Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Object of the Week: Telephone

Imagine living in the 1930s and using this telephone for all your communication needs! By the mid-1910s, most of the Rogue Valley had both telephone service and electricity. This desk phone, made of bakelite, featured a rotary dial and a large cloth-covered cord that plugged into the outlet. Jackson County residents directed their long distance calls through an operator until the early 1960s. 

If you're interested, the oldest working telephone booth in Oregon, made of wood with a tin ceiling, is located in downtown Ashland in the Columbia Hotel!

Telephone, 1927-1939
Bakelite, cloth, metal

Thursday, October 6, 2011

ANNOUNCING: Mysteries in Our Backyard!

Are you interested in local history? Are there “mysteries” about your neighborhood, home, family, etc., that you’ve always been curious about? Mysteries in Our Backyard is a new research project that encourages YOU to research these local mysteries! 

From October through December 2011, local history mysteries will be collected. Do you have a local history mystery question to share? Visit our website to submit your local history mystery and learn more about the project.

In January 2012, you will be able to claim a mystery to solve!  For a $10 fee, you will receive online access to a research toolbox including research guides, maps, and much more to help you along the way. Your $10 fee also includes unlimited access to the SOHS and RVGS research libraries to help you in your research! 

The Mysteries in Our Backyard website will be an interactive presence throughout your research. Upload the answers to the website and share with other researchers! On May 19, 2012, there will be a final event to share all the local history mystery solutions, and to share your research experiences. 

Mysteries in Our Backyard is a collaborative project of: the Southern Oregon Historical Society (SOHS) and the Rogue Valley Genealogical Society (RVGS), with participation by members of the Jackson County Heritage Association (JCHA), the Jackson County Library System (JCLS), Southern Oregon University (SOU), and individual cemetery groups and organizations in Jackson County.




Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Object of the Week: Snowshoes

Local folklore speculates that Ranger M. L. Edwards was the first documented person to spend the winter at Crater Lake National Park. "Eleven Feet of Snow at Crater," published in the Mail Tribune on February 5, 1916, described how Edwards spent a "lonesome" winter there, leaving only a handful of times. He may have used these snowshoes for his few trips out to Fort Klamath. Can you imagine a winter with only snowshoes for transportation?!

Snowshoes, 1915-1920
Wood, leather, metal

Monday, October 3, 2011

Don't Miss Scarecrow Fest on Saturday, October 15!

Schedule of Events:
  • Live Music: Christina Duane and the Sons of the Oregon Trail, 2pm - 3:30pm
  • Hanley House Tours, 11am - 4pm
  • Wagon hayrides, 11am - 4pm
  • Scarecrow making, 11am - 2pm ($10 per scarecrow kit, finish by 2:30 to enter the contest)
  • Scarecrow contest! You help judge the entries. Winners will be announced and given ribbons after 3:30.

Entrance fees: $5.00 per adult, $3.00 per child, free for SOHS members and children under 4.
NOTE: You may make a scarecrow in advance and enter it. Visit our website for more information.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Object of the Week: Bicycles in Medford, OR

Columbia Model 45
Pope Manufacturing Company

The "Golden Age" of bicycling in the 1890s saw a sudden and unprecedented rise in bicycling across the United States. Urban streets and country lanes alike were filled with men and women riding these new contraptions for leisure, health, and transportation. This Columbia Model 45 safety bicycle was owned by Medford photographer R. V. Beall Jr. Manufactured by the Pope Manufacturing Company in Hartford, CT in 1898, this bicycle was designed for a man, show by its high crossbar, while a ladies bicycle would feature a dropped frame to allow her to wear long skirts while riding.

Columbia Model 41, Women's Bicycle
Safety Bicycle, 1898
Metal, wood, leather, rubber

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Object of the Week: The Peace Flask

This Batty Peace Flask was one of the most popular of the bag-shaped, rifle-size powder flasks of the mid-1800s. It's referred to as a "Peace Flask" because the embossed image, while worn here, features a pair of clasped hands surrounded by stars. The Peace Flask design was first manufactured in 1844 and reproduced in 1847 and 1857, and many American troops carried them in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. This particular flask was found in a cabin on the James Martin and Ed Tucker farm, near Brownsboro in the Lake Creek area, and a U.S. soldier may have used it in the Rogue River area.

Powder flask
Donated by Dr. Bert R. Elliot

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lake Creek Community Forum

Don't forget - the next public forum (and potluck!) for History: Made by You will take place on Tuesday, September 20 at 5:30 at the Lake Creek Historical Society! Everyone is welcome to attend, even if you're not from Lake Creek - come share your opinions about community changes and issues!

More information on History: Made by You is available on our website.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Object of the Week - Diamond Dye Cabinet

Exterior, SOHS cabinet

Interior, SOHS cabinet

This dye cabinet boasts that "It's easy to dye with Diamond Dyes." An image of a woman cleanly and gracefully dyeing brilliantly colored fabric supports this claim. Another dye cabinet, made by the same company, instead featured an image of girls, boys, and women dancing with brightly colored fabrics. [1] What do these two images say about advertising techniques and class differences?

From Cowan Auctions
Diamond Dye cabinet
Wood, paint, tin
Museum Purchase

[1] "Diamond Dye, Chromolithographed & Oak Cabinet" from Cowan Auctions,, accessed September 7, 2011.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scarecrow-Making Workshops at Hanley Farm!

Come to Hanley Farm, and learn how to make scarecrows!

In preparation for the farm's October Scarecrow Fest, the farm is hosting scarecrow-making workshops. With direction and guidance from our expert scarecrow-maker, you can make your own, with workshops beginning at 11 a.m. and continuing hourly until 4 p.m. Take your work of art home with you, leave it at the farm for display, or enter it in our October scarecrow contest! Workshop tickets will be available on-site for $10 and include all supplies.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fruit Picking Pail - Object of the Week

John S. Barnett of Central Point, OR patented this fruit pail design in December 1910 [1]. A 1916 advertisement for the "Barnett Fruit Picking Pail" claimed "No Bruised Fruit if you use the Famous Barnett Pan," due to its canvas-lined bottom inside the galvanized iron pail [2]. Northwest Fence and Iron Works of Portland, OR sold them for $1.50 each [3]. How does this compare with fruit picking systems today?

Fruit Picking Pail, c. 1915
Galvanized iron, canvas
Donated by C. B. Corby

[1] John S. Barnett, "Fruit Pickers Receptacle," US Patent 978,429. Filed February 16, 1910, and issued December 13, 1910. Google Patents,, accessed August 30, 2011.
[2] "Barnett Fruit Picking" in Better Fruit XI, no. 3 (September 1916), 30., accessed August 30, 2011.
[3] Ibid.

Advertisement from The Oregon Grower 3-5 (1921)., accessed August 30, 2011.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Object of the Week!

Would you decorate with hair? The Holland family did in the late 1800s - Mrs. Mary Holland and her daughter Mary Lorina Hall collected hair from every family member to use in this wreath. Curled into many recognizable forms, the hair takes the shape of flowers and plants.

Hair wreath
Hair, wire

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Object of the Week

Talk about conspicuous consumption! With feet allowing this dinner bell to rest on the table, those using it wouldn't even have to lift it. Simply and daintily tap the rod, and the bell would chime, summoning servants to the table. Representing Victorian excessiveness and a desire to display wealth, this dinner bell is one of many objects created for a single and specific use. Etched with the initials "M. L. R.", its original owner was Mary Louis Ross, rumored to be the first white girl born in Jacksonville.

Dinner bell, c. 1880
Manufactured by Reed and Barton of Taunton, MA
Donated by Harold Heldreth

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lake Creek Community Forum, September 20th, 5:30pm

SOHS invites you to participate in a Community Forum during the Community Potluck at the Lake Creek Historical Society on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.

What do you feel are the most pressing and preoccupying changes that Lake Creek faces today? How far back into the community's roots do these issues reach? Join your neighbors and SOHS for a public forum and workshop to explore these changes. The results of this discussion will form the basis of a community exhibit designed by and for the people of Lake Creek! History: Made by You is a program developed by SOHS designed to involve the community in traveling exhibits. Come be part of the fun while sharing your insights and exchanging ideas. Don't forget to bring a dish!

This stimulating workshop will begin with an engaging discussion of current concerns to identify relevant exhibit topics. Experienced exhibit planner, Alice Parman, will lead the group through the process of discovering the history behind the issues and identifying community resources that can help develop a meaningful exhibit.

While this forum will focus on topics relating to Lake Creek, everyone is welcome to attend!

When: Tuesday, September 20, 2011, 5:30 p.m.

Where: Lake Creek Historical Society at 1739 S. Fork Little Butte Creek Road, Eagle Point, OR 97524

This program was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities (OH), a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds OH's grant program.

For more information, please contact Amy Drake at or (541) 858-1724.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Object of the Week!

We're starting a new feature on our blog! Each week we'll feature an object from our collection and a short description. Let us know what you think!


This miniature kayak, with its narrow, wooden frame, must have been designed to glide gracefully and quickly through the water. But unlike the traditional double-bladed kayak paddle, this orange oar only has one blade! One of the defining features between a kayak and a canoe is the number of blades on the oar, so why do you think this model would have a paddle with only one blade?

Miniature Kayak
Skin and wood
Donated by Judge and Mrs. Herbert Hanna

Monday, July 18, 2011

Weddings from the Archives - July Newsletter

http//www.sohs.orgThe theme for July's newsletter was historical weddings. Wedding pictures and certificates were made available from the Research Library. The library has 2,897 original marriage certificates. Some are simple handwritten notes while others are very fancy documents written in beautiful script.

One of the weddings featured was that of L. O. Walker and his lovely bride, Millie Pearl Hodges. They were married in Jacksonville, Oregon December 14, 1916. A couple of pages of Millie's diary (called a Daylogue) were copied and transcribed by the membership director, Joanna Loops.

It read as follows:
"Dec. 14-Married to-day at 12 o'clock to L.O. Walker at Jacksonville by Rev. Roft Hutchison, Methodist Minister. Papa took us all to Med and we stopped on our way home at Eva's also. [sic] studio had pictures taken. L.O. and I over to Davidson's this eve-still packing. Letters from Aunt Minnie & Metta.
Letters to Metta, Nora, also a piece of cake to Nora. We got home at 2pm.
Letter to Aunt Minnie.
Wore my blue suit-a bunch of violets. Hattie made the cake. We had dinner about two. Just mama, the girls, and Ralph to the wedding."
Millie had inserted a violet from her wedding bouquet between the pages ... that's a very dry pressed flower. . .
You can view the entire newsletter on our website:

Wine, Cheese and Dirt - An Archaelogical Presentation

This past Saturday, 75 people enjoyed a fascinating evening of archaelogical research relating to the pivotal moments in the Rogue Indian Wars at Hanley Farm in Central Point, Oregon.
Dr. Paul Baxter and Dr. Brian O'Neill discussed The Harris Cabin Massacre:
the spark that ignited the Rogue Indian Wars and Dr. Mark Tveskov presented a program on The Search for the Battle of Hungry Hill. Archaelogical research is still underway trying to determine the exact location of these two events.
Catering was provided by Mustard Seed Cafe - yummy hors d'oeuvres. Wine was provided by Roxy Ann Winery and Caprice Vineyards - also yummy... I was told ...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Army Builds Wagon Road from Jacksonville to Fort Klamath

by Alice Mullaly

Excitement was high on June 15, 1863, at the Jackson County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Ore. Farmers and business owners from all over Southern Oregon gathered that day to form a new company to build a wagon road across the Cascade Mountains to Central Oregon. Mining was declining in Southern Oregon and new markets were badly needed. The John Day gold fields were just getting started and would provide that market. The meeting was a great success with $800 raised and D. D. Munger [MUNG-gur] hired to manage the location and construction of the road.

But the U.S. Army built the wagon road instead, because Fort Klamath needed supplies from the Rogue Valley. Capt. Sprague and 20 men of Company 1, First Oregon Volunteers, spent the next three years surveying and building a military road across the Cascades a few miles south of Crater Lake that joined the road to Jacksonville.

Renewed prosperity came to Southern Oregon when the military road was finished in 1866. Heavy freight wagons, along with miners, and herds of cattle, sheep and pigs, used the road from Jacksonville to Central Oregon.

Later, better roads replaced the military road, which was abandoned.

Originally written January 26, 2009, for the JPR program, As It Was.

Oregon Intelligencer, June 20, 1863; “Discovery and Exploration of Crater Lake: 1853-1885”, Crater Lake National Park Administrative History,

Friday, June 17, 2011

1906, Three Men Die in Gold Mine Explosion Near Jacksonville

By Dennis M. Powers

A newspaper story in January 1906 called a deadly explosion at the Opp Mine near Jacksonville, Ore., “one of the most serious accidents in the history of Southern Oregon mining.”

Located on Reservoir Road close to Highway 238 and the town of Jacksonville, the Opp Mine ran deep with 12 ledges of golden veins. A nearby 20-stamp mill crushed the ore. Three men lost their lives in the explosion between 5 and 6 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon. The nightshift came on duty and discovered the bodies.

The three miners were working inside a tunnel with a machine drill and had driven 18 holes into the hard rock. One was already loaded with powder. The procedure was to “shoot” all of the holes before leaving a shift, so they had brought in a giant box of powder to load the other holes, setting it down a distance away. It’s not known what caused it, perhaps roof rock crashing down on a dynamite stick, but the powder box exploded.

A coroner’s jury later held that the deaths were accidental and a continued risk in the gold mines.

Written for JPR's series, As It Was.

Sources: “Fatal Explosion at Opp Mine,” January, 1906, Gold Hill News; records and files of the Gold Hill Historical Society. Online: “Jacksonville.” InfoMine Inc.,; “The Opp Mine: Historical Gold Mine.” Loopnet.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fashion Show of Ginger Rogers' Gowns - Reviews

Today was the SOHS Benefit, "Glitz and Glamour on a Sunday Afternoon", the Fashion Show of Ginger Rogers' gowns. Reviews are already coming in from this fabulous event. More will be posted as they're found - so check back often!

KTVL - Glitz and Glamour in the Rogue Valley

Jacksonville Review - Ginger Rogers' Fashion Show a Hit!

KDVR - Happy Birthday Ginger Rogers!

Medford Mail Tribune - Ginger Rogers' legacy remembered in style!

Mail Tribune Blog - Ginger Rogers' life in clothes

Today was an absolute Blast! Leave us a comment with your own review of the day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Children's Heritage Fair is Back!

Hanley Farm - June 4th - 10am-4pm

Enjoy a day of fun and pioneer adventures with loads of hands-on activities! Admission is $4.00 for non-members and $2.00 for SOHS members. All adults are admitted FREE.

for more information!

Or call 541-773-6536

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Letter from Our Research Library Archives

Dear Johnny,

Well here we are at last! Bet you have been cussing us for not writing sooner. You should know a lot of new cuss words by now but we didn’t get your letter until Thursday night after we got home from town. Then had to rush off to the 4-H. Then we kept thinking you might come over Sat—But no Johnny—am sure sorry kid you’re having such a tough time with your bubbles. How long do you have to take those shots? Bet there is a red headed nurse in that office and we won’t be seeing much of you—but take it easy kid—Momma will tell you all about the birds and bees some day… When do you think you will be over? Don’t make it to long, huh? Thanks for missing us. That makes it even… Hope you can read this. Write soon.

Love from all

This letter was written to John Jury in 1948 by his sister Marlene, who signed many of her letters with the nickname “Honeypot.” Marlene lived in Murphy with her and Johnny’s parents, while Johnny was residing in Ashland.

It is unclear why Johnny was in Ashland, but Marlene frequently mentions her hopes that Johnny get well from his “bubbles.” Perhaps he was in Ashland to recover from a bout with chronic, recurring boils, which are skin abscesses caused by bacteria or in some cases, inflammation of the sweat glands.

Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

Source: Letter from Marlene to John Jury, 1948. SOHS Research Library Archives.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Get Your Ginger Rogers Tickets!

Glitz & Glamour on a Sunday Afternoon
a Fashion Show of Ginger Rogers' Gowns

May 1, 2011 - 2pm

Tickets are selling out!
Visit to order your tickets and reserve table space soon!
Don't wait til the last minute - only 30 tickets still available.

Tickets are $50
($32 is tax deductible)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Broadway and Hollywood Dancing Star Calls Oregon Home

In 1969, Ginger Rogers sold her Beverly Hills home and moved to a 1,000-acre Rogue River ranch near Shady Cove, Oregon.

Rogers and her mother, Lela, had purchased the ranch in 1945, where they raised purebred cows and built a dairy. Some Guernsey cattle in the Rogue Valley still carry the Rogers name on their breeding records. She sold the ranch and moved to Medford in 1990.

Rogers told a reporter in 1982 that she voted and paid taxes in Oregon. "I consider myself an Oregonian," she said.

Born Virginia Katherine McMath on July 16, 1911, in Independence, Missouri, she took her step father's last name, Rogers, as her own. She was dancing publicly at age 10 and began touring when she was 14, including a performance at age 15 at the Craterian Theater in Medford. She was already a Broadway and Hollywood star when she and Fred Astaire began making 10 dance-filled pictures together.

Sixty-seven years after her first Medford performance, Rogers returned for a benefit concert in 1993 at what is now known as the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater.

Rogers died at 83 at her winter home at Rancho Mirage, California.

Written by Kernan Turner for JPR's radio series, As It Was.

Internet: Ryder, Stephen. Craterian Ginger Rogers Theatre; Ginger Rogers Official Site

Friday, March 11, 2011

Dance in Ginger Rogers Shoes!

To get you in the mood for our May 1 Ginger Rogers Fashion Show, we are auctioning a pair of her shoes on ebay!

Check it out here!

See the latest info on the fashion show.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday

Josephine County has many historic cemeteries, some dating back before statehood. In the case of Waldo Cemetery, it's the only thing left of a boomtown whose residents weren't even sure whether they were in Oregon or California.

The cemetery sits on a hill, beneath huge old trees. Jennie Weston lies here with her sons George and Philip, victims of an epidemic in 1865. The Bennett brothers, Frank and Edward, lie nearby, dead from another epidemic twenty years later.

Down the hill from the cemetery are the empty graves of Waldo's Chinese miners. As it was dishonorable to be buried in a foreign country, these miners were buried only long enough for the flesh to fall from the bones. They were then disinterred and the bones shipped to their ancestral village in China.

Just outside the gates of the cemetery is a small homemade concrete marker: the tombstone of Kitty Messenger. She was a Native American, married to Samuel Chauncey Messenger, and she died in 1896.

Because she was an Indian, the residents of Waldo wouldn't allow her to be buried in the "white" cemetery. But they did allow her to be buried closer than the Chinese.

Originally written by Jean Boling for the JPR series, As It Was.

Josephine County, Oregon Cemeteries, Vol 1 by K W Phillips, 1991; and personal conversations with same.

Do you have information about tombstones or cemeteries you'd like to share?
Please email us at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

134 Years Ago in February

Marriage records at the state level in Oregon are available from January 1910 to the present.

In the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s archives, however, there are local certificates of marriage dating to the mid- to late-1800’s. Here is a fascinating example of one such license, from 134 years ago, in February of 1877.


STATE OF OREGON, County of Jaxson.

This is to Certify

That the undersigned, a minister of the Gospel – by authority of a License bearing date the 22d day of February A.D. 1877 and issued by the County Clerk of the County of Jaxson, did, on the 25 day of February A.D. 1877, at the house of Mrs. Charlotte Russell in the County and State aforesaid, join in lawful wedlock R.P. NEIL of the County of Jaxson and State of Oregon, and Lydia RUSSELL of the County of Jaxson and State of Oregon with their mutual assent.

In the Presence of L.A. Neil, C. Merrith, WITNESSES.

Post Submitted by Karreen Busch