Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Recollection of Holidays in Jacksonville in 1874

Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

            How did you pass the holiday season this year?  Did you attend a family gathering, or a public event?  What events were held in your town on December 25?
            Today, you might look to the internet or news broadcasts to find answers to these questions.  If you lived in Jacksonville in 1874, however, you would find an account of Christmas in the Oregon Sentinel newspaper.  On December 26 of 1874, the Sentinel printed this article to relate the town’s happenings at Christmastime to its readers:

For many days the citizens of our town were universally engaged in preparations for the proper commemoration of the annual holidays. The anxious longings of the little folks were appeased by the distribution of gifts from numerous Christmas Trees scattered among various private residences in all parts of town. But the principal features of attraction were the exercises indulged in at the churches. The first was that at the M.E. Church, under the auspices of the teachers of the Union Sunday School, of which Mr. Wm. Hoffman is Superintendent. The church was brilliantly lighted and jammed full at an early hour. The exercises consisted of singing by the scholars of the school, with prayer and remarks by Rev. M.A. Williams. Then followed the lighting up of a large and elegant Christmas Tree, which was loaded full of choice presents for the scholars only. Cakes, candies and nuts were then given to the scholars by the teachers in the order of classes, and finally the entire audience were treated to a liberal supply of most excellent cake. After that the presents were distributed from the tree among the scholars, each receiving something according to the fancy of the giver as it was taken from the tree. The method adopted in this instance was something unusual, and gave universal satisfaction. The elegantly ornamented tree was the combined production of nature and the Sunday School Misses Kate Hoffman and Mollie McCully, assisted by lady teachers of the school and various male members of the Church. The crowd dispersed about 9 o’clock, and the occurrence will be remembered as one of the most pleasant affairs of the kind happening in Jacksonville.

            However you spent your holiday went, we hope it was merry.  Have a safe and Happy New Year as we welcome the year 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Butterscotch Pumpkin Muffins made with Hanley Horsepower Flour

Congratulations to Deborah Thompson who entered these muffins to cinch first place in our horsepower flour baking contest!

Butterscotch Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 lb unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 3/4 cup Hanley Horsepower Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground culinary lavender
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter muffin pan. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, brown sugar, and butter. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in the cider.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lavender, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a medium sized bowl. Gradually stir into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly mixed. Fold in the butterscotch chips and ginger until evenly distributed. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve warm with lavender butter.

Honey Lavender Butter

1/4 pound unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey or lavender honey
1 tablespoon culinary lavender buds

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter, honey and lavender. Pulse until just mixed. Transfer to a butter keeper or a sheet of parchment paper and roll into a 1" wide log. Refrigerate until ready to use.

From the Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bring on the Lights!

Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

            Do you love to embellish your house with dozens of strands of Christmas lights and bright decorations for the holidays?  If so, it’s too bad you didn’t live in Medford in 1928…
            In the year before the Great Depression, the Medford Mail Tribune ran this ad searching for the best decorated and lit yards at Christmas time:

            A contest which is expected to prove of interest to all Medford home owners is being sponsored by the publicity department of the Medford Chamber of Commerce and was announced today. Prizes will be awarded to the four best decorated and illuminated front yards during the Christmas holidays, including decorations and colored lights on trees, shrubbery, and buildings.
            The contest will be open to any resident not connected with the California Oregon Power Company or with any local electric concern and entries must be filed with the publicity department of the chamber before December 24. The lights used for decorative purposes must be burned every night from December 22 until January 2, at the end of which time prizes donated by the People’s Electric Store, Medford Electric company, Southern Oregon Electric Company, and the California Oregon Power Company will be awarded.
            Awards will be made on the general artistic appearance of the house and grounds. The prizes will consist of a $25 percolator, a $15 waffle iron, a $10 automatic toaster, and a $9 iron.
            Today, the Mail Tribune’s website features an interactive “Holiday Light Tour” of the best houses, which you can find at  Sadly, there are no prizes offered to those whose houses make the list.  But it’s all in good cheer!  There are still a few nights left to enjoy the Christmas lights, wherever you live.  Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Letters from the Past

From the collection of the Hanley sisters
Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

            Happy Holidays!  It’s early December, and the time is here to send out your holiday greeting cards.  The first Christmas cards originated in the mid-1800s in England, but the practice has since become a worldwide tradition for people of many backgrounds and many different religions.
            The Hanley sisters, of the historic Hanley Farm in Central Point, received dozens of cards each December from the 1910s to 1980s.  Mary Hanley, one of the sisters and the last descendant of the family to live on the farm, deeded the farm to the Southern Oregon Historical Society.  In addition to hundreds and hundreds of artifacts, the society was also given all of the Christmas correspondence to Mary, Martha, and Claire Hanley.  While most of the cards contained only a signature from the sender, there were a few cards with longer letters inside.  Here are two interesting samples from 1944, the year before the end of World War II:

Sent to: Misses Mary, Martha, and Claire Hanley, Medford Oregon
A “Thank You” card from: Marilyn S., Harbor Oregon

Inside of card: Thanks a million for the cute pin, and the lovely handkerchief and pretty handkerchief holder.  Love Marilyn

Back of card:
Dear Everybody:
Merry Christmas a little late. Yes, I got lots of things for Christmas. I think the best thing I got was a bike. Today I’m learning to ride it. I took a spill in a rosebush last nite, Ouch. I got lots of other things like 2 sweters, 3 slips, a new purse, a pair of cute suspenders and a charm bracelet, 3 pins and lots of other things. Thanks again
Love Marilyn

Sent to: Claire Hanley, Rt. 2, Medford Oregon
A family picture, with caption, from: Ghangle, Medford Oregon

We pause on this Christmas morn in sober reflection, and gratitude for the blessings that have been ours.
With the coming of the new year, we extend our greetings, and good wishes for 1945.
The Ghangles


            The relations between the card senders and the Hanley sisters remain unknown.  There are multiple boxes filled with the Hanley sisters’ Christmas cards, ready for perusal at the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library.  The cards provide a fun insight to the past, and reading them might even help you compose your own upcoming Christmas letters.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Recipes to be Thankful for!

Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

            Looking for something new to try for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner?  Maybe you should try something old instead.  That is, an old recipe…  We’ve found three ideas from historic Jacksonville families that might just add that something extra to your holiday dinner table.

            Emil Britt, son of Peter and Amalia Britt (of Jacksonville, for whom the Britt Festival is named), presented his mother with an 1870 cookbook entitled “Common Sense in the Kitchen: A Practical System of Cookery” in 1882.  The book is in the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library, and contains a multitude of recipes and tips from the 19th century.
            Turkey is a Thanksgiving staple, and in Amalia Britt's cookbook, there are helpful tips for roasting your turkey:

When your Turkey is properly trussed for dressing, stuff it with the following ingredients: Take four ounces of butter, or chopped suet, some grated bread, a little lemon peel, parsley, and sweet herbs chopped together, pepper, salt, and nutmeg, a little cream, and the yolks of two or three eggs; work these all well together, and fill the craw with it. Let your fire be very brisk, and when you put it down paper the breast, and let it continue on till near done; then take it off, dredge it with flour, and keep basting it till it is done. If it is a large turkey, serve it up with gravy alone, or brown celery, or mushroom sauce. If it is a turkey-poult, serve it up with gravy and bread sauce… A middling sized turkey will take more than an hour, a small one three quarters of an hour, and a very large one an hour and a half. In dressing these, as well as fowls, always let your fire be clear and brisk.

“The Smith Family Heritage Cookbook” is a family history through recipes.  Originally published in 1980, the cookbook was updated in 2009 by Dana Smith Tuley.  Here’s the Smith’s family favorite dressing for holidays:

Smith’s Southern Style Dressing
12 slices white bread               4 cups cornbread, crumbled
2 cups diced celery                  2 cups diced onion
2 cubes butter                          2 t. sage
1 16 oz. can creamed corn      2 cups chicken broth

Cut the bread into 1 inch pieces and mix with crumbled cornbread.
In large skillet on low heat, melt butter and sauté celery and onions until well done. DO NOT BROWN! (This procedure takes a little while, but don’t hurry by turning the heat up).
Add the hot chicken broth to bread and cornbread along with corn and sage. Salt and pepper to taste. If mixture is not moist add a little more chicken broth.
Bake in 9x13” baking dish until golden brown at about 350˚ for approximately 50 minutes.

The Smith family has lived in the Rogue Valley, in Jacksonville, Ruch, and the Applegate Valley, since 1882.  The cookbook is available for purchase at the Research Library or online at, and includes other dishes like “Almond Christmas Balls” and “Southern Chicken or Turkey Casserole” that would work well for holiday meals.

And, of course, what would Thanksgiving be without dessert?  We found a recipe for apple nut bread in the Hanley family archives.

Apple Nut Bread
½ cup butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, unbeaten
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
2 tblsp. sour cream
2 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. chopped unpeeled apples

2 tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cut butter into sugar and blend together until smooth; add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in vanilla and sour cream. Sift together dry ingredients; add nuts. Combine dry ingredients and nuts with creamed mixture. Stir in apples. Put mixture into greased and floured 9” x 5” x 3” pan. Sprinkle top of loaf with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake in 325˚ oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Makes one loaf.

            This recipe, from 1950, takes advantage of the apple harvest time on the Hanley Farm.  The “Recipes from the Hanley Farms” packet is also available for purchase in the Research Library or at

Happy Cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Helping History Happen

Helping History Happen: A Volunteer Interview
Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

            Do you ever wonder about the way history is recorded?  Where do all the facts go?  In Southern Oregon, one sure place to find history in its many forms is at the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library.
            But how does all that history get sorted?  Well, the Research Library is run mostly by volunteers who donate their time to help keep Southern Oregon history alive.  The stories our volunteers can share will make you want to experience some history yourself!
Dana Smith Tuley is a part-time staff member and part-time volunteer of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, as well as a lifelong Oregonian.  A resident of Medford, Dana was a legal secretary for 30 years and is now retired.  Here, Dana answers some questions about herself and her job at the SOHS.

What is your favorite part of being a volunteer?
Knowing that we, the volunteers, are helping the society get through a tough time in its history and that we are working to make it better.

What is your favorite piece of history within the Research Library?
[M]y family’s history dating back to 1870 in the valley starting in Eagle Point and on to Jacksonville and surrounding areas in 1881; I found so much history to use in a cookbook I was preparing with family history added.

What is your favorite historic building the Society owns?
I loved going to the Museum as a child (in the 50s) and seeing my great-grandparents’ home displayed there as one of the old homes in Jacksonville.  It was built in 1887 or 1888.

What is your favorite event put on by the Society?
Love Hanley Farm events; love stepping back in time that happens strolling the old farm grounds with a grandchild; all 3 have attended events with me through the years.  They all got to churn butter, which so fun for them and me!  I got to make butter on my grandparents’ ranch on the Applegate so it was special for them to get to do it too.

Do you have a favorite person of interest whose life can be researched in the library?
I love the “Vertical Files” where I can ask about a subject, such as a certain person, town or place in the area, and read articles, letters, etc. about it/them.  I also find it fascinating to ask about photos on a person/place and get a box to go through on my own; it takes you back in time and one picture leads to another box of pictures to look through; it is endless.

Do you have any advice to give people wanting to learn more about their family’s or local history?
Start with the historical society’s Research Library and get help from the people who work there; they try very hard to answer all your questions and find as much information as they possibly can.  The term “it takes a village” applies; we all work together to do the best for the customer.

What are your favorite things to do when not volunteering?
I revised/wrote The Smith Family Heritage Cookbook for the Jacksonville Sesquicentennial which started my love affair with SOHS.

What are your interests and hobbies?
I showed horses for about 20 years; tennis was a passion for 36 years until the knees wore out!  Still a passion but I turned to coaching girls’ high school junior varsity tennis for 5 years.  My husband builds street rods for a living and we travel the country in our 1934 apple green Ford 2-door sedan with a group of friends.  Our ‘34 is not like my grandparents’ ‘34; we have air conditioning, heat, stereo, power steering, tiltback seat; a little more luxurious than in the “old days”! A great way to see the sites of this great country.

            The Research Library is located at
106 N. Central Ave.
in Medford, Oregon, and is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 12 to 4:00 pm.  Call (541) 858-1724 or visit for more information.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Schmidt Sisters' Thoughts on Marriage

The Schmidt Sisters
Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

In today's society, there are many single women who live successful and happy lives without marriage—but in the early 19th century, most women got married. 
Anna and Flora Schmidt were not like most women.  The two sisters who lived in the historic Schmidt House of Grants Pass, Oregon, shared their thoughts in personal records on their unmarried statuses:

Anna (in a typewritten document to her niece, Mildred):

That was something always thought to be what all young folks automatically ended up doing. Sameas in your time, the boys had their girl friends and the girls their boy friends. During school days this was particularly so. Going to and from school together, to parties or entertainment, etc. Only, our transportation was our own feet. I had to be home at a reasonable hour, and could go only on Friday evenings, not on a school night.

Flora (in a typewritten document to the Josephine County Historical Society, for their records):

As for the boy-friend situation, that was practically nil, in my case. I never even had a boy-friend in school. I think I was born a confirmed old-maid. I remember when I started to work for Mr. Blanchard, one of mother’s friends said to me, “Oh, you’ll just work a year or two, and then get married, like all the girls do, and I told her: “Take a good look, this one won’t.” One of the highest compliments Anna ever paid me was when she said, referring to the four Obers girls and me, “Flora is the only one who never was boy-crazy.” In my 20’s, I did go to some grange dances, and a picnic or two, with Eugene Moore (and his folks), but that was the extent of my fall from grace.

         The Schmidt House in Grants Pass, Oregon, is a historic building that was built in 1901 by European immigrants Claus and Hannchen Schmidt.  In the house, they raised their four children: boys Reinhold and Herman, and girls Anna and Flora.
         Anna and Flora inherited the home in the late 1920s, and continued to live there for most of their lives.  Both sisters were career woman, as well as active within their community.  A few years before they moved into a retirement center, in 1978, they donated the Schmidt House to the Josephine County Historical Society.  The Society transformed the house into a public museum, to continue the Schimdt sister’s practice of hospitality.
         The Schmidt House Museum is open for tours, and visitors can witness original furnishings and items from the lifetimes of Flora and Anna, who passed away in 1981 and 1987.  For more information on the Schmidt House, visit  For tour information, call (541) 479 7827.

Original documents and photos for this article are courtesy of the Josephine County Historical Society.

Monday, November 1, 2010


With the invention of internet dating, finding a romantic interest in today’s world isn’t all that difficult.  You can meet people who live in your town, or people who live across the world.  You can scan a profile page to decide if a stranger seems like someone you’d want to meet.          
            Do you ever wonder what people did, before internet dating?  What about before computers, before telephones, before widespread technology?  What could people do 100 years ago to find a suitable companion, when there were no prospects in their town?
            One solution was to print a wanted ad in the newspaper.  In this clip from the C.P. Herald, printed on May 9, 1907, a Klamath Indian who lived on the Klamath reservation placed an amusing request to find a husband for his daughter:

Here’s Your Chance, Boys!
            Henry Jackson, a wealthy Indian of the Klamath tribe, who lives on the reservation over the divide, has offered $50,000 cash bonus to any white man who will marry his daughter.  The girl is said to be one of the most beautiful young squaws in that tribe, and Jackson is said to be very wealthy—owner of more cattle than any ordinary Indian could count.  He has a son now languishing in the Multnomah county jail having been recently indicted for stealing a cow, and the old man refuses to furnish bail money to get the boy out because of his general worthlessness.  But it is different with the girl, and her father is willing to give $50,000 for the right kind of son-in-law.  Now, boys, don’t all speak at once, but here is your chance for a sure-thing get-rich-quick scheme.

            Mr. Jackson probably had to interview tons of eligible young men.  Who could resist a beautiful girl with $50,000, a considerable fortune in 1907?
            Do you have any funny examples of historic “Love Wanted” ads from past newspapers?  Please share your thoughts and examples in our comment box.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spooky Enigma in Southern Oregon!

Post submitted by Karreen Busch 

There have been many hypotheses as to what causes the odd effects within the famous Oregon Vortex of Gold Hill. Some suggest it is paranormal activity, and others believe it a false illusion.

            On March 12, 1980, Richard Engeman and Marjorie Edens, of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, conducted an oral history interview with Fred Coffman. In the transcribed interview, Coffman speaks of the House of Mystery, located within the Oregon Vortex. Coffman worked as manager for the Vortex’s original owner, John Litster, who opened it to the public in 1930.

            Here, Coffman makes his own attempts at defining the mystery:

RE:            Can I ask you what you feel about some of the mysteries at the House of Mystery.
To me it’s an optical illusion.

FC:             Yeah, a lot of it is. But it’s a little hard to describe it to you on neutral ground. I could tell you, go up there and show you, and we use a lot of reverse psychology: I tell you the truth and you’ve got your own idea, see… But I can prove it to you, and you still won’t believe it. Yes, that’s the truth…

Actually, it’s an anomaly (speaking of the effects of the Vortex). To me, it’s a strange thing. I’ve had guys explain it… It’s an anomaly where it effects the light and then as the object is reflected back through, kind of be like looking in water. You don’t see the object, you just see the reflected image.

If there’s anything between you and it, you’ll have a disturbance there.
So I’ve seen it up there. No kidding, I’ve actually seen it where you could go…just be shoulder to shoulder with a guy, almost there, and when you go the guy is so much taller. You’ve seen it.

            Well, that’s the interesting thing.

            Whatever the cause of the Mystery, it seems destined to remain just that: a mystery. For, while the effects can be scientifically measured, nothing can be proved.
            For more information on the Oregon Vortex and the House of Mystery, visit The Vortex is open to the public annually from March 1 to October 31.

Photo caption:

Oregon Vortex, Autumn 1954.  Mildred & John Litster and manager Fred Coffman (center) on Sardine Creek - near Gold Hill.  [Negative # 3271, from Fred Coffman’s personal collection, donated to SOHS]

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Welcome to our new blog!

This blog is dedicated to sharing stories about Southern Oregon.  We welcome you to contribute your own stories or enjoy ours.  Check back frequently to learn about updates regarding traveling exhibits, our artifact collection, and our archives.