By MARK HOWARD
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
Medford lawyer Frank Van Dyke retired after 27 years as a U.S. magistrate in a brief ceremony in U.S. District Court Tuesday. But at 73, Van Dyke plans to keep his private law practice going.
"With today's advances in medicine, I can live to be 100. So I have about 30 more years of work to look forward to," Van Dyke says.
U.S. District Court judges James Burns and Jim Redden opened a federal court session in Medford Tuesday with a tribute to Van Dyke's service to the federal justice system--service that began when Van Dyke was appointed U.S. commissioner for Crater Lake National Park in 1954 and continued with his appointment to the U.S. magistrate post in 1971.
Van Dyke, whose grandfather was an Oregon pioneer and who has lived in the Rogue Valley since 1910, listened intently and at times chuckled as a parade of his longtime friends and associates took the podium to comment on his years of service to the courts and to the community.
His community service alone could easily amount to a full-time job.
In addition to his law practice and the part-time U.S. magistrate position, Van Dyke now is on the boards of directors of the Salvation Army, the Medford YMCA and Providence Hospital.
His past affiliations include presidency of the Medford Rotary Club, chairmanship of the Ashland School Board and the state Board of Higher Education, and membership on the state Board of Education and the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education.
In 1974 Richard Nixon appointed Van Dyke chairman of the National Advisory Board on Extension and Continuing Education.
In his law practice Van Dyke at one time served as Ashland city attorney and judge pro tem in Multnomah, Lane, Josephine and Jackson counties.
"I have had a rich and wonderful experience in serving my community," Van Dyke says.
From his vantage point as a magistrate for 27 years, Van Dyke has seen many changes in the federal judiciary.
"Federal law has improved tremendously" during those years, he says. An increase in pre-trial procedures such as preliminary hearings has greatly improved the clarity of issues in federal cases, he says. "And even though these procedures are more costly, justice has been served by them."
Van Dyke appreciated the expanded responsibilities given to part-time jurists in the federal system.
When he was first appointed U.S. commissioner for Crater Lake National Park, most of the cases he dealt with had to do with game violations and other park-related cases, he says.
Then, in 1971, commissioners became U.S. magistrates and were given more authority and broadened powers, including authority over arraignments for federal crimes and issuance of search warrants. Magistrates began presiding over preliminary hearings on cases brought by the FBI.
Van Dyke says he did not become a full-time magistrate because he did not want to become a full-time government employee. "I also had my law practice in Medford," he says.
On his retirement from the federal bench, Van Dyke says, the Department of Justice was gracious to him.
"They could have fired me five years ago," he says, noting that that was when he reached mandatory retirement age of 68.
"I guess someone forgot," Van Dyke says.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 24, 1981, page 3
Last revised November 13, 2022