Friday, January 28, 2011

Family Recipe Friday - Cynthia's Peach Pie

6 cup peeled, diced fresh peaches
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp tapioca
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
8" unbaked pie shell

Mix peaches, granulated sugar and tapioca in large bowl - let stand while preparing pie shell.

Combine flour and brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender, until mixture is crumbly. Stir in chopped walnuts.

Sprinkle one-third of crumb mixture over bottom of unbaked pastry shell. Top with peach mixture.

Sprinkle remainder of crumble mixture over the top of the pie.

Bake in a hot oven (450) for 10 minutes.
Lower heat to moderate (350) and bake for 50 minutes or until top is brown and pie begins to bubble.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Source: Hanley Family recipe collection; Favorite Peach & Apple Recipes, 1950. A wonderful pie; the nutty taste you get from the brown sugar, walnut crumb mixture accents the fresh peaches well.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thriller Thursday - License to Thrill

Today's youth would be envious of 13-year-old Charles Fiock [FEE-ahk] who, in 1938, had a license to drive a 1933 Chevy. But he was permitted only to drive to and from school in Shasta Valley, California.

This restriction didn’t prevent him from frequently speeding across the Old Shasta River Bridge to provide a thrill for he and his passengers. Not only was the bridge narrow with a wooden floor raised in the center, but a curve in the road and a tree made for a blind approach. So blind, in fact, that on one occasion Fiock didn't see his own father on the bridge driving a load of hay. He couldn't stop the car until it became wedged between the bridge and the hay, where he found himself looking into his father's surprised face.

Today the road has been widened and paved with a gradual turn approaching the bridge, and the floor of the bridge is level. Despite these safety improvements, excessive speed has taken the life of at least one young thrill seeker.

Though a state license and proof of insurance is required today, that yearning for excitement has not changed.

Originally written by Nancy Bringhurst, May 24, 2006
Source: Shasta Valley Review, Issue # 4, page 17, compiled by Charles Fiock

Do you have a thriller story about Southern Oregon? Email us at

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Local Talent in the Rogue Valley

This Talent street scene shows the little town's beginnings. Talent, Oregon is the only city in the nation with its name, ca.1910. Click on the picture to enlarge it

Do you have historical pictures of Southern Oregon to share? Email us at

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ginger Rogers Fashion Show!

SOHS will be hosting a fashion show of glamorous dresses worn by our very own Hollywood star, Ginger Rogers. While not originally from the Rogue Valley, Ginger purchased a 1000 acre ranch along the Rogue River in the early 1940s and retired to the Rogers Rogue River Ranch in 1969 after she sold her Beverly Hills home.

Twenty-two dresses from her estate will be featured in a fashion show to be held on Sunday, May 1 at the Rogue Valley Country Club. The show will be a fundraiser for SOHS.

Want to join in the fun? Come to an informational planning meeting this Thursday, January 27 at 4 pm at the History Center (106 N. Central Avenue in Medford). We are looking for volunteers to help plan and coordinate this fun event!

For more information, call Allison at (541) 494-0273.

Amenuensis Monday - Post Card Baby

by Bill Miller. Originally published in Southern Oregon Heritage Today. Sept. 2002, Vol4, No.9

Glenn SIMPSON cried so loudly that one could easily believe he was trying to wake the entire town of Ashland. Nevertheless the city continued to sleep and his grandma, daddy, and mama were the only ones to witness his birth. Later that day, Baby Glenn wrote a postcard to his grandfather, with a printing style suspiciously like his mother's.

"Ashland, Or. August 11, 1895
Dear Grandpa [sic]
I arrived this morning at two o'clock. I weigh eight pounds. Mama is feeling real well considering, but Dad and grandma don't know whether they will stand it or not.
Good bye.... "

The card was signed by Glenn's mother, Ellen, and addressed to Ellen's father, Daniel GLENN, a building contractor temporarily working in Etna, California. Daniel had brought his wife and daughter to Ashland in 1893. In just over a year, Ellen met and married Thomas SIMPSON, who had also accompanied his family to the Granite City in 1893. Thomas was part owner of the Ashland Manufacturing Company, a sawmill and lumber-retailing business. He sold his share in the company in 1902 and opened a hardware store on the Plaza. Glenn grew up in this store and, after his father died in 1953, kept it open until retiring in 1966.

Glenn Elwyn SIMPSON graduated from Ashland High School in 1915 and subsequently attended Oregon Agricultural College, now Oregon State University, in Corvallis. His plan to work in the store with his father was postponed when he enlisted during World War I and joined the United States forces in France.

Simpson's Hardware was a comfortable center of friendly conversation. For a penny, visitors could weigh themselves on a scale near the front entrance, before pursuing "important" discussions just inside the door on a large, comfortable chair. Simpson began to collect early photographs and documents about Ashland and stored them in a case near the chair, proudly unveiling them whenever he could find an interested pair of eyes. As the collection grew larger, it piqued Glenn's interest in local history. Before he retired from business, he had been elected to a term as president of the Southern Oregon Historical Society's Board of Trustees and spent a number of years actively supporting the Society.

The postcard announcing Glenn SIMPSON's birth eventually became part of Simpson's history collection. The addressee, his grandfather, Daniel Glenn, remained in Ashland until he died in November 1939. At the time, the elder Glenn was the last surviving Civil War veteran of Ashland's "Burside Post" of the G.A.R. The author of the card, Simpson's mother, was in charge of the hardware store's window displays until shortly before she died in 1948. The baby of the postcard, Glenn Simpson, died on Oct 2, 1969.

His only survivors, a niece and nephew, donated Simpson's collection of photographs and documents to the Society, where they are preserved in the Research Library archives. The Simpson Hardware cash register was also donated for use in the Children's Museum in Jacksonville.

Simpson's passion for history lives on and as long as you have an interested pair of eyes, you can catch the passion too. Some people think that history is only about big things like wars, but Glenn Simpson knew better. All history is local, and some of it starts from the smallest of things - sometimes, as small as a postcard.

Bill Miller is a historian with the Southern Oregon Historical Society

(maybe cheating on my the meme here.... it's not difficult to transcribe a postcard of two sentences. But could consider that I am re-typing the entire article! that counts as "amenuensis", yes?)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Family Recipe Friday - Chocolate Almond Cake

Chocolate Almond Cake

2 1/2 cup cake flour
3 squares of melted chocolate
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup butter
2 cup sugar
5 eggs, well beaten

Sift cake flour, measure. Add soda and salt. Sift all together three times. Cream butter, add sugar and cream well, until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well. Add melted chocolate and blend. Add sifted flour alternately with buttermilk; beat until smooth. Add vanilla.

Bake in two 9" greased and floured round cake pans at 325 for 50 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Toasted Almond Filling

Cook 1 cup chopped blanched almonds slowly in 4 tbsp butter until well toasted, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add 6 tbsp cream. Add 3 cups sifted powdered sugar gradually, beating until smooth after each addition. Stir in a dash of salt and 2 tsp vanilla.
Cool until right consistency to spread.
Spread filling between cake layers.
Frost cake top and sides with favorite chocolate icing

SOURCE: Hanley Family recipe collection; submitted by Hanley neighbor, Ora Neidermeyer for West Side Cookbook, 1945.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

First Community Forum this Saturday!

Our first community forum for History: Made By You will be held Saturday, January 22 at the City Council Chambers of Central Point, 140 S. Third Street, beginning at 9 am.

History: Made By You is the Southern Oregon Historical Society's new traveling exhibit outreach program. Every quarter, we will host a forum in a different community at which we will discuss current events and then explore them through their historical roots. At the end of the forum, we will ask the audience to select one topic that will be developed into a traveling exhibit that will be displayed in their community. We will also ask for volunteers who want to work hand-in-hand with historical society staff to create the exhibit - conducting research, selecting artifacts, finding photos, and so on.

History: Made By You - exhibits of the people, by the people and for the people!

For more information, contact Dawna Curler at (541) 858-1724 or visit

Thriller Thursday - Doctor's Murder of 1858 Remains Cold Case

The murder in April 5, l858, of the first doctor in the settlement known today as Ashland, Oregon, remains a mystery 152 years later. The assassin has never been identified.

Within two years of arriving in town with his wife, Celeste, British immigrant David SISSON had opened a medical practice, bought the Ashland Mills Boarding House, set up a general store, purchased 160 acres east of town, and built the town’s first hospital.

In the month before he was fatally shot while drawing creek water, Sisson had been shot in the hand and his barn burned to the ground. He was survived by his widow and daughter, Augusta. Someone then burned down the Sisson home and the boarding house, shrinking the Sisson property values from $10,000 to $100.

In 1880, daughter Augusta, now 20 years old, sued Abel Helman and others, claiming a conspiracy to kill Sisson and destroy land ownership documents. Although she lost the suit, she raised the question of murder, arson, and fraud.

A hundred years later Kay Atwood investigated the slaying in her book titled Mill Creek Journal: Ashland, Oregon 1850-1860, but the murder remains a very cold case.

Originally written by Maryann Mason, Dec 2. 2010
Source: Daspit, M.J. “Kay Atwood Takes On Cold Case,” Ashland Daily Tidings, June 15, 2009.

Do you have a thriller story to share about Southern Oregon?
Submit your own stories to info AT sohs dot org

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tech Tuesday - Saving the Family Bible

Cherish your human connections. A family Bible is a valued volume handed down through a family, in which each successive generation records information about the family history, births, marriages and deaths.

Family Bibles, like everything else, suffer the passage of time. Many family heirloom Bibles and books are in extremely poor condition. The biggest threats to a Bible are heat, humidity and light. There are usually many other forensic signs of usage such as: food and debris in the gutters; ragged ear-marked pages from heavy use; hair braids to corsages stuffed between pages; pencil and pen notes in the margins; torn and bumped covers; papers and photographs spreading the pages; and the general rubs and abrasions. Some of these venerable giants have simply been worn-out by loving prolonged use.

Generally, family Bibles were bound with calfskin leather. Due to radical changes in book production techniques, earlier Bibles tend to have the longer-lasting leather, while later versions bound in more caustic and acidic leather can become powdery and tattered. Additionally, there are examples in the late Victorian era of cloth bindings with cheaper paper for Bibles purchased as a poor families' option.

The typical family Bible published between 1840 and 1900 was 12 x10 by 4 inches. In the early period, the family Bible covers were flat with little, if any, embossment. Family Bibles produced from 1870 are often deeply embossed and have panels stamped in gold.

Papers in earlier Bibles are made of cotton, linen or a mix of the two. These type fibers are very long lived. For example, a pure linen paper can last over 500 years. At the beginning of the industrial revolution, paper used for pages was mass-produced from pulps using tree fibers and harsh chemicals. That is why the quality of materials tends to preserve older paper in better condition and make later Bibles' paper more brittle.

Nineteenth century Bibles often use several different types of papers; such as one kind for illustrations and another for text. For example, the illustrations, the title page and inter-leafing tissue, text paper, family record pages, and the back, heavy paper lined board where photographs were inserted may all be different sorts of papers. Mid-1800's Bibles tend to be single columned content where the later Victorian volumes are double columned. Turn of the century Bibles often have glossaries, maps and illustrated sections in the front of the book.

Linen thread and hide glue were used to bind the Bibles. Hide glue is acidic and only good for about a hundred years before it becomes brittle. It is common to see the spine of an older Bible parting as the glue shrinks and separates from the paper. A leather cover, paper and glue materials bound together properly can last for centuries; however, if one element fails, the whole Bible will fall apart under the shear weight of itself.

With the ingredients of leather, cotton, hide glue and linen in its composition, the Bible is an interconnected organic system. The great enemies, heat, humidity and light, do more to age and breakdown the substances in Bibles than most anything else. However, there are ways to preserve and protect your family Bible.

How can one save and prolong the life of a precious heirloom Bible?


  • Put a Bible in the basement, garage or attic
  • Set a Bible upright without lateral support
  • Leave a Bible opened for prolonged periods
  • Let sunlight or harsh lighting contact the Bible
  • Keep a Bible in either a humid or dry environment
  • Expose a Bible in an extreme temperatures
  • Keep a Bible at room temperature 68 to 72 degrees
  • Store a Bible flat, but kept so that its form is not canted
  • Maintain humidity as close to 50 percent as possible
  • Preserve the Bible in an archival box
  • Store the Bible in the center of the closet (not the floor in case of flood and not on top in case of fire).
  • Keep the Bible family records updated with a note inside the front cover with recognizable names
  • Choose a responsible guardian to transfer the Bible to when you are ready. Invest in restoration and preservation by a professional bookbinder
Nothing lasts forever, at least in a physical form. Family Bibles, after 100 years, almost always need the preservative services of a professional bookbinder. With the proper restoration and conservation, this heirloom can reasonably last another 100 years. Select a good conservator and your family will enjoy and treasure your family Bible for many more generations.

Written (and published with permission) by Max Marbles at


Post submitted by Karreen Busch

The famous San Francisco earthquake of 1906 is remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in United States history. Resulting in over 3,000 casualties, the earthquake's devastating effects to California included an economic impact that has been compared with the more recent Hurricane Katrina.

The earthquake was of such high magnitude (approximately 7.9 on the Richter scale), that shaking was felt from Oregon to Los Angeles, and as far inland as Nevada.

Charles I. Patton was a boy living on a homestead on the Butte Falls area of Jackson County when the earthquake occurred. In an oral history interview with Patton conducted in 1977 by the Southern Oregon Historical Society, Patton shared a fascinating account of the effects he witnessed due to the earthquake:

"This happened in 1906. One morning I went out to the side of the yard and I heard a sizzling noise. I couldn't understand what it was or where it was coming from for a while. We had a dug well that was 32 feet was hand dug.... so I found out the noise was coming from the well. I went over there and there was quite an odor coming from the well.

I went in and told my dad... He came out and there was gas coming out of the well. So he told me to stay away from it. Didn't know what it was but stay away from it and not breathe that. So, anyway, this lasted for a good long while. It kept getting less and less, until finally it quit. But he put a bucket down in the well - we'd always have plenty of water in the well - put the bucket down in there and there was no water. No water in that well. Never was again.

So we had to get our water from the creek then. And then, when we saw the Parkers - they lived about 10 miles from our place - they had a nice spring came right out of the rock, solid rock there and it was all...white. The water real white. They couldn't drink it, wouldn't drink it. They didn't know why it had turned stayed that way for about two weeks. They had to haul their water from the creek...but that Spring eventually cleared up and was all right again.

Then, in about three weeks, we got a paper from the post office because nobody went to the post office very was too far. Unless somebody went by and brought the mail to use, we didn't get it unless we went after it, which you either walked or rode a horse about 15 miles to the post office..

Then we read that San Francisco had had a terrible earthquake and that happened the same time that the well and the spring had trouble. Then we knew it was the earthquake that had caused it. We never did have any water in that well again... that was really, really something. We felt no earthquake. No one in that whole country did, but it did do something."

Charles I. PATTON was born in Jackson County, Oregon, on November 12, 1894. He was raised in the Butte Falls area and worked in lumber mills for the U.S. Forest Service, and as a timber cruiser.

The Southern Oregon Historical Society has over 1000 oral histories in its archives. To learn more, contact the Research Library at (541) 773-6536

Friday, January 14, 2011

Family Recipe Friday - Yummy Muffins

Yummy Muffins
Hanley Family recipe collection, West Side Cookbook, 1945

4 tbsp. shortening (Crisco)
1/2 cup Sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup, Milk
2 cup, whole wheat flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup dates, chopped

Cream shortening and sugar well, add eggs and milk.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Mix in chopped dates and add other ingredients.
Place paper liners in muffin pan and fill half-full with batter.
Bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes.
Makes one dozen muffins.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wedding Wednesday - A New Odessa Commune Wedding

It was 1885 and the 30 or so people of the New Odessa commune--near Glendale, Oregon--were preparing for a wedding.

These were Jewish exiles from Southern Russia, who disavowed religion and instead practiced the principles of Karl Marx. They had built a large structure that was kitchen and dining hall on the first floor, and dormitory and library in the upper story. The married couples had simple cabins. Though not vegetarians, their food was primarily beans, peas, and graham flour biscuits--all grown on the 200 acres they cultivated.

But a wedding day called for dried apple pies and custards. A jackrabbit ragout was the main course. Both floors of the hall were decorated with wildflowers and the tables set with linen instead of oilcloth. The bride and groom exchanged vows in Russian before the community. After the feast, they all went upstairs where the couple again exchanged vows, but this time in English. Having no instruments, three of the colony hummed the music so all could dance the night away.

A year later, the communal hall burned to the ground, taking with it the colony’s valued library. Soon after, the New Odessa commune ceased to exist.

Written By Alice Mullally, October, 18, 2006 for As It Was: Tales from the State of Jefferson

Sources: Beckham, Stephen Dow. Land of the Umpqua: A History of Douglas County, Oregon, 1986, p.248; “A Wedding Among the Communistic Jews in Oregon,” Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine, December, 1885, Vol. VI, No. 36.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Helping History Happen: Another Volunteer Interview

Post Submitted by Karreen Busch

If you ever want to learn more about southern Oregon’s wonderful history, Peter and Linda Kreisman can help you out! The married couple resides in Ashland and has volunteered together at the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library in Medford for two years. They’ve also served on the society’s Foundation Board.
Here, they explain a little about themselves, and why they love to work with history:

What is your favorite part of being a volunteer?
Learning the resources available at the Library. Also, being able to volunteer as a couple means we can share memories of our youth as we come to understand how the community around us evolved. It is a very enriching experience.

Do you have any advice to give to people wanting to learn more about their family or local history?
Become members, come to the Library and start asking us questions. Each answer leads to another question.

What is your favorite event put on by the Society?
We loved taking our grandsons to the threshing of the wheat at Hanley Farms and watching them get absorbed in lifting the sheaves up into the horse-drawn wagons, the threshing, watching the potter, making butter, bobbing for apples—all the things they’ll never see in their Chicago lives.

What is your favorite piece of history within the Research Library?
Peter’s is the history of the railroads in southern Oregon. Linda’s is the personal stories recorded in the words of the people of the past. We both enjoy reading about events that happened here when we were kids and weren’t paying attention (or just seeing them through adult eyes).

What are your favorite things to do when not volunteering?
We both love learning about the birds that come and go in the valley in the different seasons. It gives us an excuse to explore all the back roads and hiking trails!

Do you have another job or volunteer elsewhere? Or are you retired, and if so, what career did you have?
Peter moved to Ashland in 1946 and Linda in 1954. We left after high school but always kept connected through our families. Peter had a small woodworking company making childrens’ creative play things. Linda was a research food scientist for General Mills (Betty Crocker) for 25 years. We came back after we retired.

What are your interests and hobbies?
Peter loves English Country Dancing, woodworking, and just general fixing anything and everything. Linda likes to read, hike, and cook.

The Research Library is located at 106 N. Central Ave. in Medford, Oregon, and is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 12:00 to 4:00 P.M. For more information, visit