Pioneers: William I. Vawter
Vawter helped found Medford's first bank and built the Vawter mansion at Main and Holly.
September 14-21, 1907 The Sketch
Medford Advertiser:--Our bank is at last an assumed fact. Mr. Bently will personally attend to the business and have everything running in a short time. He will be assisted by Mr. Vawter, a Linn County boy of good ability and integrity.
"State News," Evening Capital Journal, Salem, August 6, 1888, page 1
The Medford Bank will be in operation in a very short time. Mr. Bentley is making preparations for the opening, and will soon be joined by his partner, Mr. Vawter of Eugene City.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 30, 1888, page 3
The Jackson County Bank of Medford began doing an exchange and loan business the first of the present month. Upon the arrival of the full office fixtures in a few weeks, the new bank will commence doing a complete banking business. Mr. J. H. Bentley, the president, is a thorough banking man, and W. I. Vawter, the cashier, is a young man well qualified to fill his position. Both are acceptable additions to Medford's business men.
"Medford Items," Ashland Tidings, September 14, 1888, page 3
Mr. W. I. Vawter, the cashier of the Jackson County Bank of Medford, was married at Eugene City last Sunday to Miss Etta Hill of that place. Mr. Vawter and his fair bride left Eugene amid the congratulations of a host of friends there and arrived at Medford on Monday morning's train, where they take up their future home. The Tidings joins in congratulations and well wishings.
"Personal," Ashland Tidings, February 15, 1889, page 3
JACKSON COUNTY BANK, Vawter & Howard, corner 7th and C streets. Mr. W. I. Vawter established this bank in 1888 with a capital of $25,000, which has been increased to $35,000. Since its inception the business has steadily increased. The bank transacts a general business in loans, discounts, and deposits. Collections and insurances given special attention. Accounts of banks, bankers, merchants, and farmers are received on liberal terms. Personal attention is paid to the business of correspondents. The second member of this firm is Mr. G. W. Howard, Mayor of the city. He is a native of Missouri and has been here six years. Mr. Vawter, a native Oregonian, came here three years ago.
P. W. Croake, The Rogue River Valley, "The Italy of Oregon," Glass & Prudhomme, Portland, Oregon. Undated, written March 1891.
W. I. Vawter, president of the Jackson County Bank of this city, was admitted to practice law in all the courts of Oregon by the Supreme Court at Salem this week. Mr. Vawter has been studying in the office of S. S. Pentz for some time, and passed the examination with flying colors. We believe this is one of the few instances in the history of this county where a man has been admitted to the bar who studied only in a law office.
"Local and General," Southern Oregon Mail, October 14, 1892, page 3
WILLIAM I. VAWTER.--Among the substantial institutions of southern Oregon is the Jackson County Bank of Medford, which was established September 1, 1888, and was conducted successfully as a private bank by William I. Vawter until July 1, 1892, when the capital stock was increased from $25,000 to $50,000, and incorporated with the following named officers: William I. Vawter, president; William Slinger, vice president; G. W. Howard, cashier; and J. E. Enyart as assistant cashier. Exchanges drawn on Portland, San Francisco and New York. The bank has done a safe and prosperous business since its doors were thrown open to the public, and it ranks among the substantial banking houses of the state.
William I. Vawter, whose name heads the official list, is a native of Linn County, Oregon, born March 24, 1863. His father emigrated from Indiana across the plains to Oregon, in 1853. His mother is a native of Missouri, and also crossed the plains by ox teams, with her parents, as early as 1846. Her people located in the Willamette Valley, which at that early day was populated with Indians.
William was reared and educated in his native state, graduating from the university of the state in 1886, and filled the position of principal in the public schools in Eugene, until 1888, when he established the Jackson County Bank, at Medford.
Politically he is a staunch Republican, and takes an active interest in the party. He is a member of A.F.&A.M. Since he became a resident of Medford, he has been closely identified with the interests of that city, and is always among the first to give his support financially to every public enterprise tending to develop the city. Although a young man, he has gained a reputation for himself in the community as one of the most influential and progressive citizens, as well as an able scholar and financier.
Rev. H. K. Hines, An Illustrated History of the State of Oregon, 1893, page 564
S. H. Vawter, a cousin of Mayor Vawter, has accepted a position at the Fitch-Cardwell mine.
Mayor W. I. Vawter took Sunday evening's train for Eugene to attend the I.O.O.F. Grand Lodge meeting. He returned Tuesday in response to a telegram from Mr. Enyart, who left the same evening for Indiana.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, May 19, 1893, page 3
S. H. Vawter, recently of this city, has taken charge of the Davis mine near Central Point, Ore. The Davis is a gold mine which is developed by a 160-foot tunnel showing a five-and-one-half-foot vein, the ore of which will assay $16, although pockets run from $200 to $500 per ton. A Huntington mill will be placed on the property immediately.--Spokane, Wash., Northwest Mining Review.
"All the Local News," Medford Mail, June 9, 1893, page 3
W. I. Vawter, well known in Eugene, is a Republican candidate for the legislature in Jackson County.--Eugene Guard.
The gentleman is a shrewd, thorough business man and should be nominated and elected. The Mail is positive he would serve his constituents to their best interests. Medford Mail, March 30, 1894, page 2
Attorney W. I. Vawter, a graduate of the Oregon State University, took the northbound passenger Monday evening for Eugene. Mr. Vawter is orator for the university alumni and upon Wednesday of this week he delivered an address before that body. A very deserved compliment was paid Mr. Vawter when he was elected to this position, but no more was the compliment deserved than was the pleasure of the alumni in listening to the gentleman's address. He is a fluent speaker, and his addresses are full of true, honest weight and worth.
"Purely Personal," Medford Mail, June 22, 1894, page 3
A telegram to the Oregonian, from Eugene, in speaking of the university commencement exercises, has this to say of attorney Vawter, of Medford, who was the alumni orator:
"Hon. W. I. Vawter, of Medford, delivered an oration on 'The College; Its Relation to Social Problems.' He spoke of the growth and multiplicity of institutions for higher education in America, and called attention to the social and political problems which must find their solution through education and the active interest of those who have secured the advantages of the college."
And this from the Eugene Daily Guard:
"Hon W. I. Vawter, of the class of '86, delivered the annual oration. His subject was 'The College. Its Relation to Social Problems.' He called attention to the decade which witnessed the founding of the first institutions of higher education in America, and followed the intimate relations of the growth and multiplicity of colleges with the developments and progress of our social and political life. In conclusion he said, 'From the 400 educational institutions should, and with proper arousal of interest will, come the influence that will overthrow the baneful effects of socialistic teachings. From them will come the influence that will give the child of free America what is better than the gift of his share of the wealth--namely, a common school education at least with intelligence enough to earn his share. Let the first aim of the university be to graduate men and women who thoroughly understand the philosophy of government, who know, at least historically, the principles upon which it is founded, and the hidden reserve forces by which it may be protected.' "
Medford Mail, June 29, 1894, page 2
Attorney Vawter is having a handsome addition built to his residence; he is otherwise renovating the structure.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 14, 1898, page 3
The law firm of Hammond & Vawter, doing business in Medford, has been dissolved. Each of the gentlemen has opened an office in that town.
W. I. Vawter and wife have returned from their eastern trip. They were gone nearly six weeks and visited many states.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, October 24, 1898, page 2
The following notaries were appointed yesterday: W. I. Vawter, Medford. . . .
"Appointed," Daily Capital Journal, Salem, February 28, 1899, page 3
Circa 1900, April 26, 1907 Medford Mail
W. I. Vawter of Medford has been selected to deliver the oration at the celebration of the 4th of July at Jacksonville, and will doubtless do justice to the subject. Leila Prim will read the Declaration of Independence.
"Local Notes," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 12, 1902, page 5
Who Are Interested in Davenport, Washington.
Through the courtesy of Ed. Olwell, one of the Olwell Bros., now a progressive business man of Davenport, the metropolis of the Big Bend country, in Washington, the Democratic Times has received a neatly prepared advertising booklet. It is constructed in a first-class style, and would reflect credit on a much larger place. It shows that other Jackson County citizens, besides Mr. Olwell, are interested there. The names of A. A. Davis and W. I. Vawter are mentioned as prominent officers in the Big Bend flour mills, of which W. J. Olwell is vice-president and manager. He is also a city councilman. One of the principal brands of flour of this mill is "Davis' Best." The booklet shows that Davenport is a progressive town of 1,500 inhabitants, and a desirable place in which to locate.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, June 19, 1902, page 7
Dr. J. R. Parson of Ashland was in Medford Monday, having been called in consultation over the case of Willie Vawter.
"Medford Squibs," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 28, 1902, page 5
Besides Percy Kelly, Congressman Williamson is a Linn County man. W. I. Vawter, of Medford, is also a former Linn County man. He was born at Finley Mills, his parents being pioneers of 1846.
The Daily Journal, Salem, March 23, 1903, page 3
March 28, 1903 Oregonian
NOT KNOCKING ANYBODY."Yes," said W. I. Vawter last night. "I am in the race for the Republican nomination for Congress." Mr. Vawter's home is at Medford, and the delegation to the district convention from Jackson County will support him to a man.
W. I. Vawter Says He Is Making a Fair Fight.
"No, I shan't withdraw," went on Mr. Vawter in response to a question as to whom his delegation would support should he be unable to get the nomination. "I shall be in the contest first, last and all the time. No, I shan't withdraw at all," he added more emphatically than before.
When asked what he thought of [Congressman Binger] Hermann's chances, Mr. Vawter said that the ex-Land Commissioner was probably 12 or 15 votes short of enough to nominate. He did not think that Hermann could get the nomination owing to the strong opposition that had been built up. He believed that when this opposition had been demonstrated in the district convention Hermann's organization would yield to someone else.
"But Mr. Hermann is a very clever man," went on Mr. Vawter, "and a man of parts. In his troubles at Washington I sympathized with him and believed that he was not treated fairly. I have always found him very courteous, obliging and considerate."
"Whom will the Democrats nominate?" [he] was asked.
"It looks to me as if Reames would be their candidate. Mr. Reames and I are very good friends. He would certainly make a strong run."
Both Mr. Vawter and Mr. Reames are native sons of Oregon. Mr. Vawter was born in Linn County 10 years ago. In the days of free silver he was in the gold-standard ranks. He is somewhat over 6 feet in height and has a genial, open countenance. The only political office he ever held was that of Mayor of Medford some ten years ago.
"I have never been a candidate for any office except that of Mayor previously to this time," Mr. Vawter remarked last night. "Perhaps for this reason I am not so well known in the northern part of the state as I am in the southern."
"Please understand," he said, at the close of the interview, "that I am making my own fight and that I am going it alone, entirely independent. I am not knocking anybody else who may be a candidate. Every effort that I am now making and shall make until the convention chooses its nominee will be fair and open."
Mr. Vawter will be in town all day and will go to Salem tonight. On Thursday he will be at Eugene, where the convention meets. He is registered at the Imperial.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, April 6, 1903, page 12
WILLIAM IRA VAWTER. The bar of Jackson County numbers among its successful members William Ira Vawter, who has been in continuous practice in Medford since 1891. Aside from his professional interests Mr. Vawter is deeply interested in financial matters, being president of the Jackson County Bank. Mr. Vawter, who comes of pioneer parentage on both side of his family, represents the third generation in the state, and was born in Linn County, Ore., March 24, 1863. His mother, Sarah A. (Finley) Vawter, crossed the plains from Missouri with her parents in 1846, his father undertaking the same hazardous journey in 1852.
From the drudgery of the Linn County farm Mr. Vawter stepped into an active student life at the University of Oregon in 1880, and while in the law department spent a portion of his time teaching county schools. Soon after his graduation in 1886 he was appointed principal of the public schools of Eugene, remaining in that position for two years. In 1888 he entered the world of finance and founded the Jackson County Bank at Medford, and for the past twelve years has served as the honored president of one of the substantial and reliable monetary institutions in this part of the state. Since his first voting days Mr. Vawter has been a staunch upholder of Republican principles, but has steadfastly declined to range himself with the office seekers of his county. For years he has been prominent in the lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and in 1896 was elected grand master of the state lodge of Oregon, in 1897 being elevated to the position of sovereign grand representative, which he held for two years. He has taken an important role in the deliberations of this august fraternal organization, and the esteem in which he is held by his fellow members adds to the universal estimate merited by his high character, his profound intellectual attainments, and his public-spirited efforts as a citizen of the great northwest.
In 1889 Mr. Vawter was united in marriage with Etta M. Hill, of which union two sons have been born, Vernon Hill and William Ira, Jr.
Portrait and Biographical Record of Western Oregon, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904, page 354
William I. Vawter, of Medford, president of the Jackson County Bank, was born in Linn County, March 24, 1863, and graduated from the University of Oregon in 1886. He was principal of the Eugene public school till 1888, when he established the bank at Medford. He is an earnest Republican, has been a delegate to county and state conventions and league meetings, a member of the congressional and state central committees, and chairman of the county central committee.
"Men Nominated by Oregon Republicans for Legislative Positions," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, May 1, 1901, page 23
Hon. W. I. Vawter has been president of the Jackson County Bank for fifteen years, and the bank has been doing business all these years in the same building, but some of the old directors have died and new ones have been taken in.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, January 26, 1906, page 5
G. W. Priddy has a force of men at work this week putting in a cement sidewalk on North H Street, in front of Hon. W. I. Vawter's vacant residence property.
April 6, 1906 Medford Mail
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, May 4, 1906, page 5
W. I. Vawter has commenced laying the foundation for a residence on his property corner of 7th and H streets. The residence will be a large and commodious one equipped with all modern conveniences and of a modified colonial style of architecture. Contractor C. E. Collins is superintending the work.
"City Happenings," Medford Mail, June 21, 1907, page 5
Hon. W. I. Vawter and Dr. E. B. Pickel have laid plans for some beautiful landscape gardening about their homes on West Seventh Street. They each have half a block near the center of which are their residences, and they propose uniting the grounds and making them over into beautiful lawns, driveways, terraces and bowers of roses and other flowers. All the fences and hedges will be removed, and on the property line at the rear of the houses will be erected a fine barn for the use of both. A Portland landscape gardener is now working on a design.
"Local and Personal," Medford Mail, May 29, 1908, page 5
QUICK WORK BY FIREMEN.The burning out of a chimney in the old Vawter residence, corner of Central Avenue and Sixth, now occupied by J. D. Fay and family, last evening gave the fire boys an opportunity to show how quickly they could move. In less than two minutes after the alarm was sounded the engine was at the scene, hose laid and everything in readiness for fire-fighting.
Only a Chimney, but the Department Was there in Two Minutes.
No damage resulted, as the fire, as such blazes have a habit of doing, burned itself out in a few minutes. However, the boys are to be congratulated on their quick work.
Medford Mail, November 20, 1908, page 1
WILLIAM IRA VAWTER.
April 1909 Medford's Magazine
Residence and office, Medford, Oregon. Born in Linn County, Oregon, March 24, 1863. Son of Cyrus and Sarah A. (Finley) Vawter. Married to Etta M. Hill, February 10, 1889. Attended public schools at Halsey, Oregon; later Philomath Academy, at Philomath, Oregon. Graduated from Oregon University, at Eugene, in 1886, with degree of A. B., and five years later received degree of A. M. Admitted to Oregon bar in 1892. Mayor of Medford, 1905; member Legislature, 1905 to 1907; member of Masonic and I.O.O.F. fraternities; President Jackson County Bank, of Medford. Republican.
History of the Bench and Bar of Oregon, 1910, page 239
February 6, 1910 Sunday Oregonian
VAWTER, William Ira:
Banker; born Linn County, Ore., March 24, 1863; son of Cyrus and Sarah A. (Finley) Vawter; graduated Oregon Univ., A.B. 1886, A.M. 1894; married Eugene, Ore., Feb. 10, 1889, Etta M. Hill; children: Vernon H., William Ira, Jr. President Jackson County Bank; treasurer Big Bend Milling Co.; director Fish Lake Water Co. Mayor Medford, Ore., two terms; member Oregon Legislature one term. Odd Fellow (Past Grand Master). Residence: 310 West Main Street. Office: 1 Jackson County Bank Building, Medford.
John William Leonard, ed., Who's Who in Finance, 1911, page 795
VAWTER, William Ira, Banker and Lawyer; born, Linn County, Ore., Mar. 24, 1863; son, Cyrus and Sarah A. (Finley) V. Married, Etta M. Hill, Jan. 10, 1889, at Eugene Ore. A.B., Univ. of Ore., 1886; A.M., 1894. Founded Jackson County Bank, at Medford, Ore., in 1888, and has been its president for 23 years. Treas., Big Bend Milling Co., Davenport, Wash. Member, Oregon Legislature, 1905; Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means. Mayor of Medford, one term. Member: Rogue River University Club, Medford, Ore. Res.: 310 W. Main; Office: Room 1, Jackson Bank Bldg., Medford, Ore.
Harper, Franklin, ed., Who's Who on the Pacific Coast, 1913, page 580
W. I. Vawter
Rogue River Valley in general and Medford in particular should and will enjoy a most prosperous year in 1914. Our lands are maintained at good prices, none of our first-class orchard properties are offered at a price less than in 1910. The fruit production should exceed that of 1913 by 25 percent. We are again doing something in the way of shipping out meat products. In 1910 we shipped in 75 carloads of potatoes; the year just closed we exported many carloads of garden products. Everything agriculturally is tending towards a stable and solvent condition which will bring in its turn a satisfactory prosperity.
"How Medford Merchants and Leading Firms View 1914 Prospects from Prosperity Angle; Optimistic," Medford Sun, January 1, 1914, page 6
MEDFORD, Or., Nov. 21.--(Special.)--William I. Vawter, just elected Joint Representative of Jackson and Douglas counties, was born in Linn County, Or., 61 years ago. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1886. For the succeeding two years he was Superintendent of Schools in Eugene. In 1888 he came to Medford and founded The Jackson County Bank, of which he has been continuously president for more than a quarter of a century. A little later he was admitted to the bar, and thereupon engaged in the practice of law, and has continuously practiced before the courts of Oregon since.
November 22, 1914 Sunday Oregonian
He was elected to the Legislature in 1905 and also to the session of 1907. During the session of 1905 he was chairman of the ways and means committee. During the session of 1907 he was chairman of the insurance committee and also a member of the judiciary committee. For the coming session of the Legislature he was elected as Representative from Jackson and Douglas counties without opposition.
Mr. Vawter has been Mayor of Medford one term, and also held the office of grand master of the Oddfellows. He is prominent in social, business and club circles and an enthusiastic golfer.
"Oregon Legislators Nos. 23, 24, 25, 26," Sunday Oregonian, Portland, November 22, 1914, page 8
A COMMUNITY LOSS
The untimely death of William Ira Vawter comes as a blow to the community and robs Medford and southern Oregon of one of their best assets at a time the country can ill afford to lose such a man.
Coming to Medford as a young man in village days, Mr. Vawter saw its opportunities and possibilities and became one of its leading citizens and principal community builders. In the intervening years he has been active in all lines of human endeavor. Progressive, enterprising, far-sighted, he has perhaps contributed more to development than any of our citizens. He was in the van of every betterment effort, giving freely of time and money in advancing the best interests of southern Oregon.
Though cut off in the prime of life, with wide fields of opportunity opening before him, with statewide appreciation of his efforts and recognition of his service and ability, with the future holding much for him, Mr. Vawter has left an enviable record that should be an inspiration to youth. That he was successful in all he undertook is a tribute not only to his talents, but to his ceaseless energy--for he was probably the hardest worker in the community.
The sympathy of all southern Oregon goes out to his bereaved family, for their loss is also the state's loss.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 5, 1916, page 4
VAWTER FUNERAL FROM RESIDENCE 2:30 P.M. MONDAY
William Ira Vawter, founder and president of the Jackson County Bank, joint representative of Jackson and Douglas counties in the state legislature, attorney, capitalist and leading citizen, died Friday evening, February 4, of Bright's disease at his home at Main and Holly streets, Medford, aged 52 years. Taken ill two months ago, Mr. Vawter rallied and seemed on the road to recovery when a relapse occurred, and the end was sudden. He is survived by his wife and two sons, Vernon, associated with him at the bank, and William, a university student.
Mr. Vawter was born in the Willamette Valley, was a graduate of the University of Oregon, coming to Medford in 1888, founding the Jackson County Bank, pioneer bank of Medford, and practicing law. With A. A. Davis and G. W. Howard of San Francisco as partners, a few years later, he formed the Big Bend Milling Co., which acquired and still holds large property interests in the Butte Falls timber belt, in Klamath County and in the Big Bend, Washington country at Davenport, as well as being heavily interested in San Francisco city property. His personal investments in city and county realty are heavy.
Mr. Vawter was one of the highest ranking officials in Oddfellowship, being prominent in the state grand lodge. For twenty-six years he has been a Pythian. He was also a member of the Masons, the Knights Templar, Shriners and Woodmen of the World. He was a charter member of the University Club as well as the golf and country clubs.
Mr. Vawter served as joint representative of Jackson and Douglas counties in the legislatures of 1905, 1907 and 1913, holding important committee chairmanships and wielding great influence. He was defeated for speaker in 1907 by a narrow margin and declined a nomination for congress and was favored as a gubernatorial possibility for 1918.
Mr. Vawter was widely known throughout the coast and popular wherever known. He was prominent in the social life of the community as well as in business circles. He was public spirited to a degree and heartily supported every project for the upbuilding of city and country. His loss will be keenly felt throughout southern Oregon. He was a member of the Baptist Church.
The remains will be in state from 10 o'clock to 12 o'clock Monday at his residence, the funeral being held at 2:30 o'clock, Dr. Hill officiating.
The body will be taken to Portland on the afternoon train for cremation. The Masons and Odd Fellows will participate only as an escort from the house to the train. Banks and business houses will close as a tribute of respect.
Dr. C. M. Hill, president of the Baptist College, Oakland, Cal., a brother of Mrs. Vawter, is en route to attend the funeral.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 5, 1916, page 6
WILLIAM I. VAWTER DEAD AT MEDFORD
Prominent Lawyer, Banker and Legislator Ends Long Career of Public Activity.
WIFE AND SONS SURVIVE
Late Southern Oregon Man Was Eugene Graduate--Member of Fraternal Orders--
Chairman of Land Grant Commission.
MEDFORD, Or., Feb. 4.--(Special.)--Attorney W. I. Vawter, long prominent in Southern Oregon, president of the Jackson County Bank and identified with the legislative sessions of the state for several terms, being joint representative from Jackson and Douglas counties at the last session, died at his home in this city tonight of Bright's disease at the age of 52.
He had been ill for two months and a half and Thursday suffered a relapse.
He is survived by his wife and two sons, Vernon, associated with him in his banking interest, and William, a student at the University of Oregon.
He had been a resident of this city for 27 years.
He was a graduate of the University of Oregon.
He was a member of the Masons, Elks and Knights of Pythias. His last public act was as chairman of the Oregon-California land grant commission.
----William I. Vawter, dead in his very prime at the age of 53 years, has been an active and influential figure in public affairs of this state for the past 30 years. He was a man of unusual talents and a magnetic personality, who seemed able to "make good" at anything he tried.
He founded the Jackson County Bank at Medford, in 1888, two years after his graduation from the University of Oregon, and was its president for 28 years. Not content with business success alone, he studied law, was admitted to the bar, and became a practicing lawyer of brilliant attainments.
Prior to going to Medford in 1888, he was for two years superintendent of schools in Eugene, Or.
He was a member of the lower house in three different sessions of the Legislature, and took a prominent part in each. In 1905, his first legislative term, he served as chairman of the important committee of ways and means. In the 1907 session he was chairman of the insurance committee and a member of the judiciary committee.
In 1914 he was elected joint Representative from Jackson and Douglas counties to the 1915 Legislature without opposition in response to the statewide demand for legislators of proved ability pledged to economy and a business session. He was deeply interested in good roads legislation at this session.
Only a few weeks ago he had been mentioned as a possible candidate for Representative in Congress from the First District.
Mr. Vawter served one term as mayor of Medford. He also rose to the position of grand master of the Oddfellows.
He was chairman of the land grant conference held in Salem last September in connection with the Oregon & California land grant, and was named by the conference as chairman of a committee to confer with the Southern Pacific in an effort to adjust differences and effect a compromise in the disposition of the grant lands.
Mr. Vawter was as highly regarded as he was widely known through the whole of Oregon.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, February 5, 1916, page 3
MEDFORD PAYS FINAL TRIBUTE TO LATE W. I. VAWTER
All Medford paid tribute to the memory of the late W. I. Vawter Monday, banks closing all day, stores and business houses in the afternoon for the funeral. The courthouse of Jacksonville and the Medford city hall and library also closed.
From 10 to 12 o'clock the remains lay in state at the family residence and were viewed by hundreds of acquaintances. At 2:30 o'clock the funeral services were conducted by Dr. J. Lawrence Hill, amid a wealth of floral tributes. Masons and Pythians formed an escort to conduct the remains to the train for Portland, where they will be incinerated.
The funeral services were simple and impressive. The honorary pallbearers were: Judge F. M. Calkins, Judge M. Purdin, H. von der Hellen, T. W. Miles, Gus Newbury, J. H. Newman.
Active pallbearers: H. U. Lumsden, C. I. Hutchinson, George R. Lindley, C. W. McDonald, E. V. Emerick, C. A. Knight.
Relatives and business associates from distant parts of the coast were in attendance at the funeral, one of the largest ever held in Medford. From all parts of the country have come expressions of regret and sympathy, showing the regard and esteem in which the dead banker and legislator was held.
The coffin was almost entirely hidden in a great bank of floral tributes.
Besides his widow and two sons, Mr. Vawter is mourned by his aged mother, Mrs. S. A. Ribelin, of Halsey, Ore., one of the pioneers of Oregon, and by a sister, Mrs. Gertrude Pentland, of Los Angeles, Cal.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 7, 1916, page 6
BAR DEPLORES CALL OF DEATH TO W. I. VAWTER
The members of the Jackson County Bar Association met at the chambers of the circuit judge for Jackson County, Oregon, at the hour of 11 o'clock a.m., on Monday, the 7th day of February, 1916, for appropriate action on the death of William I. Vawter. Practically all of the members of the association were present. Judge F. M. Calkins presided and at once appointed a committee of three to prepare such proceedings as should be spread upon the minutes of the association and upon the circuit court journal. The committee then presented the following, which was unanimously adopted:
Resolutions Adopted.William Ira Vawter was born in Linn County, Oregon, March 24, 1863, and died at his home in Medford, Jackson County, Oregon, on the 4th day of February, 1916, having spent his entire life in the state.
He graduated from the University of Oregon in the year 1886 and began his business career as a school teacher, being compelled to rely entirely upon his own resources.
Shortly after his graduation he moved to Medford, then a small railroad town, which had been in existence but a few years. Mr. Vawter saw the possibilities of the community and in 1888 established the Jackson County Bank, of which he became president. He remained at the head of that bank up to the time of his death and made it one of the strongest institutions of southern Oregon. While associated with this institution he found time for the study of law and in 1892 was admitted by the supreme court to practice in all of the courts of the state. From that time on he was one of the active practitioners at this bar and took part in most of the important litigation in the county.
His Public Service.In 1905, 1907 and 1915 he was a member of the Oregon legislature and was able to and did accomplish much for the benefit of this section and for the state at large.
He was always interested in everything of a public nature and was one of the strong factors in the growth of this community.
His business judgment was good and was generally relied upon, both in private transactions and in matters of the larger concerns to the community. His early death is undoubtedly due to the energy and untiring efforts which he put forth in the handling of the business which was entrusted to his care.
He was particularly earnest in his practice and represented his clients with zeal and fidelity. He was always courteous, and when he could do so without injury to his cause he was generous toward opposing counsel almost to a fault. He would do whatever he promised an opposing attorney that he would do.
Word as Good as Bond.His oral stipulation was as good as his written one. Where opposing counsel had appeared in a case he never took a default without notice and an opportunity for the counsel to protect his rights. By the following of his natural inclination along these lines he endeared himself to the members of the profession, and in his death at this time the members of the bar feel that they have sustained a great loss. The loss is one which will likewise be felt by the community.
In testimony of the esteem in which he was held the members of the bar deem it appropriate that a copy of these proceedings be given to the press and the family and that an order be entered that they be spread upon the circuit court journal and that no further proceedings be had in court upon this date.
Upon the adoption of the foregoing the court directed that these proceedings be by the clerk extended upon the minutes of the court, and the president of our association directed that the same be entered upon the minutes of the association.
Medford Mail Tribune, February 8, 1916, page 6
VERNON HILL VAWTER.Vernon Hill Vawter, cashier of the Jackson County Bank of Medford and its chief executive, is not only prominently associated with business interests and enterprises which have much to do with the upbuilding of the city, but has in many other ways manifested his public spirit through cooperation with projects of great benefit to the state. He now has the distinction of serving as the youngest member of the board of regents of the State University, and his labors are at all times a direct and constructive element of public progress. Mr. Vawter is numbered among the native sons of Medford, his birth having occurred November 13, 1890, his parents being William I. and Etta M. (Hill) Vawter. The father was also a native of Linn County and the members of the family rank high as factors in the growth and progress of southern Oregon. The first American ancestors of the Vawter family came from England more than a hundred years ago. William I. Vawter has the credit of being the "father of banking" in Medford, and his fame is not confined alone to this field of activity, for his memory is cherished as that of one of the potential builders of the town, his efforts contributing in substantial measure in many ways to the early progress and later improvements of the city.
Vernon H. Vawter was educated in the graded and high schools of Medford and in the University of Oregon. Following his graduation from the state institution he returned to Medford and accepted a position in the Jackson County Bank, of which his father was then president. The son is now the cashier of the bank and its chief executive, contributing much to its development and growth. In fact under his guidance the bank has come to be regarded as one of the most substantial financial institutions of the state.
During the World War Mr. Vawter was accepted in a civilian Officers' Training Camp, but returned home incapacitated as a result of a severe attack of influenza and before he had recovered his health the armistice was signed. No man of his age in Oregon occupies a more prominent place in the business life of the state than does he. As a leading citizen of Medford he is called to act on every public service committee and he cheerfully responds to all demands made upon his time and means. He has had an unusual honor bestowed upon him in that he has been selected as one of the regents of the University of Oregon, enjoying the distinction of being the only man of his years who has ever been so highly honored. He is a member of the Medford public library board and belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, of which he served as president, cooperating in all of its activities for the benefit and upbuilding of the city. His political allegiance is given to the Republican Party, and he steadily declines to become a candidate for office.
In 1915 Mr. Vawter was married to Miss Aletha Emerick of Boise, Idaho, a daughter of V. J. Emerick, one of the most prominent residents of the city, who for two terms served as mayor of Medford.
Mr. Vawter is the treasurer of the Elks lodge of Medford and is also the treasurer of the Big Bend Milling Company, which has constructed in Medford several of its best business blocks on Main street and Central avenue, North. Nor does Mr. Vawter selfishly confine his energies to the growth and improvement of the city in which he makes his home, but takes an active interest in all matters for the benefit of the state. He is now one of the committee engaged in improving Crater Lake and the Crater Lake National Park. Progress and enterprise are the keynotes of his character and have constituted the forces that have thrown open for him the portals of success.
Charles Henry Carey, History of Oregon, 1922, page 178
VAWTER, William Ira, 1 Jackson County Bank Bldg.; res. 310 W. Main St.,
Banker; b. Linn County, Ore., March 24, 1863; s. of Cyrus and Sarah A. (Finley) Vawter; grad. Oregon Univ., A.B., 1886, A.M. 1894; m. Eugene, Ore., Feb. 10, 1889, Etta M. Hill; children: Vernon H., William Ira, Jr. Asst. Cashier Jackson County Bank; treas. Big Bend Milling Co.; dir. Fish Lake Water Co. Mayor Medford, Ore., two terms; member Oregon Legislature one term, Odd Fellow (Past Grand Master).
Who's Who in Finance, Banking and Insurance, 1922, page 702
H. Fluhrer, the demon baker, has started to move a pioneer house a block. There is not a screwdriver in his repertoire of screwdrivers big enough to do a thing about it.
Arthur Perry, "Ye Smudge Pot," Medford Mail Tribune, July 13, 1941, page 6
The H. Fluhrer house is slowly shifting to the south, while losing the race to the snail, with the turtle second.
Arthur Perry, "Ye Smudge Pot," Medford Mail Tribune, July 20, 1941, page 6
Former Vawter Home Is Sold
Sale of their apartment house, the former Vawter home of historic interest in Medford, was announced today by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry R. Smith, 1033 Reddy Ave., Medford.By Eva Hamilton
The colonial building with Grecian columns at the corner of Eighth and Holly streets, across from the new federal building and U.S post office, was sold to Mr. and Mrs. H.O. Martin, 755 Stevens St., Medford, of the H. O. Martin Insurance and Real Estate Agency.
Possession of the building will be transferred to the new owners Jan. 1. Mrs. Smith said they had notified their tenants.
There are four apartments in the building, which was purchased 24 years ago by Mrs. Smith's parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. William Lee Greenleaf.
The Greenleafs purchased the building from the late W. H. (Heine) Fluhrer, who had it moved from its location on West Main Street, where it was constructed as the W. I. Vawter home. The house stood for many years where the Fluhrer Bakeries property is now located.
It was the home of the University Club for many years and was later operated by Mr. and Mrs. William Vawter as the Colonial Club before it was moved to its present location.
The Martins were not available this morning to report their future plans for the building.
It was understood in local business circles that other properties, adjoining the apartment house, had also been sold. These reports were unconfirmed, as the persons involved could not be contacted.
Medford Mail Tribune, November 1, 1966, page 1
Old Vawter Home Has Seen Many Uses
Mail Tribune Staff Writer
When you were very young did you ever walk down the street in autumn to view the windows of houses aglow with the first morning sunlight? Did you ever wonder what was happening beyond those rosy window panes?
Did you ever stroll off campus in winter to gaze at warm firesides and try to read the minds and interpret movements of people glimpsed through unshuttered windows?
If so, you were already aware, in that era before television pulled the shades and closed the shutters, that every house that is a home is a reservoir of tales never told. That the walls of a house are like the covers of a book, protecting the stories within.
Outlast BuildersSome houses are home to the same families until they are razed. Many more outlast their original builders and gradually accept unmindful tenant after unmindful tenant until they are cut down by the hatchets of urban renewal.
Some take on a variety of functions as time marches on. They are flexible ones whose very architecture enables them to make transitions.
A view from the water tower, circa 1908. The Vawter house is at right.
The house on the southeast corner of Holly and Eighth streets in Medford is one of these. It has been a family home, a club house, dining inn and apartment house without losing one acanthus leaf in its authentic Corinthian columns despite fire and relocation.
This might be explained with the old cliche "The Greeks had a word for it" [hubris]. For the house is definitely Greek Revival in architecture.
It was completed in 1905 as the W. I. Vawter home. Emptiness today breeds mystery in the house. It has not been occupied since last January. It was sold in November, 1966, by Mr. and Mrs. Jerry R. Smith, who had operated it as an apartment house, an inheritance from Mrs. Smith's parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. William Lee Greenleaf.
Its Future"What will its future be?" This question is frequently asked on Medford's streets, particularly in the civic center, which is developing in its view. The new federal building and U.S. post office is just across Holly Street, and the new city hall is nearing completion one block west. These two public buildings front the city Library Park which the Vawter house faced from West Main Street in its original location, now occupied by Fluhrer's Holsum Corporation.
W. I. Vawter, banker, lawyer, financier and politician, purchased the lot at the corner of Holly and West Main streets in about 1898, according to his son, Vernon H. Vawter of Santa Barbara, Calif.
It seemed a wise buy because the Southern Pacific Railroad Company had given the city the block of land directly across the street for park purposes.
There were very few buildings west of the railroad tracks in 1898. [There were at least a hundred, including four churches and Washington School.] The park soon became an actuality with the encouragement and help of the Greater Medford Club, insuring the Vawter house a perpetual garden view.
Just two years after graduation from the University of Oregon, in 1898, the handsome young Vawter established the pioneer Jackson County Bank and embarked on a career which skyrocketed in many fields.
He practiced law with Austin S. Hammond, with offices in the IOOF Building. He was chairman of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee. In 1905, 1907 and 1915 he was a member of the Oregon Legislature, serving both Jackson and Douglas counties. He was on the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives.
Holding the position of superintendent of schools in Eugene before coming to Medford, he was prepared to take an active part in the development of Medford schools and became a member of the school board.
It is interesting today to note that Jerry E. Vawter of 97 Black Oak Drive, his grandson now living with his family in Medford, is an educator. He is currently instructor of business education in the Ashland High School.
Confer with RailroadVawter was named chairman of the committee to confer with the Southern Pacific Railroad in an effort to adjust differences and effect a compromise in the disposition of the railroad land grants.
He was the natural choice for chairman of the Oregon-California Land Grant Commission and was being mentioned as candidate for Congress from the First District when death ended his career in 1916. He was just 52 years of age.
He had been president for 28 years of the bank which he founded. Under his stewardship, it, too, seemed to skyrocket toward success, then exploded long after his death in the Great Depression, never to be reestablished.
Just before his death, Vawter presided at the land grant conference in Salem, helping to lay the foundation for settlement of the Oregon and California land grant issue, which grew into one of Jackson County's most lucrative sources of revenue.
In Milling CompanyHe was associated with A. A. Davis, father of the late Scott V. Davis, and G. W. Howard in the Big Bend Milling Company, which constructed much of Medford's downtown business section.
He also served one term as mayor of Medford.
Following Mr. Vawter's death, his son recalls, it "seemed prudent" for Mrs. Vawter, the former Etta May Hill, daughter of Sarah Russell Joyce Hill, to give up residence in the three-story house. She rented it to the Rogue Valley University Club of which her husband was a charter member. [The University Club had taken an option on the Vawter house when it was formed in 1909.] It became a very appropriate home for the University Club, which was then predominantly "Ivy League," with graduates of Yale and Harvard leading the membership list.
The house continued to be the University Club until 1933, according to a club history written in 1959 by the late Seth Bullis. With a "very competent Japanese," Mr. Maru, an influential leader of the Nisei clan, as steward, it was the gathering place of the ranch colony and prominent men of the city. [A Nisei is any person born in America of native Japanese parents.]
An annual stag party in the club commemorated the Battle of Bunker Hill. "It was especially successful during the days of Prohibition," in the memories of residents who willingly recall the toasts that were offered and the songs that were sung.
Following the University Club's residence, the house was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. William Vawter. In addition to calling it home they converted it into The Colonial Club. Private parties were arranged by reservations and it was the setting for at least one large wedding, that of the late Clara Mary Fuson, a society editor of the Mail Tribune, to Russell Davis.
Its next identity was that of [an] apartment house. It was divided into four spacious dwelling units. In about 1935 fire broke out in the roof of the building, and the third floor was damaged so badly it was not rebuilt.
In May 1941, the late W. H. "Heine" Fluhrer purchased the apartment house from Vernon Vawter along with the property on which it was located. The plan was to provide space for a garage to serve the Fluhrer Bakery. Business and industry had rapidly expanded into what was once the parkside residential area.
Actual moving of the house from the corner of Holly and Main streets to the corner of Holly and Eighth streets started on July 9, 1941. J. B. and P. E. Hadley, Klamath Falls contractors, were the movers. But the horse and donkey which by turns furnished the power to edge the building along on its turntable got the credit in both the humorous and pathetic reports which followed the house's journey.
The late Arthur Perry, editor of "Ye Smudge Pot" columns in the Mail Tribune, almost daily commented on the trip. "The Vawter mansion is still slowly shifting to the south, while losing the race to the snail," he remarked two weeks after its start. On July 25, he remarked that the house was almost at its destination, "thanks to the horse."
It was again ready for housekeeping in August, 1941.
In 1942, Fluhrer announced its sale to the Greenleafs, parents of Mrs Smith, 1033 Reddy Avenue. It seemed a fitting ownership. The Greenleafs' first acquaintance with the three-story mansion was at the first formal dinner held there. Greenleaf, a noted Shakespearean scholar and entertainer, was guest of honor at the dinner.
Mr. and Mrs. M. O. Martin, to whom ownership of the building was transferred Jan. 1, 1967, have announced no plans for its future. It was understood when they purchased the structure that they represented other interests.
Medford Mail Tribune, December 10, 1967, page 1C
The Vawter House in 1967, at Eighth and Holly.
Last revised April 29, 2013