Howard, April 21, 1832-November 13, 1919, wasn't a founder of Medford, though his efforts were crucial in turning the townsite into a town. But compare the account below of the founding of Medford with the version he told later.
J. S. HOWARD,
SURVEYOR & CIVIL ENGINEER,
Residence near the South end of Oregon street. January 2, 1864
Office at his residence on Oregon street.
Oregon Sentinel, March 10, 1866, page 3
THE SURVEYING PARTY LOST.--Last week, after we had gone to press, we learned that the surveying party, consisting of Messrs. Turner, Howard and others, had been lost in the mountains at the head of Rogue River and were made to wander around through the rugged canyons and fastnesses of that section for two days and a half (one reported it four days) without anything to eat worth speaking of. Towards the last they are said to have meditated making a meal out of a luckless canine they had along. How true it is we are not prepared to say. Anyhow it is a remarkable adventure for men carrying a compass to go through. The trouble seems to have been they did not have confidence in their instrument.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 8, 1870
The conflagration originated in the New State Saloon . . . in less time than it takes to tell it the whole structure was a mass of fire, which rapidly communicated with J. S. Howard's store adjoining, also a frame building. . . . J. S. Howard, building and stock of goods, $13,000; insurance, $4,500.
"Great Conflagration," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 4, 1884, page 3
Notary's commissions were granted yesterday to S. C. Benjamin, Grass Valley; Frank Snow, Lexington; X. N. Steeves, Portland; J. S. Howard, Medford.
"Occidental Jottings," Capital Journal, Salem, December 1, 1888, page 4
March 14, 1885 Medford Monitor
The Medford post office was moved into its new quarters, J. S. Howard's store, the other day, and the retiring P.M. has put up at the old office the sign "Closed four years for repairs," following the example of his predecessor and successor, Mr. Howard.
"Medford Items," Ashland Tidings, November 8, 1889, page 2
The surprise attending Mayor Howard's winning the glass ball shoot on the Fourth has not yet altogether subsided. He is a bad man with a gun.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 18, 1890, page 3
J. S. HOWARD, Post Office Store. Dry Goods, Groceries, etc., 7th Street, bet. B and C. This substantial house is entitled to special notice as being the first store opened in the city. Mr. Howard was the first postmaster, and was reappointed one and one-half years ago. He was Mayor of the town for three terms, and has also been county surveyor. He deals in groceries, crockery, dry goods, underwear, embroideries, hats, caps, boots, shoes, etc. He offers superior inducements to customers in quality and price. Mr. Howard has been thirty-one years in this county, and is a native of New Hampshire.
P. W. Croake, The Rogue River Valley, "The Italy of Oregon," Glass & Prudhomme, Portland, Oregon. Undated, written March 1891.
Surveyor Howard has been at Palmer Creek surveying mining ground belonging to C. W. Kahler and Gin Lin.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 9, 1891, page 2
Postmaster Howard carried the Republican primaries here last Saturday for Hermann in hollow style. Those members of the G.O.P. who were not promptly on hand were spared the trouble of participating, as Bre'r H. had the delegates elected before they had time to even get around to see how it was done. "For ways that are dark," etc., John Chinaman not alone is peculiar.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, March 25, 1892, page 2
Postmaster Howard returned this week from his extended trip in the East. He was accompanied by a regulation grandpa hat and seems wonderfully proud of it. He visited the principal places in the East and reports an interesting and pleasant trip.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, July 15, 1892, page 3
Grandpa's hat is a common sight about the streets of Medford these days. Postmaster Howard seems to have set the fashion, and it is taking like wildfire.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, July 22, 1892, page 3
Wm. C. Boutelle, a United States postal inspector, paid Postmaster Howard an official visit Saturday. Of course he found everything in apple pie order. It was also found on investigation that J.S.'s Harrison plug was the only genuine bell-shaped grandpa hat in town.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, August 12, 1892, page 3
A federal officeholder at Medford, who makes some pretensions to being witty, was parading last evening with his Harrison hat draped with a copy of the Democratic Times, the portion towering above the crown being filled with hay, and bearing the legend "The Democratic Times and hayseeds have carried the country." Thanks, awfully; when we reflect that this same precious pretender was seen on the morning of election day posting a placard bearing the inscription, purporting to be an official document emanating from Chairman Harrity of the national Democratic committee, reading thus: "A vote for Cleveland is a vote for Harrison in Oregon; a vote for Weaver is a vote for Cleveland in Oregon," and having Mr. Harrity's forged signature attached, designed to fraudulently impress the Republicans in the People's Party fold with the necessity of going back to their former political affiliations. This deserves to rank with the fellow's other record as a politician.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 11, 1892, page 2 I assume the "federal officeholder" was J. S. Howard.
J. H. Faris and J. S. Howard of this city have lately been appointed notaries public by Gov. Pennoyer.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 23, 1892, page 2
Postmaster Howard--"When Charley was down at Grants Pass last week doing a job of surveying he found a corner stake that I set twenty-five years ago, and sticking in the ground near the stake he found one of my steel chain pins which I lost at the time I first surveyed the land. Yes, I know the lay of every foot of land for many miles in every direction."
"Heard on the Street," Medford Mail, March 10, 1893, page 3
A few months ago an old prospector discovered nearly $5000 in the old stage road near Central Point. The excitement was intense in that section for a while, but perhaps the most excited individual was Postmaster Howard, of Medford. He thought, from the description of the place, that it was on some property he owned. So he engaged the services of a surveyor and hustled out there with blood in his eye, intending to prosecute the lucky prospector and take the gold away from him. But poor Howard was laughed at for his trouble, for when the survey was completed he found that his line came within 10 feet of the coveted spot.
J. M. Hagerty, "Rich Gold Fields," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, July 14, 1893, page 3
Postmaster Howard has just commenced the foundation for his fine two-story residence building, adjoining the Baptist parsonage on C Street. In architectural design it is promised to be second to none.
"And They Do Build," Medford Mail, August 11, 1893, page 3
But a still more practical joke was played upon a poor, dumb fowl, which originally belonged to one J. S. Howard, of Medford. The chick was happy in blissful ignorance until the wee sma' hours of nightfall placed it into the hands of some of the old comrades who had not forgotten how to forage, yet perhaps over thirty years have elapsed since the boys had to skirmish for something more than hardtack and army beans. This poor chicken was taken to camp in the old-fashioned way after the officers were supposed to be in dreamland soaring among the fancied fairies, but unluckily for the chicken fiends the rooster, which was a hen that had been setting for four months, let out an unearthly squawk, which put the whole camp in an uproar and brought instead defenders to its rescue, a lot of hungry, gleaming, glaring eyes, to gloat upon its prey, and amid cries from hungry women and children the poor old hen was torn in pieces and devoured with a relish by those who were able to obtain a piece, without salt and pepper, and one of the comrades says it was not even cooked.
"Soldiers' and Sailors' Reunion," Medford Mail, October 20, 1893, page 1
J. S. Howard, of Medford, was out surveying in our neighborhood Wednesday morning before the settlers had arisen from their cozy night's sleep. J. S. proves to be an early riser.
"Griffin Creek Gatherings," Medford Mail, October 27, 1893, page 2
Postmaster Howard has moved his surveyor's office to rooms over the post office.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, December 15, 1893, page 3
Ex-postmaster Howard in his work of taking down and placing to one side the old post office fixtures made the discovery of a curio--Medford's first post office. It is a wooden box twelve inches wide and twenty-two inches high and nine inches deep, and in it are pigeonholes in which was placed both the letters and papers coming through the mails for ALL the inhabitants of the town at that time, which was in 1884. The first registered letter which came to the office was entered upon the register book by Miss Nettie L. Howard, she who is now Mrs. B. S. Webb. This was in April, '84. J. S. Howard was the first postmaster, and it was in '85 that the town was incorporated--and in a cleanup of this week a large ugly-looking knife was unearthed, the same being the weapon with which he defended himself against an attack of Broback, one of the original townsite owners. The attack having been brought upon by Mr. Howard having posted in his store window a telegram from Salem announcing the fact that the incorporation bill had passed the legislature. Broback was opposed to incorporating and Mr. Howard favored it. Mr. Howard states that as now, for the first time in something like twenty years, he is not encumbered by any public office, he will give his attention to mineral surveying and engineering.
Medford Mail, February 21, 1895, page 5
Government surveyor J. S. Howard is engaged right now in preparing a large map of Medford. The map will be 3x5 feet in size and will cover all the several additions to the original townsite. While Mr. H. is only figuring on getting out this one map, it is probable blueprints will be taken from it, should any of our people desire one.
"News of the City," Medford Mail, December 11, 1896, page 7
MRS. J. S. HOWARD.Omitting nothing that contributes to a disclosure of the industries and advantages of Medford we make mention in this issue of the inducements offered to the public of the well-conducted store of Mrs. Howard. She carries a general line of dry goods and groceries, crockery and country produce. This house is truly a pioneer of Medford, having been established in the county some twenty-four years, and is well deserving of the reputation she has acquired for strict attention to business and liberality in all dealings. "Our Business and Professional People Briefly Mentioned," Medford Mail, May 28, 1897, page 3
It is rumored that J. S. Howard has sold his stock of goods to White & Jacobs, of Jacksonville. Your correspondent has not heard the report confirmed as yet, although stock is being taken and C. J. Howard, agent for Wells Fargo Co.'s express, has removed to C Street near the post office.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 22, 1898, page 3
Lost--On September 5, from Fred Carter's wagon, between his place in The Meadows and the Jennings place at Table Rock, the tripod to my compass. Anyone finding the same will please leave it at the express office in Medford and receive pay for their trouble. J. S. Howard.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, September 30, 1898, page 7
Chas. J. Howard, our popular express agent, will soon remove to Josephine County, having purchased the Briggs farm near Kerbyville.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, November 21, 1898, page 2
J. S. Howard, the well-known surveyor, is engaged in preparing for the survey of the big ditch to be brought out of Rogue River, for the purpose of irrigating a greater portion of the valley.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 20, 1899, page 3
J. S. Howard and his party have commenced the survey of the ditch with which Ward & Pearce expect to cover the mining districts of Sardine, Sams, Galls, Foots and Kanes creeks.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 1, 1899, page 3
Mrs. John Power of San Francisco is paying her cousin, Mrs. G. S. Howard, a visit.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 8, 1899, page 3
J. S. Howard is engaged in making a survey for the high-line water ditch on the north side of Rogue River. The survey commences at a point 200 feet above the level of the water at Gold Hill, and will be continued easterly until it taps Rogue River, which, it is estimated, it will do about the foot of what is known as the big grade on the Fort Klamath road.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, May 11, 1899, page 3
J. S. Howard, the political, social and scientific Nestor of Medford, was at the county seat Saturday.
"From the County Seat," Ashland Tidings, January 1, 1900, page 2
J. S. Howard, of Medford, the all-around engineer and political Nestor of Jackson County, came up to the county seat Monday to attend a meeting of the Jackson County Land Association. Mr. Howard has been one of the prime factors in the upbuilding of Medford, which now has a vantage ground in the great trade of the valley that will soon make it the leading town of Southern Oregon, if indeed, it may not claim that distinction now.
"Jacksonville News," Medford Mail, March 23, 1900, page 3
J. S. Howard commenced work Tuesday on a new residence, to be built on one of his vacant lots on West Sixth Street. The building will be 22x24 feet in size and one story high. It is being built very substantial throughout and will be one of the neatest and best cottages in the city. It will cost about $800 and will be for rent.
"Additional Local Items," Medford Mail, September 7, 1900, page 6
The death of Mrs. Emma Howard, wife of Geo. S. Howard, of this city, occurred at the family residence Thursday morning, of pneumonia. She has been ill for several months, and her life has been despaired of for many weeks, notwithstanding that everything medical aid could do was done for her. She leaves a husband and two little children, besides a large number of other relatives and friends to mourn her loss. The funeral services will be held at the family residence on Friday, March 29th. She was thirty-five years of age.
"Additional Local," Medford Mail, March 29, 1901, page 6
J. S. Howard is over at Kirby this week visiting his son, C. J. Howard, and family.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, July 19, 1901, page 6
Mr. and Mrs. Howard returned Thursday after a visit with their daughter, Mrs. B. S. Webb, and family at Covina, Cal.
"Society: Medford," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, April 6, 1902, page 21
J. S. Howard, after a short visit at home, has resumed surveying for Dr. Ray, in the vicinity of Gold Hill.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 7, 1902, page 5
J. S. Howard, the veteran civil engineer, has returned to the vicinity of Gold Hill, where he is engaged in surveying for Dr. Ray and others.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 21, 1902, page 5
Chas. J. Howard, a prominent citizen of Josephine County, and his family are visiting in Medford. They formerly resided here.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, September 18, 1902, page 1
Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Howard during the week received a visit from Geo. Lyle of Milton, Iowa, a nephew of the latter, and his wife. They are on a pleasure trip of the coast.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 16, 1902, page 2
Surveyor J. S. Howard returned Monday evening to his work as engineer and superintendent of construction at the Ray works, near Tolo. He reports that on Saturday last an electric light plant was installed and is operating finely. There are twelve arc lights used, and these are scattered about the works, making the place as light as day, thus enabling the night shift of workmen to accomplish as good results as those working in the daytime. Gasoline torches were formerly used. The sawmill at the works has also been started. The grade stakes have been driven for a wagon road directly across the hills from the works to Mr. Ray's Braden mine. Mr. Howard has been able to establish a grade, the steepest part of which is only one foot of a rise in eleven. As soon as the fall rains come grading work will commence.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, October 17, 1902, page 7
JAMES SULLIVAN HOWARD. To his occupations of surveying and engineering James Sullivan Howard has brought as fine a mind, as practical and thorough an equipment, and as inspiring an enthusiasm as any man similarly employed on the Pacific Coast. It is reasonable to suppose that this honored citizen of Medford will surrender to others the carrying out of such tasks as has been allotted to his talent before many years have passed, and when that time comes he may regard with greatest satisfaction his life work, for no class of men have made more vigorous strokes toward the present than these same engineers, whose chain and compass and mathematical equations have brought order out of chaos, and made tracks through the dense timberlands. Few engineering projects of an important nature in the southern part of the state but have been under his direct supervision, and the name of Mr. Howard is therefore intimately associated with the potent developing forces of the state.
As the name indicates and history records, the Howards are first heard of in England, and those bearing the name have attained to distinction in affairs of church and state in the mother country, becoming prominent also in literary, professional and commercial life, the tendency being towards brilliancy and versatility. At least four generations of the family have been identified with Hillsboro County, N.H., where settled the paternal great-grandfather of James Sullivan Howard upon coming from England long before the Revolutionary War. His son, Samuel, spent his life at Temple, Hillsboro County, served as selectman for many years, and enlisted from there for service in the War of Independence. He reared a large family of children, among whom was Capt. Sullivan Howard, the father of James Sullivan Howard, born in New Hampshire in 1806. Captain Howard gained his rank as head of the state militia at Mason, Hillsboro County, in which locality he was prominent as a politician and businessman. He married Elizabeth B. Little, born in Hollis, N.H., in 1808, and daughter of Abner B. Little, a native farmer of the vicinity of Hollis. Captain Howard came to Kewanee, Ill., in 1836, accompanied by his father-in-law, Abner Little, the latter of whom died in Kewanee at the advanced age of ninety-two. Captain Howard settled on a farm in what was then a wilderness, and in time became one of the founders of Kewanee, his enterprise and high-minded zeal forcibly impressing themselves upon the growth of the community. From the humble capacity of carpenter and expert mechanic he advanced to the position of vice-president of the First National Bank of Kewanee, also holding many important political offices in the county. He was a member of the Board of Trade of Chicago, Ill., and was everywhere recognized as a solid and substantial businessman. His death occurred in 1887, his wife surviving him until 1892. There were three sons and four daughters in the family, of whom one daughter is deceased. The others are: Horace, a resident of Chicago; Henry, a farmer in Kansas; Mary E., the wife of James Gridley, a hardware merchant of Victor, Iowa; Harriett E., the widow of Zac Squires of Chicago, and now residing in Los Angeles, Cal.; Martha C., now Mrs. Cyrus Wells of Minneapolis, Minn., a literary and business woman possessing remarkable executive ability, and honored as one of the lady commissioners of the St. Louis Exposition in 1904; and Nancy, deceased.
After graduating from the high school of Kewanee, Ill., James Sullivan Howard, who was born in Hillsboro County, N.H., April 21, 1832, attended an academy on the corner of Clark and Washington streets, Chicago, and at the age of twenty-one he embarked upon an independent career as a furniture dealer in Kewanee. December 21, 1855, he married Margaret E. Snuggs, born in England March 7, 1831, a daughter of Samuel Snuggs, also a native of England. Mr. Snuggs brought his family to American in 1850, locating in Stark County, Ill., where he farmed until his death, at the age of sixty. In 1859 Mr. Howard started with his wife and three children for Pike's Peak, Colo., but on the way changed his mind, and came to Oregon instead. His equipment consisted of ox teams and wagons, and his route lay via the Platte River, Salt Lake and the Humboldt to Jacksonville, at which town he arrived with fifty cents in his pocket. About this time the rains began to fall, and the prospect was a dismal one, especially after the fifty cents had been spent for supper. Fortunately, the cattle had survived the journey, and were in fairly good condition, thus insuring food for some time to come. Mr. Howard found work as a carpenter, but for some time had little opportunity to use the surveying instruments upon which hung his success of the future, and which already constituted one of his prized possessions. As the country began to settle chances came his way, and in time he devoted his entire energy to surveying and engineering, his star of success ascending continually and with splendid results. Such important commissions as the preliminary survey of the Southern Pacific Railway, from the Rogue to the Klamath rivers, has been accomplished by him, as well as surveying the Sterling mining ditch from Little Applegate to the Sterling Mine, a distance of twenty-four miles, and the Oregon Mountain Road, from Waldo, Ore., to Crescent City, Cal. For practically the entire time since 1872 he has been a member of the United States Mineral Survey. He also served for many years as special agent for examining surveys of the United States Land Office, operating in Oregon and Arizona, but this position he resigned in 1898 to take charge of the survey of the Gold Hill high line ditch in Jackson County. This ditch, one hundred and forty-five miles long, is now in process of construction. Mr. Howard was the engineer of the Condor Dam on the Rogue River, in Jackson County, which was finished at a cost of $100,000. This dam fulfills many important expectations, and will be used for generating electric power for lighting, railroad, mining, and manufacturing purposes. Mr. Howard has surveyed nearly all the mining claims in southern Oregon. No man in the country has more modern appliances for carrying on his work, and among these is a solar compass which has tested the ingenuity of one of the foremost manufacturers in the world. He does not use a needle, as do most surveyors.
Notwithstanding his great and absorbing undertakings as an engineer, Mr. Howard has gained a reputation also as a merchant, having established a store in Jacksonville in 1878. He was one of the first residents of Medford, and long before its present prosperity had been thought of he brought the first load of lumber to the townsite and built one of the first structures. He was ably assisted in the work of upbuilding the embryo hamlet by his sons, who ran a general store, while their father served as the president of the first board of the town, and took an active interest in establishing municipal order. He was the first postmaster, serving seven years, and for ten years he had charge of the Wells-Fargo express office. From time to time he has owned large tracts of farming and mining lands, and is an officer in the Jackson County Land Association, incorporated, and general agent of the company at this town. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, having joined Lodge No. 10, at Jacksonville, in 1872, eventually becoming a member of the Blue Lodge, No. 103, of Medford. His trained and accurate mind has foreseen advantages for his adopted community, and his zeal and public-spirited enterprise have inspired others to assist in carrying out these same designs. He has the faculty of disseminating enthusiasm, and inspiring others to do their best. A student always, he keeps abreast of the times, not only as regards engineering, but in connection with affairs which engage the attention of bright minds in many departments of activity. Mr. Howard has four living children and eleven grandchildren to perpetuate his name and large life purpose. Two of his children are deceased, Horace and Eliza, the youngest children. Charles J., the oldest son, a farmer and surveyor of Kerby, Ore., was state representative from Josephine County in 1880, and has also been county surveyor of Jackson County; George S., a printer by trade, is a resident of Medford; Nettie L. is the wife of B. S. Webb of Covina, Cal., and Martha C. is the wife of James Roberts of Medford, Ore. Mr. Howard is a Republican in politics, and has been county surveyor for six terms.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904, page 609
J. S. Howard is the subject of an interesting sketch in the mining columns of the Portland Telegram, of Friday. It is prefaced as follows: "Interested in the development of the mines of Jackson and Josephine counties for 44 years is the experience of J. S. Howard, a pioneer of that section. He is now chief engineer of the Gold Hill High Line Ditch Company, one of the greatest undertakings in Oregon. Mr. Howard is from Illinois and came to Jacksonville 44 years ago, and for the last half of that time has made Medford his home. He is enthusiastic over the outlook of Southern Oregon in mining, both in placer and quartz, and states that the country has not been prospected."
"Mining Notes," Ashland Tidings, April 28, 1904, page 2
GLADDENED HIS HEART.
Mr. and Mrs. James Howard and children of Kerby, Or., visited in Medford yesterday with Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Howard. The children of Mr. and Mrs. James Howard are great-grandchildren of Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Howard of this city, and J. S. was just a little prouder of those children than any parent ever was of their offspring, and he was like a schoolboy in dancing attendance to them during their brief visit here.
Medford Mail, August 7, 1908, page 2
SOME INTERESTING FACTS IN THE HISTORY OF MEDFORD.
The claim is made for Medford that it has the largest post office receipts of any town in the United States that is without a free delivery service. The receipts for the year 1908 were $14,597.65. The receipts for 1907 were $10,844.08, which gives a gain of $3,753.57 for the last year, a proof that Medford is growing rapidly. The regulations of the Post Office Department require that a post office shall have receipts exceeding $10,000 a year before a free delivery service is granted. Application was made by Postmaster Woodford some months ago for free delivery service for Medford, but the request was turned down for the time being by the Postmaster-General, he alleging that the government was without funds to meet any added expense in the postal service. It is expected that the free delivery will be granted with the beginning of the April quarter for this year.
The Medford post office is now twenty-five years old, having been established in the spring of 1884. The first mail was kept in a cigar box, then as the business grew a soap box was installed, partitioned to have nine compartments. Then later a small dry goods box with sections was added to the equipment. And Medford, then as now, was a growing town and soon this equipment would not suffice and a case, made of 1x6 lumber and having thirty sections, was put up and soon this was replaced with a full complement of call and lock boxes. All this equipment of the pioneer post office for Medford is now in the office of J. S. Howard, the veteran surveyor, in the Adkins block, and is among the most treasured relics that Mr. Howard has of early days in Rogue River Valley.
Mr. Howard was the first postmaster for Medford and held the office for eight years, and then in after years he served six years more. Mr. Howard was one of the pioneers of Jacksonville and laid off the townsite for that town. At the time the Oregon & California Railroad, now a part of the Southern Pacific system, was headed for Rogue River Valley from Portland, Mr. Howard had a large general merchandise store in Jacksonville, which his wife and sons conducted while he was out on surveying trips. In the big fire that destroyed most of the business section of Jacksonville in 1883 [the fire began at 2 a.m. on January 1, 1884] Mr. Howard lost his store and building and was left almost penniless [other than his home, considerable real estate and small fire insurance settlement]. The railroad having reached Grants Pass in the fall of 1883, the grading was pushed so that trains were run into Medford early the following spring. During the fall and just preceding the building of the railroad Mr. Howard's son, Charles J. Howard, now residing near Kerby, surveyed the townsites for Grants Pass, Gold Hill, Central Point and Medford.
In January 1884, Mr. Howard came to Medford and erected the first building on the townsite. [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.] It still stands in the original location, which is just south of the Nash Hotel on Front Street, and is now occupied by the Distillery saloon. When first erected the building was 16x24 feet, one story, it being enlarged later on by Mr. Howard to its present size. So soon as the building was enclosed and the floor laid Mr. Howard's friends, residing in the nearby settlements, decided to dedicate with an impromptu dance the first building in the embryo town of Medford, then merely surveyor's stakes set on a broad expanse of sandy bottom that gently sloped toward Bear Creek and was covered with a scattering growth of oak and pine interspersed with thickets of chaparral and manzanita. A fiddler was brought from Big Sticky and a jolly time was had until well along toward morning. The affair had been gotten up hurriedly, and no preparation made for a supper, so Mr. Howard at the midnight hour served a lunch of sardines and crackers, he not being able to give his guests an elaborate supper such as Mrs. Howard would have served, for he was batching, the family yet residing in Jacksonville.
Mr. Howard so soon as he had his building completed, for he was the carpenter, put in a stock of goods. This was the first store in Medford, and though a humble beginning it was a worthy forerunner of the splendid mercantile establishments that are now making Medford such an important trade center for Southern Oregon. With the completion of the building, the rear portion of which was arranged for residence purposes, Mr. Howard moved his family from Jacksonville to Medford, so that to Mrs. Howard belongs the honor of founding the first home in the town. [William Angle and H. C. Mulvany completed homes in Medford in January 1884; Howard's family joined him in Medford sometime in March. Medford's first birth was a daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. George Wilson on December 28, 1883.]
Mr. Howard, in addition to being the first postmaster, the first merchant and the first civil engineer in Medford, was the first express agent, he opening an office for Wells Fargo Company at the time the trains began to run to the town. [It was A. L. Johnson who opened the Wells Fargo agency in March 1884; Howard succeeded him in May.] He was also the first notary public and made out papers and was legal advisor for the little community.
But as the original and first Medford booster is the greatest credit due to J. S. Howard, for since the time that he first saw the promising possibilities for the future of the town he has not let pass a single opportunity to secure an advantage that would aid in the upbuilding of the place. It was due very largely to Mr. Howard's public spirit that Medford got the land for its park, a block for the west side school [Washington School], formerly the high school, and that all the first churches were given building lots. The land for the townsite was owned by C. C. Beekman of Jacksonville, and I. J. Phipps and C. W. Broback [and Conrad Mingus,] who owned farms near where the town now is. They each gave half of their holdings of the townsite to the Oregon & California Railroad Company in consideration of the company making Medford a station, Jacksonville having refused to put up a bonus to secure the railroad. [Click here for material on the bonus myth.] Mr. Howard was appointed agent by the railroad company to dispose of its lands, and he got the company to donate to the town the block on which the park is now located. The adjoining park block, now occupied by the city water tank, was a partial gift from Mr. Beekman, he selling it to the town at half-price, $250. Mr. Beekman gave the half-block now occupied by the Presbyterian Church and manse. The grounds for the Episcopal, the M.E. Church, and the M.E. South Church were given by the railroad company.
That Medford might have been Central Point and Central Point been Medford so far as their present relative sizes [are concerned] is due to the enterprise of Mr. Howard, for he led in the effort that secured for Medford the terminus of the railroad that was built to connect Jacksonville with the Oregon & California road. [No other source substantiates this claim.] The building of this road gave Medford its first big boost. The proposed boulevard to the famous Crater Lake, now such an important project with the Medford boosters, was first brought to the attention of the world by the survey for a wagon road from Jacksonville to Fort Klamath by way of Crater Lake, made by Mr. Howard in 1868 for Jackson County. Mr. Howard made the preliminary survey over the Siskiyou Mountains and through Rogue River Valley for the railroad that now passes through this valley, and the route that he selected through the gorges and wilds of the mountains is the one on which the railroad was built in after years. In about all the public undertakings that have been factors in the development of Rogue River Valley and of the upbuilding and prosperity of Medford Mr. Howard has taken an active part with his personal efforts and with his money. He now has a comfortable home in the town he helped build, and with the companionship of the wife of his youth he is enjoying a well-earned rest, though not in idleness for he, as a pastime, does engineering work from time to time, as work is forced upon him by persons knowing his ability and integrity.
Rogue River Fruit Grower, January 1909
IN SHADE OF FIFTY YEARS
J. S. Howard Admires Tree He Planted in Early Days
Forty-eight years ago, while Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Howard were residents of Jacksonville, Mrs. Howard planted some apple seeds in the lot upon which their residence stood. Several of these seeds came up, and one grew thriftily and was later grafted. The tree waxed and grew strong and in time produced bounteous crops of delicious fruit.
Mr. Howard was in Jacksonville a few days ago, and curiosity led him to revisit his old home and see what changes had been made by the lapse of years. Many changes were apparent. Everything had grown older, including the apple tree, which had grown until the shade of its branches, loaded with fruit as of yore, covered a large portion of the lot, and the sturdy trunk which upheld the spreading top measured 51 inches in circumference.
The changes that old tree has witnessed are many. It has seen Jacksonville grow from a straggling mining town into a bustling, active city, and then gradually fall back to the state of a quiet, staid county seat with only the memory of its former greatness and a few of its old citizens left to recall the glories of former days. It has witnessed the passing of many of the old pioneers, the rising of a new generation, the influx of thousands of new people and a complete change from the customs and pursuits of the early days to those of the present.
Medford Mail, September 24, 1909, page 6
AN ECHO OF VILLAGE DAYS.In another column that stalwart pioneer, J. S. Howard, attacks the Mail Tribune, Councilman Merrick, the city administration and the proposed charter amendments. This paper is only glad to publish the communication, as it shows more effectively than could be otherwise shown upon what flimsy and shallow arguments and village prejudice is based the opposition to Mayor Canon's administration.
The Mail Tribune has the highest regard and kindliest feelings for Mr. Howard, who has played an important role in Medford and Jackson County since he first surveyed the townsite on a brush-covered plain. His final administration as mayor brought to a close the village era. The water tower in the park still stands as a monument to the days when the water problem was supposed to be settled forever by bringing the water of Bear Creek through an open ditch to it, and interest is still being paid on the bond issues necessitated by water and electric light plant fiascoes of that era, and the present council's water record compares very favorably with Mr. Howard's own.
It is not so long ago when Mr. Howard's hat was Medford's post office. Then a soap box replaced the hat as the new town grew. It has continued to grow ever since and at no time faster than at present. Consequently it has outgrown its present charter, which must be altered to fit the conditions, as it has outgrown the soap box post office, and the public business even of the last Howard administration cannot be compared in volume with that of today, and it is a decided economy to pay men for looking after the public business when so much money is being spent--for it is asking too much for officials to devote the necessary time and energy without compensation.
Mr. Howard has a decided grouch on. He is "agin the government," but he usually is. His vigor and energy are surprising and a tribute not only to the man himself but to our wonderful climate as well, and it is too bad his abilities are wasted in efforts to block municipal progress. He should join the Commercial Club and become a booster. He is mad because Central Avenue was not paved, yet he did more to block the pavement than anyone else, and at the same time opposes councilmen who are trying to get it
paved at a lower figure.
The wild assertions, they can scarcely be called arguments, made against the charter amendments by Mr. Howard are answered by Mayor Canon. It can be added that amendment No. 3 enables the city to secure interest on its deposits, something it has been hitherto unable to do, the bank that furnished the treasurer's bond receiving the
deposits and keeping the interest. The amendment prevents just what is now possible, "the power of a favorite bank to manipulate funds."
In his argument against amendment No. 4 Mr. Howard raises a man of straw and proceeds to demolish it. The working man's home is not in danger, nor is the council given greater power than it already possesses in forcing improvements.
Mr. Howard evidently sighs for the old village days, when the town was torn with factions, and a council meeting was like a gathering of the celebrated cats of Kilkenny. But those old days are outgrown and a jangled memory of the past--one with the petty squabbles of yesterday, and his arguments are like those of Rip Van Winkle come
back to visit his native village to find it grown into a city.
As Mr. Howard says of Mr. Merrick, so say we of Mr. Howard: "Please understand we do not criticize him as a citizen, believe he is one of our best and wish we had a lot more like him, but we believe his judgment has been at fault in some matters of public policy," and, we might add, hopelessly behind the times.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 10, 1910, page 4
WANT ROAD TO CENTRAL POINT MADE SHORTERTo the Editor:
J. S. Howard Points Out Benefit of Locating Asphalt Macadam Road
In Straight Line Parallel to Southern Pacific Railroad.
WOULD SAVE HALF MILE IN DISTANCE; NO ANGLES
Cost for Right of Way Would Be Offset by Saving in Building Shorter Route.
A movement was started this morning to have the proposed asphalt macadam road to Central Point changed from its present location to parallel the railroad track. It is pointed out that this would be a straightaway continuation of Central Avenue and would be over a half mile shorter than the present road, which contains several angles. If the road was next to the railroad track it would be without a curve or an angle of any kind and would indeed be a boulevard.
J. S. Howard is fathering the movement. In outlining plans he prepared the following statement:
To the editor: The county court has contracted to expend $12,000 a mile to make an asphalt macadam road to Central Point. (Good.) Now if the county is to spend that amount, why not get the best results possible for the money? Why not extend North Central Avenue to straight through parallel with the railroad to the south end of First Street in Central Point?
The following facts are in favor of the change of the road: First, the distance by the present road from East Main Street, Medford to the south end of First Street, Central Point, is 22,300 feet or 4.22 miles. The distance from East Main and Central Avenue, Medford to the south end of First Street, Central Point, by a line parallel with the railroad is 19,500 feet or approximately 3.7 miles, a difference of nearly one-half mile. Now, in good weather there are about 500 vehicles each day passing over the road to Central Point, and if the road was laid out parallel to the railroad it would mean a saving of 250 miles of travel each day and save construction and maintenance of the extra road. Second, from the north end of Central Avenue as laid out through the Ish-Gore addition to the city of Medford, to the south end of First Street, Central Point, the distance is 9800 feet or 1.86 miles. This is all the new road to be laid out, and you have only three property owners to deal with. A road sixty feet wide would take an area of 13.40 acres worth at the most $500 an acre, which would make the cost of the road $6,700 if it had to be all condemned. Now at $12,000 per mile the saving of a half mile in distance would offset the cost of condemning the new road.
The above facts show that we can get a road to Central Point parallel with the railroad and as straight as an arrow, save over a half mile in distance and have one of the most magnificent drives in the valley, and the ground would be less difficult for construction.
If any move is made it must be made soon before construction starts. The Commercial Club should take the matter up at once, securing the cooperation of the Central Point club. The automobile club should make a hustle. The farmers clear to the north end of the country would be benefited.
J. S. HOWARD.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 14, 1911, page 1
Prosperity of the Rogue River Valley in Pioneer Days
It has been reported and believed by many newcomers that George Putnam and the Medford Mail Tribune were the discoverers of Rogue River Valley, and they report as a most progressive and unusual event that a carload of melons have been shipped from Central Point, being the first shipment of that kind ever made from the valley. A week afterwards comes the remarkable news that a carload of wheat has been shipped from Central Point, the first shipment of the kind ever made from the valley, with editorial comments on the great and beneficial effect these first initial exports will have on the progressive and enterprising spirit of the valley.
Great Scott! Man Alive! Over a half century ago, before George Putnam ever drew the breath of life, Rogue River Valley was exporting flour, bacon, wheat and barley to Yreka and mines in Northern California, to Sailor Diggings, Althouse and Galice Creek by horse team, mule team, ox team and pack team.
In the early 'fifties Mr. Went, owner of the Phoenix Mill [Orson Stearns remembers his name as S. M. Waite], filled an order for flour for Yreka amounting to what now would be about a carload and started it by ox team. When they had made it to the foot of the mountain near what is now known as the Major Barron place they camped for the night; during the night they were attacked by Indians and the teamsters were killed, the flour sacks were cut open, the contents emptied on the ground, and the flour sacks were used to make swell attire for the husky warriors and dusky belles; the oxen were butchered and the choice cuts taken away and the wagons were burned.
Forty-five years ago, when most of the good land in Rogue River Valley had been settled on and most of it under cultivation, there were five flour mills in the valley, viz: One at Eagle Point, the Hopwood Mill at Central Point, the Phoenix Mill, the Farmers Mill this side of Ashland and the Ashland, all making the best flour from the finest wheat ever grown on the face of the earth, and those mills were run night and day from harvest time till December, the product supplying the whole country for a hundred miles radius. Forty-five years ago the road from the valley to Fort Klamath was lined with teams every fall carrying supplies of flour, bacon, barley and oats to the military post at Fort Klamath.
Forty-five years ago the woolen mills at Ashland were in operation, turning out the finest woolen fabrics on the coast.
And right here I will mention for the benefit of our friends who since the advent of the railroad have come to make their homes among us and to whom we ever extend the glad hand and who come here with many erroneous impressions, I will say that fifty years ago when Rogue River Valley was fairly well settled, that Iowa was then sparsely settled, Nebraska was a trackless desert without habitation from the Missouri River west, when Minnesota was in a howling wilderness, when Dakota and Montana was a veritable "Terra Incognita" traversed by savage tribes of Indians and buffaloes.
To those good people who have recently or within a few years come among us from the above states and from the Middle West under the impression that they were coming to a new and primitive country as sort of missionaries to western rubes, we will say that they themselves are the primitive ones, for forty years ago while we had mills and factories, excellent schools and churches and wearing fine clothes made from the products of Ashland woolen mills, the people of Nebraska were living in sod huts clothed in butternut breeches and coonskin caps, living on hog and hominy and burning corn for fuel, and the people of Minnesota were living in a timbered wilderness, clad in buckskin breeches and a buckskin cap and living on bear bacon, dried venison and hominy. The descendants of these worthy people are those who have lately come amongst us and some of whom think they have discovered Rogue River Valley and some (not many, I am happy to say) when they see a gray-haired pioneer with his back a little out of line from the burdens he has carried, they say see that old mossback, little knowing that under those gray hairs there is a quantity and quality of gray matter that they will never have the good fortune to possess. I have the utmost contempt of those who use the term "mossback" as applied to the old pioneers; their friendship is not worth having, but I have diverted from the original intention of this epistle.
In regard to export of Rogue River Valley products, from the time the railroad came into the valley in 1884 to within the last ten years there were shipped from Medford and Central Point not less than 1500 carloads of wheat; twenty-two years ago Angle and Plymale shipped in one season 80 carloads of wheat, and there were other shippers at the same time and the mills and warehouses were full also. In the 'nineties George Jackson shipped about 35 cars of melons yearly, and Lee and Shattuck of Grants Pass shipped about the same amount. In one year alone W. H. Gore shipped from the Ish Ranch 116 carloads of produce. Twenty years ago such a thing as importing in to Rogue River Valley of flour, bacon, grain and hay was unheard of, and the balance of trade was in our favor.
Within the last ten years the larger portion of the lands of the valley have passed into the hands of new men, the progressive, and they are live men and progressive, but how much better than the old set have they done? Most everything used has been imported; flour, meat, hay and grain have been imported in large quantities, and none exported, no exports except fruit. Can a good, healthy financial condition exist under these circumstances? Ten years ago Jackson County warrants were selling at 3 percent premium; today they are slow sale at 90 cents. How is this compared with the old set?
In conclusion, I will say to Brother Putnam and others, study the ancient history of Jackson before you venture on any rash conclusions.
Yours for a time,
J. S. HOWARD.
Medford Mail Tribune, September 4, 1912, page 4
J. S. HOWARD HANDS ONE TO GUS NEWBURYThe local legal fraternity is still chuckling over the clever manner in which J. S. Howard, the pioneer surveyor of Jackson County and "father of Medford," came back at Attorney Gus Newbury during the progress of a recent trial at which Mr. Howard was a witness on the opposite site of the case from Mr. Newbury.
At several points during the progress of Mr. Howard's testimony Attorney Newbury objected long and strenuously upon the grounds that Mr. Howard's evidence was "hearsay," and therefore immaterial. Mr. Howard, who has known Gus since he was an infant, failed to flare up at the broadsides of objection and sarcasm flung at him, but bided his time.
Finally Mr. Newbury was through with the witness and in order to sum up the case, said:
"Mr. Howard, you will please state your name, your residence, your occupation and your age."
"My name is J. S. Howard," came the answer as quick as a flash. "My residence is Medford, Oregon; my occupation is that of a civil engineer and my age--my age--is a matter of hearsay."
All of which was true.
Medford Mail Tribune weekly edition, September 19, 1912, page 3
"A Vote for Dunn Is a Vote Against the County's Best Interests,"
Declares J. S. Howard
George W. Dunn is my friend. I supported him at the primary. I have known his family for more than two score years. I have the highest regard for them. I would not knowingly say or do anything which would hurt the feelings of Mr. Dunn or any member of his family. Yet I feel that I must protect my own interests, all of which are in Jackson County. To do this I must cast my ballot November 5th for Frank L. TouVelle for county judge.FIRST TRIP UPON MEDFORD TROLLEY CAR MADE TODAY
There are a number of reasons for this stand on my part. I did not take it without due consideration of all matters involved in this election.
The most vital reason for voting for Frank L. TouVelle is the difference in the characteristics and inclinations of the two men. Both are splendid gentlemen, but whereas Mr. TouVelle is a man of wide experience and broadness of mind, Mr. Dunn has had little experience in business, is provincial, knows nothing of public questions aside from a rigid economy--and this I feel is fatal to the welfare of Jackson County. To this may be added his antipathy to Medford and Medford's needs.
No corporation or municipality can rightly progress or take the lead without going into debt. They prate of a $500,000 indebtedness--it is a mere bagatelle compared to the wealth of this great county. We want money spent but spent rightly, and Mr. TouVelle can best do this.
The viciousness with which Mr. Dunn's friends have attacked Medford and her citizens and their source [sic] in regard to the Medford bridge, as well as the remembrance that Mr. Dunn, as county judge, was very reluctant to make repairs upon the old one, has led me to believe that a vote for Mr. Dunn is a blow at my own interests. Therefore I will cast my vote November 5th for Frank L. TouVelle, and I urge my friends to do likewise.
J. S. HOWARD.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 2, 1912, page 1
AUTO ROAD TO BE LOCATED
Jackson County to Survey Route Over Siskiyous.
MEDFORD, Or., May 8.--(Special.)--J. S. Howard, pioneer surveyor of Jackson County, who made the survey for the Southern Pacific in this part of Oregon, has been named by the county court to make a survey of a new auto road over the Siskiyous, which will eliminate the present Dollarhide toll road and reduce the grade.
The present road has grades ranging from 30 to 30 percent, while the new road will range from 3 to 6 percent. It is believed that this improvement will increase the tourist travel into this county from California and will make Medford the headquarters for many autoists during the Crater Lake season.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, May 9, 1913, page 4
November 30, 1913 Sunday Oregonian
Road Building in Pioneer Days
By J. S. Howard
Up to 1868, when Jackson County extended from a point west of Grants Pass to Steens Mountain on the east, or about 300 miles long east and west and about 100 miles average width north and south, with this vast territory and a sparse population and a limited tax roll, about the best that could be done in the way of roads was to survey a traverse line so as to show the road location and place it on the map, and the opening up and improvement of the roads was left to the district road supervisors. About the best they could do was to brush out the road and put in a few pole bridges and culverts.
Under these circumstances, no matter how great the skill of the surveyor or engineer, there was no opportunity for making a practical demonstration of his abilities, whatever he might have had so far as things earthly were concerned. His talents might as well have been stored with his other treasures in heaven.
In 1872, when what is now Klamath and Lake counties began to settle up, and the traffic between Ashland and Klamath Falls became heavy, an imperative demand for a better road over the mountains was heard, and with small aid from the state Jackson County commissioners ordered me to make a survey of a road from Ashland to Linkville, and over such grades as the county would be able to build.
In conformity with such orders I ran the road from a point seven miles south of Ashland eastward across and up Emigrant Creek and thence a grade up and across the Green Spring Mountain and down and across Keene Creek, and thence on across the Cascade Mountains to Klamath Falls. The grades were on about 10 percent, where [on] the old road the grades were 30 or 40. This was the first attempt at graded roads in Jackson County except in one instance, that of the grade from Jacksonville to the Applegate side. The road from Jacksonville west ran up Rich Gulch and Dowell Gulch and up over the hill, many places with a grade of 35 percent. So about 1868, after prolonged arguments with the county court, I obtained permission to run a grade over the Jacksonville hill. I ran the grade line in less than a day on a 10-percent grade, and the road supervisor opened it out that same season. That is the present grade over the Jacksonville hill. A grade of 6 percent could be built, but in doing so no part of the present road could be used and the expense would be great, so probably no change will be made for some time yet.
About 1878 the old road over the east side of the mountains to Crescent City with its 30-percent grade had been impassable and abandoned for several years, and with little prospect of an outlet by railroad, the counties of Jackson and Josephine in Oregon, and Del Norte County in California, employed me to lay out a new route to Crescent City. I commenced at the east foot of the McGrue Mountain seven miles west of Waldo, and ran up and over the Coast Range of mountains and down to Patrick Creek, thence across Smith River and over to Crescent City, a distance of about 50 miles, with a maximum grade of 6 percent. I reduced the grade from that of the old road two-thirds and shortened the distance 18 miles. That is the present traveled road to Crescent City, and was said at the time it was built to be the best mountain road on the coast. Autos have made the trip from Crescent City to Medford the present season in seven hours, a distance of 120 miles.
Fifty-three years ago I drove my ox team over the Siskiyou toll road at the end of my 2,000-mile drive from Illinois, and I found the almost impassable grades that I experienced on the trip, and when part way down from the summit I saw a man extending his glad hand, and my heart leaped with joy at such a greeting, but my exuberations were soon changed when he said $3.50 toll please, and I paid him my last dollar, leaving me 50 cents in my pocket. I said then and there that if I lived long enough I would change all those conditions, and I have never forgotten, and after waiting fifty-three years I have had my chance, for last spring I went to the county seat of Jackson County and asked them to give to C. F. Rhodes and myself the assignment to lay out a Pacific Highway across the Siskiyous, which was granted, and the order so made.
In about 1880 I had run the first line for the Oregon and California Railroad from Rogue River across the mountains and over to the Klamath River near Hornbrook. In so doing I had cross-sectioned the Siskiyou Mountains thoroughly and knew the ground as a man would know his own door yard. From the information thus acquired I drew an approximate map of the Pacific Highway, and with this equipped Mr. Rhodes as county engineer in the field, and myself as consulting engineer, undertook to make the survey of the highway with a maximum grade of six percent. Mr. Rhodes finished this preliminary survey about August 1 last, when Major Bowlby, state highway engineer, took charge, running the final detailed locations. So the old adage, all things come to him who waits, came true, and my fifty-three years' waiting is about to be rewarded during the new year. On November 28, with Mr. Sam Hill as chief, we celebrated the breaking of ground for the road, a cut of which will be found elsewhere in the New Year number of this paper.
Medford Mail Tribune, January 1, 1914, page E3
The Bullis street car made its first move this afternoon and acted just like a city car and nearly scared a country horse to death. The car ran from the terminal to Main and Bartlett, and then backed up. A few trial trips will be made this afternoon, and Sunday service put into effect tomorrow.
J. S. Howard, father of Medford, sat on a box in front of the Economy Meat Market, and watched with reminiscent eyes the first trolley in Jackson County. He will ride on the first trip. "Thirty years ago I cooked beans on the spot where that car now stands," the pioneer said. "Then I little thought I would ever see a street car there."
The street car is a source of great interest to the venerable pioneer. A large crowd watched the first move.
Medford Mail Tribune, March 21, 1914, page 8
My Impressions of Medford's New Street Car Line
(By J. S. Howard)
"The world do move." The truth of this saying was most favorably presented to my mind when I took my first ride on the modern street car of Medford.
As we rode east on Main Street on the up-to-date splendid car across Medford's $40,000 concrete bridge over Bear Creek, where over a half century ago we crossed on a 20-foot log and entered an almost "terra incognito" region on the east side of Bear Creek. The only immediate settlement east of Bear Creek in the vicinity of what is now East Main Street was that splendid pioneer family, the Barneburgs, and for many years after Medford's first settlement, Fred Barneburg, the father of the present generation, was a familiar object on our streets, and the crowd that used to gather around him never tired of hearing him relate stories of pioneer days, and no one doubted the accuracy of his interesting stories.
But to get back to earth again, when Medford was laid out 30 years ago, the only road connected with the town was what is now Riverside Avenue. As stores were opened, the people living in the country east and north of town demanded a road from their section to the city, and upon petition the county court ordered a road laid out from the east end of Main Street, which was then at Riverside Avenue, across Bear Creek, thence east along the present Main Street to Roosevelt Avenue [today's Crater Lake Avenue], then north on what is now Roosevelt Avenue to the county road at McAndrews.
What is now the street car line on East Main Street was a high rail fence with willows 15 feet high in the corners.
Well, after a while this fence was removed and the road opened for travel; the creek was forded in the summertime but in the winter impassable, so we passed around the hat and got money enough to buy timber for a footbridge, and the men's Greater Medford Club (unorganized), got together and built a good footbridge which stood for three winters, and the farmers on the east side of the valley would hitch their teams on the east side and walk across the footbridge and do their trading.
After that a wooden bridge was constructed that was after three or four years carried away by a flood [in 1890], after which the steel bridge was built which was thought to be sufficient for all time.
But as the city improved that was found inadequate, and the rest was that it was moved to Jackson Street and the present steel and concrete bridge [today's bridge] was built which is the pride of Medford and an object of envy to other parts of the county.
All these things and many others were brought to mind as I took my first ride over what used to be an old pioneer trail, now a splendid paved street with shade trees, splendid residences and cozy homes on either side.
If Rip Van Winkle had just awakened from a 30-years' sleep he would never know by a 1000 miles where he was. Even I, who have been here and awake all the time, have to rub my eyes to be sure that I am not asleep and dreaming what the next 30 years will bring forth in our city.
To realize how [much] time it is since we were removed from the primitive, I will mention that about 15 years ago a bear came across the creek about midday and walked up Main Street, across the park and out across Oakdale Avenue and on to the foothills, with most all the men, boys and dogs in town in pursuit, but they never touched him, and he got away unharmed.
J. S. HOWARD.
Medford, March 23, 1914.
Medford Sun, March 25, 1914, page 4
FORTY-NINE YEARS AGO HOWARD SURVEYED LINE
It was revealed by J. S. Howard, "father of Medford," this noon that 49 years ago today he and Tip Plymale, George Nichols and Tom Collins surveyed a line between what is now Medford and Jacksonville. Tom Collins and Mr. Howard met this morning and talked over old times. George Nichols, of the Economy Market, was the youngest member of the party, and so frisky with youthful spirits that it took the rest to keep him in line. He was fifteen years old. Mr. Howard and Mr. Collins were looking at the new street car when the pioneer reminiscences were awakened.
Medford Mail Tribune, April 4, 1914, page 5
Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Howard will on Monday, December 21, celebrate their sixtieth anniversary of their marriage, which took place at Toulon, Stark County, Ill. The father of Medford and wife started west in '59.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail Tribune, December 14, 1914, page 2
Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Howard of Medford celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of their wedding Tuesday.
"Local News," Jacksonville Post, December 26, 1914, page 3
J. S. Howard, "Father of Medford," Passes Away at Ripe Old Age
J. S. Howard, founder and first mayor of Medford, familiarly and affectionately known as the "Father of Medford," passed away at the Sacred Heart Hospital this morning, after a lingering illness induced by old age. A familiar figure on the streets of the city for a generation, with a particular fondness for the Nash Hotel as his headquarters, Mr. Howard's death will come as a genuine bereavement to every resident, and his cheerful counsel, kindly face and poignant humor will be sadly missed by young and old.
Mr. Howard was born in Mason, New Hampshire, April 21, 1832. He was married to Martha B. Snuggs Dec. 21, 1855. He was 87 years old at the time of his death. Three children are living, Charles J. Howard of Kerby, Oregon; Nettie L. Webb, Hollywood, Calif.; Martha C. Roberts, Medford, Oregon. He also leaves one brother, Henry Howard of Elk Creek, Neb., and three sisters, Mary Braly of Glendale, Calif.; Harriet Squires of Los Angeles, Cal.; Martha C. Wells of Minneapolis, Minn.
After graduating from the high school of Kewanee, Ill., he attended an academy at the corner of Clark and Washington streets, Chicago, Ill., and at the age of 24 he embarked upon an independent career as a furniture dealer in Kewanee, Ill.
In 1860 Mr. Howard started with his wife and three children for Pike's Peak, Colo., but on the way changed his mind and came to Oregon instead. His equipment consisted of ox teams and wagons, and his route lay via the Platte River, Salt Lake and the Humboldt to Jacksonville, at which town he arrived with 50 cents in his pocket. About this time the rains had begun to fall, and the prospect was a dismal one, especially after the 50 cents had been spent for supper. Fortunately the cattle were in good condition, thus ensuring food for some time to come. Mr. Howard found work as a carpenter, but for some time had little opportunity to use the surveying instruments upon which hung the success of the future, and which already constituted one of his prized possessions. As the country began to settle chances came his way, and in time he devoted his entire energy to surveying and engineering, his star of success ascending continually and with splendid results.
He served for many years as special agent for examining surveys of the U.S. Land Office, operating in Oregon and Arizona. He surveyed nearly all the mining claims of Southern Oregon.
Notwithstanding his great and absorbing undertakings as a civil engineer, Mr. Howard ran the first general merchandise store in Medford, assisted by his family. He was one of the first residents of Medford, was first mayor, also first postmaster and first Wells Fargo Express agent. [A. L. Johnson who opened the Wells Fargo agency in March 1884; Howard succeeded him in May.]
He was a member of the Masonic fraternity, having joined Lodge No. 10 at Jacksonville in 1872, eventually becoming a member of the Blue Lodge No. 103 of Medford. He was a member of the Methodist Church. His trained and accurate mind had foreseen advantages for his adopted community, and his zeal and public-spirited enterprise have inspired others to assist in carrying out these same designs. He had the faculty of disseminating enthusiasm and inspiring others to do their best. A student always, he kept abreast of the times, not only as regards engineering, but in connection with affairs which engage the attention of bright minds in many departments of activity.
Funeral services will be held at Perl's chapel, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, October 15, 1919, Rev. Gilbert officiating. Services at grave, conducted by Masons.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 13, 1919, page 4
MEADER HOUSE BUILT IN 1889
The old Hiram Meader home on North Central, one of the last of the old residences in the downtown section of Medford, is being torn down this week, and with it goes one of the few remaining remnants of Medford's early days.
The house was built 48 years ago by J. S. Howard, known as the "Father of Medford." Howard "laid out" Medford when the railroad was coming through in 1883 [Medford was surveyed by Howard's son, Charles J. Howard], according to Mrs. Clara Barkdull, who lived across the street at the time [her house--and Medford--didn't exist at the time] in a house on the same property where the Barkdull building now stands.
"We came here in February, 1884, Mrs. Barkdull said, "and Medford was quite a young city then. There was a grocery store on Sixth Street where the Diamond Cafe was [127 East Sixth], and Ike Webb lived where the Band Box is now [223-227 East Sixth]. Geo. Haskins, father of Leon, had a house over on Bartlett, and D. T. Lawton's father built where the Groceteria is now. Mrs. Lawton and Mrs. Haskins started a millinery shop there.
"Noah Lyon built where the service station is now [southwest corner Fifth and Central], across from the city hall, and John Theiss lived where the Elks Club has its temple. The church was built about 53 years ago, as I remember."
Mrs. Barkdull said that Meader bought the house from Howard a long time ago.
Medford News, June 4, 1937, page 1
Last revised August 31, 2014