History of Medford up to 1932
Beginning with its February 28, 1932 issue, the Medford Mail Tribune serialized the following Medford history in its pages, crediting it only to "two members of the Crater Lake chapter D.A.R." A typed transcription of the newspaper series, on file at the Southern Oregon Historical Society library, credits Frances Haskins Cochran and Jane Snedicor.
Sadly, this is the most complete and most authoritative history ever written for Medford.
I've regularized the spelling, punctuation and capitalization; comments and corrections are inserted in square brackets. The original series was randomly broken by numbered chapter headings; I've inserted subject subheads.
For a note on Ms. Snedicor's sources, see below.*
History of Medford, Oregon
In the early eighties the Oregon and California Railroad, working south from Portland, began making surveys in southern Oregon, and by the fall of 1883 trains were running into Grants Pass. [The construction train reached Grants Pass in the last week of November.]
Jacksonville, the county seat of Jackson County and the most important town in this part of the state, was naturally supposed [by a few of its residents] to be the next station on this new road. The railroad company asked Jacksonville for a bonus of $25,000, but this request was refused and the surveyors instructed to work five miles east of that town and through the very center of the Rogue River Valley. One writer contends that this was done wholly on account of the difficulties which would have been encountered in passing over the Applegate Ridge of mountains. [Ben Beekman's and contemporary newspaper accounts make clear that the "bonus" was to run the tracks only 2½ miles closer to Jacksonville, not close enough to assure the future of the town.]
Five miles east of Jacksonville, in the very heart of this beautiful Rogue River Valley, the railroad planned to start a new town and the name first selected was Middleford, as David Loring, the railroad engineer claims because Bear Creek was forded at this place, but Loring happened to have lived in Medford, Mass., and so he shortened the name of the new townsite to Medford. [The ford referred to was the "McAndrews ford" on today's McAndrews Road; it was not called the "middle ford." There was no safe ford--and in 1883 no county road--at today's Main Street. The Middleford name appears in contemporary print only once, as only one of several names proposed. Contrary to that newspaper report, those present at the discussions remember the proposed name as "Midford." Neither Middleford, Midford nor any other proposed name was ever used; the original 1883 town plat is labeled "Medford." Loring was a native of Concord, Massachusetts, not nearby Medford, Mass.]
Bear Creek was first called Stuart Creek, and should be so called now, for the present name means nothing. [Click here for the story of the naming of Bear Creek.] June 18, 1851, Jimmy Stuart, a graduate from West Point, was mortally wounded by a poisoned arrow while leading a charge against some hostile Indians. His friend, George B. McClelland, buried him on the west bank of the creek between two large oak trees near the foot of the Siskiyous and in his honor named the stream of water. [Stuart was actually buried within present-day Phoenix, across today's Hwy. 99 from the site of the Colver House.] Fort Stuart was also named for him. [This is apparently a reference to Camp Stuart, located somewhere in the Rogue Valley, but never forted.]
TownsiteThe land selected for the new townsite was owned by C. C. Beekman, C. Mingus, C. W. Broback and Ira J. Phipps. [It would be more accurate to list them in the opposite order.] The four men on October 27, 1883 signed to convey to the Oregon and California Railroad Company a tract not exceeding twenty acres for a depot and other railroad purposes. Also to convey to a trustee named by the Oregon and Transcontinental Company each alternate block in the new townsite, the railroad to receive the blocks having the even numbers. Charles Prine was the trustee named, and J. S. Howard was appointed agent to dispose of the railroad blocks. [Howard wasn't appointed the railroad's agent until late April 1884.]
The new townsite was platted by J. S. Howard, government surveyor, and his son Charles, and founded December 20, 1883 as Medford, Mr. Phipps and Mr. Broback each reserving a few acres where their homes were situated. [The assertion that J. S. Howard "platted" Medford is either incorrect or draws a fine distinction between "platting" and "surveying." It's unknown what part, if any, J. S. Howard played in laying out Medford, but--as is made clear two paragraphs below--Charles J. Howard, J. S. Howard's son, surveyed Medford, assisted only by James Elliott, Ed Curtis and J. Johnson.] Mr. Phipps' house stood where the old high school building stood on North Bartlett between Fifth and Sixth streets [across Riverside from the Red Lion]. Mr. Broback's was the old [Osenbrugge] home on South Riverside Avenue between Ninth and Tenth streets [the house was between Tenth and Eleventh, on the current site of the Medford post office]. J. S. Howard with his wife and three children arrived in Jacksonville in 1861, bringing his surveying outfit and a knowledge of carpentry. His wife traded her much prized gold watch for a lot on which he erected his home. He also built and owned the first planing mill in Jacksonville near where the McCully home now stands. His family tended the store while he was busy surveying mining claims, roads, etc.
The night before New Year's, 1884, Jacksonville experienced one of the worst fires in its history [the fire began at 2 a.m. on New Year's Day] and the next day Mr. Howard found himself almost penniless. [Howard's store and stock burned, but he had other significant assets, including his Medford store, already completed, his other real estate holdings, his home in Jacksonville and a $4500 insurance payment.] Immediately he secured possession of a piece of land in Medford and brought into this new town the first load of lumber. [Phipps' and Broback's houses preceded Howard's, of course, as did four blacksmith shops built in December 1883 and an unknown number of other structures. Howard's Medford store was completed by December 21, ten days before the Jacksonville fire.] On the piece of ground now vacant on South Front Street, just south of the Nash Hotel [site of the alley immediately south of Prestige Plaza], he built the first store building, 16 by 24 feet, facing the railroad. Afterwards he enlarged it and moved his family to Medford, where they lived above and back of the store. [Howard didn't move his family to Medford until his house on North Central was completed in April of 1884.]
The original townsite was located on the donation land claim of Napoleon B. Evans and R. B. Packard. As we know it now, [the townsite] was bounded on the east by Riverside Avenue, on the north by Jackson Street, on the west by Oakdale Avenue and Vermont Street, and on the south by Twelfth Street. Charles Howard, now of Kerby, son of J. S. Howard, was the railroad surveyor for the townsite, and Charles Strang the timekeeper.
By the spring of 1884 the railroad was completed as far as Phoenix [the tracks and construction train advanced to Phoenix on January 23], and the first week in January, 1888 found trains running south over the Siskiyous into California. [The golden spike connecting the north and south tracks was driven on December 17, 1887.]
BeginningsAs soon as the railroad reached Medford the government established a post office, and J. S. Howard was named postmaster, an office he held for 10 years and afterwards for six years more. [Medford's mail service officially began in early March, two months after the rails reached town.] At first a cigar box served as post office, but was soon discarded for a soap box, 12 inches wide, 22 inches high and 9 inches deep, divided into nine compartments. [Both boxes are in the collection of the Southern Oregon Historical Society. They likely served as an unofficial mail drop in the months before Medford secured an official post office.] A dry goods box was later added, and finally a case was built of 1 by 6 lumber, with 30 compartments. His daughter, Mrs. J. E. Roberts, still has this original equipment. The first registered letter received was one addressed to Miss Nettie Howard, now Mrs. B. S. Webb. This was in April 1884.
The first dance held in Medford was an impromptu affair, held in Howard's store. [Other sources say the party took place during construction, upon completion of the building's floor.] A fiddler was brought from Big Sticky and a jolly all-night dance was enjoyed. No preparations had been made for supper, but Mrs. Howard managed to serve sardines and crackers at midnight, so to Mrs. Howard belongs the honor of founding the first home in Medford after it was platted and named.
With the railroad came a demand for a Wells Fargo Express agent, and Mr. Howard was appointed the Medford agent, and he held this position for 10 years. [It was A. L. Johnson who opened the Wells Fargo agency in March 1884; Howard succeeded him in May.] His wife and daughters tended store, post office and express while he and his son were kept busy on surveying jobs.
Medford was a typical little western railroad town in those days, with a few wooden store buildings and a great many saloons, some of them occupying tents. [Few saloons and no tents are mentioned in contemporary accounts. Two of Medford's first buildings were of brick.] Frequently one could hear some of the more hilarious men riding up and down Main and Front streets, shooting their revolvers into the air. Mr. Broback and Mr. Caldwell had a shooting scrape on the street [March 27, 1884] and Mr. Caldwell was shot [and killed]. Mr. Broback tried to kill J. S. Howard when the latter posted in his window the telegram received from Salem announcing the incorporating of Medford. [This is likely an exaggeration; Howard reported he was able to keep Broback at bay by brandishing a knife.]
IncorporationIt soon became evident that the town should be incorporated, and on February 24, 1885, the governor signed the articles of incorporation. March 11, 1885, the board of trustees met at the office of J. S. Howard and elected the following officers: J. S. Howard, president; R. T. Lawton, recorder; J. H. Redfield, marshal; Charles Strang, treasurer; E. G. Hurt, street commissioner; I. J. Phipps, A. Childers, Dr. E. P. Geary and W. H. Barr, trustees. [March 11 was the date the residents of Medford ratified the incorporation; town officers weren't elected until March 25. On the 28th the trustees met for the first time and elected J. S. Howard president of the board.]
The standing rules and by-laws of Jacksonville were adopted by Medford, and a hall on Front Street rented, to be used for [city trustees'] meetings [this hall was on the Nash Hotel site, southeast corner of Main and Front]. September 15, the recorder, R. T. Lawton, offered the use of his office on East Main Street for the meetings. This office was about where Crowson's [Cafe] is now [at 229] East Main Street.
The first ordinance passed was one aimed to prevent and punish disorderly conduct, riots and disturbances. Ordinance number two was "To prevent minors from loitering about the depot," which was then in the middle of Main Street, or Seventh Street as it was then called. An ordinance against hogs running at large was passed to take effect October 1, 1885. A remonstrance was presented to the board to let the hogs run at large for one more year at least, but this was not allowed.
This ordinance was not very effective though, for until 1910 it was necessary for property owners to fence their lots, and grocerymen in business in 1897 had difficulty in protecting green vegetables at both front and rear doors from cows and other domestic animals which roamed through the streets and alleys, feeding on whatever they could find. In the council proceedings of April 1896 we find that W. T. Crane was paid fifty cents for driving stock out of town.
BridgeSeptember 7, 1886, a petition was authorized to be presented to the county court to build a bridge across Bear Creek, the county to appropriate $1500 and Medford to furnish the rest. Up to this time there was only a footbridge across the creek, built by "passing the hat," and in the wintertime when the water was high the farmers living on the east side had to leave their teams there and cross the footbridge to do their shopping in town.
The bridge was built but was washed away during the winter of 1889-90. The county replaced this one with another wooden bridge. In 1902 the city built a steel bridge which in 1912 was moved down to Jackson Street and the present concrete bridge built at the Main Street crossing. In 1930 the concrete Cottage Street bridge was built.
SchoolsThe Medford school district, No. 49, was a part taken from School District No. 2. This district embraced "all the territory commencing at the northeast corner of District No. 1, about one mile east of Clinton's Buttes, running east to Stuart's Creek, thence up said creek to the northeast corner of Oates' claim, thence in a southerly direction to the mountains, including Heron [Herrin?], Hamlin, Frick and Whitworth, thence west to the east line of District No. 1, including Griffin's; thence north to the place of beginning. Given under my hand this September, 1854, T. F. Royal, county school superintendent, Jackson County, Oregon Territory."
Medford's school district, No. 49, was created from a division of No. 2 made February 20, 1864, and reads as follows: "Beginning at a point on Bear Creek in Sec. 32, T. 37 S., R. 1 W., and running thence west to the southwest corner of the Wilson place, thence north to the northwest corner of the Wilson place, then westward on the line of the county road to the southwest corner of John R. Tice's place, thence westward to the east line of School District No. 1, thence north to the south boundary of the Central Point district, thence east to Bear Creek, thence southeasterly along the west shore of Bear Creek to the place of beginning. Signed, William M. Colvig, county superintendent of schools." [The current school district, 549C, resulted from a consolidation of Medford's district 49 with five other school districts.]
The first school was held in a one-room school building [at 135] South Central, now part of the home of E. D. Elwood [the building survives, commonly remembered as part of the Yellow Submarine sandwich shop]. A Mr. [William F.] Williamson was the first teacher and it was a subscription school, each pupil paying $5. During the summer of 1884 a frame school house was built on West Main Street between South Oakdale and L streets [current site of the Jackson County Courthouse] on land sold to the district by C. C. Beekman. In 1891 this building was moved to  West Tenth Street and is now the home of M. L. Alford. [This second schoolhouse also survives.]
Walter Gore was the first principal in , and Miss [May Crain], now Mrs. John Cox, taught the primary classes. [W. F. Williamson was the first principal of a (private) Medford school, in 1884--before the founding of the Medford school district. Gore was the first principal of Medford school district No. 49.] Miss Belle Merriman Stronk and Miss Sophia Wilson were also primary teachers during these early days.
Mr. Morris was hired for 1886-7 but was asked to resign in January and W. H. Gore, who had graduated from the state university in June, 1886, in the class with W. I. Vawter, George Dunn and W. J. Roberts, was asked to take charge of the school. It was then a three-year high school offering three courses and the full eight grades. Miss Kate VanDyke, Miss [Margaret] Sargent and Miss Carrie Baker taught the grades. W. H. Gore was principal for two and one-half years. Then a man by the name of [William J.] Crawford was principal until the fall of 1891, when N. L. Narregan began his eleven-year period of service in the Medford school.
A larger building was built on the same site in 1891 and burned in 1895. Complete with furniture this building cost $8900.
Arbor Day, April 14, 1893, N. L. Narregan, who was principal of the school, was instrumental in securing 40 trees from different citizens and with appropriate exercises these were planted on the school grounds.
After the fire a brick building known as the Washington School was built [also on the courthouse site] and formally opened March 3, 1896, attorney L. A. Estel delivering the address. In 1906 the Lincoln School on North Bartlett Street was built, and in 1909 a high school was erected on North Bartlett at the [southeast] corner of Fifth Street. This was used as a high school until , when another high school building was built on North Holly Street [today's McLoughlin Junior High School], and the old building became the junior high. It was torn down in 1931 when the present high school building was erected on South Oakdale, and the junior high moved into the building on North Holly.
The district sold the old Washington [School] building the same year and built a new Washington Grade School on South Peach Street. The county bought the block on West Main Street and tore down the brick school building to make way for the new county courthouse. The Roosevelt and the Jackson school buildings were erected in 1911. The city schools have been in charge of the following well-known men since then: N. L. Narregan from 1891 to September 1895, and G. A. Gregory, principal for three years. Mr. Narregan returned then and continued in charge of the school until M. J. Signs was elected in September 1905. During his three years of office the Lincoln School was opened. [Vinton] G. Smith followed as superintendent for two years, and in September 1910 [Ulysses] S. Collins was elected and served for five years. He was followed by V. Meldo Hills, who was here for three years, and Wm. Davenport for two years. Aubrey Smith became superintendent in September 1920 and remained for four years, and E. H. Hedrick has been superintendent since September 1925.
The Valley School was started with three pupils in 1916 by Miss Louise Burke in her room at the Hotel Medford. After she left to engage in war work, Miss Helen Bullis continued the school in her own home. Patrons of the school in 1920 incorporated, bought property on West Tenth Street and fitted it up for school purposes. With the Misses Lillards and other competent teachers in charge, the school has had a splendid record. In the fall of 1928 the school opened in the new and modern building in East Medford, where it has continued to grow.
St. Mary's Academy was built in 1908 on West Twelfth Street, and its record, too, has been a splendid one.
There have been several different business colleges. The first was opened in September 1893 and a building erected the same year. [The Medford Business College began in early 1892.]
HotelsThe first hotel was the Torrey House [Homer F. Torrey advertised his business as the Medford Hotel], on the corner of Riverside and Seventh Street, where Hubbard Bros. store is now located [northwest corner of Main and Riverside]. It was run by John Frazier, but within a very short time it was remodeled into a saloon called the Roxy Ann Saloon. The next hotel to be opened was the Cunningham Hotel, built on the present site of the Jackson County Bank [northeast corner of Main and Central]. [J. W. Cunningham's Empire Hotel opened the week after the Medford Hotel.]
The first brick building to be built in Medford was a one-story building of two rooms, built where the Nash Hotel now stands [southeast corner of Main and Front]. It was commenced May 4, 1884 [construction was already underway on March 1], and the corner room was rented at once [in the first week of June] to Bill Kenney and Ham [Wolters] for [the Gem] saloon. The south room was used as a public hall for meetings and dances[; the city trustees held their first meetings in this building.] This corner [building] was later built up into a hotel and destined to become one of the social centers for the community, and a landmark for many years to come.
In 1892, when [Mahlon] Purdin and Harris leased it, it was known as the Grand Central Hotel, and under different management the hotel changed its name often, being known as the Riddle House, the Grand and Medford, until in 1895, Capt. [John T. C.] Nash bought the property, remodeled it and since then it has always been known as "The Nash." [It was subsequently the Allen and in May 1956 renamed the Robinson Hotel before burning on May 17, 1978.]
The Western Hotel, on the present Jackson County Bank site [northeast corner Main and Central], with the name changed later to Commercial, and Clarendon Hotel, opposite the present location of Weeks' Furniture Store [on Main between Fir and Grape], were other well-known hotels. The present Medford Hotel was built in 1911 [it burned to the ground August 8, 1988 and was rebuilt], and the Sacred Heart Hospital the same year [it was razed in 1966]. The Holland Hotel [southwest corner 6th and Fir] was built in , and the Jackson Hotel [now the parking lot at 8th and Central] in .
Fire ProtectionIn August, 1886, fire equipment was ordered, and it is interesting to note that this equipment consisted of three dozen pails, two good ladders and two [hooks] and 200 feet of manila rope. In 1890 the Protection Hose Co. No. 1 was organized with G. L. Webb president, and February 5, 1903, Company No. 2 was organized with H. N. Butler president. Equipment was kept in various convenient places [fire buckets were hung from the porch rafters of Main Street businesses] until in 1903 a hose house with fire bell was erected on Sixth Street [just across the alley from the Woolworth Building]. In 1908 the fire hall, [southeast] corner Sixth and Front streets, was built, a team and wagon purchased, and Amann installed as fire chief. In 1930, the new fire hall was built on the [northeast] corner of [Third] and Front streets. Late in 1901, an ordinance was passed dividing the city into three wards, this division being the same as it is today. [Medford is today divided into four wards.]
A. A. Davis came to Medford in 1889 and built the first and only flouring mill. This was on South Front Street [northeast corner of 9th and Front], and was burned only a few years ago.
ChurchesThe first Sunday school was held in the little schoolhouse [at 135] South Central [in the Elwood House]. Afterwards it was held in different halls, one on Front Street, one about where Strang's [drug] store is now [at 231 East Main], and the last place was in Howard's hall, the present location of the First National Bank [at 118 East Main]. Mr. Williamson was the first Sunday school superintendent and George Webb the second and last, for this was a union Sunday school, and as the different church denominations were organized each formed its own Sunday school.
Before any church denomination was organized, Father [Moses A.] Williams, a Presbyterian missionary, and Father Peterson, a Christian minister, held church services here on alternate Sundays, in a public hall. October 31, 1857, Rev. M. A. Williams came to Jacksonville. He had been a missionary in South America, and from the time of his arrival in Southern Oregon until his death, he gave 41 years of service as a home missionary. March 29, 1885, he organized, under the direction of the Presbytery of Southern Oregon, the First Presbyterian Church of Medford. The charter members were Dr. E. P. Geary and wife, Sarah L. Williams, Walter S. Gore, Mrs. [Carrie] A. Gore, Mrs. Lizzie Johnson, Peter [Simon] and wife and Dr. Martin Vrooman. Of these, Walter Gore, who was also the first white child born in Jacksonville [several vie for this title], is now the only member of this church left of the original charter members.
Mr. C. C. Beekman deeded to the trustees of [the Presbyterian] church the ground upon which the church was built in 1887 and the land south of it for a manse. This church, which was built on the [southeast] corner of Main and South Holly, was burned down October 15, 1895, and a larger church erected on the same corner. This was dedicated May 31, 1896. In 1926 this building was torn down and the present church built where the manse once stood, and the Main Street corner sold.
As agent for the railroad, J. S. Howard secured for several of the churches free building lots. The M. E. Church South, however, bought the lot on the [northwest] corner of Oakdale and Main streets. The church was organized in 1891 and held services in Howard's hall until the present church building was built two years later while Roscoe C. Oglesby was pastor.
The Baptist Church is also still on its original lot. [It no longer occupies the southeast corner of Fifth and Central.] The church was organized June 7, 1885, with nine members, Rev. A. M. Russell being the first pastor, and the following year the church was built. This was torn down to make room for the present larger building, which was dedicated in November 1923.
The Christian Church lot was on the southwest corner of Ivy and Sixth streets. They organized in 1884 with 14 members and built in 1887, while Rev. Peterson was in charge. The frame building was used for a great many years and the lot sold, only after the present building on the [southeast] corner of Ninth and South Oakdale was dedicated.
The M.E. Church North was given the lot on Sixth Street where the I.O.O.F. building now stands. [The I.O.O.F. Building was razed in the late 1960s or 1970s.] For some reason they never built there and later sold the property and used the money for a bell for the now discarded church building on the [southeast] corner of North Bartlett and Fourth streets, which is being used by the Salvation Army. The M.E. Church North was dedicated September 15, 1893, by Bishop O. P. Fitzgerald, D.D., of Atlanta, Georgia. Rev. R. A. Reagan was pastor. The first pastor was Rev. Booth, there were twenty charter members and the trustees at that time were D. T. Lawton, Clark Taylor, George Isaacs, I. J. Phipps and Charles Hoxie. The M.E. Church North is now on West Main Street, between Laurel and Mistletoe streets and was built in 1925.
The Catholic Church was built on North Front Street facing west in 1888, Father Theodore Mattingly in charge. When the church on South Oakdale was built, the old church was sold and converted into a rooming house known as "The Oregon Rooms," but a few years ago it was destroyed by fire. The first building on South Oakdale was torn down after the present building on the [southwest] corner of Oakdale and Tenth streets was dedicated in 1928. The present building is just north of where the old one stood.
In the fall of 1897 Charles Palm gave the Lutheran Church a building on Jackson Street. This church was organized in 1889 with 20 members, but did not build until 1904. The present church building is on the [northwest] corner of North Oakdale and Fourth streets, and Rev. F. Sack was the first pastor.
The lot which was given to the Episcopal Church was where the Masonic building now stands on the [northeast] corner of West Main and Holly. [For] a long time it was the only building in the entire block. Large oak trees and many wild flowers formed a lovely setting for the little chapel. When business houses crowded it off, the chapel was purchased by the Presbyterians and moved over behind that church facing west and used as a Sunday school room. The Episcopal Church built its present lovely brick building on the [southeast] corner of North Oakdale and Fifth streets and dedicated it in the fall of 1916. It was organized in 1887 with thirty members. The first rector was Rev. F. B. [Ticknor].
Christian Science services were first held in this city in 1906, when a small group of adherents to this faith held services in the home of one of their number. In 1908 a Christian Science society was organized, with 19 members; and for a year services were held in the Commercial Club rooms, which were donated for the purpose. From there a move was made to another small hall.
In 1910 the present church was built at 212 North Oakdale, and in January 1911 the organization was incorporated as First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Medford, Oregon, and the new church building was occupied. Here services have since been held continuously. The church building was dedicated, free of debt, in May of 1912.
BusinessesDuring the years 1883-84 many stores were opened in Medford, most of them being on Main Street between Bartlett and Front streets. J. S. Howard built a larger building where the First National Bank now stands, and opened up a dry goods store there. [Howard built his store as part of the Hamlin Block ; Howard's section was partially razed in 1906 and completely razed in 1911.]
The complete list of business houses, as nearly as can be ascertained, at the close of 1884, was as follows, and it will be noted that Hubbard, Strang and Childers are the only names now found in the business directory of Medford: Henry Smith, general merchandise; J. S. Howard, dry goods; Miller, Vrooman, hardware and drugs (Mr. Vrooman was Charles Strang's stepfather and Mr. Strang had charge of the drug department, and has continued that business ever since); Angle and Plymale, general merchandise; Emil [Peil], blacksmith; George H. Haskins, drug store; I. A. Webb, furniture; Adkins & Webb, hardware; S. A. D. Higgins, meat market; A. S. Johnson, meat market; S. Rosenthal, men's clothing; O. C. Johnson, jewelry; McMahon & Egan, livery stable; F. Hubbard, implements and wagons (this was the father of Asa Hubbard, and the store was located where the Star Market is now [at 314 East Main]); Mrs. Daugherty and Mrs. Haskins, millinery.
McMahon & Egan owned and operated the first stage between Medford and Jacksonville, but later sold to a Llewellyn and Lynch. [Sam Taylor was driving a "daily express" between the two towns in early February 1884; Dave Crosby was McMahon & Egan's first driver a month later.] Ed Worman came soon afterwards and for a number of years operated a well-known livery stable [the Union Livery Stables] on the [southeast] corner of [Bartlett] and Main streets. John Hanley had a distillery on North [Central Avenue] at a time when distilleries were popular. [George] Crystal had the first blacksmith shop, and A. Childers and Sons, contractors, were also among the first business firms of Medford.
In April 1893, Dr. Pickel installed a private telephone line No. 1 between his home on Bartlett Street and his office in the [Angle] Opera Block [southeast corner of Main and Central, current site of Vogel Plaza]. Later a line connected Dr. Pickel's home with Haskins' home and drug store, and another one was operated between Dr. [Pryce's] residence and Strang's drug store and home. When B. F. Adkins, G. H. Haskins, John White and B. S. Webb began putting in the city system in the summer of 1894, the Medford Mail commented on it as "a mighty convenient arrangement, that telephone, and it is particularly so to doctors and druggists." Telephone service was extended soon to Jacksonville and later to Phoenix and the price set at 25 cents for a five-minute talk. The company passed into other hands, and at one time there were two companies operating. Now the Home Telephone and Telegraph Company has the field alone.
Under the oak trees south of the old Wilson Opera House on South Central Avenue, Medford held her first Fourth of July celebration in 1884. There was a barbecue and picnic dinner, people coming from all over the county with well-filled baskets.
The same summer people gathered for another big event when the first circus to enter the valley showed in Medford. A number of families camped along Bear Creek the night before, and it is a known fact that one family sold its cook stove to get money to buy their circus tickets. [There is no contemporary mention of a circus performance in Medford in 1884. Denby & Co.'s circus performed in Jacksonville on July 26, 1884; Cole's Circus in Ashland on July 5. Neither was the first circus to enter the valley, though they were likely the first to do so by rail. The first circus known to perform in Medford was Cole's Circus, on September 6, 1886.]
Mr. and Mrs. Orson Gilbert came to Jacksonville in 1852, and when Medford was very young [in early 1885] they moved here and opened the first restaurant [independent of a hotel or saloon] in the new town.
A survey of the town in 1894 by the Medford Mail, and published in that paper June 8th, lists the public buildings and places of business as follows: A $12,000 schoolhouse, business college, kindergarten, six churches, an ice factory, a brewery, a distillery, a large flouring mill, a sash and door factory, two hotels, two lumber yards, a furniture factory, two livery stables, a bank, an opera house, six large grocery stores, five clothing and dry goods store, two hardware stores, three implement houses, two candy factories, three secondhand stores, three jewelry stores, two pork packing houses, two photograph galleries, three bakeries, two feed and commission stores, two furniture stores, two blacksmith shops and several fruit warehouses. The census of 1890 credited Medford with a population of 1,791, and by 1895 the city claimed 2,500.
The first lumber yard was opened in January 1894 by Wallace Woods. [H. B. Miller & Co.'s lumber yard opened for business in Medford in April 1884. In a September 1, 1933 Medford News article, Woods was credited with owning the "first" lumber yard in Medford--meaning the oldest. The same article proceeded to name the Medford lumber yards Woods worked for before opening his own.]
In the summer of 1892, [Johnson, McCarthy] and Johnson began delivering artificial ice. They also operated a distillery. [Contemporary newspapers describe it as a "brewery."]
AgricultureThe first record of irrigation being used in the valley is dated back to 1852, when a ditch was dug to take water from Wagner Creek for land near Talent.
In 1859-60, Governor Briggs was the first man to sell fruit in the valley. He brought it in wagons from his ranch at Fort Briggs [near today's Cave Junction] and sold apples and peaches at one dollar each. J. H. Stewart was the pioneer orchardist [but not the first], for in February 1885 he came to the valley and purchased what is now known as the Gordon Voorhies ranch south of the city. In 1890 he shipped the first carload of fruit ever loaded here [this is an often-repeated error from Stewart's obituary] and by 1893 he had 100 acres planted to apples and pears. That fall he shipped 15 cars of pears and 14 of apples, realizing $4000 from his 60 acres of Bartletts. Two years later he shipped 18 cars of pears and the following year 95 cars of pears and apples. [Stewart was preceded by many small orchardists; the month after he arrived in Medford in 1885 the Monitor reported 400 boxes of apples shipped to San Francisco. An 1887 issue of the Southern Oregon Transcript reported a thousand tons of fruit shipped from the Rogue Valley that year, one of those shipments being a train of ten cars laden with fruit.]
J. A. Whitman was another of the early orchardists who shipped both pears and apples in the early '90s. By 1897 the Weeks & Orr fruit ranch, two miles south of Medford, had 15,000 trees, all of which were bearing, on 150 acres, and this was considered one of the finest fruit ranches in the valley. In 1900, J. A. Perry and [Truitt G.] Cox built a warehouse on West Main Street close to the railroad, and for years this was a busy packing plant. A. A. Davis had previously built one opposite his mill.
WaterThe problem of furnishing Medford with a satisfactory supply of water was indeed a serious question for years. During the first six years there was no water system of any kind, and each family was dependent on its well or that of its neighbor. Then an open ditch three miles long was dug from Bear Creek [in 1889 by Chinese laborers] and the water pumped into two wooden tanks each of which had a capacity of 32,000 gallons. These tanks stood where the [Carnegie] library is now. In 1902 the old ditch was abandoned and a pumping plant established on the west bank of Bear Creek. Steam power was used for two years, and then the city entered into a 10-year contract with the Condor Water and Power Company to furnish [electric] power for pumping the water. By 1908 it was found necessary to find a larger supply of water, and in December a contract was entered into with the Fish Lake Water Company, and the city agreed to pay $254,100 for the construction of a gravity pipeline. By 1919 the city had outgrown this system and a city water commission was appointed. H. L. Walther was chairman of this commission, and the other members were E. C. Gaddis, A. L. Hill, H. U. Lumsden and O. Arnspiger. [C. Frank] Dillard was employed as engineer. This committee served the community well, and July 1, 1927, water from Big Butte Springs flowed through the city and the million-dollar water system was completed, and since then Medford has been proud of its unusually pure and almost limitless water supply.
The sewer ordinance was passed by the city council December 6, 1898, and shortly afterwards a [very limited] sewer system was installed.
In January 1907, the houses were first numbered, and the next year Main Street and several other streets were paved.
It was due to the efforts of J. S. Howard that the railroad gave the block on West Main between Holly and Ivy to the city for a public park. The block where the [Carnegie] library now stands was sold to the city by Mr. Beekman for [$275].
J. S. Howard was the first notary public, made out legal papers and was legal advisor for the entire community. W. F. Williamson was the first lawyer to open an office and B. W. Powell a close second.
ClubsThe first civic club was known as the Ladies Aid Society. It was both social and civic, and nearly all of the ladies belonged to it. Mrs. Haskins, Mrs. Howard, Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Foster were among the charter members when it was organized in the summer of 1884 and was still in existence in the early 'nineties. One of its first projects was the building of a gravel walk from the railroad west to the new schoolhouse on the south side of Main Street. [The society successfully petitioned the city trustees for this walk.]
In April 1903, 20 prominent women formed the Lewis and Clark Club, its object being to promote the Lewis and Clark Exposition, which was later held in Portland, but the subject under discussion at the May meeting was "How to Beautify Medford." The charter members were Mesdames M. L. Alford, G. L. Davis, Helen Haskins, J. D. Heard, L. P. Hubbs, C. I. Hutchison, J. M. Keene, B. Lumsden, H. U. Lumsden, D. [H]. Miller, E. B. Pickel, L. J. Sears, W. I. Vawter, E. N. Warner, I. [A.] Webb, W. T. York and Misses Fannie Haskins, Julia Fielder, Nannie [Matney] and Alta Naylor. Mrs. L. P. Hubbs was the first president, and Mrs. W. I. Vawter the second. For a number of years this club remained Medford's one and only civic club besides the Civic Club, and in 1907 changed its name to the Greater Medford Club.
September 25, 1903, the Medford Library Association was organized, and a library started in Haskins' Drug Store, with Leon Haskins as librarian. The directors were W. S. Crowell, Dr. E. B. Pickel and F. E. Payne, and in order to pay expenses a membership fee of $2 was charged and a monthly assessment of 25¢ per month collected.
In May, 1908, the Greater Medford Club was instrumental in starting a free reading room and library, and the books from the library in Haskins' store were donated. This new library was in the city hall, and the first librarian was Mrs. H. C. Stoddard. It is due to the efforts of this club that the present library was built. This club also had the city park laid out, planted and walks graveled. The [Alba Park] fountain was also bought by the Greater Medford Club and installed in September 1905. [In 1933 it was replaced by today's marble fountain.] This club sponsored the first clean-up day and held the first rose shows.
The Wednesday Study Club organized first as the Stoddard Reading Club March 2, 1908, with Mrs. W. I. Vawter being its first president.
The first opera house was the Angle Opera House above the Angle and Plymale store on Main Street, between B and C [between Bartlett and Central, site of Vogel Plaza]. This was one of the first brick buildings erected in Medford and was built during the late eighties. [The first brick building was on the Nash Hotel corner, begun in February 1884.]
The Wilson Opera [House] was built soon afterwards on the corner where the Jackson Hotel now stands [southwest corner of Eighth and Central], and many of the best road shows played to crowded houses in this frame building.
Later it was known as the Davis Opera House, the Medford and the Hazelrigg.
Chairs were used and removed for dances, bazaars, etc. It was a real social center for many years, and all regretted its passing when it burned. The Page Theater, built by the bridge [now a parking lot on the south side of Main Street, just west of Bear Creek], was opened by Maude Adams [as Peter Pan]. That, too, burned [on December 30, 1923] and was never rebuilt. [The Roxy, later renamed the Esquire, was rebuilt on the site in 1932.]
GardensEven in those very earliest days, the people of Medford were interested in planting trees, shrubs and roses. South Oakdale was the first street where trees were planted extensively. In 1893, Mrs. D. T. Lawton and Mrs. G. H. Haskins each had 75 varieties of ever-blooming roses, and by 1895, the gardens of Mrs. N. S. Bennett, Mrs. I. A. Webb and Mrs. A. M. Woodford were famous for their beautiful roses and other flowers. June 9, 1896 was flower mission day, when 108 large bouquets were given to passengers on the Southern Pacific Railroad and to sick persons.
L. B. Warner came to Medford the first of 1894 and was the first to sell shrubs and trees [the first to have a nursery store in Medford, perhaps], being a constant advertiser in the Medford Mail. N. S. Bennett came to the valley, too, in the early days.
J. S. Howard's two daughters in 1884 had the first and truly unique flower garden, back of the store, for they built a wall of cordwood all around it to keep pigs and cows out of it. [They may have been the first, but Howard didn't move his family to Medford until his house on North Central was completed in April of 1884.]
[Frank] Sutter had a greenhouse on North [Central] Street in 1893. To Mrs. Reddy much credit is due later for interesting the people of Medford in planting trees and shrubs and roses.
The Garden Club was organized in August 1926 by Jane Snedicor, who became its first president. Raymond Miksche was vice president, Mrs. A. J. Hedges, secretary, and Mrs. E. N. Biden, treasurer.
LodgesMany lodges were organized in those early days, the A.O.U.W. being the first, having been organized in December 1884 [application was made in April]. Talisman Lodge K. of P. was organized March 11, 1890, with thirty-one charter members. The Odd Fellows organized July 16, 1886, and the I.O.O.F. Encampment No. 30 May 17, 1892. The Masons Lodge No. 28 was organized in 1890 and the Woodmen of the World was organized in 1895 with twenty-five members.
The Maccabees organized October 27, 1893 and the Red Men April 8, 1904, with fifteen members. The Elks were organized [on September 23,] 1909. T. E. Daniels was the leading organizer and first exalted ruler. They now own a beautiful building at the [northeast] corner of North Central and Fifth streets. April 13, 1900, Reames Chapter Eastern Star was organized and named for the Hon. Thomas G. Reames, an honored pioneer in Jackson County. Mrs. Mary E. [Reeves] was elected worthy matron; W. I. Vawter, worthy patron; Mrs. Hattie Warner Gore, secretary; and Mrs. W. I. Vawter, treasurer.
StreetsWhen the town was first platted the streets running parallel with the railroad were lettered and the others numbered beginning at the north side of town. In 1908 the Greater Medford Club started a movement to have the latter changed to the names of trees, the initial letter being the same as the original name. This was done and hence Bartlett, Fir, Holly, Laurel, etc.
Harry Wortman Sr. was on the council and he asked that Seventh Street be called Main Street and South J Street be called Oakdale. When he lived in Rockford, Ind., he lived on Oakdale Avenue, and his place of business was on Main Street, so he felt quite at home when the council decided that he might still live on Oakdale Avenue and do business on Main Street. The name Oakland had already been given to the southwest section of Medford by those who were building there, because of the beautiful oak trees to be found near the end of the street. [The "Oakland" story seems to stem from an error in the June 19, 1896 issue of the Medford Mail, which the paper corrected to "Oakdale" in its next issue.]
ElectricityThe question of lighting the city was rather serious for a few years but May 18, 1894, an ordinance was passed by the council, the first section of which reads "J. C. Baird and his assigns are hereby granted the right and privilege, and are hereby authorized and allowed to erect and maintain, operate and use, in, upon and over the streets, alleys, public parks and public grounds of said town of Medford, poles and wires used in connection with or as a part of electric lights and power works of said J. C. Baird and his assigns for the purpose of conducting electricity over said wires." In April 1900 the city purchased the light plant from [R.] A. Proudfoot for $8400, and for a number of years the city operated its own electric plant south of Main Street on the West Bank of Bear Creek.
In 1903 the Condor Water and Power Company dam was built at Gold Ray, and the city entered into an agreement with that company to furnish electricity for the city. In 1912 through a merger of numerous smaller companies the California Oregon Power Company was incorporated and the city entered into a new contract with said company which is still in effect.
Dr. Roland Pryce was the first physician to open an office in Medford. [Pryce began construction of an office in Phoenix in December 1883; it isn't known that he practiced in Medford before Dr. Geary, who built an office in Medford in February 1884. Geary was soon followed that year by Dr. B. F. Adkins, then Dr. W. F. Kremer.] Doctors E. P. Geary and Danielson came soon afterwards and Dr. Pickel in 1888. Dr. Odgers, father of Mrs. Leon Haskins, was the second dentist, Dr. O. F. Demorest being the first. [Dr. A. D. Gleaves was Medford's first dentist, practicing for a couple of months in late 1886. Gleaves later practiced in Tacoma, then Redding.]
Lewis Doren and Ida Caldwell were married July 31, 1884, and this was the first wedding in Medford. [The Oregon Sentinel records the date as August 3.] One of the Crystal children has the honor of being the first child born in Medford. [Raymond Crystal probably correctly claimed to be the first boy born in Medford, but Medford's first birth was a daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. George Wilson in late December, 1883.]
RacingMedford had for a number of years joined with Central Point in both fairs and horse racing, but in 1897 the Southern Oregon Fair Association was incorporated. A. S. Bliton, J. A. Whitman, I. L. Hamilton, and [W. J.] Lawton were named as members of the corporation. Land was purchased in the north part of town, buildings erected and a racetrack built, and that fall a fair was held in Medford for the first time.
Racing was a favorite spot in those days, and there were many thoroughbred horses owned in the valley. D. T. and West Lawton have always remained true admirers of thoroughbred horses. But gone are the hitching posts which were once conspicuous and necessary along our business streets and now the council turns to parking ordinances and we have the county fairgrounds south of the city [the Southgate Fred Meyer/Armory area] while the fairgrounds in the north end are but a memory.
CommerceMarch 14, 1895 the leading businessmen of the town met and organized a Board of Trade. Captain W. S. Crowell was elected president, H. Klippel vice president, J. A. Whitman secretary; and J. E. [Enyart] treasurer. This was the forerunner of the Medford Commercial Club, which was organized in the summer of 1902 with C. I. Hutchison as first president. The rooms were over Hutchison and Lumsden's store, where H. Worthington presided as secretary. The present exhibit building by the railroad [site of the former First National Bank building at One East Main, currently Mountain Christian Fellowship] was built in 1905 and formally opened May 13, 1905, the Commercial Club moving there soon afterwards. [The building was built by real estate agent John Olwell; the Commercial Club bought it from him in 1911.] In 1918, the name was changed to "The Medford Chamber of Commerce."
It was in July 1908 that Medford first began receiving daily weather reports. The first rural mail delivery to be made from this office started July 17, 1903. The post office has been moved from Front Street to Main, then to South Central, afterwards to North Central, and finally to the Federal Building on Sixth Street between Holly and Ivy streets. M. Purdin was postmaster following J. S. Howard and was the one who moved the office to South Central.
NewspapersThe Medford Mail Tribune is Medford's oldest newspaper, having been started February 20, 1885, when [Michael Angelo] McGinnis started the Medford Monitor. The next year Ira A. Phelps bought the paper, changing its name to The Medford Advertiser. He sold it to [Thomas] Harlan, who changed the name to [The Medford Mail. The name was changed to] The Southern Oregon Mail [with its April 22, 1892 issue, and it was sold] to F. G. [Kertson], January 10, 1893. A. S. Bliton bought the paper [from Kertson] and shortened the name to Medford Mail [on February 10, 1893], and in April of the same year W. T. York joined Bliton as a partner. This partnership was dissolved and Bliton remained the sole owner, editor and publisher until 1895 when Batterson joined him as a partner for a year and a half.
The paper gradually grew in size and quality, always to the present day being a strong booster for the new community, and in 1909 became a daily paper while the weekly was still an important issue, which enjoyed a large circulation.
George Putnam came to Medford in 1905 and began publishing The Tribune. October 1909 A. S. Bliton sold the Medford Mail to Putnam, who consolidated it with The Tribune [the two newspapers had been comanaged for a year], calling it The Medford Mail Tribune, continuing it as a daily, with a weekly edition besides for a few years.
In 1910, S. Sumpter Smith and L. C. Branson started a morning paper, The Medford Sun. Branson after a few months sold his interest to Smith, who on January 1, 1911 sold an interest in the paper to Bob Ruhl. In 1913 a combination was effected with The Medford Mail Tribune, and until 1919 The Sun was published every morning except Monday and The Medford Mail Tribune every evening except Sunday.
In 1919 George Putnam sold his interest to S. Sumpter Smith, manager, and Robert Ruhl, editor. January 1, 1926 the Sun was discontinued and The Medford Mail Tribune appeared Sunday mornings, as well as every evening except Sunday.
In July 1931, S. Sumpter Smith sold most of his interest to the Southern Oregon Publishing Company, Robert Ruhl remaining as editor and E. L. Knapp, manager. The first daily was issued May 24, 1908, with comic supplement.
W. E. Phipps started a weekly, The Clarion, in 1921 and sold it to Lee Tuttle and W. J. Young in 1924 who continued to publish it as a weekly until in 1926 Young sold his interest to Carl Swigart, and the name of the paper was changed to The Daily News, and it has appeared as a morning paper ever since L. A. Banks bought the paper in 1928, and he is still editor and owner.
The Pacific Record Herald is the second oldest paper published in Medford. In July 1888, E. J. [Kaiser] started it as The Valley Record and continued to publish it as a weekly until August 1919, when he sold it to Earl Fehl, who changed the name to The Pacific Record Herald. It is still being published as a weekly.
BanksThe Medford Bank, now the Medford National, was opened for business January 20, 1899 in a new building on the [northwest] corner of North Bartlett and Main streets where the Bootery is now [at 237 East Main]. J. H. Stewart was president, H. E. Ankeny vice president, and J. E. Enyart cashier. Arthur Weeks of San Francisco designed the building, and the woodwork was furnished by the Weeks Brothers Planing Mill at Phoenix. The old vault still remains intact at the rear of the Bootery. Dr. Keene and Dr. R. T. Burnett, now of Eugene, occupied the front offices upstairs in this new building. In 1909 the bank moved to its present building at Central and Main streets [135 East Main]. In March 1906 it became the Medford National Bank under the same officers. Now W. H. Gore is president, J. A. Perry vice president and John Orth is cashier.
April 14, 1905, the First National Bank was incorporated with $25,000 capital and W. S. Crowell, president; F. K. Deuel, vice president; and M. L. Alford, cashier. Directors: F. K. Deuel, W. S. Crowell, Charles Strang, E. V. Carter and George Dunn. The Howard Building, which stood where the First National is located [at 118 East Main], was bought for $7500, and in  the present building replaced the old one. Now E. B. Harder is president, Charles English vice president and Oris Crawford cashier. The Jackson County Bank was organized in 1888 by W. I. Vawter, who remained its president until his death in 1918. [This bank closed its doors in 1933.]
The Farmers and Fruitgrowers Bank was organized in 1909 in its present location [at 204 West Main], corner of West Main and Grape streets. President Delroy Getchell, R. F. Antle cashier, Lee Jacobs assistant cashier. Delroy Getchell still is president, C. E. Gates vice president, and Fred E. Wahl cashier.
RailroadsTo the Southern Pacific Medford owes its beginning and much of its development. Few people realize the vicissitudes which attend[ed] the building of this railroad, and its early history is very interesting. In the day, the man who started the first stage line from St. Joseph, Missouri, across the plains and who organized the Pony Express, commenced the construction of the Oregon and California Railroad from Portland south to the California line. About the same time, the California and Oregon Railroad commenced building northward through the southern state. One road stopped at Roseburg and the other at Redding, and for a number of years the old Concord coach, drawn by six horses, connected the two terminals of these roads. In 1881 work was commenced again on the Oregon and California road, and by the spring of 1884 [it] had reached Phoenix. Henry Villard, who had built the Northern Pacific and was backing the Oregon and California, lost his fortune in Wall Street, and another period of inaction followed.
Finally the Southern Pacific acquired title to the Oregon road under a ninety-nine-year lease and began the extension of the California end of the road, completing it December 17, 1887, and the dream of Ben Holladay became a reality; from Maine to Florida and from Florida to Portland on the Columbia River stretched the bands of steel. Then it was that Dan Cawley drove the last coach of the overland stage line across the Siskiyous.
In 1891 the Honeyman and DeHart Company of Portland built a railroad between Medford and Jacksonville. January 1893, this road was sold to C. H. Leadbetter and Son of Portland, who on January 20th leased it to W. S. Barnum. It was known then as the Jacksonville shortline, and for several years Barnum was himself the engineer and was assisted in running the one mixed train by his sons, William, who was then fifteen, and John, who was two years younger. The train stopped at a point just outside of Medford for fuel both going and coming, and also often found it necessary to stop while the youthful conductor drove cattle off the tracks.
Two years later Barnum's lease expired and was not renewed because he wished to engage in other business. The Medford-Jacksonville road continued to operate under different managers until March 16, 1900, [when] W. S. Barnum bought this road, which was then known as the Rogue River Valley Railroad for $12,000, and for a number of years it had the distinction of being the only railroad in the United States whose owner, crew and officers were all members of the same family.
It has always been expected that Medford's third railroad would connect with this Jacksonville road, and as far back as 1893, we find that Leadbetter planned to extend the road he had shortly before acquired. But it was not until 1904 that a railroad survey was made in the present Butte Falls district, and J. D. Olwell, W. F. [Entrop] and Emanuel King incorporated as The Butte Falls Sugar Pine Company [and] bought two thousand acres of timber.
December 15 of the same year The Medford and Crater Lake Railroad Company was formed by seven prominent men and officers elected as follows: A. A. Davis, president; B. F. Adkins, vice president; Dr. J. M. Keene, secretary; W. I. Vawter, treasurer; R. H. Whitehead, manager. The other two members of the company were B. H. Harris and W. F. [Entrop].
Inside of four months Medford citizens had subscribed $25,000, and contracts were let for building a railroad from Medford to Butte Falls through Eagle Point. The Fee Brothers of Pennsylvania became interested, and work progressed so that on June 27, 1907 the first train left Medford over the new road and Eagle Point declared it a holiday.
The name had been changed to t he Pacific and Eastern, and everyone believed that it would be but a question of a few years before, as the name implied, the Pacific and East would be connected by another transcontinental, for it was known that the Great Northern was interested. Then came a Wall Street crash and by the latter part of 1907, the P&E was in the hands of a receiver.
It was bought and sold several times, until 1924 when Mr. Olds sold all but the extreme southern end to the Owen-Oregon Lumber Company, and it became a logging road connecting the mill in Medford with the company's vast holdings beyond Butte Falls, though it is still a standard gauge road.
Crater LakeMedford has always claimed Crater Lake and has been interested in its development. It is interesting to note that in February 1893, the Southern Pacific entered into an agreement with F. T. Fradenburgh, who had a livery stable in Central Point, by which he was to take passengers to Crater Lake at eight dollars per head. The railroad guaranteed Fradenburgh at least one thousand passengers during the season.
November 5, 1896, one thousand fish were delivered in Medford and taken directly to Crater Lake, the first attempt to supply the lake with trout. Many thousands have since been taken to the lake over an ever-increasingly smoother and quicker route, as means of transportation changed, and the road became the excellent highway it is today. August 17, 1896, the Mazamas made their first trip to Crater Lake.
In 1926 the county seat, by vote of the people, was changed from Jacksonville to Medford, and since then the cement building on the [northwest] corner of Fifth and Central has been used as a courthouse. [The vote was contested, and the final move didn't take place till July 1, 1927.] This will become the city hall when the new courthouse on West Main Street is completed [in 1932].
December 26, 1927 the broadcasting station KMED was established in the Sparta Building [on the northeast corner of Main and Central] by W. J. Virgin, who as early as 1922 had opened a radio station KFAY at the fairgrounds and later moved it to his store. Medford was among the first cities on the coast to establish an airport, and much credit is due Seely Hall for his untiring efforts in securing the first airport at the fairgrounds and later one which was completed in 1929 north of the city. He was the first superintendent in charge, and the first airmail flight was made from that field October 2, 1929. [Airmail service had already been established in Medford by then, using the fairgrounds airport as its base.]
Medford has been more than fortunate in numbering among her citizens artists of national reputation. Edison Marshall is the one great writer, but along musical lines there should be mentioned Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Andrews; their daughter, Caroline; Mr. and Mrs. George Andrews; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hazelrigg; Mr. and Mrs. Ed Gore; Mr. James Stevens; Mr. William Isaacs; Miss Flora Gray; Misses Irene and Grace Brown; Art Burgess and G. A. Gregory. These artists have sponsored many productions and arranged programs of unusual merit, seldom found in cities the size of Medford.
Medford has had many mayors since J. S. Howard's year of service in that capacity back in 1886. He was followed by Dr. E. P. Geary in 1887; William Crawford in 1888; M. Purdin, 1889; G. W. Howard, 1890-91; J. A. [Whiteside], 1892; W. I. Vawter, 1893; G. H. Haskins, 1894-97; H. L. Gilkey, 1898-99; J. J. Howser, 1900-1; Judge W. S. Crowell, 1902-3; resigned October 1903 and Wilson finished the year. Dr. E. [B.] Pickel, 1904-5; W. H. Bradshaw, 1906; resigned after four months, J. S. Howard finished the term. Dr. J. F. Reddy, 1907-8; W. H. Canon, 1909-12; W. W. Eifert, 1913, but he died in September and Summerville acted as mayor until M. Purdin was elected. M. Purdin, 1914; V. Emerick, 1915-16; C. E. Gates, 1917-22; E. C. Gaddis, 1923-26; O. O. Alenderfer, 1927-8; A. W. Pipes, 1929-30; E. M. Wilson, 1931-32.
Medford has always been known for its progressiveness and the loyal spirit of its citizens. Those who are obliged to leave usually come back home and are boastful of the fact that they once lived here.
So here's to those who boost our town--for it is Medford-grown and still growing.
*Papers donated by E. E. Gore to the Southern Oregon Historical Society are apparently some of the notes from which Jane Snedicor prepared the history of Medford transcribed here. One of the pages is the history of the Medford Christian Science Church, verbatim as printed in 1932, with the source's name on it.
The notes are available at the SOHS Research Library, MS156.
A few of the pages are skeletal notes from interviews with oldtimers (including Charles Strang, T. E. Daniels and "Mrs. Barnum"), but most of the papers are notes taken from the Medford Mail and the Medford Mail Tribune. Snedicor apparently had available no sources printed before 1892--when the surviving run of the Medford Mail begins--other than vol. 1, no. 1 of the Medford Monitor.
Last revised August 31, 2015
For more complete names of persons identified by initials, see the Index.