The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


JOHN U. WILLEKE, carpenter, North Washington, was born on the 20th of January, 1861. His father, C. Willeke, a farmer and shoemaker, who was born in Germany on the 17th of February, 1823, emigrated to Ohio in 1847. He was married at the age of twenty-eight years to Rosanna Kummer, a native of Switzerland, by whom he had eight children, viz.: J. H., F. C., Christ, Sophia, Rosa, J. U., C. E. and H. P. The mother of our subject died on January 1, 1866, and his father formed a second marriage in 1868, to Barbara Frank, a native of Columbus, Ohio. She died November 25, 1878, leaving a family of five children--Maggie, Anna, William, Lizzie and Nickalaus. The subject of this sketch, the sixth child and fourth son, was educated in Cessna and Washington townships, and for two years was learning the trade of carpenter with John Beach. His father has resided in this county thirty-five years and is the owner of 160 acres of land in Sections and 22, Washington Township. Our subject is a Democrat in politics, and is a useful citizen of Washington Township.
History of Hardin County, Ohio, Chicago 1883, page 975

    An eight-acre chunk of East Medford real estate has shifted ownership this week. P. B. O'Neil has sold that amount of land to John Willeke, a recent arrival from Pendleton, and a son-in-law of Mr. Tripp. The consideration was $1600 cash. Mr. Willeke will improve the property but will not divide it into smaller tracts at present. These people have decided to make Medford their permanent home--and are the kind we can feel safe in giving a hearty welcome.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, January 10, 1896, page 5

    J. U. Willeke has commenced housekeeping on North A Street, opposite Dr. Adkins' residence, where he will reside until a new house is erected--which will not be many weeks. He is now building considerable fence on his place, which is in East Medford, and within a few weeks he will start his new residence. Mr. W. has caught the correct keynote of all Eastsiders and will keep pace with the best of them.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, February 7, 1896, page 5

    J. U. Willeke has commenced the building of his East Side residence, the frame of the same now being up and the building partly enclosed.

"News of the City," Medford Mail, February 21, 1896, page 5

Her Sixtieth Birthday.
    Last Friday, March 13th, Mrs. Hiram Tripp celebrated her sixtieth birthday. A number of friends were invited to dine with the lady, and while she is sixty years old she has not forgotten how to prepare a dinner well fitting such an occasion, which repast will not soon be forgotten by those who were present. After dinner a few hours were pleasantly spent in singing. There were also a number of choice selections of violin and organ music. Mrs. Tripp received a number of presents, they being linens, silver, glass and china ware. Those present were Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Brand, Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Hagey, Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. L. G. Porter, Mr. and Mrs. Willeke, Master Frank Brand, Bessie and Frank Willeke, Verna Hagey and Harry Porter.
Medford Mail, March 20, 1896, page 4

    J. U. Willeke and L. G. Porter, of this city, together with Hale Bros., of Leland, have purchased sixty acres of placer mining property near Leland and will at once commence extensive mining operations. The property has been worked to some extent and from one-third of an acre of ground $3000 have been taken. The new owners will put in a twenty-three-inch pipe and will figure on running the mine eight months each year, they having leased the old Lewis ditch--and have plenty of water. Messrs. Willeke and Porter will leave for the mine this Friday evening. Their families will remain in Medford.

"News of the City," Medford Mail, July 23, 1896, page 7

    H. Tripp, he who lives just across Bear Creek, grows some of the best produce that finds its way to the Medford market. For example: He left at this office this week samples of corn that stood eleven feet high which had ears as long as your arm--or thereabouts. This corn will be on exhibition at the Portland exposition. There is nothing small about Mr. Tripp's corn, and, considering the fact that it grew without a drop of water from planting until harvest, there is something quite large about it.

"News of the City," Medford Mail, September 11, 1896, page 7

From the Grants Pass Mining Journal.
    Hale Bros. last week sold their interest in the hydraulic mine at Leland to their partner, J. U. Willeke. The mine is now owned by Willeke & Porter. Messrs. Hale Bros. will open up a good piece of ground on McNair Flat, below on Grave Creek.
"Mines and Mining, Medford Mail, July 16, 1897, page 6

    Mrs. C. R. Childs and children left Wednesday for Leland to join Mr. Childs, who is working there on a big mining ditch for Porter & Willeke.

"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, September 2, 1897, page 6

    J. U. Willeke:--"I am up from the mines for a few days. Yes, our ditch is completed, and the water has been turned in. The ditch is five and a half miles long and cost in round numbers $5000. There are eighty-eight thousand feet of lumber in the ditch. We are now waiting for our pipe. When it arrives we will be ready for business. I will return to Leland next week."

"Echoes from the Street," Medford Mail, December 3, 1897, page 6

    J. U. Willeke came up from Leland last week to remain a few weeks. He brought up with him $1500 in gold, which represented about a one-third cleanup of a thirty days' run at the Willeke, Whitehead & Co. mine. This is the first cleanup which has been made by this company, but it is decidedly a flattering one, and all concerned are feeling very jubilant. The mine covers eighty acres of land and all is good pay dirt. A big expense has been necessary in putting water on the ground, but all this is now coming back--with good interest.

"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, March 18, 1898, page 6

    J. U. Willeke came in this week from his mine, two miles west of Jacksonville. He has not prospected the ledge sufficiently as yet to determine its value, but is confident it is going to show up fairly well.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, July 29, 1904, page 8

New Additions to Medford Platted.
    J. U. Willeke owns eight acres of as good land as there is in East Medford--but he will not own it long. He has platted the entire tract into good-sized dwelling lots and is now offering them for sale through the W. T. York real estate agency. The tract faces East Seventh Street and extends from there to Bear Creek, and in all comprises thirty-five lots. These lots vary in depth from 120 to 170 feet, but none are less than fifty feet in width. Mr. Willeke has laid out one street, running north and south along the east side of his addition, and this he has christened "Tripp Street"; he has also extended Almond Street, on the west side of the addition, and has opened East Eighth and Ninth streets, running east and west across his addition.
    This is unquestionably one of the best home-building localities now left within the incorporate limits of the city of Medford. The soil is the very best, and the location cannot be beaten. Already several of the lots have been spoken for, and it is not improbable that inside of thirty days all will be sold.
Medford Mail, March 3, 1905, page 1

    J. U. Willeke came in from his farm on Trail Creek yesterday. He and his partner have 400 acres of land in that locality, 300 of which, Mr. Willeke says, is first-class fruit and alfalfa land.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, October 23, 1908, page 4

    J .U. Willeke returned a few days since from his farm home on upper Rogue River. He has been making a great many improvements on his farm--sort o' shaping it up like unto other good ranches of the valley.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, July 2, 1909, page 5

    Hovering between life and death, John U. Willeke, a mining man, who resides at 618 East Main Street, lies at the Sacred Heart Hospital today suffering from a concussion of the brain sustained when an automobile he was driving skidded at the corner of Main and Genessee Thursday afternoon, plunging into the curb and an electric light pole.
    Mr. Willeke was only running at a fair rate of speed when the accident occurred, the west pavement being responsible for the trouble. He was taken to the hospital where he was treated. He has an even chance to live according to reports today.
    The auto was badly damaged.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 14, 1913, page 7

    A majority of the Southern Pacific freight house force has been taking a hospital course this week. Ray Cole, however, is able to be at his post again. Frank Willeke, assistant baggageman, is still confined to his home with the grippe.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, January 10, 1916, page 2

    Frank Willeke, a well-known local man, died at Salem, Oregon, February 25th, 1930, aged 38 years. He was born at Pendleton, Oregon, the only son of Mr. and Mrs. J. U. Willeke, 618 East Main Street. Deceased had resided in Medford for the past thirty-four years.
    Funeral services will be held at the Perl Funeral Home, Thursday at 2:00 p.m., Rev. D. E. Millard officiating. Interment in Medford cemetery. He leaves his parents and one sister, Miss Bessie Willeke.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 26, 1930, page 3

    John U. Willeke, resident of Medford for the past 37 years, and very well known among the older residents, passed away at his home, 618 East Main Street, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday after an illness since last February. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Willeke, emigrated from Germany to Ohio in 1847, and Mr. Willeke was born at North Washington, Ohio, January 20, 1861.
    He was educated at Cessna and Washington townships, and served his apprenticeship with John Beach, learning the carpenter trade. He followed this mode of endeavor most of his life. Ella C. Tripp was united in marriage to John U. Willeke at Vancouver, Wash., April 16, 1889. They had just celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary the 16th of this month. To this union were born one daughter and one son, Bessie and Frank, the son having passed away February 25, 1930.
    Mr. Willeke was a fine neighbor, and his pleasing disposition and kind words will be missed by his host of friends. He especially was fond of children and young people.
    He leaves a widow, Ella, one sister, Mrs. Rosie Darr of Mendon, Mich., two brothers, Charles and Henry, of Canton, Ohio; half-brothers Nicholas of Ohio and William of Colorado.
    Funeral services will be conducted from the Perl funeral home Sunday at 2:00 p.m., Rev. D. E. Millard officiating. Interment will take place in the Medford I.O.O.F. cemetery.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 28, 1933, page 9

    Ella Clara Willeke, pioneer resident of Medford, the family home being 16 Tripp Street, passed away July 4 at her home. Mrs. Willeke was born at Muskegon, Mich., August 11, 1857.
    Tripp Street was named for her father, the late Hiram Tripp, one of Medford's earliest pioneers.
    Ella Clara Tripp was united in marriage to John Willeke at Pendleton in 1888, and they moved to Medford in 1896.
    Two children were born to Mrs. Willeke, one of whom, Miss Bessie Willeke of Medford, survives.
    Funeral services will be conducted from the Perl Funeral Home Saturday at 3:30 p,m., with the Rev. Harry Hansen, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, officiating. Interment will be in Medford I.O.O.F. cemetery.
Medford Mail Tribune, July 5, 1946, page 12

    Notice is hereby given that under and by virtue of an order of the above entitled court made on the 29th day of May, 1948 in the above entitled matter, the undersigned as guardian of the estate of Bessie Willeke, an incompetent person, will sell at private sale for cash, lawful money of the United States, and subject to confirmation of said court, all of the right, title, estate and interest of said Bessie Willeke in and to the following described real property in the city of Medford, Jackson County, Oregon, to wit:
    The south 70 feet of Lots 1 and 2, Block 1, Willeke's Addition to the city of Medford, Jackson County, Oregon.
    Said sale of real property will be made at the office of the First National Bank of Portland on or after July 9, 1948.
    Dated June 8, 1948.
    The First National Bank of Portland, guardian of estate of Bessie Willeke, an incompetent person.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 10, 1948, page 3

    Recovering--Mrs. L. F. Belknap is recovering at her home on Route 4 from a recent illness. She is under the care of Miss Bessie Wilkie.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, July 1, 1949, page 5

Last revised May 19, 2022