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The Infamous Black BirdSouthern Oregon History, Revised



My Southern Oregon History Pages

Please contact me if you have anything to add.

Ben Truwe
Medford, Oregon
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Research Tools:

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For alternate spellings--and first names in place of initials-- see my Southern Oregon Index.
Medford Timeline
Dates for significant (and not so significant) events in Medford history.
Medford Bibliography
The beginning of a bibliography of newspaper and magazine articles about Medford.

Medford Building Notes
Photos and locations of historic Medford buildings, along with some notes on their histories and aliases
.
Medford Business Bibliography
A guide to Sanborn Fire Insurance map locations for, and hundreds of
local newspaper articles about, Medford businesses.
Medford Voter Lists
Lists of Medford residents registered to vote in the January city elections
.
Medford City Directories 1884-1932
Medford listings from Polk's business directories
.
Southern Oregon Index
Indexes many of the pages below. Also useful for identifying people referred to only by initials in the old newspapers.
Southern Oregon History Links
Links to other people's tools for researching Southern Oregon history.
Southern Oregon Mining Index, 1899-1932
An index to the thousands of references to Southern Oregon miners and mining
. If you ever find a copy of The Oregon Mining Journal, please contact me!
Index to Jackson County, Oregon, Juror Lists 1854-1899
An index to men selected as jurors and listed in the County Commissioners' Journals--often listing their occupations and places of residence.
Register of Married Women's Property, Jackson County 1859-1902
An extremely detailed view into farm, livestock and household practices of nineteenth-century Southern Oregon.

Index to the Register of Married Women's Property
A name index to the above Register.




Southern Oregon History Pages:

Jackson County Year by Year
Twenty-three pages. Articles describing Jackson County, 1853-1927.

Diary of W. J. Dean, Talent, Oregon, 1912-1919
The Deans held regular seances; the diary actually contains a transcript of one conversation with a ghost. Dean also shares tales of his frontier days, including his eyewitness account of a lynching. And then there's the episode in which Mr. Dean is abducted by aliens--in 1915.

W. J. Dean Biographical Notes
Notes and references on the diarist's life, including the text of his 1885 indictment of the educational system.
Reminiscences of Orson Avery Stearns
The Stearns family came to the Rogue Valley two years after the first white settler. Stearns' gossipy manuscript, transcribed here, is our best source for what those pioneers' life was like--and how the settlers misbehaved. Also an eyewitness account of the naming of Gassburg and a profile of Phoenix pioneer Samuel Colver.
Life in the Mining Camps
William Mackey's wild tales of the 1850s camps on Althouse Creek in Josephine County. 
Who Was the First White Child Born in the Rogue Valley?
This page won't make it much clearer.

Mrs. Harris and the Indians
The famous story of the Rogue River Indian War, but never so well told.
The Gore Stockade
In 1853, during the first Rogue River Indian War, the Gore family and their neighbors built a fort inside today's Medford city limits.
Tyee George and Skookum John
The Indian troubles of 1859-1863, told by pioneer W. J. Plymale.

How We Spoke
Contemporary comments on and complaints about how we may or may not have spoken here on the western frontier.
How We Ate
Clues to what people ate and when.
How We Drank
Oregon began its experiment with Prohibition four years before the rest of the country; otherwise it was about the same.
Rogue Valley Sports
Sixteen pages. Tales of hunting, gambling, wild life and loose women and baseball in Southern Oregon in the 1860s through early 1900s.

True Hunting Tales by John Griffin
Communing with nature--and shooting it--in Southern Oregon in the 1850s through 1890s.
The Life and Death of Reelfoot
The story of the biggest and baddest grizzly of them all.
Early Rogue Valley Baseball
Great baseball, boneheaded baseball, crooked baseball in the Rogue Valley leagues of the early 1900s.
The Epic Struggle of the Fats and Leans
As it turned out, the ambulance wasn't needed.

A Brit on the Western Frontier
In 1869 Charles Dickens' magazine had a correspondent reporting on the character and culture of Oregon and California.
    Far Western Miners
    Far Western Gamblers
    Far Western Man
    Far Western Chinese
    Far Western Judges and Juries
    Far Western Lawgivers and Preachers
    Far Western Newspapers

A Night in Chinatown
In 1886 a reporter braved the depths of Portland's Chinatown and filed this illustrated report.

Bix Survives Southern Oregon
A 1923 visitor describes the valley, battles the fog and worries about his lost luggage.

Trigg Does Central Point
A newspaper columnist gives insight into ranching life and practices--and Orchard Boom real estate sales techniques.
The Railroad Comes to Central Point
Notes on the Oregon and California Railroad's arrival in Central Point--and the town's failure to secure its next railroad opportunity.
History of Central Point
Notes on the history of the oldest community on the Rogue Valley floor.
Rogue Valley Intercity Rivalry
Sometimes it got ugly.
Tracking Southern Oregon's Safes
They're bulky, weighty, and hard to lose. Too bad that isn't true of their history.

Who Was Betsey Ann Spikes?
Beats me; you figure it out. I know she was a man, probably a gold miner, and old enough to know Chinook, but beyond that . . .  Update: mystery solved.

History of Bear Creek
Notes on the history of the tributary linking Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford and Central Point.

Saga of the Dark Hollow Tarzans
Return with us to the thrilling days of yesteryear, to a day when two young heroes just said "Enough."

Auto Trouble
The transition from horse to gas was not an easy one, and not without its casualties--and humor.
Notes on Jackson County Roads
Jackson County was a pioneer among Oregon road builders, but it wasn't easy and it wasn't cheap.
Take a Hike
Conquering the Rogue Valley's landmarks in the early part of the 20th century--and living to tell the tale.
Rogue Valley Childhoods
Reminiscences and newspaper accounts of childhood in Medford and environs.
Rogue Valley Halloweens 1884-1957
What did Rogue Valley kids do on Halloween before trick-or-treating was invented? Whatever they could get away with.
Rogue Valley Pioneers
The stories of pioneers I can't (or would rather not) claim for Medford.

Rogue Valley Poetry
An oxymoron? Um, sometimes. . . .




Medford's Lost Years, 1883-1892:
For all practical purposes, Medford history has always begun in January of 1892, when the surviving run of the Southern Oregon Mail begins. Medford's first nine years are a historical "black hole" that the pages below attempt to fill.

Early Medford
What it was like--the pioneers reminisce.

The Medford Town Plat, December 20, 1883
Please show me where it says "Middleford." (3MB)
The "Middleford" Myth
"Middleford" never existed. A page with every shred of evidence about the naming of Medford--including the genesis of the myth.

The Phipps-Howard War
James Sullivan Howard called himself the "Father of Medford." Ed Phipps, however, was witness to the birth and remembered it differently.
Medford News from the Dark Ages
There was no Medford newspaper until 1885 and, other than a few scattered copies, Medford papers before 1892 haven't survived. Here's Medford news gleaned from other valley newspapers.

The Medford Monitor, 1885
Only two copies of our first newspaper, the Medford Monitor, are known--and no one has read them for 123 years. They're digitized here, and there's an index!
Medford City Council Minutes, 1885
The minutes from Medford's first year as an incorporated town. First order of business? Riots. Second? Keeping those darned kids away from the depot.

Rogue River Valley 1885
An 1885 brochure touting the valley to prospective immigrants.
The Medford Monitor, June 11, 1886
Here's everything we know about a lost copy of the Monitor.

Medford City Council Minutes, 1886
The minutes from the Medford council's second year.

The Southern Oregon Transcript, November 10, 1887
The Monitor was succeeded by the Transcript, another rare pre-1892 Medford newspaper. C. B. Carlisle's boosterism runs rampant in this "extra" edition.

Medford City Council Minutes, 1887
The minutes from the Medford council's third year.
The Orchard Home, 1889
An illustrated transcription of an 1889 brochure touting the Orchard Home district southwest of Medford.



More Medford History:

Medford History--Up to 1932
Medford's most authoritative history--especially now that I've corrected it.

Medford News 1883-1974
Eighty-three pages. Medford news gleaned from magazines and newspapers.

Medford Timeline
Dates for significant (and not so significant) events in Medford history.

Medford Bibliography
Newspaper and magazine articles about Medford.

Medford Building Notes
Photos and locations of historic Medford buildings, along with some notes on their histories and aliases
.
Medford Business Bibliography
Hundreds of
local newspaper citations about Medford businesses.

Medford Theaters and Theater Stories
Twenty-five pages. Histories and dates for most of Medford's theaters. Includes "Burned to a Crisp" and "Youth in Revolt."

Medford Year by Year
Forty-seven pages. Hundreds of articles describing Medford and the Rogue Valley, 1883-1969.
From the Mayor's Desk
Status reports and complaints from Medford mayors.
Medford Pioneers
Ninety pages. Notes on Medford pioneer merchants, politicians and busybodies--and one bird.

Medford Mascots
Some celebrated, and not so celebrated, dogs and cats in early Medford.
Barnum vs. Reddy vs. Putnam
The time when William Barnum threw a hatchet at Mayor Reddy--and it landed on George Putnam.
The Motorcar Bug
Bill Miller's article about Medford's first car.
Medford Water Systems
Before Medford had "a mountain spring in every home," there were admonitions in Ashland to "pull the chain--Medford needs the water."

History of the Medford Post Office
Notes on Medford's postal history.

Random Notes and Clues
Clues to small and medium-sized mysteries about mostly Medford topics.
Medford's Golden Anniversary Celebration
How Medford celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1934 and 1935.
Exploring the Palace Hotel, Medford, Oregon
A brief history and photographic account of a forgotten downtown treasure--an 1890s hotel preserved in amber for the last 35 years.
Will Rogers and the Battle of the Medford Pears
The famous humorist's surprise visit in 1931 resulted in national exposure--and local chagrin.
W. J. Bennet, Medford's First Architect
The mysterious and tragic story of our first architect.
A Brief Biography of Pinto Colvig
Silent-movie gag man, pioneer animator, creator and voice of Goofy: Medford boy makes good. There's a great bio of Pinto on IMDB, but mine has some previously unpublished information.
Shootout on Central
The valley's only downtown shootouts took place in Medford. This one involves moonshine, robbery, torture and extortion.

Diary of Fred Alton Haight, Medford, Oregon, 1918 and 1920-1921
Mr. Haight teaches music and plays piano for silent theaters, country dances and vaudeville acts--and struggles with his demons--in this remarkably candid diary. 

Notes on the Medford, Oregon Knights of Pythias Talisman Lodge #31
Diarist Fred Alton Haight (see above) was a Pythian; these are my sketchy notes on the history of the lodge, compiled from the Medford Mail Tribune and lodge minutes.

Spine-Tingling Two-Fisted True Tales of Terror in Medford
Mayhem and heroics on the streets of early Medford.

Boosting Medford
Medford didn't grow by itself; it took a lot of talking--some not entirely accurate.
Glimpses of Early Medford
Random, evocative glimpses of what it was like to live in Medford 100 or so years ago.

Medford's Exhibit Building
In 1905 Medford built the state's first "exhibit building"--a trackside museum designed to lure passengers into the clutches of the real estate agents.

Medford's Cannons
We've had two.

Let's Lynch the Knocker and Burn the Hammer
When the Orchard Boom went bust in 1912, the search was on for a scapegoat.
The Down Side of the Orchard Boom
There was a down side during the boom too.

Who Was Medford's First Mayor?
Interactive page! You get to decide.
Wild and Wacky Medford
Pranks, practical jokes and outrageous lies, as reported in early Medford newspapers.

Medford Under Canvas
Many Medford "histories" say the town began as a tent city. There's precious little evidence for this, however.
Mad for the Bicycle
Medford went crazy for the bicycle in the 1890s. Some of it did, anyway.
Paving Medford
Bikes and cars aren't much good when the mud is up to your hubs.

Medford's IOOF Cemetery
A few of the more interesting lives--and grislier deaths--of "residents" of Medford's Eastwood Cemetery.

Notes on West Medford
Notes on western additions to the original townsite.

Notes on East Medford
Even with a bridge across Bear Creek, it took twenty years to really start building east of it. Then--look out.
Clean Up South Front!
Drunks, brawlers, wackos, footpads, winos, prostitutes, hucksters--Front Street attracted them like a magnet.

White Slavery in Medford: The Viola Miller Affair
The many conflicting versions of the Viola Miller/Laura White/Fay Freeman affair. A pick-and-choose history.
Medford Banking News
Some notes from The Pacific Banker--a start on a history of banking in early Medford.

Medford's Gala Golden Anniversary
How will you celebrate your golden anniversary? Here's the full story of how Medford celebrated its 50th.

Who's Snooty Now?
Construction of an enormous WWII Army cantonment nearby was not easy on Medford.
The Furniture Fire of '55
Medford's best-documented fire--lots of photos.

The Bilko Affair
You'd think changing the Medford city council's meeting day--so you could watch The Phil Silvers Show--would make a better story.





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